Friday, 20 November 2015

Highlight: Terry at Abbey Roads Strikes Hard!!! The Latin Mass, Cardinal Burke, etc. Are Not THE Sole Solution to Getting Men to Mass

Hello Everyone,

I just caught a great post from awesome blogger Terry Nelson at Abbey Roads. Today, he reflects on his daily morning Novus Ordo Mass as well as his past, and tells the reader about what attracts men to Mass. I repost the following post below, with bolded highlights and my red colour commentary. Pax, Julian.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Men at church ...

Seemed like old times.

The first parish I ever registered at was St. Olaf in Downtown Minneapolis - that was in the 1980's.  I was able to make it to morning Mass there today - the first Mass at 7 AM.  Fr. Kennedy celebrated the Mass - seemed like old times because he was newly ordained when I first started going there way back when, for adoration on Thursdays.  That was the olden days in the early 1970's - shortly after my conversion, when hardly any church still had exposition all day - which was usually on Fridays - as at Assumption in St. Paul.  Fr. Kennedy always had the reputation of a more 'liberal' priest but I always found him orthodox in homilies and confession.  This morning it could have been the Pope giving the homily ... it was excellent. [Get it you Pharisees? This supposed "liberal" priest may not be that cookie cutter Cardinal Burke priest you want, but when it comes to the essentials of the faith including MASS, he says the black, and does the red. While it's great to bring priests to further orthodoxy with kindness and encouragement, we should shut up if they are "doing their duty" and not scandalizing the faithful.]

Notably, the chapel was fairly full for such an early Mass, mostly businessmen in their 30's or 40's, a few older guys, and what seemed to be downtowners - people who live someplace downtown.  Like I said - there were mostly men.  Everyone knelt for the Eucharistic prayer and at the Agnus Dei.  After communion I don't know what happened.   I mention this because there is a lot of talk that men don't go to Mass.  Just because men were at Mass this morning - and most likely every morning noon and evening at St. Olaf, doesn't mean that observation is wrong of course - but it does indicate to me that men really do go to Mass.

Mass this morning was not effeminate.  Fr. Kennedy is a 'manly man' and a serious minded priest and Mass was celebrated according to the rubrics.  The men at early Mass seemed like manly men as well.  I wasn't on watch there, but I took in the crowd.  I prayed and participated in Mass - I simply noticed who was there, what was going on, aware of my surroundings - not looking for errors or lack of formality.

St. Olaf

Here's the deal.

I think.

Men go to Mass when they believe, when their faith is living, when Mass is straight forward - and straight plays a big part in that - like honesty.

It seemed like old times to me - the daily Mass goers downtown have a living faith - they are not there because of an obligation, nor does their faith depend on the person of the priest - downtown churches get a variety of substitutes during the week.  Downtown parishes host a huge diversity of persons.  It's a microcosm of the Church I think.  It's as different from my rich parish in South Minneapolis, as my parish is to the FSSP parish in North Minneapolis, or the traditionalist 'Remnant' parish in South St. Paul.

There is a distinct freedom of spirit in a living body. 

Love casts out all fear.

Years ago when I got caught up in the fear mongering which trails ultra conservative trad-minded Catholics, I ran into a priest at a store I worked at and he asked, "What the hell happened to you?"  He asked in passing because he was in a hurry to get out of the store we were in, and I laughed and said, "What?"  I just thought he meant I'd gotten a bit older or something.  But now I know what he meant.  He assumed I'd gone 'back' - that I was one of those people who wanted everything to go back to tradition.  I never had.  But I worked in a milieu he associated with the St. Agnes cult he had warned me years ago to avoid.  And there I was.

I haven't seen him since, but I'd like him to know nothing happened to me.  I'm just fine.  I never rejected Vatican II or the Ordinary Form of Mass.  This morning reminded me of all that.

I kind of think most men don't go to Mass because they don't like church-lady-talk, Mass chat, coffee and donuts gossip.  They're not into the Fellini ecclesiastical fashion show of vestments, and grand style.  Some may like it - some may not. [Get it guys and gals? We don't want stupid cutesy social hours or crap on the altar, that belittles the Holy Mass. Listen, a parish social every month or so is not bad for getting to know your parishioners and see old friends, and it's great to BOOST community, but that should not be a primary focus with a falsely misleading label of "evangelization" slapped on it. Other Christian churches have those too, and they attract more converts and ex-Catholics, so something is there beyond the socials. 

