Wonder Bread for the soul

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 23, 2007

At St. Agatha’s, the Rev. Peter Casey says families like the Welzes and Conways are keeping the faith for much the same reason: They found a parish with meaningful worship, where they can take an active part and are challenged to think about ‘‘why we do what we do.’’

Who is this Boston pastor, and how is he challenging the faithful to appreciate the mysteries of the Divine Liturgy? It's a long story, but here's just a taste:

As dozens of grinning youngsters watched from the foot of the low, open altar, the ensemble acted out a good-humored sketch of the story of Jesus’ miraculous feeding with a few loaves and fishes. When one of the puppet characters said, ‘‘Wow! That’s what I call Wonder Bread!’’ the adults in the pews chuckled, too.

This parish makes you think about what you're doing. What you're doing is watching a puppet show.

The subtitle to the newspaper report is "Relevance keeps the church pews filled today." Actually the pews aren't full-- Mass attendance is down sharply from 20 years ago-- but leave that aside for now, and let's focus on that word "relevance."

What is it about a puppet theater that makes the Gospel relevant to children? Familiar, yes. The kids have all seen the Muppets; puppet shows are nothing new. Amusing, maybe. Out of respect for my fellow adults, I'd like to think that there were as many rolling their eyes as there were chuckling in the pews. But leave that aside, too.

Let's assume that the pews would be full, except that the people are all rolling in the aisles. Let's assume that the show is a boffo success. Now tell me how that makes people think, and in particular how it prepares children for active participation in the Holy Sacrifice.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 26, 2007 12:49 PM ET USA

    gregoryfatherof4: The Code doesn’t explicitly disallow switching parishes but does define one’s parish (102, 107) whose priest "exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop" (519). So it’s probably best to ask your Bishop and let him know about any liturgical abuses since the faithful have "the right, indeed at times the duty… to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church." (212.3)

  • Posted by: - Jun. 25, 2007 8:54 AM ET USA

    Better to "breach canon law" than to avoid worshipping God. That in effect is the difference between the Mass when it is said in a traditional way and the Mass when it is said at a left-liberal parish.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 24, 2007 10:42 PM ET USA

    We moved into a faily liberal parish when we purchased our home. My wife and I throw up our hands now and then at the nonsense, and I often think about "switching" parishes. Is it o.k to shop around for a new parish or is this a breach of canon law?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 24, 2007 11:06 AM ET USA

    They're puppets, alright. Puppets of the leftist agenda. How do we know for certain? Just look at the picture of Fr. James Hickey. He's leaning (to his) left in the picture. He looks as if he might fall over any second.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 24, 2007 7:30 AM ET USA

    At ourChurch we have plain old 'boring' Mass & the pews are filled. Not that a few tweaks couldn't happen,( the raising of the hands at the Our Father)but we do have Adoration all week long from 9am-6pm. We have normal sermons about Jesus and the saints applying their words to today and don't need to be amused 'ala the 70s style' of Mass. Boston seems stuck in the post Vatican2 days of nuns dancing in the aisle at Offertory time!(which was on the front page of the Oakland diocese paper).

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2007 11:36 PM ET USA

    "Relevance keeps the church pews filled today." Translation: "They may not show up unless we entertain them." This is why our 'sacred music' sounds strikingly like music from The Muppets Take Manhattan and some priests 'fill out' the Gospel stories with puppets and TV sitcom humor.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2007 8:03 PM ET USA

    For decades I have suffered through the misuse of the word "relevant" in our society. I always ask, "Relevant" to what??? As used in the above-captioned parish, "relevant" seems to be a code word for "feeling good," that is, if it makes me feel good it is relevant to me. This very subjective form of relativism verges on heresy, in that it minimizes the message of the Gospel, which is not always about feeling good.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2007 3:16 PM ET USA

    "how it prepares children for active participation in the Holy Sacrifice" About as good as being read the entire story of "Stone Soup" as a homily at a Sunday liturgy. BTW I'm in the market for a new parish.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2007 2:33 PM ET USA

    This is, of course, in the great tradition of the Trautperson Translation, Diogenes' comment of a couple of days ago, infra.