Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Whoop De-Doo and the Mass

Nancy a frequent commenter here in Tiberland said this regarding my clown post:

"TJ, since we're both former evangelicals, wouldn't it be interesting to know how many of us, once we become Catholics, lean quite conservative in our liturgical sensibilities. That we want good hymnody and reverent celebration of the Mass and reject the free-for-all leftovers from the 60s and 70s. We've seen a lot of the whoop-de-doo in our other life and some of us desire something more transcendent than that."

So I am asking all the revert/converts out there:

Do you favor more traditional liturgy, or upon your return to the Catholic Church did you seek out the first charismatic parish with a folk Mass you could find?
Personally speaking, I avoid the folk Mass at our parish like the plague. But your mileage may vary. I have been to some Eucharistic adoration with praise and worship music but quite honestly, I think Nancy is right, we have "been there , done that, and bought all the tee shirts."
My fear is that some converts run so far and fast from their past liturgical experiences that they lean towards ultra-traditional expressions and start to become "liturgy police." I have caught myself doing this several times and this is another extreme which is not healthy either. More than one convert has unfortunately become more "Catholic than the Pope" and you know where that is going.

Lord deliver us from our desire to be You!


Blogger Matthew Kelley said...

I have my tendencies towards the more conservative liturgy, but i have really been trying to guard myself against becoming a liturgy police.

August 06, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger skeeton said...

I definitely lean toward the more transcendant than whoop-dee-do. I find the Our Father hand-holding to be pretty intrusive on my conscious and active participation in Mass, but at my parish, hand-holding in the pews is not even the worst of it. During the Our Father, each of the priests invite all the parish children to come up and hold hands around the altar. I drives me insane, because it's such a distraction.

August 06, 2007 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

I ended up at a charismatic folk mass place because in the beginning that was where I was most comfortable. I have been having serious doubts and have also had the sense that I was turning into the liturgy police. When the pendulum stops swinging, I'll let you know. BTW, I am not an official convert yet. My family and I started attending mass during Advent last year. We are in RCIA now and hope to be received after we can get our declarations of nullity worked out. I think it would be a miracle if we made it in by Easter 2008, but one never knows.

August 06, 2007 10:49 AM  
Blogger + Alan said...

I'm glad you said this TJ. It seems apparent to me that there is a strong tendency for converts (from Evangelicalism) to lean this way. I'm sure I could put my analytical hat on and parse some of that out, but that would take too long.

It's unfortunate I think. I say that because I think it's unhealthy. It's unbalanced and either way you lean, that's not good for the stability of the boat.

I'm an odd bird in the category I suppose. I hardly consider myself what's classically called "a convert." I wasn't raised Catholic but then, I wasn't raised anything, so I did convert, to Christianity via the Catholic Church, but not from any other expression of faith, but from non faith. Then I wandered out and now I'm back. So, sure I have a love for the ancient and mysterious liturgical elements, incense, candles, all that, and maybe a little more straight-forward way of doing the Mass, but I have to make myself realize it's not about all that. Anyway, convert, revert - I think I just prefer to be called a Catholic, ultimately a Christian.

If I can't worship God in the Mass because of distractions here and there, that's a bigger matter than I think it is. WE are the Church, not ME. This is something else I've seen - Protestants entering the Catholic Church and philosophically remaining protestant. I mean the focus on "me" and "my private worship experience." Then, anything that interferes with that sort of ticks me off. That's not good.

Sometimes we just don't have precisely what we would particularly want in our parishes. Maybe we can't find any parish that would be like we'd want it to be. And maybe that has to be OK - otherwise we sort of get into that (especially charismatic, I know of what I speak) church-hopping mentality. Sure, we don't want to be somewhere that's totally wacked out and unhealthy in another way - but what constitutes that? I'm saying we shouldn't be too picky - this is the Universal Church. I'm speaking to myself as well. Man, I want an old stone and wood church that constantly stinks of incense and is very quiet and has a big old tabernacle right in the center behind the altar! But I don't have that, and I may never have it and that may have to be a little cross for me. I put myself down. I had to put myself down, bend my neck, to even come back into this Church. So, I keep on doing it.

