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November 03, 2006



I can imagine many people I know supporting this nonsense and expressing it like Amy suggests they would. But you know what, almost all of them are people who rarely attend a Mass of any kind. They really don't understand anything but a kind of kiddy party and God forbid if I ever asked them about how they would choose to present the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Now that would make for a scary halloween story.

c matt

They have no problem with this and will tell you that they find it spiritually helpful.

It keeps coming back to poor catechesis. If they really understood what was going on when we celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass, they shouldn't stand for this foolishness.


And you're catechized about what the Mass is by how Mass is celebrated. It's a vicious circle.


The problem is involving the liturgy in this process. Why not just have a costume event that is not a mass? Would that not be as much fun? Why use the one time during the week when we contemplate God to contemplate Barney instead? There is not rule that you can't get together as a parish for things other than mass.

I do have a problem with the "I love you, you love me, we're a great big family" stuff from Barney. I mean this is the same language the church uses but for Barney it is a lie. Barney does not love my son. He could not care less if he lives or dies. So why say "I love you". Don't you just cheapen the "I love you" that Jesus says?

Old Zhou

My two cents:

This is just another manifestation of the problem of "relativism" that our dear Pope keeps going on and on about.

If the universe is all about "me" (or, for the love of neighbor, "us"), then, why not have a Mass where we can all come and have a good Halloween time in costume? Or a "Missa Gaia," or a "Clown Mass" or a "Superhero Mass" or a "Better Homes & Gardens Mass" or a "This Little Light of Mine Mass." God is love, and loves us, and we love Him, and I love you and you love me and we're one happy family. And bring the dog to Mass, too.

Books? Worship is not about books. It is about love and people and neighbors and reaching out and turning our faces to our loving God together. St. Paul said, "The letter kills," you know. Go with the flow of the Spirit.

Things like this don't happen overnight, of course, and I agree with Amy that the community there probably loves all this very much. Nice folks. Good Catholics who support missions and take care of the poor and support their parish and priest.

On the other hand, this sure reminds me of what I was reading in Pope Benedict's book "Truth and Tolerance" while waiting for my bus this morning, about the modern divorce between "reason" and "feeling," leaving "reason" to be applied in science and technology and business, and "feeling" to matters of religion.

If man cannot use his reason to ask about the essential things in his life, where he comes from and where he is going, about what he should do an may do, about living and dying, but has to leave these decisive questions to feeling, divorced from reason, then he is not elevating reason but dishonoring it. The disintegration of man, thus brought about, results equally ina a pathological form of religion and a pathological form of science. It is quite obvious today that with the detachment of religion from its responsibility to reason, pathological forms of religion are constantly increasing. But when we think of scienctific projects that set no real value on man, such as cloning, the producuction of fetuses--that is, of people--simply in order to use their organs for developing pharmaceutical products, or indeed for any economic exploitation, or if we think of the way science is made use of to produce ever more frightful means for the destruction of men and of the world, then it is obvious that there is such a thing as science that has taken a pathological form:..." (p. 158)

What has gone on in this OC parish for the last six years on the Sunday before Halloween is just one example of pathological religious practice. It is all emotions and feelings, divorced from reason (theology and tradition). But, the community is catechized in a religion of feeling, of emotion, of warm fuzziness, and this seems, perhaps, to be the approach their bishop has taken to religion as well. Sacraments are just times for emotional celebration, for feeling loved by God and the Church, for gatherings of friends. This parish has a great catalogue of social events and gatherings, many including a Mass here or there. Mass is viewed as an occasion to gather with friends (and God) and feel good together.

I still think that perhaps the best thing to do is pray for this parish. If you just take away their party Mass, without seriously supplying them with something else (intense Adult Faith Formation, for example, in the actual teaching of the Church, and how that can be lived out in their lives of real freedom, holiness and beatitude, in genuine love of God and neighbor in "God's ways"), well, they will just feel bad, because they are still all about feelings.

It is a much more fundamental problem than just Halloween Mass.


Bailey's not a liturgist, that much is clear. My suspicion is that these kinds of developments come from the post-conciliar catechetical tradition. I have no liturgy colleagues who would approve of it.

