We go to proclaim the mystery of faith at Mass, and then eradicate the very tone of mystery in gushing waves of politically correct, hand-holding perkiness. So says Timothy Padgett, a bureau chief for Time magazine in the Jesuit weekly, America (March 4). Thats not what one expects to read in America, so we perked up.
Says Padgett: As a liberal Catholic, I admire the progressive doctrine of Reform Judaism. Last summer, Reform Jews gave me something else to applaud. They have been open-minded enough to restore what they call the affective side of their religion: traditions like Hebrew chant. They now acknowledge that those gestures matter and always will as long as humans are the sensuously spiritual beings they are . It is time for us [liberal Catholics] to ask: in our four-decade-long zeal to make the Mass modern and relevant by burying sublime Kyries under banal Kumbayas have we lost the vital affective side of our own religion? Padgett goes on to speak favorably of Gregorian chant and reserving the shorter prayers, like the Sanctus or Agnus Dei, for chant in Latin.
We were encouraged to read this in, of all places, America. And yet, we sensed something missing, not just a piece or two, but the heart of the matter.
The word affective stuck in our craw Padgett used the word three times in an article that covered only one-and-a-quarter pages. So we turned to our dictionary, which defines affective as concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional. Yes, its usually a good thing when worship moves us emotionally. But emotionalism is not the essence of worship. When we worship we offer, or should want to offer, our best to God good music and all that. But more than that, at worship God is doing something extraordinary for us, whether we feel it or not.
You have two options:
- Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
- Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.
If you're already a subscriber log-in here.