There are bigger fish to fry than holding hands during the OUR Father. And guitars aren't inherently evil instruments. Some may prefer organs or even no instruments. Anyway, I've gone and commented more than I wanted to. Sorry if this is too long. Peace to you man. Thanks again for humbly saying this.

August 06, 2007 11:20 AM  
Blogger TheGodFearinFiddler said...

The more reverent the better. If you wouldn't do it at the foot of the cross - you shouldn't do it during mass. No hand holding during the Our Father, no socializing during the kiss of peace etc...

August 06, 2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I'd definitely like things to be a bit more conservative, especially with the music. I've been surprised to find that the Mass that is half in Spanish is the most conservative and has the best "participation" and music in my parish. Sure, they hold hands during the Our Father but I don't make issue of it...

It's never the "hand holding Our Father" that I find a distraction. It's the children they allow to sing or the 1 in a group of three who cannot hold a note (on a good day)... Or when you're sitting in a prayerful thought when the choir busts out with "Hallelu, Hallalu, Hallelu, Halleluja, Praise ye the Lord!"

I'm far from being the liturgy police but I'd definitely like to actually feel like I attend a Catholic Church! :)

August 06, 2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

Outstanding post; particularly the last sentence.

August 06, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger Ragged Glory said...

When I returned to the Holy Church after a period in what I now think of as an evangelical cult which was full of noise and shouting, I definately desired a traditional, quieter approach in the liturgy.

August 06, 2007 4:26 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Alan said:
'I put myself down. I had to put myself down, bend my neck, to even come back into this Church. So, I keep on doing it."
Yes, exactly! Being Catholic is saying "I am now willing to accept the authority of this Church, and not my own desire to make the Church what I want it to be." I repent of being stiff necked. (I am not implying that all protestants are stiff necked here, BTW.)
Many of us ex evangelicals have met folks who could never find the right church, there was always something wrong with the music the preaching or the carpet color. I have met several "hyper-spiritual" believers in the past who ultimately became the "church of self" and stopped going to church because there wasn't one that met their criteria.
To be Catholic is to give up the right to decide on our own, and accept the yoke of obedience to what we believe Christ has instituted. Those who ultimately become more "Catholic than the Pope" are no different than the 16th century Augustinian monk who decided he knew more and had more revelation than that given to the vicar of Christ.
The ultra-traditionalists and extreme liturgy police run the risk of becoming the very protesting people they claim to have converted from. The potential exists for all of us,particularly, have it your way Americanism which bristles at the idea of obeying a human institution and not just what we think the word of God is individually speaking to us.
Isn't it ironic that those of us who tolerated extreme shenanigans(falling on the floor, barking, carnival atmosphere, bogus prophecies, ) and heterodoxy from the pulpit in our former churches for years and years now feel the need to make sure the Catholic parish we attend is 100 percent correct!!!
God have mercy on us.

Thanks to all my commenters, this is an important topic.

August 06, 2007 7:41 PM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Holding hands with people I don't know is just 'wrong.' That's an intimate gesture and a sign of intimacy that I don't possess with the guy, woman or booger eating tot next to me at Mass, who I may or may never see again.

When I hold hands, my eyes start to itch or my nose. It never fails. Then I have to squirm and that's a distraction I don't need to the ones I'm already attempting to squelch with a silent "Hail Mary, please pray for me to be worthy of this gift."

I don't want to become a "liturgical cop" either, but like I've said elsewhere, I prefer Mass at 7:00 a.m. on Sundays, with nary a musical instrument anywhere to be found. I had 26 years of "rock'n roll" with Jesus. That was enough. I love Gregorian Chant and hymnody, true Traditional hymnsody, but music has strangely taken a "back seat" in my communal prayer/praise these days. It was THE ALL important driving force for nearly 30 years, and has now taken it's rightful place, (for me) as secondary to the glorious Holy Hush and the Eucharist. That's my 2 cents.


August 06, 2007 8:04 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

"I had 26 years of "rock'n roll" with Jesus"

Yes Susie, I know what you mean. I was a "worship and praise" team member almost continuously from 1973 to 2004, and after returning to the Church, I have no desire whatsoever to drag my guitar into the Mass and say "Here I am Ex- Evango Man-Worship Musician Extrordinaire, Put me in Coach, I'm ready to play"

Like you I prefer the glorious Holy Hush and the Eucharist. Yes I concur wholeheartedly.

