Confessions of a guitar-Mass Catholic

I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s in western suburban Cincinnati, where my Catholic identity took shape at Our Lady of Victory Parish. My mother almost always attended high Mass early on Sundays, but my dad and I usually went to the guitar Mass later in the morning. The first floor of our parish’s recently constructed school building functioned as a temporary “new” church, where most liturgies were held, but our pastor decided that the soon-to-be-condemned, 100-year-old gothic church was the more appropriate venue for the Masses with guitar-playing hippies.

In the old church there was occasionally no heat and never enough light, but there were also no confusing half-Latin/half-English missals or hymnals. Instead, there were hundreds of red Duo-Tang folders waiting to be picked up at the entrance, the kind with the metal prongs in the middle, holding purple-inked pages from the spirit duplicator of lyrics by artists everyone knew: Bob Dylan; the Beatles; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Simon and Garfunkel; Peter, Paul & Mary. Theirs were the songs that colored my celebration of Mass as a child. I pondered and prayed over what I would do if I actually had a hammer, what the sounds of silence were and what it was that I could teach my parents. It would be many years before I no longer looked forward to going to Mass, because what I experienced each week in that old church was a solid sense of peace and wholeness. I knew God was with us, and life was everything it was ever supposed to be while I was singing at Mass alongside my dad.

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Finding Grace

When I was a fifth grader in 1972, the decision was made, because of the deteriorating condition of the building, to close the old church for all liturgies after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. The school still held music classes in the church and art classes in the basement for the rest of the school year.

That spring, my two friends and I signed up for our grade school variety show and were told we could rehearse after school in the old church until the janitor locked the doors at 4 p.m. So each afternoon we put the crumbling plaster on the vaulted ceiling to the test as it tried to contain the passionate strains of one 10-year-old with an accordion and her two friends belting out “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli….”

Now, in 2016, I cannot fathom how it was that three fifth-grade girls were allowed to spend hours unsupervised in a dilapidated old church, but as they say, “It was the ‘70s.”

I recall unlatching and pushing open the gates of the Communion rail, through which we boldly entered what had always been a forbidden zone. We figured out how to work the push-button light switches in the sacristy so we could investigate every cabinet and secret compartment. We posed like statues in the empty niches from which the real statues had been removed, and we even dared each other to open the priest’s door of the confessional. None of us were brave enough to do that.

More than once I ran my hands over the detailed relief sculpture of the Last Supper carved into the front of the altar, fingers lingering on the bearded faces of Jesus and his friends. I remember thinking it was a shame that there were no girls allowed at such an important event, but I never once wondered why they were all squeezed together on just the one side of the table.

I remember touching everything, curious and awestruck, seduced by the access to what I would never be allowed to get close to in the “new” church across the parking lot, and by everything a temporary church could never be. The frescoes of the winged lion and winged bull above the altar looked so much more alive to me standing below them than they did from the nave. And the high altar that had always appeared so pointy and severe from the pews was much less intimidating up close. I had imagined it would be cold to the touch, but it was warm, painted wood, not marble.

I loved being in that old church. I loved its creakiness, its heaviness. I loved the vestiges of the personal histories that lived in there. The familiar family names glazed into the stained-glass windows, the sturdy spring clips on the backs of the pews that had held a thousand hats and purses, and the little frames that had at one time reserved certain pews for a certain few contributors. Mostly, I loved the memories of voices singing together, thoughtfully and joyfully, to the warm and inviting music of the guitar Masses, everyone holding hands and people actually smiling during Mass. 

I didn’t simply feel as if I belonged to that church, I felt that the church belonged to me.

My family moved to a new house a few years later. We joined another parish as I began high school, and the old O.L.V. church was torn down in 1977. It was many years before I could even drive by the campus, and I went inside the church that was built on the site of the old church for the first time just last year to attend a Mass in memory of my parents.

