February 24, 2008

A Big Headache

A Cranky Cathy post!

I went to Mass with my Dad this morning. He got up late so we went to a North End parish that is not mine. Well, all parishes belong to all of us but we are usually registered at a particular one. So, I mean, the parish I went to this a.m. is not the one I'm registered at.

I've been to Masses, Adoration and Confession at this parish before. It's not, I have to say, a parish I attend unless I have to. I went to an appallingly disrespectful 40 Hours Devotion there once. It was so bad that I wrote a letter to the Pastor. I'm sure he probably took it "under advisement" since nothing has changed since.

Well, so there we are.

Why is it that choirs have to practice RIGHT BEFORE MASS?! I know many choirs and musicians have rehearsals during the week. If they don't, they should. If they don't, then please don't rehearse in the Church. Go to the basement, the music room, the parking lot, across town-somewhere else.

I'm trying to pray the Rosary in competition with Purple Guitar Strap Joe on the folk guitar (may they one day be consigned to a pyre lit by Father Richtsteig). Not only a folk guitar but it was amped (!) up to, at least, 6. In addition, was the choir and the pianist/organist banging away. My inappropriate humor, which is never far from the surface (probably why I'm still sane-bwah-ha-ha!), bubbled up as I wondered if the guitarist takes requests? I pondered yelling out: "Freebird!" and whipping out my lighter. Why not? It seems like just about anything goes these days except actually praying at Mass. Silence has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

I finished my Rosary. In fact, I was actually praying it out loud with my eyes closed. It was the only way I could concentrate. However, my Dad heard me and was chortling under his breath. Later he said: "I'm glad you did not kill anyone" Not this week, anyway. I have to admit I was praying the guitar strings would all break. Or, that my dream of Father Z, the Coped Avenger, appearing and smashing the guitar to smithereens would come true. Well, not today. Maybe someday. (hee-hee)

The Reader and the Choir Director (both females of a certain age) had purple sweaters on. Now, friends, you know how down with that color _______ I am, right? BTW, did you know that purple is the color the fans of women's ordination also wear? Oh, I'm sure that was just a coincidence (meow). They changed all the masculine pronouns for God to "God", rather than "Him" I made sure to keep it as it reads. I sang it true as well.

It's all good though, I waived at them during the "Sign of Peace" just like they do at Terry's parish. Mercifully, I did not have to introduce myself before Mass. "Hi, I'm Cathy, a recovering dissident."

Then, I brought myself back from the brink and a raging headache (I get a really bad headache when I start getting so mad and I can't vent) and realized that I need more mercy than I possess. It was, after all, not that long ago that I would have been the one ridding the Mass responses of masculine pronouns for God. I might have been the running around yakking before Mass too. I used to do that. There were decades when I thought that was all entirely appropriate and justifiable behavior. I never used to pray before Mass. Moreover, there were many times, I never WENT to Mass when I should have.

What our Church still needs is: mercy and education. We also need to lead by example so I'll try to keep doing that. Who knows? Just as holding hands during the "Our Father" has leeched its way into our Masses because a few people started doing it, maybe silent prayer before and after and during Holy Mass will come back if a few of us start doing that too.

This one is for you, Ray :I'm happy to report that Father won the "Great Priestly-Musician Show Down" at the beginning of Mass. This is what I call what happens when the Music Director/Singer/Choir/Organist (pick one or all of them) INSISTS on performing all 5 verses of the opening hymn even though Father arrived at the altar and is ready to begin on verse 2. Dang it, they are going to sing the whole thing and fill their ministry/let us all know how good they are. So, there's Father just standing there awkwardly. Heh, not this time. Father gave a look and they shut it down after verse 3. I could see they wanted to keep it going though. ROFL!! Father had probably had enough of listening to them rehearse it before Mass-as we all did.


Blogger Angela M. said...

I feel your pain Cathy! However, I was NOT aware that purple was the color of revolt! Huh! I would have thought they were just trying to match Father's Lenten garb.

PS...can I send your dad an alarm clock?

Oh - and I was ROFLMAO when I read the "Freebird" part of the post!!!

February 24, 2008 2:57 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Yeah, purple is Lent color _and_ you don't clash with Father. Also, a good excuse to wear purple is a good excuse to wear purple, which color I like.

Besides, somebody gave me a purple cashmere sweater (my kind of hand-me-down!) right before Lent. So God wants me to wear purple!

God does not want the women's ordination people to wear purple, though. He wants them to wear... um... puce. Yeah.

February 24, 2008 4:06 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

"We also need to lead by example so I'll try to keep doing that. Who knows? Just as holding hands during the "Our Father" has leeched its way into our Masses because a few people started doing it, maybe silent prayer before and after and during Holy Mass will come back if a few of us start doing that too."

