I’d like to say a word about one of the consequences of the “Spirit of Vatican – II”-wave centering the Mass experience on the “feelings” rather than on the rather hard job of promoting Catholic orthodoxy, namely its emasculation expressed as both childishness and effeminacy. I’m afraid that the trend has been encouraged by the increased number of priests of dubious virility – or worse; or much worse – allowed to become priests after V II.
Those of you who have the privilege of being able to attend a Tridentine Mass will immediately understand what I am saying. At a Tridentine Mass you have sober, measured, dignified gestures, repeated in the same way again and again. A sense of serious business, of momentous proceedings. Solemnity, dignity, gravitas at all times.
The priest is a figure of authority. He clearly leads, the faithful follow. The entire matter is – I can’t find a better word – rather military in the precision of every gesture. Whatever emotions the priests has, he keeps to himself. It truly is not about emotions.
Compare this with the Novus Ordo as practiced in the friendly progressive parish church near you.
1) The priest is not a figure of authority. He doesn’t even want to. He makes the impression that, given the choice, he’d rather be an aunt distributing chocolate and biscuits.
2) The new hymns are of two types: the extremely childish and the worryingly effeminate ones. All of them seriously embarrassing stuff.
3) The readings are frequently read – particularly by women – in a highly emotionally charged, smug, patronising voice, as if little children had to be thought the importance of not telling lies to mommy.
4) The exercise is repeated during the prayer intentions. Politically charged “I can’t believe how good we are”-undertones will easily sneak in.
5) The sign of peace is an outburst of easy emotionalism at which, once again, mainly women excel. “Peaaace beee with youuuuuuu!”. Yes, ma’am.
6) At times, the altar “girls” (oh well…) literally surround the priest during consecration. The visual message couldn’t be clearer.
7) The “extraordinary ministers” are, in my impression, mainly women.
8 ) Don’t get me started on the bringing of the gifts to the altar. Might be interesting for children under Four. No, make it Three.
9) The homilies tend to focus on emotional aspects: “feel the love” instead of “obey the rules”. They have no admonishment to give, merely encouragements. They do not demand, but suggest.
10) At the end of Mass, the priest is at the door with his best smile for everyone. You think a Tupperware party might just have gone to an end. But he has such a nice smile. Aren’t we a jolly good parish.
All this makes of your typical Novus Ordo atmosphere something between the kindergarten and the self-awareness group. I still remember a church in Central London I entered to go to confession. There was a Mass still going on and a statue of Mary was being carried in procession within the church. The most sugary of hymns was being sung and the extremely effeminate priest was asking everyone to …….. wave white handkerchiefs at the statue of Mary whilst singing along at it.
You could have cut the embarrassment of the males with a knife. I mean, for a woman this might well seem a stupid exercise; but to ask a man for that is to go against everything he is. I didn’t wave, but I did remember. I’d love to be able to tell you that the priest might have been blissfully unaware of the childishness and effeminacy of all this. I doubt it.
In conclusion: on the one hand we have a clearly masculine and adult exercise, executed with sober and military precision by what were, in the absolutely vast majority, clearly heterosexual men.
On the other hand we have an emotional fest taking over and expressing itself in childish or effeminate, but always ridiculous ways; ways tolerated or positively encouraged by priests in serious need to man up, when we are lucky.
Then we complain that poorly instructed teenagers – grown up with “feel the love” platitudes and not even told that Sunday Mass obligation must be taken seriously – stop attending Mass.