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Self-service Catholicism?

I once saw an ad for a Catholic parish in a newspaper (I won't say where it was). It advertised "the fastest Mass in the USA". I could understand if, rather than an ad, it was an article speaking about how a Bishop disciplined a priest for doing this, but, no, it was bragging and encouraging people to attend. "Satisfy your Sunday obligation in..." (get this) "...no more than 14 minutes" (no, that is not a typo).


I am tempted to just stop there and let all of you just think about the ramifications of this, but I must comment just a bit. It is bad enough to skimp on a weekday Mass and make it 14 minutes long, but Sunday Mass? (Insert here the sound of me screaming and pulling what is left of my hair out!). Is it a grave sin for the priest to do this with the Mass? Unless people's lives are in danger, yes, it is a grave sin. Is it a valid Mass? I could not be certain, but it is questionable. Should you attend this Mass? Not if you care about your spiritual well being.


After reading this, I took the time to sit down with my Missal and Lectionary and see how it could be done. The fastest I was able to do it with the Divine Worship Mass (presuming a 1 minute homily, talking as fast as I could without waiting for responses, not serving anyone communion, and skipping everything allowable to skip) was about 45 minutes. The fastest with the Novus Ordo (under the same conditions) was about 32 minutes. In other words, rules had to be broken to keep it at 14 minutes--lots of them.


The fact that the priest was doing it, and could even advertise about it is bad enough. The fact that anyone would attend just shows that, to some of the faithful, Mass is now nothing more than an obligation to get out of the way as quickly as possible. If this is something that people are looking for, then they are not looking for God, they are looking for self-gratification and some form of spiritual pat on the back.


Gone are the days when Mass lasted 90 to 100 minutes (one way of saying the ancient Sarum Mass--from which the Divine Worship developed--took about 2 hours!). I thought modernists (inside and outside the Church) all thought that we were evolving into a better humanity. If loss of attention span is a part of evolution, then it seems more like we are devolving! The Priest who did this 14 minute Mass (even if it was only once) should be ashamed of himself.


If we really do believe that Jesus is Lord, then we had better start showing it in our devotion to Him in the Mass. If Catholics today cannot even make it through a 1 hour Mass, then we have to ask where their true devotion lies. If our concept of the practice of the Catholic faith is no different than our concept of getting an oil change (get it done when you have to, but make it as quick as possible), then we have degenerated into a lazy spirituality that only seeks self-satisfaction. Those who have fallen into this attitude are simply theistic hedonists. As a critic of modernism once said: "If we lose the hope of Heaven and the fear of Hell, paganism is the inevitable result. And paganism is a polite name for selfishness, pessimism, immorality and despair."

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