Time marches on. Structures are built and demolished, traditions develop and evolve. For some in the “reform of the reform” wing of the church, I’m sure, I could be the poster child for a whole generation of misguided Second Vatican Council Catholics, the personification of everything that went wrong with the Novus Ordo liturgy. I understand the criticisms of what happened in the American Catholic Church in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, and it makes me sad that so many people felt angry and betrayed by the changes in their church. But the seeds of grace that were planted in me at the guitar Masses in the old Our Lady of Victory Church almost 45 years ago grew and continue to bear fruit to this day. Those simple childhood graces now keep me rooted in my faith when the church’s adult complexities fail me.

I experienced as a child a true, intimate connection with God (a “one-ing,” Julian of Norwich might say) through sacred space and music, through touch and sight and sound. Now, when life isn’t everything it is supposed to be, I can recall those times and those feelings of peace and wholeness and reconnect with God, not as a 10-year-old, but as an adult confident in the enduring gift of God’s grace.

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Robert Killoren
2 years 2 months ago
Your article triggered my recollections, though my time stretches back to pre-Vatican II. Instead of putting us in the basement of an old Church our liturgies were held in the school cafeteria. All the tables were removed and folding chairs arranged in orderly rows. The motivation for putting a guitar Mass there was really because of the suburbanization of a small town on the edge of St Louis. Population exploded and so did Church attendance, so much so that there was no room in the Church even though extra Masses were scheduled. The cafeteria Mass had no organ, obviously (there were no electric keyboards back then) , so a group of us teens volunteered to lead a guitar Mass. Something beautiful and wonderful happened there. The Mass opened up new dimensions of worship. It brought people closer together, and made the prayers intelligible and accessible to non-Latin speaking Americans. Over the years the music written for guitar Masses improved as did our expertise as a singing group. However we were not welcomed by all, but that's another story. Never did I witness the alleged abuses that "plagued" the "new Mass." People of all ages attended, including the grandmas and grandpas who welcomed the warmth and family feeling of the Mass. My wife and I continued leading guitar Masses for over thirty years. It was our ministry. I don't know why Mass attendance shrunk over the next fifty years. I suspect it has a lot to do with the secularization of society and the increase in materialism. I don't know a single person who left the Church who did so because the Mass was in English or because it was accompanied by guitars and pianos. My current parish moves freely between Masses led with an organ and Masses led by guitars. When the Mass was in Latin I loved the Mass. When it became changed to vernacular I loved the Mass. The Mass is always the close encounter with Jesus in the sacrament and in the Body of Christ.
Maggie Flynn
2 years 2 months ago
Bob Killoren we were just talking about you and the Mass setting you wrote back in the early seventies. I agree with your post that all types of music are valid and essential parts of praying the liturgy. I have great memories of the Sacred Heart/Sabina group.
Robert Killoren
2 years 2 months ago
Maggie, it really warms my heart to hear from you. Thanks for letting me know. It is nice to be remembered and to remember. My sister still goes to Sabina, and I visited Sacred Heart a couple weeks ago. I live in Columbus OH and have been a deacon for 17 years. I love Pope Francis but also loved St John Paul II and still love Pope Benedict. I refuse to engage in the culture wars that some bring to the Church. It is getting harder to sing "they'll know we are Christians by our love."
Joe Giglio
2 years 2 months ago
I refuse to accept the premise that we are "misguided Second Vatican Council Catholics." Pope Francis is helping my fellow RC's remember that VCII was work guided by the Holy Spirit. Let the folks songs ring!
Roberto Gutierrez
2 years 2 months ago
So many changes in the Church took a while to reach South Texas, and more, to Hispanic parishes that, until the late 60's, still practiced the Latin rite. It was such a relief to exercise our newfound liturgical voices with songs that resonated with us as young persons. It is still funny for our eighth grade class to remember (we just celebrated our 45th reunion) singing the Beatles' "Let it Be" only later to find out about "Mother Mary". Still, for the time that we shared togetherthat song brought us all closer to a collective, "amen" and that is all that mattered.
