10 Things About Church That Have Changed
Many things in the Church have changed since I was a kid. There are things you see now that you would never have seen back then and vice versa. For good and for ill.
Altar boys wearing sneakers. This drives me nuts. When I was a kid, we weren’t even allowed to wear sneakers to church. When we were serving at Mass, only shiny black pleather would do. Nothing but the best. Today, I see altar boys wearing ratty high tops or even sandals. Makes me wanna smack the parents upside the head. Big deal? No. In bad taste? You betcha.
Puppet Masters. This is actually an improvement. When I was a kid, I witnessed several priests condescend to Mass attendees with puppet-laden homilies. Thanks to AlGore’s invention of the internet and so many Catholic bloggers with a taste for puppet blood, most priests are wise enough to avoid such nonsense. They may not fear hell, but at least they fear YouTube.
Communion Line Free-for-All. Boy do I miss the communion line free-for-all. When I was a kid, people still had enough rugged individualism to decide if and when they would go to communion. Now you go when big brother in the polyester jacket tells you to go, row by row. Back then, nobody knew if you didn’t present yourself for communion, now everyone knows so everyone goes. I say, bring back free-form communion.
Altar girls. I was an altar boy from 3rd grade until well into my teens, and I loved it. If there had been girls involved, I probably would have quit. When you are 10, girls just ruin everything. There are many arguments for and against altar girls, but for me the deal breaker is that more altar girls almost always means fewer altar boys. And fewer altar boys means fewer ... well, you know the drill.
Latin Mass. This is one of the greatest improvements since I was a child. If there was even a whiff about you of incense, people looked at you funny. There was this woman at Mass growing up who wore a veil and knelt from the Sanctus on. Nobody would even sit near her for fear of catching airborne orthodoxy. I sat next to her at the Latin Mass a month or two ago. Who woulda thunk it?
The Collection. Empires rise and fall. Liturgies come and go. But the collection, the collection remains the same. When I visit the parish of my youth, they still use the same baskets on a stick. The one constant through all the years has been the collection. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. The liturgy has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But the collection has marked the time. For it is money they have, and peace they lack.
Sign-of-peace-a-palooza. This is actually an improvement, generally. During the 70’s and 80’s, the sign-of-peace lasted as long as a Grateful Dead concert, but without the decorum. Thankfully, in most places, this has been scaled back from obscene to merely uncomfortable.
Confession. Back in my day, we actually had seven sacraments. There used to be this little box you could go into before Mass and confess your sins so that you were spiritually prepared to meet the Lord. Today, and this is not an exaggeration, the average infomercial lasts longer than confession time at your average parish. Bring back the box.
Phones. Today, there are more iPhones in church than rosary beads. Why do you need your phone on during Mass? Somebody is calling you during Mass, but He doesn’t need a phone. Leave it at home.
Youth Choir. Actually, the youth choir hasn’t changed at all. I mean that. At many parishes, the average age of the “youth choir” is 63. There are more guitars, tambourines and walkers in the youth choir than you can shake your cane at. Many of the same folks who tried to make the Mass relevant to youth 40 years ago by doing their best Peter, Paul, and Mary imitations are still at it. It was silly then and it is silly now. I would tell them, but they would have to turn their hearing aids up to hear me, so I don’t. It’s not worth it anyhow. They will be eating apple sauce, watching Pat Sajack, and ringing for the nurse soon enough. Let them enjoy their last few moments in the setting sun.
What did I miss?