fragments of an attempted writing.

spa Mass



I've seen this going around amongst Orthodox (first in blogdom, then on FB) who seem pleased at this example of Rome getting its act together.  The archbishop here is the man about to take over the helm of the San Fran RC diocese (its got him a bit stressed out).  He is a conservative, and the diocese is not, and this has created some spectacle.  Anyway, this video has folks moderately excited for some reason.  I'm not sure why.  The musical performance is so so, and the liturgy is spotty with a fair amount of awkward moments when the players don't seem to know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.  But it ain't a clown Mass I guess.  Though a spa setting seems pretty clownish..

I find it somewhere between fitting and ironic that this is being presented as an indicator of a healthier Rome.  This Mass took place at a Napa Valley resort spa.  The Meritage Resort and Spa to be exact.  According to the Napa Institute registration page, to attend the Thursday through Sunday conference of conservative American Catholics preaching to their choir, you had to pay $1500 to the Institute, in addition to accommodations and travel costs.  There was a group discount for conference attendees (probably 10-15% off), but the normal July rates at that spa are $322 - $702 a night for a room, so you have another grand a night to drop on a room, not to mention meals, drinks, and and so forth.  Do we even have to ask the question anymore - who is conservative ("neo-Cath") American Catholicism for?   Make fun of SSPX and other trad groups all you want.  Their conferences cost like $45 plus Super 8 accommodations.  I'd love to hear Mark and Louise Zwicks' take on this.

But more on this later, when I return to my current post series, and recollect the days when I met Tom Monaghan and his crew that has done so much to remake white American Catholicism.

20 comments:

  1. That talking Cracker I alluded to in another thread was at a Trid liturgy, but low mass on a friday night before benediction.

    I thought those EF masses in a converted Baptist basilica were funny, but you're right, a SPA in Napa?

    Great! The patrimony of the Universal Church, available wherever wine you can't afford is sold!

    Whats a poor boy to do?

    (Apparently I can't drink enough to sleep right now, but I won't make 60 comments on this thread. Just this one.)

    (Maybe)

    (We'll see i guess.)

    Hezekiah Garrett

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  2. Does this glorify God somehow? Surely traditionalists know that we don't have to choose between suburban piffle and urbane decadence. Before I found the Byzantine Catholic Church, with its mercifully unselfconscious traditionalism, I was a traditionalist who could not stomach the tight assed Republicanism of any trad parish I could find. The monastic liturgies of the Trappists in Genesee NY and the peasant liturgies outside Tijuana were my two models of what I was looking for. Not this festival of lace.

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    1. I never encountered tight-assed Republicanism in the trad parish I was at. I had to go to the OF suburban parishes for that. But then, I never ate a donut there after that first coffee hour. Its hard to feel at home in a place where you almost get into two fistfights over antisemitism within 30 minutes of hearing the Prologue of the Gospel of John. So I'm definitely not questioning you. But I had a helluva catechist, Fr Fromageot. And there ain't no way to think the religious value of those Masses was all in my head, when all that's in my head was "Lets kill these Jew-gassing wannabes!"

      Now I just go to the Spanish mass at my territorial parish. I just disappear there. And really, shouldn't I decrease so He can... somethingorother?

      You can almost date precisely how long ago that was for me. I still say Trid and NO, unless I think consciously about it.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    2. Interesting. My (limited but growing) experience of traditionalists is that they tend to be either political quietists, romantics (i.e., Distributists), or quasi-libertarians of the "leave us alone!" variety. In other words, they don't seem to be terribly involved in the economic/pro-market rhetoric that undergirds mainstream libertarianism. As Och noted, it's really the conservatives (neo-caths) that are much more impressed with mainline Republican Party politics and, in most instances at least, I would distinguish them from traditionalists. There may be more convergence now on the matter of the Tridentine Mass since 2007 (prior to that a lot of neo-Caths would have viewed the traditionalist allegiance to the TLM as disobedient to the Pope -- the greatest sin), but if you spend a bit of time in a parish like, say, St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago (which is run by Opus Dei) and then flip over to, say, the Shrine of Christ the King down in Hyde Park (which is run by the Institute of Christ the King) you'll notice a pretty substantial difference in terms of parish culture, attitude, nature of the sermons, etc.

      With that said, I would also say there is a lot of "unselfconscious traditionalism" within the SSPX, mainly because it has some roots (40+ years of the Society plus its deeper connections to traditionalist/reactionary Catholicism going back to the 1960s and before). I often compare -- favorably! -- SSPX chapels to smaller convert/cradle ROCOR parishes. There may be some zany newbies roaming about, but for the most part the bulk of the families long settled into the rhythm of pre-Vat II piety and all that entails.