Roger Brown
2 years 2 months ago
I'm 68- passed out as a Latin responding alter boy in severe incense Sunday's with father facing East (I NEVER knew that)! I entered the seminary post high school in the local wilderness seminary and served many daily Masses alone with individual priests doing their duty! Year two boom! We moved to the University of Dayton! What a glorious learning experiment we AND the faculty went through! I quickly became contemporary Rog and have remain so ever since! NOW I'm a Vatican ll dinosaur it seems many are hoping we will soon pass on into the ooze! I'm encouraged to think maybe we WON'T disappear into the smoke and organ cantatas!
Michael Keyes
2 years 2 months ago
I had the opposite experience. In 1963 (my sophomore year at Holy Cross) they turned the altar around and started singing folk songs which lessened the experience of the Mass for me considerably. Several things were in play: the music was terrible, the musicians even worse and much of the majesty and mystery of the Mass fell by the wayside. I was playing folk music professionally at that time in local folk clubs (if you can call $20/week professional) and come from a long line of musicians including an aunt who was the music director for the Diocese of Cleveland in the thirties. My Jesuit parish in Cleveland, Gesu, had professional musicians and a dedicated set of choirs for each service. The transition to amateur guitar players and off key singing at HC was jarring. There was nothing uplifting or stimulating about the music and it certainly didn't add to the experience for me even though I was part of the folk revival. Instead, I joined the choir where we sang a Stravinsky Mass and other glorious music. As my aunt said: :"When you sing in church, you pray twice." I'm not sure how the folk Mass fit into that meme.
Rita Baker-Schmidt
2 years 2 months ago
Thanks for the nice article. I remember the Folk Mass at our local church, St. Anthony of Padua, fondly. I don't think we ever sang The Beatles, Dylan or the like, but the 10:30 mass in the basement of the church was always filled with vibrant guitar music and happy families. It certainly brought the word of God to us (then) younger people and it made a lasting impression on me to this day.
Robert Plata
2 years 2 months ago
I would love to attend any guitar-Mass now. Great article!
Ed Hawkins
2 years 2 months ago
Mr. Killoren's post echoed in me. I also love the Mass in its many forms. It has always been both a great prayer and a work of art for me. As an organist from the age of 14 in 1961, I've been involved in liturgy pre- and post- Vatican 2. As much as the Latin liturgy inspired and comforted, I hope and pray Mother Church never returns to Latin as the mandatory liturgical language. The music for the liturgy written for the English Mass since the 1960's, as well as the Mass prayers themselves, have inspired me and made me more of a "liturgical" - that is, a community-oriented - Catholic. Even when I would play the organ for 2 or 3 Masses on a Sunday, I often would save my communion so that I could participate fully in the "Folk" Mass, for which guitars, violins, drums, and trumpets provided the music. I don't believe that very many people have left the Church because of the change to English or the introduction of new music. The Holy Father has it right, in my opinion. As baby boomers like me have gone through life and encountered life's challenges, they also have come up against the harsh, judgmental, and sex-obsessed moralistic pastoral practice of the Church of JPII and Benedict XVI. My wife and I were in Rome when JPII was elected. Both of us were enthusiastic and faithful Catholics. Over the years since, I have tried to ignore the harshness of the Church's judgmental approach. My wife, sadly, has not been able to ignore it. She believes that a magisterium made of males only cannot possibly understand family life and, especially, women's needs. So it wasn't the music that sent people away and it won't be the music that brings them back. Pope Francis, if his reign is long enough, may be able to make some of the changes in the judgmental, merciless tone of the Church that is far louder than the Church's new music and that has caused so many people to give up on Her.
Kenneth Wolfe
2 years 2 months ago
