Friday, January 11, 2013
Mass vs Protestant Service
I think yesterday's (Jan. 10) Vortex contains the most concise statement of how the Catholic Mass has been “protestantized” that I have ever seen. I was struck by this simple observation – because I had never thought about it this way before:
… [T]he Catholic Mass is oriented to God. This is the reason there can exist in the Catholic Church such a thing as a private Mass, where the priest is offering Mass with NO ONE else present. People in the pews are not required at Mass for there to be a valid Mass.
…Protestants NEED a congregation because, bottom line, Protestant services are not about worship; they are about the community and fellowship and the congregation. Protestant services WITHOUT a congregation would be like Catholic Mass without a Priest – which is to say, impossible.
Seriously, that difference never occurred to me before! But think about it, if you’ve ever been to a Protestant service: imagine it without a congregation. For most Protestant denominations, there is no liturgy – no formal prayers written down, no formal structure to the service. Usually, Protestants see this as a good thing; we don’t want the “traditions of men” prescribing our “worship”, ya know. But what happens then is that the “traditions of individuals” prescribes the worship. The Protestant preacher directs the show according to his own idea of how things should go. If the people like it, they come back next week. If they get tired of it, they find a new church with a new preacher and a new “approach”…not to mention new music.
Without a congregation, a Protestant service is nothing. Literally. Picture it. What would happen if no one showed up at the Sunday morning service of the local Pentecostal church? Well, the pastor would probably be pretty disappointed. And he might say a few prayers for the souls of his missing congregation. But they would be private devotional prayers, not a liturgy. There is no liturgy in the Pentecostal church.
And without a congregation, there would be no 90-minute sermon (yes, I’ve sat through quite a few of those!). Hard to imagine a pastor talking to himself for that long! Even if he had prepared (which many don’t, because they want to let the Holy Spirit do the talking), he would likely not deliver his sermon to rows of empty pews.
What would happen if no one showed up for Sunday Mass at the local Catholic Church? The priest would say Mass. He would offer worship to God. He would make the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. He wouldn’t give a homily, but that is not the “meat” of the Mass. It is not one of the critical elements of the liturgical worship of God.
Here’s the Vortex – well worth the 10 minutes:
Here’s the script, with my emphases:
If you ask the average Mass going Catholic today, what is the point of the Mass, what answer do you suppose you would hear?
Even the very question being asked is telling. Often times when you see Fr. Nice-and-Happy walking around in the congregation, especially when a lot of children are present, he asks the question, “Why do we come to Mass?” – Not “what is the POINT of Mass?”
When asked the first question – why do we come - the answers are fairly predictable from the little tykes: “to hear the word of God” is a pretty standard response for the most part.
But the sad thing is, you’d get the same response from the typical Mass-going Catholic
ADULT as well – which means that, in a huge number of cases, there has been none – zero, none, nada – intellectual advancement in their apprehension of the faith since elementary school.
Yep. Ask most adults what the point of Mass is and it’s a safe bet you WON’T hear the answer, “To give worship to God”.
This, at the end of the day, is the primary point of the Mass and why it is so intrinsically, fundamentally, essentially different from Protestant services. Those actions are oriented to the people to the congregation – the Catholic Mass is oriented toward God.
This is the reason there can exist in the Catholic Church such a thing as a private Mass, where the priest is offering Mass with NO ONE else present. People in the pews are not required at Mass for there to be a valid Mass.
This startling piece of news comes as a shock to the average Catholic in America – who has lived in and breathed in the Protestant air for so long – that he now thinks of his religion even in Protestant terms.
Protestants NEED a congregation because, bottom line, Protestant services are not about worship; they are about the community and fellowship and the congregation. Protestant services WITHOUT a congregation would be like Catholic Mass without a
Priest – which is to say, impossible.
In Protestant services, songs are sung, the Bible is read from – usually over the course of many weeks, the same few readings – and a preacher preaches at them. In fact, quite often, individual Protestants decide where to attend services based SOLELY on the preaching and the style.
But Catholic Mass has almost no need of these elements. We do have readings of course, but there don’t have to hymns or songs, nor does there have to be any preaching, meaning homilies or sermons.
Why? Because the constitutive aspect – the WHAT of what is occurring – is a sacrificial presentation to the Father of the Son. That action is so complete and so full in itself that nothing else NEEDS to occur. The heart of Catholic Mass is the sacrifice.
The heart of the Protestant service is the preaching.
