Monday, July 22, 2013

CNN just loves the charismatic movement in Brazil

This segment has it all: happy Catholic crowds dancing to pop music, priests leaping and jumping to the beat, while across town bored, thin, and yawning congregations endure stodgy liturgy at the older parishes. It's such an archetype -- and this kind of story has been the media narrative for about half a century! -- that it is hard to know what is true and what is not.

That said, let's just grant that the charismatic movement brings a certain conviction to the liturgy that the mainstream of liturgical life lacks. I can easily see this. Even if the story is agenda driven, there is truth here. Boredom at liturgy is a common feature of Catholic life. The question is: what direction should we go to change this? What is the right way out?

As I look at these images, I try to replace them in my mind with a serious presentation of traditional Catholic forms including the sung Mass, chant rendered with confidence, organ, incense, a celebrant who sings his parts, beautiful vesture, and the use of Latin. Would this approach be as effective in engaging the people who are currently attached to these party-like gatherings?

I would think so, but the basis would be different. There would be a central focus on truth rather than entertainment, interior examination rather than exterior emotional outbursts, a reflection on personal faith rather than the personality of the priest.

Thoughts welcome.