Mrs. Woodall wrote: "I understand the criticisms of what happened in the American Catholic Church in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, and it makes me sad that so many people felt angry and betrayed by the changes in their church." To clarify, we are talking about the complete collapse of the Catholic Church (not just in the U.S.) following the Second Vatican Council and its liberalization of liturgy, music, art and architecture. Its interesting that defenders of such liberalizations don't spend much time on their quantifiable impacts. How many more sacraments were administered as a result of the changes (in this case, permitting folk music to be played at Mass instead of Gregorian chant, polyphony and pipe organ music)? What was the Mass attendance, wait time for confessions, number of marriages and baptisms, etc. before and after the changes? Folk music may make someone feel good (although often supplemented by other things). But the question should be about the impact to one's soul, and to all of the souls on earth. This is why a return-to-tradition approach is back and winning. It seems younger people are actually attracted to beauty and tradition if it is presented to them in an appealing way. Fancy that, young folk dig chanting Benedictines more than they do Peter, Paul and Mary tunes.
WILLIAM CARRINGTON
2 years 2 months ago
I am William (Bill's) wife Sue and I have rarely seen such a severe case of hardening of the categories as that expressed by Mr. Kenneth Wolfe. My experience as a lifelong Catholic started well before Vatican II and included daily Mass with my father and sister in Latin. My parents both had faith, but my father's was extraordinary. I was lucky enough to attend a school where we attended Mass every day - all in Latin - lots of Gregorian Chant which was part of the curriculum. My love and appreciation of it continues to this day - but I do not wish it would return as public worship. Vatican II was inspired and should inspire us all to this day. Our God and saviour are living and invite us to enter the kingdom (Thy kingdom come). Let us trust in the living guidance of the Spirit and live in the present. Let us love one another and be grateful if our liturgies include music that are prayerful (not deadening). I could go on and on but this is a comment not a book. Thank you Lisa Middendorf Woodall for you excellent essay.
Kenneth Wolfe
2 years 2 months ago
"Vatican II was inspired and should inspire us all to this day." If only the Holy Ghost, and not Annibale Bugnini, was the inspiration, perhaps all mankind would actually be inspired as a result. But the Second Vatican Council backfired -- perhaps the only Council in history to actually cause a problem instead of solving one. So far I have seen little-to-no evidence that any of Vatican II's documents or liberalizations inspired anything more than dissonance. Someone's crying, Lord, kumbaya.
Henry George
1 year 9 months ago
Would it have helped if Vatican II had allowed the following: Each parish could offer the "Old Mass" in Latin and English and the "New Mass" in Latin and English. Over time people would vote with their feet and the Bishop/Pastor could trim back what Masses were offered given how many people attended the Masses. As my Mother said: How can the Church tell us we are the "People of God" and then eliminate the form of Liturgy we grew up with and liked and then give us "Folk Masses" whether we want them or not ? She for one stopped attending Church because the music was so bad. Last Sunday I reflected on the songs chosen for Mass and none of them were musically moving or even memorable. You could torture me and I could not whistle the tunes or remember the lyrics. Sadly most of the songs in the Music Book are that way. The Anglican Church has beautiful hymns that the Catholic Church largely ignored when introducing new music after Vatican II. [ They also have a beautiful liturgy far more moving than the somewhat insipid quasi-translation in English of the Latin Liturgy produced after Vatican II.] There are different personality types. You could make a case that Protestants join the Churches they do along the lines if the service matches their personality. Quite/Reflective - Anglican, love to sing - Methodist, love to sing and dance - Pentecostal. I have been to a few guitar masses that were moving but the songs were not trite. I have been to a few "organ" masses where I felt as if I were attending a concert. Ms. Woodall, you may have been more moved by the songs of your youth than you appreciate. As for me, I was an Altar Boy when the Pastor went on vacation. While he was gone the young and Progressive Associate allowed for Folk Masses at the Parish. The Pastor came back early the next Sunday and saw a drum set in the Sanctuary and called me over: " I will give you five dollars if you move that drum set to the basement and lock it in the closet". And so I did for it profaned a Holy Space and the drummer was not very good. None of us have a right to force the type of liturgy we like on anyone else. If there is a High Mass in Latin at Noon and a Folk Mass at 5 PM - why complain if it brings people closer to Jesus. As for the Holy Spirit - the number of people who left the Church or at least rarely go to Sunday Mass dropped enormously after Vatican II - was it the 60's, the end of the fear of incurring a Mortal Sin for not going to Mass, the Folk Mass ? Hard to say, but the Spirit blows where it will, and if it leading Catholics back to a more "formal" Mass where Latin is used here and there - who are the proponents of the "Spirit of Vatican II" to complain ?