The Mass is geared to God, the Protestant service to the people. And that is owing to the near infinite gap in theology between Catholicism and Protestantism. The faith – the beliefs of each are encapsulated in their rites and forms of ritual. So when one starts to take on – to resemble or mimic – the rites or forms of the other, a subtle shift (subtle at first anyway) can begin to occur in the beliefs behind those forms.
And this is what has happened over the past 40 or 50 years in Catholic parishes all over the West – Protestant STYLE has crept in, and with it, Catholic BELIEFS have been abandoned and even pushed out.
Why did Catholics used to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on their tongue, but now everyone strolls up and gets “it” in the hand? BTW, you are still encouraged to receive in this manner (kneeling, and on the tongue; witness how the Pope distributes Holy Communion).
Why? Because Protestantism has crept in and with it, the rejection of belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
Why do we sing songs (many of them Protestant) and hold hands and smile and wave and kiss each other and have greeters at the door? Because that’s what the Protestants do – who don’t believe in the sacrificial nature of worship, but in the emphasis being placed on the people.
Why do we have altar girls now in a huge number of Catholic parishes? Because like so many Protestant communities who don’t accept the sacrificial nature of worship, but eschew it for a more egalitarian sameness, the stress is on the community and people’s feelings.
The list of abuses at the Mass in most parishes across the western world is owing to this one primary fact: the emphasis has been taken OFF God and placed ON the people at
This is why Fr. Nice tells such joke-filled homilies – so the people will be entertained.
(Gladiator clip – ARE YOU ENTERTAINED?)
This is why the altar (that is rarely called an altar anymore, but instead referred to as a table) is oriented in such a way so that the priest can face the people. If there is one thing that absolutely grinds faithful Catholics when it comes to this topic, it’s the expression: “Before Vatican II the priest used to face his back to the people.” Nooooo! He FACED God – just as the people did. He was leading us in the sacrifice of Son to the Father – so HE and ALL of us faced God.
But now, because errant Protestant thinking has slinked in from practically every quarter and created the atmosphere that “it’s all about us, the people”, Catholics – a couple generations’ worth – would be horrified out of their minds in this Sunday, if the priest just turned and faced God. They wouldn’t know what to do.
But in what could be a very shocking and stunning address, he could simply tell the congregation that Vatican II NEVER said the priest is supposed to be facing the people. NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT!!!! It isn’t suggested, hinted at, ordered, commanded, opined…nothing.
It’s Protestant theology undermining the fullness of the reality of the Mass, and everyday Catholics have been hoodwinked for decades now by liberal modernist progressive Catholics who wanted to re-form, (not reform, but RE – FORM) the Church into something THEY wanted it to be.
They HATE the teachings of the Church , especially the ones regarding sexual morality, so they stuck around and decided to do as much damage as possible from within and by their reckoning. THE primary place to strike was the Mass.
So they went to school and got fancy degrees in liturgy and sacred music and anything related to the Mass, and then one by one changed everything they came into contact with…slowly at first, but wholesale eventually – so much so that the average Catholic today has no idea what the sanctuary is, the difference between a table and altar, has not the vaguest notion that a sacrifice is going on… But boy oh boy, they sure can belt out
“Amazing Grace” like dyed in the wool Presbyterians.
The Pope of course is trying to change all this. This is why he distributes Holy Communion to people kneeling and on their tongue, for example. But Catholics must understand that the forces that brought this liturgical chaos about haven’t gone into retirement. They oppose him every step of the way, in very subtle ways.
The INDIVIDUALS who caused the chaos are gone sure, but the structure for continuing it which they put in place, is still in place. They built it and populated it with their disciples and the next generation of modernist-minded folks who would carry on their work.
And they knew that if they kept it going long enough, that most Catholics would, over decades, have no idea of how things used to be, what the theology REALLY teaches, and what the Mass is REALLY all about. Congratulations! They succeeded.
Most Catholics don’t go to Mass anymore and the majority of those that do, feel perfectly at home in a stripped-down, more Protestant-service-looking hall, singing Protestant hymns, listening to Protestant-minded preaching from Protestant-minded “presiders”, and are nearly totally unaware of their Catholic heritage and identity precisely because they don’t have it anymore – so why would they be aware?
This needs to change. Turn that table back into an altar and start facing God again.
Has it ever occurred to any of the more modernist or Protestant-minded clergy and laity who use that grating expression – “faces his back to the people” – that currently, the priest is facing his back to GOD?