May 12, 2023

Letters to the Editor

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No letters were printed this week; here are the letters from last week:

‘I’ve never seen such faith’

I had occasion recently to attend the Indianapolis West Deanery preparation meeting for the upcoming Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. I sat at a table with five members of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield. As we began our sharing, I asked what they had done during COVID, whether they had gone to a “parking lot Mass” at some point. The table became quiet, and one man spoke up and said, “I rode my bicycle over to sit by the church just so I could be near [Christ].” Another gentleman looked over at him and said quietly, “I drove over to the church and parked … .” I’ve never seen such faith. Maybe there was a reason I was there.

- Mary Schott | Greenwood

‘The Mass is not a performance’

I have misgivings about demonstrative and affective forms of worship, whether or not liturgically structured. Affective worship with its spontaneity and excitability, sometimes seems downright anti-liturgical. It can easily be mistaken as an idolization of spiritual consolation, wherein emotional affect and catharsis is wrongly taken as the sign and proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

However, there is a place for meritorious emotion in the act of worship. I think we should feel something when attending the Mass. Nonetheless, I view the solemnity and interiority of the celebration of the Mass as an element of its particular uniqueness and genius.

The liturgically-minded Catholic understands that, while it is the priest who steps up to the altar and speaks the true subject of the liturgy, it is Christ himself and not the priest (or the choir) who is the true subject of the liturgy. It is no puzzle that we might be able to strive in our interior to produce emotions which best fit the activity of our intellect and will.

Personally, I am a contemplative, drawn to liturgical mysticism. The normal crowning of the Christian journey is mysticism, and “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1324).

The liturgy of the Mass involves a subtle interaction of mind, emotion and body. A complete celebration of the Mass should engage the whole person: mind, emotions and body. A Mass that contains thought without emotion might seem more akin to a philosophy class than worship. However, we should not prioritize emotions over reason. The Mass is multivalent; it has several meanings all at once. But the Mass is not a performance.

- Kirth N. Roach | Indianapolis

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