Mike Evans
2 years 2 months ago
Maybe it is time for including our mainline Protestant brothers and sisters into a simple new classification as a Rite. We could have Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, AME, and even Baptist Rites of worship just as we now recognize the primarily ethnic Eastern Rites. Looks differ, sounds differ, prayers differ but it is all just the people of God joining in one upraised love of God.
Carl Kuss
2 years 2 months ago
I too went to folk masses with my father in the late sixties; but through the influence of my uncle (my mother's brother), a Traditionalist priest, we were at the time in the process of leaving the reformed liturgy in favor of an Eastern Rite Ukrainian mass. There I would be an altar boy for ten years. I am now a priest with the Legionaries of Christ, working as parish priest in José Maria Morelos en Quintana Roo, México, with the Maya people. Before coming here I worked for 23 years in parishes in Holland (always as Vicar); only now for six weeks am I parish priest. Holland was also profoundly marked by the guitar Catholocism of the sixties, and then by Reaction and then by the Abuse Crisis. But here in the poor little towns of Mexico I here echoes of those guitar masses. They even sing a Spanish version of "Son of God, hear his holy Word" and my heart is rent with nostalgic joy and what I hope is Piety. My father liked those masses too.
Mike Evans
2 years 2 months ago
In 1961 I was in the jr.college seminary. During our meal time discussions, the frequent question was: Are you a mover or strict conservative? Many of us were idealists and had experienced "dialogue Masses" at home in our own parishes. We saw what energy even that little participation (in Latin, of course) brought to the liturgy. Everything else seemed to improve along with it, including sermons that made sense, a new reverential approach to everything, and curiosity about scripture, moral theology, and the Christian life. Of course we were then amazed at the outcome of Vatican II just a few years later and the wonderful example of a rotund, smiling and joyful John XXIII. Suddenly, the church seemed to be everything possible and a reaching out to every person, every where. Hopefully, Pope Francis can bring a lot of that feeling back to us before the Lord calls him home.
Stephen McCluskey
2 years 2 months ago
Thanks for using the phrase "dialogue Mass"; it jolted my memory, reminding me of the liturgical reform that was well underway before Vatican II. A Google NGram search https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=dialogue+mass&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1910&year_end=2016&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Cdialogue%20mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bdialogue%20Mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDialogue%20Mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bdialogue%20mass%3B%2Cc0#t4%3B%2Cdialogue%20mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs1%3B%3Bdialogue%20Mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDialogue%20Mass%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bdialogue%20mass%3B%2Cc0 shows the growing use of the phrase between the thirties and fifties. The advocates of a return to the pre-Vatican II liturgy seem to be largely unaware of the changes that had been going on before Vatican II to draw the people into active participation in the Mass.
Frank Lesko
2 years 2 months ago
There is one element that is not mentioned often enough when it comes to folk Masses: The music almost always conveys a tremendous social consciousness. I have always suspected that a lot of the resistance to this particular musical approach has a lot to do with resistance to the theology it so often communicates. This is the implied theology in the folk approach to music as well as the theology in the lyrics. Meaning: This music earns the title “folk” in more than one way. It isn’t just because they use guitars and maracas. Rather, it is because it reflects a consciousness that comes from the people and is oriented to the people—all in dialogue with God. This is true not just in terms of musical styles but also in terms of practical application of faith. In a church that seeks “full and active participation” (Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 14), which earns the description “catholic,” and in which the voices of the people of God in all their local flavors and customs have a place, folk music—i.e. the music of the people—may be darn near essential to living out Vatican II. It shows that the Church is serious about being “the People of God” (a major theme all through Lumen