Send them all to that Vigil in DC; that was cool.


Letter to the Aliso Viejans - brilliant.

Mike Potemra

Re: Amy's comment on the importance of "What's in the books."

When I was a Catholic boy in the 1970s, I had a Missal that included a little paragraph to the effect of, "COMMUNION IN THE HAND? Absolutely not! Strictly forbidden! Disrespect for Our Lord! etc." Of course, at our parish, everyone received communion in the hand. It was the most natural thing in the world. But it definitely sent the message that "what's in the book" isn't taken that seriously in this church.

I was describing my experience of Catholicism--my boyhood parish, my Jesuit high school, and my college years at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.--to a very conservative Catholic friend. His face brightened, and he said: "I have no doubt about your eternal salvation. You are in a state of invincible ignorance of the Catholic Faith."

Believe me, if I reach St. Peter's gates and it turns out that I guessed wrong about which denomination to join (I'm Presbyterian), and that Heaven's an "all-EWTN, all the time" kind of place, I'm going to invoke my friend's kind witticism!


"You do not need a costume, for you have put on Christ! You do not need to beg for trick-or-treat, for Christ has come to _your_ door, with his own flesh for food and his own blood for punch. And you do not need to bob for apples, as Eve and Adam did at the snake's command; for Christ is the tree of life and we are his branches. And indeed, we shall bear great fruit, but not the caramel-covered kind."


"And let the novelty records keep silent in the churches, for it is not the place for the Monster Mash.

"But I do not say these things to be a big meanie, nor to ban Halloween, for indeed I like a gooey popcorn ball as much as anyone. But you can party at home; here you are called to give thanks to the Lord."

Okay, so it's not a good imitation of Paul. But it is a good demonstration of why God didn't inspire me to write any books of the Bible!


Apt words from Zhou on Benedict on the reason-feeling divorce.

A culture that is confused about reason and feeling will always be confused about pleasure and pain. Emotional/psychological/ intellectual hedonism is the result: "whatever is pleasant must be good, and whatever is painful has to be bad."

This kind of pathology can be detected in so many irresolvable arguments about liturgical music: the faithful Catholic mother of 6 who goes to adoration at 2am and practices NFP just really likes it when the band rocks out on the Ed Bolduc tunes at Sunday mass. Tell her that it is inappropriate, that it is not consistent with Sacrosanctum concilium, let alone with 2,000 years of Christian tradition in worship, cite the Pope's own eloquent words about "Dionysian self-annihiliation" in the rock concert experience, but the response will just be this: "I really like this kind of music at mass. It makes me happy/uplifted/full of the Spirit."
Which is the same as "if it feels good, it can't be wrong."

Inflict chanted propers or a Palestrina setting upon the same crowd, and many would find it all repellent. Again, the self and its subjective preferences have become the measure of all things: "If I don't enjoy it, it must be bad."


Describing this to Paul? How about Dear Brother, remember the Romans - remember the letter your wrote? "they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the the likeness of corruptible man... and of creeping things... changed the truth of God into a lie"

Paul knew all about this sort of thing.


I don't think of myself on the right and I am suspicious of the 'reform of the reform' at times, but let me tell you about the parish up the street from me. Two years ago, I was in the middle of moving and didn't want to go to the parish where I work. My dad and I dashed over to the local church blocks away. I was a bit taken aback with the whole idea of "Novembering" but knew the pastor and thought it was just a bit too precious for me. The liturgy began at the font and a remembrance of our baptismal incorporation into the communion of saints. So far, OK. Then the procession wound its why into and around the church, as we sang the Litany of the Saints. Except in the procession were the kids in their costumes. The devil, the grim reaper, lots of Britney Spears, etc. Then I realized we were intoning the names of the KIDS, not the saints. (My dad, who took me to a LOT of the "Church of What's Happening Now" liturgies in the 70's was gape mouthed. It was too much even for him.) Then the presider, who was a supply priest, not the pastor, tried to incorporate the kids in costume into the homily and 'interviewed' them. Then he talked about all creation worshipping God, even the devil. (Now I know he was trying valiantly to include all the kids, but he is a professor of moral theology and I'm sure in a saner moment would have edited himself, because the whole definition of evil is NOT worshipping God...but you get the gist.)