August 06, 2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger tara said...

Ultra-traditional, No hand holding--please--love the picture--we should frame it and post it outside the chapel--LOL!

Welcome home rachel!

August 06, 2007 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

I was quite charismatic as a protestant and I still like it. That is if it is done well. Often in the Catholic church they do it badly. That just makes me sad that I left the truly good music. Happily we have some good stuff at my parish.

I do find myself more open to the traditional. I converted to pursue historical Christianity and that was quite contemplative. So it is only logical to explore that. I get it mostly at daily mass and a few retreats. Having done that I could honestly live with quite Latin masses on Sunday as well. I just worry about my kids. They seem to like the modern music but who knows.

August 06, 2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with the holding hands, the orans posture, and the offering invisible gifts to the priest when answering "and also with you"? The banal music could also get a revamping. I think if those things were fixed, I wouldn't have any complaints.

I'm not sure if it's being more Catholic than the Pope, since it was the Pope (well, Cardinal Ratzinger in "The Spirit of the Liturgy") who said that God gave us the liturgy, the form of worship. Man isn't free to make it up as they go along. By that definition, any aberration from the liturgical rubrics, given by God, is another way of saying, "This is wonderful and all, God, but I think we can add a little flare here and make it perfect".

That being said, being desirous of a liturgy done according to the rubrics set by the Church and being annoyed with those who want to share in their charisms for all to see, is not quite being more Catholic than the Pope. If anything, the text of the Summorum Pontificum tells us that the Pope is irked by poor and irreverent liturgies as well.

August 06, 2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think that the "more Catholic than the Pope" statement was invented by "liberal" Catholics as an insult to Catholics who are loyal to the teachings of the Church, just to get them off their back.

I know I can't be more Catholic than the Pope because if he stated that blogging was a mortal sin ex cathedra (not like he would, but just using an example) I would stop blogging this instant.

Well, I'd make an honest effort to anyway.

August 06, 2007 10:44 PM  
Blogger Kacy said...

I too tend more towards a traditionalist liturgy. I attend a Novus Ordo mass in which we sing the Kyrie in Greek and the Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, and other parts in Latin. Our priest consecrates the Eucharist Ad Orientum, and this was the first way in which I ever saw the mass practiced. It actually confused me the first time I saw a priest facing the congregation during the concecration.

Among my friends I've been known to say, "I don't understand why they didn't just translate the Tridentine mass into English, instead of making a whole new one." Basically I like the mass in the vernacular tongue, with various parts in Latin, but I like the theological richness of the Tridentine mass. I think the Ad Orientum, Novus Ordo mass provides a nice median between the extremes of liturgical snobery and liturgical "yuckery."

August 06, 2007 11:57 PM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

As a convert-in-progress, I was immediately overcome by a desire for all things traditional and reverent, and no, I did not, have not, and will not, treat the two words as synonyms, as they aren't. I just want both. I love charismatic stuff, I love worship 'sessions' with contemporary worship music. But that isn't Mass, that's for charismatic events and worship sessions and my own private stuff. Mass, to me, is the Eucharist, and everything else is extra. (Oh how it drives me crazy to only participate in the 'extra'.)

August 07, 2007 2:20 AM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

Here's my situation. I like a reverent conservative liturgy, but for example, recently I was quite comfortable attending daily mass where the elderly priest gave the thumbs up as the exhortation to have a good day... I actually liked him much more than the regular congregation. The regular congregation was also very unkind about the accent of the new African priest. So long as the mass is reverent and traditional, I'm not the foible police! Having said this, after a reverent mass, I often have the urge to jump into my car and drive to a black gospel tent revival! Seriously, people of faith need both approaches, but they need to understand that evangelical, praise and worship, and pentecostal types of celebrations are not substitutes or adjuncts to the mass itself. So I handle that urge by watching a gospel CD and thinking about the time I can attend some of those praise and worship sessions. Having said that, what has prevented me from attending church regularly has been, well, stalking. I'd attend mass every day (as I did for a while last year until the stalking problem reemerged.) I'm actually looking out for the congregations by hesitating to try another church (having recently moved) because the stalkers who have bothered my family in the past are pretty persistent. One sat behind me during the after mass rosary recitation and said some pretty hostile things and it definitely is not helpful for the parish and global intentions if I am sitting there fuming fire and brimstone as I mention my intentions. And my participation becomes another example of my large (but not endless) tolerance. I found that if I'm stalked when attending mass, I'm just providing sin bait and as Meatloaf sang, "I won't do that." So those who think I'm not practicing what I preach are wrong. I'd like to attend but right now a private, stalker stain resistent chapel is looking like the only solution. But I'm definitely not judging the sanctity of various masses when I do not attend.

