I was visiting my childhood parish of Christ the King on Long Island tonight and just returned from the Saturday evening anticipated Mass. Guess what? The Mass went on with its elegant language and there were no riots! No complaining among the faithful. A little bit of enthusiastic instruction and a few people forgetting to look at their sheets here and there. But the priest knew his parts perfectly. The achievements of Vatican II did not vanish and people understood the words, no matter what some of the professional-naysayer liturgical intelligentsia were saying would happen. (Remember those riots in South Africa?) Aside from the slight novelty of a few new words and the reminders at the beginning of Mass, the new texts were hardly a distraction at all to active participation. And to an attentive listener, they were a rich source of theology.

However, here’s what was a distraction to active participation in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in all of its eschatological dimensions, new texts or not:

1. Mass opening with the suggestion that we turn to our neighbor and introduce ourselves.
2. The show-tune style Kyrie accompanied by a piano and a cantor singing like a Broadway soloist with arms stretched wide and a big grin.
3. The mother in front of me giving animal crackers to her over-the-age-of-first-Communion daughter and assisting in her breaking the Communion fast.
4. The permanent deacon leaving the sanctuary and pacing back and forth in the front aisle, preaching for 13 minutes and never once mentioning the Gospel reading from the Mass.
5. More piano-accompanied Broadway-style singing during Communion complete with a wide wavy vibrato and vocal scooping.
6. The general roar of conversation in the church after Mass with no interest at all in reverent silence.

Praise God that we have elegant and elevated new texts. But they were almost forgotten among the mundane, the un-liturgical and the just plain tacky. Much work remains to be done in implementing the riches of the Council.

How’d it go in your parish?