First: last night at the big snow tubing adventure, I listened to one of our college students tell about a revelation he'd had that day- after volunteering at the Haley House, he'd been given a tour of the cathedral in town, and said he realized that the Church is hypocritical. He said they were shown a chalice made of gold, worth thousands of dollars, and a chair where only the archbishop is allowed to sit. "It's all unnecessary," he said- wasteful and ridiculous. I didn't have a good answer to his concerns.
This morning, then, I read this article- I love this woman's blog and although I guess I'm one of the "happy clappy" Catholics that she complains about, I thought she made a really great point. I am no liturgical police-person, but I know enough to see when things can be done better. I love the reminder that no Mass, no Christian, no form of worship is offered perfectly.
Then today, being the Church Geeks that we are, Scott and I took a trip to a shrine. Our first stop was the gift shop, and I guess that was not the best place to start. It was HUGE, and full of... crap. I saw gift-boxed feathers, with ribbons on them, that were supposed to be from angel wings? They had recently renovated the place and the it all looks polished and new, with piped-in music (I heard "Pass It On" while I was browsing the clearance table!). Everything had special lighting and such. I was so turned off- the chapel, which was the last place we visited, was nice- but... everywhere, everywhere, everywhere were fund-raising pleas. Benches you could buy in memory of someone, candles for the candle chapel, and donation requests at every turn. On the end of each pew in the chapel sat a large envelope that said "remember me... remember us!"
I thought of Simcha's article and realized that I am on the whole much more comfortable with imperfect worship than perfect- I'd rather a church building be shabby and full of friendly, sincere-faithed people (I know, I know that's not a word but you know what I mean).
Don't get me wrong, I don't think the Church should ever stop trying to do liturgy well. I know there are standards to good Mass. But I'd rather be in a tin church before a clay chalice with good people and a great homily than surrounded by strangers in a cathedral decked in gold. I don't even mind clapping a few times.