At the same time, those of you who love liturgy and the Latin Mass too much, you think that ALL people will go nuts over the smells and bells, and cappa magna worn by prelates like Cardinal Burke et al? No. You have missed the point, as described above. It's the NO NONESENSE, clear teaching of the faith as part of the Liturgy that attracts people to Mass, especially men, NOT SOLELY the things they see or the prelates wear. Most people don't give two cares about the cappa magnas and stuff. They are not liturgy freaks like some of you. Get thisin your mind: FEW PEOPLE CARE ABOUT VESTMENTS, SPECIFIC PATTERNS, CAPPA MAGNAs, ETC. 

Now, this doesn't mean that we should have those ugly spaceship/barn churches with vestments and banners that look like they were designed by middle school children, and were maybe fine in our school years. We should at least have proper gear and wares and such that respect the liturgy at its basest level.

The main point is this: BALANCE. Not too disgusting, and not too much femininely designed gear and events at Mass an in the Church, but not the other extreme of pompousness and everything dressed up like the Palace in Versailles. Neither extreme attracts people, especially men to the Church.]

In my neighborhood, a lot of guys stopped going to church because of the bishop scandal - which included gay priests and teen boys, adulterous priests and parish secretaries and or female penitents, as well as billions of dollars of payouts in legal funds.  That erodes trust - one guy down the street will probably never step in a Catholic church again.  I also don't think most guys are all that interested in talk show apologists, dressed up in safari outfits, or talking like post-game wrap-up commentators. [Now this is interesting. Part of what has gotten people back to a sense of the Church and Mass, that is, those who are "on fire" for their faith, IS professional apologists, such as Keating and his Catholic Answers, and these speakers such as Scott Hahn, Jimmy Akin, Matthew Kelly (who is Australian, and the one I am assuming Terry is pointing out,) Tim Staples, etc. I think that Terry is partially wrong in his assessment. He might be right in that it's not bringing in the Masses, but to me these speakers have contributed to helping establish the "New Evangelization" generation base that now is starting to do ministry in the Church. CONVERSION EN MASSE???? No, that's what I agree on with Terry. I do not agree with his statement flat out and it needs qualifiers or re-wording.] Going after men doesn't need to involve chest bumps and back slapping stereotypical imitations of successful mainstream media pop-culture marketing.  I don't think you have to try to sell men on masculinity with another spokesman in lace and red satin talking about how feminized men have become. [Here I think Terry is tackling the two extremes of Bishop Robert Barron and definitely Cardinal Raymond Burke, who in the blogosphere is famous (or notorious???) for that interview about the man crisis in the Church. With +Barron, the focus is on products, popular advertisments, videos, etc. He is in no way doing the bro-fist or the chest bumps or trying to speak like a teenager, but I get Terry's point. 

As for ++Burke, Terry is 200% correct. The way that the Radicals Misrepresenting Traditionalists worship the lace and cappa magna loving prelate who does Pontifical Masses, is sickening. Isn't there a passage in Scripture about NOT worshiping Princes in the Church or society??? Furthermore, it is clear in ++Burke's interviews and the sides he has taken not only on Church issues, but on other personal "Trad Issues," (e.g. Catholics suing Catholics, Men in the Church,) that they are the Radically Traditionalist side in favour of that, with no proper evaluation and balanced analysis of all sides and information on those matters. ++Burke sadly is doing no favour to Traditionalists, and clearly his reputation for what he is doing has earned him a ticket out of the Vatican's inner circle, and he will NEVER become Pope as long as he lives with the Post-Vatican II generation of current Cardinals (I am confident in that.) If anything, yes he ++Burke has been blunt on the issues at hand, but he has done so in a way that he will never gain the trust of the regular Catholic populace and his fellow clergymen, and even more so he is creating an atmosphere of distrust of the Papacy, one whereby those who are "orthodox" may be spiritually tempted in their admiration of the Cardinal (despite HIS blunt upholding of Catholic doctrine, which we can give HIM the benefit of the doubt) to rebel against Holy Mother Church and self-schism one's self to Hell lest they die. Also, like the issue of the fancy lace and clothes issue above .... people have been trained in Modern Catholic society to scoff at that stuff. Benedict got away with it being the Pope, but with Francis in charge, it's back to normal. Again ... most NORMAL people, NOT those in love with the Latin Mass, do NOT CARE about fancy vestments. The association of that with a "disappointed" , Francis-clashing prelate, gives a BAD reputation, and most Catholics will NOT be motivated by ++Burke to think positively of the Church, or of even the Novus Ordo Mass. Nevermind the Latin Mass, which he does frequently, so the TLM gets even more unfair knocks thrown its way.]