I couldn't have said it better myself, sugar. You're on the right track on this one.

My BIGGEST pet peeve are the individuals who want to beat the crowds to the parking lot and exit the mass BEFORE the final blessing. Also, the ones who get to mass late. Bet you they get to the theater BEFORE the movie starts!


February 24, 2008 4:14 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I think you touched on six or seven of my "issues" in this keeper of a post, Cathy!

The mandate to sing all the verses of a processional hymn is a major league issue with me. I do now and then thank they who decided that the "Stabat Mater" ("At the Cross Her Station Keeping"), was not to be a processional. It has at least 20 verses.

A year or two ago, Cardinal Arinze dealt with the issue of "practice sessions" before Mass when people should be preparing themselves. Being musically ungifted, I can see where it might be necessary for an organist to warm up the fingers. But one parish with which I am familiar I believe has taken heed and declared a ten minute moratorium on playing right before Mass (which is when 90% seem to pile into the pews. It's just too bad that he isn't 20 years younger!

An issue that is rarely complained about but which ranks high on my list is the "Communion Hymn." Theologically and liturgically speaking it might not rank high, but to me, the period right before, during and after my reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in Holy Communion should be a time of silence and contemplation, not time for more singing, no matter how appropriate the words.

Here's another one:

Aren't there any female "basso profundo" cantors? Being vocally challenged, when I sing in a group (or at Mass) I unconsciously end up singing in the same range as the cantor or the lady closest to me in the pew. And I can't do that and end up not singing.

I would bet that there would be far more singing by men if the cantor sang in a much lower range.

My recent experience in singing in a Gregorian Chant schola with three or four other men, one of whom is a tenor, has been reasonably successful (although nothing certainly to brag about), which tells me that anybody who can sing Happy Birthday or Jingle Bells can sing a hymn if it is presented in a "singable" range.

Thanks for raising the issue, Cathy.

February 24, 2008 4:48 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Tom: Yep, those folks bug me too. Why would anyone want to leave before the final blessing? Really.

Ray: Good point. I have a low voice so I can relate. I'm not a fan of the Communion hymn either. I prefer the silence.

Angela and Maureen: It's not the color so much (though in this case it is) it's when people wear colors to make a statement. I don't like red at Pentecost either. I love both purple and red as a color and I have to say, I look fantastic in both (!) but can we just go to Mass and have only our presence there be a "political" statement? If people want to make a statement with their clothing how about dressing like they don't look like they just got out of bed? How counter-cultural would that be?

Angela: LOL! My Dad knows that here in the big city as long as he is up by 10:30 we can still get to a Mass somewhere nearby. In his small town there is only one Sunday Mass at 9:30-its quite a drive to go elsewhere. He looks upon coming here as a vacation of sorts.

February 24, 2008 4:58 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Well, well. How appropriate. My hubby and I had to go to 10:30 Mass with the yahoo, rock it up, band. Afterwards we had to go out to lunch to discuss everything that was wrong, wrong, wrong.

They were so loud that my ears were actually plugged up for about an hour after Mass. The bass player was cranked up to the point where you could feel it in the pew. There was not one teeny, tiny moment of silence during communion and the closing hymn was complete with percussion toys (little shaker thingys). Hello!! Isn't this LENT!

The Psalm was of their own design and sounded more like a broadway hit song them a Psalm. We looked around and not one person was singing the response. As a matter of fact - there was never more than 10 folks ever singing. You CAN NOT SING when you can't hear yourself.

All three of our Masses practice right up to the last bloody second. I've seen Father have to wait 'cause they're still pulling themselves together. We have a HUGE downstairs with a piano so that is absolutely not necessary.

Oh, please God - let me hear some good music before I suffle off this mortal vale - PLEASE!!

February 24, 2008 10:28 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

.....and, let's not forget the flute player the band dragged in off the street. Try and imagine this said flute player, putting the business end of the flute about 1/4 of an inch from a microphone. Ice picks in the ears which saved us from having to do the deed ourselves.

We also love the singers shaking their booty in the back of the church. Ain't we grand?? We belong on Hee Haw, doncha know!

As if this isn't bad enough they are advertising for a percussionist (drummer??). Or maybe they need someone dedicated to just percussion toys. Meatloaf would be jealous.

February 25, 2008 1:35 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adrienne: Well, don't you play the skins? *cathy ducks and runs*

I'd rather see you playing the drums at my New Year's Eve bash! :-)

February 25, 2008 6:00 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I remember Paramedic Girl or someone posting a similar rant. I don't know what kind of a trip I was on at the time, but I commented how I just focus upon Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and if it gets too noisy, I offer it up - recalling how Jesus had to carry the cross amidst much hustle and bustle and noise.