Anyway, that was the first and last time I have ventured in there. Although the more 'conservative' church also in the neighborhood has liturgy that is just as bad, but it is bad in the other direction.

I have a good friend who is a music director in a very conservative parish (in another diocese) and her mantra is "Just do what is in the book!"

Jon W

When I was a Catholic boy in the 1970s, I had a Missal that included a little paragraph to the effect of, "COMMUNION IN THE HAND? Absolutely not! Strictly forbidden! Disrespect for Our Lord! etc." Of course, at our parish, everyone received communion in the hand. It was the most natural thing in the world. But it definitely sent the message that "what's in the book" isn't taken that seriously in this church.

Excellent comment, Mr. Potemra. And that missal is one reason we've got all this craziness today. Once the church got together and really thought about it, it was clear to the pastors that communion in the hand wasn't disrespectful to Our Lord. That's why they permitted it. And why they still permit it.

But we in our earlier, pharisaical incarnation as the Body of Christ Embalmed were teaching all sorts of things that went way beyond what was Christian and Christ-like. So the cognitive dissonance between what was obviously Christian and what was generally considered a goody and piousy way to act towards Our Lord caused a whole bunch of brains to explode. But there should never have been that cognitive dissonance in the first place.

Americans should never have been allowed the Tridentine Mass in the first place. They should have invented a whole new rite at the end of the 18th century for all the Americans who would take all those European rules that Europeans never take too seriously so seriously that nearly a huge proportion of an entire generation of American Catholics had to become Protestant in order to become Catholic.

I would like to prove this by pointing out all the thousands of good-hearted, in-love-with-Our-Lord, committed, not-in-it-because-God-doesn't-require-so-much-from-a-Protestant Evangelicals who "grew up Catholic" and knew all the various rules and rubrics, went to confession, yet somehow never experienced the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ till they were Evangelical. That's a sign that something was broken. Before Vatican II.

America and Europe are two very different places, and Americans playing European Catholicism feel a lot like Tom Sawyer playing Robbers and Highwaymen in Huck Finn.


To me, this does not seem like an issue of right and wrong, as much as it is a grave confusion of the proper order of of "goodness," and Truth.

Fr. is right, that our parishes are like families. If that was the highest truth concieved of by the Church, then this would be a great idea...

But this abstract, grossly corn-filled togetherness is NOT the highest good she concieves. Rather, it is God, who gave us the great gift of the Mass so our ultimate unity may be expressed by Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

This problem (sadly) goes deeper than these outlandish masses. While our values are very well defined, our Hierarchy of Values, our ideology, is not. This is why "faithful citezenship," I feel, is confusing. It lays out the values very well, but doesn't give us much help on how to order them.

Is it time to realize we as a church have an Ideology? And is it time to start teaching this ideology? I think this Mass tells us its time.

Rich Leonardi


'Nuff said.

Jeff Miller

In Persona Barney.

Fr. J

Dear God, Barney? We take the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and make it Barney a purple dinosaur. Ridiculous. His bishop should call him in immediately for a chat.


Misguided and what will be the lasting fruit of this kind of Mass in the children's lives in the years to come. Father sounds well-meaning but juvinile, immature, in the way he speaks and relates to others. I can't imagine any man I know talking to kids, let alone grown-ups in this way.

Matthew of the Holy Whapping

Taking off his vestments in the sanctuary! Surely he must know that in the '62 rite, only bishops are allowed to vest over their cassock at the altar!



Unfortunately, this does not surprise me. I was in the parish (newly converted) that Fr. Fred was associate pastor. He was there to help build up a base to start the Aliso Viejo mission church.

The parent parish is also on the loose side. Unfortunately, there is no base of long term traditionalists to help get the Corpus Christi back to a more holy style of worship. Nor, are they likely to be moving into the area; too expensive for Catholics with large families, and too close to other, more traditional parishes.

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