August 07, 2007 3:34 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Rachel: I will pray for you and your family.
God bless you

August 07, 2007 6:55 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

RAndy said:
"I just worry about my kids. They seem to like the modern music but who knows."

I understand your concern in a culture that is over saturated with sensory overstimulation, but young kids went to Latin mass for a millenium and many fine Catholic saints resulted from their exposure to the "boring Mass." Once they are old enough to understand Jesus is really there, maybe it will help. I don't know, we had contemporary folk music in our church in the early 70's , heck I played in the folk Mass and still ended up leaving the Church, ugh...

August 07, 2007 7:00 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

Believe it or not, many people coming from fundamentalism to the Reformed faith, as I did, go through a period something akin to the Catholic temptation toward being "liturgy police." Those of us who begin to learn about the beauty of such conservative practices as exclusive Psalm hymnody, the recitation of creeds and confessions, and other liturgical and doctrinal delights are sorely tempted to evangelise the rest of the Protestants into the fold. Those who struggle with such temptations to compel others into our sphere of thought are known as the "Truly Reformed." My longing to see the Church return to a more formal, sober, reverent form of worship and practice was for me so intense that for awhile I sincerely questioned whether I had ever known God before that time. Over time that doubt diminished as the certainty grew that He has been in charge of conforming me to the image of Christ the entire time, and that looks different at different stages of our lives.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

August 08, 2007 12:38 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I suppose there will always exist in the heart of all men the desire to want others to conform to what they think is the best way or the "correct" way to worship God.
Some of that is not just "pharisaism" but an altruistic desire for others to come to the same enjoyment they have found. It's like "Come and see, this man from Nazareth"
I guess the problem lies when the other person says "No thanks" and we then put on our judgement caps and say "Well, I guess you don't desire God, or Truth, the way I do." Therein lies the spirit of the pharisee that can exist in Catholicism or Protestantism.

August 08, 2007 8:54 AM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

I guess the problem lies when the other person says "No thanks" and we then put on our judgement caps and say "Well, I guess you don't desire God, or Truth, the way I do."

You're absolutely right. We really are speaking and acting self-righteously when we attribute improper motives to others who don't see it our way. Better to encourage and inform and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

August 08, 2007 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Snake said...

The Mass is the Consecration. The rest is Tradition. How do I know? In the field, many times when the Priest would say Mass, the only thing he did, was consecrate the Host. Thus, I have a very deep respect for the Mass in general and that part is the most important. For if you do not believe in the Host, then you do not believe in the command God gave us in the Bible

Holding hands is nothing. Remember when Christ would greet His people, not only did he say Shalom, but they use to hug, even strangers. I figure, what was good enough for God, has to be good enough for me.

I attend Church when I am in the states in Los Angeles. It is Saint Francis Xavier. The 0830 Mass is conducted in Nipponese. (I speak and read a little Nipponese so I also can follow what they are saying by using the prayer book and reciting in Nipponese.

When the Our Father is said, we do not hold hands but extend our hands outward. Instead of shaking hands (some of us do takubi with each other) but for the most part we simply place our arms by our sides and bow with our heads, in the Nipponese manner. But if people wanted to hold hands, it does not bother me. As a Marine, I have held enough hands as life slipped from them, and never regretted holding any one’s hand.

One thing, and you really do not have to do this, but if you could keep my intentions in your daily prayers and at Mass.


Hebi san

December 24, 2007 12:21 AM  

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