Yeah, right.


February 25, 2008 10:17 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Right, Terry. Just offer it up. We try, we really do but it is sooooo hard.

Let's not forget having to protect your hands during the Our Father. I just refuse to do it anymore unless it is a really sweet little old lady next to me who would be very, very hurt. Otherwise, my hands are firmly planted together and my eyes are forward.

I thas become just one distraction after another.

February 25, 2008 10:56 AM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Well, those sweet ladies might've just been wearing some Vikings gear or even U of St. Thomas uses purple. They were just showing their team spirit at the big game. Next time you need to be prepared and bring one of those large foamy "We're #1" hands that you can whip out when it comes to the Our Father.

February 25, 2008 11:51 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Adrienne - I was submitting my comment as irony in that I wasn't able to continue with my pious attitude...

I frequently go through what Cathy writes about - I no longer have patience for the circus atmosphere before and after Mass.

February 25, 2008 12:14 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

adrienne: I'm with you. I prefer to keep my hands to myself too but I don't want it to be a wrestling match either-those folks who insists blah, blah, blah. Good grief, do we go to Mass to have our personal space violated? Sounds like something, Terry would say doesn't it? LOL!

Speaking of Terry.. Ter, I know what you are saying. I did focus on the Cross and it helped but I still get cranky.

Swissy: ROFL! Yes, I felt like whipping my finger out. Oh, wait, you said hand. Never mind. Hey, my Grandma used to have one of those rubber Viking's bricks that she would hurl at the TV when the Vikes stunk (needless to say it got a lot of action and it wore out). I should get one of those and start using it! Kidding. But, it amuses me to think of it. LOL!

February 25, 2008 12:59 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Adrienne, and the rest of you:

I also like to keep my hands stuffed into my pockets, but have found myself to be a sucker for little old ladies (some of whom it seems like I went to school with), but more especially, I have a weakness for the proffered paw of little tykes.

Not because I love the little ones, which I do, when their noses aren't running and their bottoms are dry, but I live in terror of a last judgment when a few hundred of them are lined up as "witnesses for the prosecution" on loan from Hell, who want to testify that I was the grumpy old man who made them lose their faith because I refused to grab their sticky fingers.

Better safe than sorry!

February 25, 2008 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I do not understand especially with all the other choices you had!

Saint Agnes 10 & 12.

Maternity of Mary 10:30

and if you really slept in late, St. John's New Brighton 6:30 PM.

Terry B.

February 25, 2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger uncle jim said...

i HAVE actually pulled my hand out of the hand next to me that grabbed it without my consent.

one time it was the parish DRE.
after mass she asked me, "What was that all about?!?"
i told that i simply do not do 'hold hands'

she thinks i was just pulling her chain - can hardly wait 'til the next time.

February 25, 2008 10:03 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

We were going to go to the 9 AM yesterday as we knew the lady who was doing the music and she actually play the organ (gasp!) as well as geetar.
Anyway, hubby was tired so decided to go to 11 instead and brave the teen band (again.) Turns out there was NO music AT ALL. Communion was glorious.

Father asked (pleaded?) that more people come out and do music. I just smiled smugly to myself. (is that a sin?!)

February 25, 2008 11:16 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

Well, they were "practicing" in between the 11AM and 12:30 Masses yesterday. They were up in the choir loft, where they should be, and they were singing polyphony.
It was as though the angels were singing.
Totally conducive to prayer - I felt contemplative and at peace and penitent and all those things you should be feeling before Mass.

Geetars, however? I would have hit myself over the head with a votive candle in an attempt to knock myself the hell out.

February 26, 2008 4:32 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...


I thumbed through all my lists of the Seven Deadly Sins and nowhere did I see "Smugness" or even "Contentment" listed. I suppose, though, that the guy who came up with "singing is praying twice" aphorism might accuse you of "Sloth" which is indeed one of those Seven Deadly Sins.

February 26, 2008 6:39 PM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

I am in my parish choir and we practice right before mass every Sunday BUT we practice in the choir room which is completely out of ear shot from the church. We also do ALL our singing from the choir loft - out of sight. I thank the Lord for this.

February 28, 2008 11:01 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...


Back in the dark ages, "out of sight" seems to me to have been the rule in all parishes. As we processed [QUIETLY] out of church when Mass was over, we would get a chance to see who had been doing the singing. Our corner store grocer, Mr. Hurley, had a magnificent baritone in those day.

February 28, 2008 5:35 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sanctus: I thank the Lord for that too! :-)

February 29, 2008 6:01 AM  
Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

Father Z, the Coped Crusader?


March 03, 2008 7:52 AM  

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