Gentium, as well as the Old Testament). Folk music is not just a style of music that involves guitars. It represents a distinct philosophical approach to music, one that arises out of the people, is handed down from generation to generation and which is a kind of living organism. It recognizes that grace and wisdom can arise out of the masses and movements of people, not just from the top down of some hierarchy. It’s a musical representation of the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful). That is why it is being attacked so harshly, I believe—it’s not about tambourines, it’s an attack on the basic theology of Vatican II. A lot of traditional Catholic musical styles (as well as modern evangelical praise music) often feature an individual’s spiritualized relationship with God. They can be exceedingly devotional. In sharp contrast, folk music is usually more geared toward putting faith into practice in a world that is both teeming with God’s beauty but also broken and in need of charity and justice. It’s not just about “me and God”—it’s about “us and God.” Just try finding songs to match a prayer gathering around Laudato Si—you’ll be digging into the music of the St. Louis Jesuits and Joe Wise very quickly! We absolutely need to keep these folk songs and traditions alive because few other approaches do a better job speaking to (or rather singing to!) the social dimensions of our faith. We would have to go back to Scripture or the lives of the saints to find similar voices. Indeed, it’s no accident that so much of folk music draws so heavily from Scripture. Let’s be honest: David the Psalmist would probably have a lot more in common with folk Mass guitarists than with the liturgical chant tradition. My answer: What about both/and? Saying that we should only have one form of music reduces us into a smallish “denomination.” It takes away from the grandeur of being “The Church” which crisscrosses the world and the centuries. Instead, it just makes us appealing only to certain personality styles rather than something which engages the whole world. We can have religious orders and charisms which hone in on particular forms, but let’s not limit the whole Church that way. I’ve been all around the musical block and I don’t think there’s anything inherently good or bad about any musical style. I’ve experienced great folk styles at Mass—and bad. I can say the same about “traditional” organ or chant music. I’ve known many traditionalists whose music was stuffy, narcissistic and chock full of a political agenda. I can say the same about some guitar players, too. I’ve also experienced the beauty of all these styles. Asking to pick only one style and jettison the rest would be to deprive the world of beauty and diversity. Thich Nhat Hanh says he enjoys the different tastes in a fruit salad in Living Buddha, Living Christ. I’ve played the banjo at Mass with mostly younger, very traditionalist Catholics and they loved it. The banjo has a haunting sound and can be very meditative. It’s not about the instrument. Let’s just listen to how it is being used to orient us to God, community and creation. I put “traditional” in quotes above because it’s a relative term. Even the Tridentine Mass only goes back a few hundred years, which is a pretty small sampling in a 2,000 year old Church. The organ itself was once a questionable instrument with scandalous origins and associations. In time, it has become a default church instrument. Times do change, we should all know enough history to know that.
Roy Van Brunt
2 years 1 month ago
What's the hang-up with "folk"? The urging of the Council was to make use of "contemporaneous" music. It happens that what was "contemporaneous" was guitar-driven folk/ Maybe the start was a bit flawed because the guitarists used songs they knew, but the rapid emergence of the substantial body of St Louis Jesuit music quickly provided a wealth of scriptural-based music that would have been ideal had it been used - as it was in many places - instead of rejected in America by many because they disliked anti-war music being played on guitars. I have often wondered if the council had been 20 years earlier if those same people would have so quickly rejected the use of Big Band music that was contemporaneous at that time!! My guess is always "no!"
Henry George
1 year 9 months ago
Frank, Can you please provide ten "folk songs" that you find to be of high quality ?
Jo Murphy
2 years 2 months ago
It wasn't a shame that there were no women in the sculpture of The Last Supper, because the women were already doing the work of Jesus, they didn't need to be taught.
Bruce Snowden
2 years 2 months ago
