Sunday, August 17, 2014
Muzak for the Spirit
I have been on the road with my actress Maria and her husband for a while now. We are ending up a tour of nine shows in ten days in four states.
Today we find ourselves in a small town in Minnesota off the interstate. We made the mistake of going to Sunday Mass, as we are obliged to.
This is always a crap shoot. Why, in the universal Catholic Church that Christ founded, is it such a risk to go to Mass at an unfamiliar parish? But it always is. Today we rolled the dice and got a pair of snake eyes.
The church was new and the artwork in the narthex ugly, except for the old historical stuff from the old beautiful church that has since been torn down.
But the atmosphere! Atmosphere is a difficult thing to describe. The atmosphere from beginning to end in the Mass and everything associated with it was suburban, insipid, bland, uninspiring, contrived, and gay (in the worst sense of that word). The homily was not really heterodox, not really orthodox - just kind of fuzzy and flaccid.
But there was one real moment. When the congregation prayed the Our Father, I closed my eyes, and you could hear the genuineness of that prayer. These people were praying that prayer, with a unity and an earnestness. This was the one moment when heaven and earth were palpably together at that Mass.
Of course there's always that other moment when heaven and earth come together at Mass - the consecration and the communion that follows: and that transcends any inept nonsense on our part. But right there in this shopping mall parish as communion began, the intense and creepy piano player (who's apparently the "music minister") began ad libbing pop fills on the keyboard. Loudly. So that you could neither pray nor focus on anything else. And the message of the music was: this is not threatening, everything is comfortable, everything is indistinguishable, this life devoid of passion is the omega point of creation - this lame and soggy existence is the nirvana that all "persons" have sought. Resistance is futile. It was muzak for the spirit. And it came at the most intimate part of the Mass.
I left the building, skipped communion (I was in no shape to receive it at that point), but returned when the music had stopped and stayed in the narthex for the blessing and dismissal.
And as we left I thought, is it any wonder that the Church these days seems powerless in the face of evil - small evil or great evil? Is it any wonder that something like what I just experienced has no hold on the hearts or minds of anyone, or any normal person? Is it any wonder that bishops enable pedophiles when the greatest single moment in the lives of any of us - communion with God - can be trivialized and emasculated in this way?
I would rant more, but it's time to head to Iowa for tonight's show. Pray for us and pray for our Church.