Liturgy

candidate kissing baby

“Hello, sweetie. Can I have a Ritz cracker?” At last Monday’s noon Mass in a local Novus Ordo parish, the young woman ahead of me on line for Communion was carrying a toddler. The child clutched a Ritz cracker. The presiding priest, a baby-boomerish Dominican, dropped the host into the mother’s hand while chirping to the little one the banality above. What the mother thought of that, I do not know. But it made me flinch. Flannery O’Connor had words for this sort of thing: “Stupidity and vulgarity are harder to put up with than sin, harder on the nerves.” Continue Reading
A confused signalman

Winding its way through Latin Mass circles is a clip from Brian Holdsworth’s digital evangelism. A Catholic convert in Edmonton, Alberta, and founder of Holdsworth Design, this entrepreneurial web designer understands the importance of branding as a marketing tool. Without putting too fine a point on it, evangelizing and marketing have something crucial in common. Both aim to make a sale. Presentation is a bit stagey, from the Jesus-Christ-Superstar hairstyle to set design—guitars on the wall, swords in the corner, that armet on a shelf. Continue Reading
Arthur rackham illustration

It is getting harder to do more than write off the cuff. Play it by ear. Reading the news has become painful enough. Responding to it coherently, and in a timely way, seems increasingly futile. Insanity rains down on us at such speed I can’t keep up. I am in awe of others who can. I honor anyone able to grasp a starting point within chaos, capable of imposing order on discussion of it. And has the stomach to discern its destination. Continue Reading
Prêt-À-Manger Eucharist, etc.

More than monuments are toppling. Our sense of the sacred diminishes further with each week that fear of Wuhan virus ranks higher on parish concerns than the concept of sin. Thomas Mann once quipped that nowadays sin is “an amusing word used only when one is trying to get a laugh.” Now we can get our laughs untainted by any nagging guilt right in our own parishes. They have risen from slumber over the concept of sin in order to testify with vigor to hygiene in the age of COVID. Continue Reading
Hand Sanitizer: The New Sacramental

“Doctor, Doctor, will I die?” “Yes, my child, and so shall I.” Hand sanitizer has entered the liturgy as both a stay against mortality and a sacramental displacing holy water. Coronavirus is not cholera but it might as well be. That is the unavoidable impression given by churches with dry fonts but multiple dispensers of sanitizer. Every acute respiratory illness is serious. By no means is this latest Chinese virus to be taken lightly. But there is no point in my adding to the media drum beat. Continue Reading