Too much fretting and frowning about Folk Masses, versus Traditional Masses, whatever that is. Too many of us seem to think that at the First Eucharist also called the Last Supper, a Tridentine Jesus vested in a stiff-back Romanesque chasuble, with swinging Maniple, evolved from a roman handkerchief, turned to the congregation saying “Dominus Vobiscum!” At that Table Jesus used the vernacular and the congregation at that Mass “reclined” that is, positioned themselves in a comfortable stretch, eating, singing, then making their First Communion and if the Lord’s words “Do this in memory of Me” constituted what is now called Holy Orders, then those at the Table were also ordained priests. No miters, No incense, just the smell of wine and, roasted lamb etc. After all is said and done, shouldn’t the first and best reason to attend Mass be, to participate in Eucharist, to transubstantiate that Blessed Food into our own spiritual body and blood, sharing as it were in the very soul and Divinity of the Resurrected Christ? Guitars, Gregorian Chant, Folk Music, whatever, only stirring “distractions” so to speak, insignificant nothings in comparison to the Real Presence. Fretting and frowning veils in darkness the only real reason what we bother going to Mass at all and what we lose in the quarreling is inestimable! Are these thoughts nourished in the light of simplicity surrounding the innate nature of our God, or are they nothing more than the smoky smelling conflagrated rafters of human idiocy? I believe them to reflect the first, but considering in truth that I am just a man who knows a little about many things, but not very much about anything, the second may be right!
Vincent Gaglione
2 years 1 month ago
Mr. Snowden, WOW!!!! Thank you for a very compelling set of comments.
Bruce Snowden
2 years 1 month ago
Thank you Mr. Gaglione, for you kind comment. It's good to know that someone is listening.
Michael Barberi
2 years 1 month ago
Hi Bruce. Long time no talk. Great commentary. I was an alter boy in the 1950s and still remember some of the Latin I had to memorize. I agree that the reason Catholics go to Church, or should as one of my confessors told me, is to worship God in community. We often forget that. While we all pray for ourselves and family, and giving thanks to God for all of His blessings, we are also praying in a unity with our fellow brothers and sisters who also are worshipping and giving thanks. It was not until I had taken early retirement and I started to enter into various parish ministries that I experienced the special blessings of working together on charitable projects for the poor. This has helped me pray during Mass, not only for myself family and friends, but also for all who are attending Mass with me. It helps me go beyond myself which is always a struggle in our secular society. Mass music is nice but not critical. However, I do like the music because the words help me reflect on the important things of faith, hope and charity, et al. As for why Mass attendance has significantly decreased, this is a complex subject and best left for comments on a more specific article. All the best.
Bruce Snowden
2 years 1 month ago
Hi Michael, Yes, it's been awhile, but I do a lot of posting, you too, so we can always touch base there. By the way, two years now my wife and I became Southern, living in costal Georgia in a small town not far from Savannah. Had to escape the NYC winter. also get greater access to two Southern sons and grandkids and we love it here. Hi ya'll! Mmmm, just love fried okra! Sorry for not responding to your post sooner - didn't know until just now that you had posted. To you and fam the best!
Roy Van Brunt
2 years 1 month ago
Boy, this article really hits home. Lisa and I were teenagers (or in her case, less!) when John XXIII wisely and in the Spirit opened the door to genuine worship. Many of us waited respectfully through decades as the Council's attempt to make worship real, and make Church to be a place to "be at," as opposed to "go to" was resisted by many of our elders whose traditions we respected with love. I aways imagined there eventually would be "our time." But I'm now in my 70's,.... and it looks and feels like we have lost the battle while waiting. Music Directors select hymns week after week that were wiitten in the Middle ages, and gloss by using the really great scripture-based songs written contemporaneous authors. Lectors need to wear jackets or they are excluded from that ministry. Like Lisa, I reside comfortably in my faith, and in a realization that church is its people, and not its hierarchy, The connection with God that is produced by a loving and living liturgy cannot be rivaled by a stage play in which people only watch Eucharist "happen" as long as it's done the way it was four, seven, or even twelve centuries ago. I still pray for living liturgy, and really appreciate it when it's found. Those of us like Lisa, who found it in the '60's may die disappointed that we couldn't see it universally. But we live and practice faith in the memory .

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