I might be wrong - but I don't think evangelization is the same thing as marketing. 

This anti-Pope thing is so not going to attract more men to Mass either.  Talking about the pope and the church in political terms doesn't work.  I think most ordinary guys think this pope is great.  I know non-religious people do.  I'm no expert - just speculating here. [Men are just plain sick of politics interfering with the Church, from the top above, even down to the local parish level. I currently have fully disassociated with one parish, and mostly with another, because of this garbage. However the RMTs also ruin things by lashing out against Francis, when he is clearly NOT committing heresy. If people cannot even respect their highest leader, the one who is supposed to be the Vicar of Christ on Earth with HIS divine authority in matters of faith and morals, then why bother even being a part of the Church? They can get all that in their own religion or local community Christian church of whatever denomination.]

I don't know.  Like I said, I'm probably wrong. [No Terry, You are quite right about all this. It's the sick RMTs that do not get it. You have gladly spoken on behalf of the normal, Catholic man. It was raw, true, and from the heart and proudly expressed the TRUTH of the matter.]

It was good to experience downtown again - I miss it in a way.  I realized something did happen to me - in some ways, I am different today.

BTW - I never resign St. Olaf's, just stopped going downtown, and they stopped sending me newsletters.  I was actually 'involved' with the parish - unusual for me because I don't usually get involved with church people.  The people I knew weren't there this morning, and so I expect everyone has moved on or away.  Nothing stays the same.  You can't go back.

I'm just a single Catholic man.

This may be the appropriate to replace a comment from an earlier post discussing Pope Francis.  Today I realized not everyone has a negative opinion of him - thanks be to God.

Yesterday I wrote: I must be an idiot - I just don't see Francis abandoning Catholic teaching. I see him as consistent with his predecessors - a lot more frank and talkative, to be sure, but I do not feel my faith is in the balance because of him. Actually when he calls out Pharisees and the hypocrites I've taken it to heart - I totally accuse myself. If it wasn't so indiscreet to do it, I would proclaim my sins online - just to prove it. Rather than feel put down by the Pope, I feel his call to repentance and reconciliation - to drink deeply at the font of Mercy. I'm not just saying that either.
"If a good man reproves me, it is kindness."
My first waking thought every day is prayer - it is hours later that I even check online - my spiritual life comes first.  Neither do I check what the pope has said every day.  It isn't my first priority. I avoid those who 'report' on what he said, or how he said it. I believe only what is confirmed by Vatican authority, and if I don't understand it, it isn't for me.
I understand that a priest or director may have need to know what he said, what he meant, to refute what gossip media reports, so I pray for priests.
Personally, I just keep thinking that finally I have a pope, a father who understands me - who understands the outsider - the freak. I don't have to try to fit in with any faction because he welcomes the stranger. [BAM!!!! Pope Francis' mission IS Working!!!! The Church is for everyone, you purist prudes! Christ's Church is Catholic, meaning universal, that includes the freaks! No we don't condone their sins, but we bring them in to give them a greater light in their lives!!! 
If I feel like that think, of all the people who feel excluded from the Church now feel. Think of all the ordinary people who don't identify with the liturgical class wars and politics. There is hope after all for all the prodigals - while our elder brothers grumble because they have always been good and never wasted their lives on prostitutes.
I can't make excuses for the pope or church people - so that is not my intention here.  

I've been steeped in sin since birth - so I dare not try to instruct anyone.  Pay no attention to me.

I've always taken my cues from the Church - especially the Pope - be it Francis, Benedict, JPI and II, Paul VI and so on.

It's none of my business who is or who is not in church, any more than it is my business or under my control, who goes to communion or who does not go to communion.

I only have to make sure I go to Mass and I'm able to receive.


  1. Thank you! I'm a regular over on Terry's blog and he is so patient with me since I ramble and spam but love him and what he says lots! <3

    1. Hi YaYa,

      Oh yes I do often see your comments at Abbey Roads. Thank you for stopping by here at Servimus.

      What attracted me to Terry's blog was his sound sense on the whole matter of Orthodoxy in the Catholic Faith and his charitable, fraternal correction of those parts of Traditonalism that have gone radical.

      Thus with the goals of my blog, Terry fits right in! He's great for someone in the pews of the Church with a blog. If more good Catholics had his mind which is aligned to Holy Mother Church, many lukewarm souls would be ferverent!

      Please explore my blog more, and welcome! Pax.