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    3. Could you say more about the Shrine of Christ the King in Hyde Park? I've always thought of them as out of touch with their surroundings(e.g. the contrast between hard core chicago ghetto and baroque stage setting, removing St. Gelasius as the patron saint).

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    4. Stan,

      When I lived in Hyde Park between 2005-07 the neighborhoods south of campus were still pretty run down; now the area is gentrifying quite a bit, and I would say the parish fits well into the general University of Chicago "culture." I certainly wouldn't identify that area of the city as "hardcore ghetto," at least not when you compare it to the western neighborhoods where murders and gang activity goes down on a nightly basis. If I ever go to the Shrine, it's for one of their evening masses and I've never felt uncomfortable walking from there at 8 or 9 at night down to the number 6 bus (which is five blocks away).

      Obviously the parish is intended to serve a "traditionalist demographic"; it's no more a "neighborhood parish" than places like St. John Cantius, St. Mary of the Angels, or the SSPX chapel in Oak Park. From what I can tell, a lot of the parishioners are part of the University community (students, professors) and the rest commute in. Despite the size of the building it's still a rather small parish (at least in terms of total numbers). I'm actually surprised they can manage to stay open, and I have no idea if/when they'll ever get the restoration project near completion. It's too bad because the potential is certainly there, but the location is probably less than ideal for building a vibrant parish.

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    5. Gabriel,

      You're right, maybe 'hardcore ghetto' is too dramatic, and i've heard about the gentrification. I guess I was a bit surprised when they arrived that they didn't seem to have any interest in serving the local community, not acknowledging the former parish of St. Gelasius(but referring back to the time that it was St. Clara), having the food pantry move out of the parish grounds, talking about the "improvement of the neighborhood" without reference to what is happening to those that used to live in poverty in the area. They just give off the vibe(rightly or wrongly) that they're interested in recreating a certain moment in time(e.g. 19th century Bavaria) rather than proclaiming the Gospel. I realize that they aren't a territorial parish, but absence of any interest or reference to that aspect of their surroundings seems somewhat problematic. I haven't been in touch with the area for a few years, so all of this might be completley off. I'm curious as to your thoughts on this.

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    6. Stanislaus,

      Sorry I didn't catch this sooner.

      I guess there's two schools of thought on this. The first is that it's irresponsible for any parish -- even if it's intended to meet a niche within Catholicism -- to shut itself off from the world around it, particularly the neighborhood, the demographics, the history, etc. The second view is that there are already other "neighborhood parishes" in that general area which serve those needs. As such, the Shrine can do its own thing while they do theirs. I'm not entirely opposed to that approach because, really, the Shrine will never be able to be a "regular parish" to your average Catholic. Now, if the situation were different and it was the only Catholic parish in the area, maybe I would agree that they would need to be more "open"; but if you think about it, what they actually did was save a beautiful building from being destroyed and are now in the process of restoring it. Who knows? in 10 years' time they may blossom into a thriving parish. At which point there will be more options for them to be part of the community. But really, I think their idea of "community" at this point is the University community, which itself has long been self-sheltered from the impoverished world around it.

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  3. I think there is a certain proportion of converts to Orthodoxy who would happily pope if Catholic liturgies were typically like this. In any case, it's only fitting that Catholicism at its bougiest be musically almost up to the standards of averagely bougie Episcopalianism, but with more Latin and lace.... Someone should really write a series of romance novels set at a seminary entitled Latin and Lace....

    I noticed on the program that every day they featured a Byzantine-rite liturgy, sadly no videos available. Also, what's with the faceless Our Lady of Guadaloupe?!

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    1. Of course there's a certain percentage who would flip for this stuff given the centrality of liturgy to the Orthodox imagination. There's at least two parishes in Chicago where you can get a better Mass than this on any given Sunday and at least three others which are as good (if not better) more often than not. And like Owen said, no heavy handed fees...

      But I'm still a bit confused on why this video -- as opposed to the dozens of other Tridentine Mass videos I've seen floating around online in the last couple of months -- is getting so much play. Perhaps it's because the Catholic circles this sort of thing is bandied about in are frequented by Orthodox as well. That makes sense.

      So, what will the Orthodox say on November 3 when the Tridentine Mass is celebrated at St. Peter's in Rome in front of thousands of pilgrims from around the world? The rumor is B16 will preside, though there's some reason to doubt that given his age, etc.

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    2. Also I am willing to pen said romance novels as soon as an Orthodox Christian steps up to pen romance novels set in a monastery. I was thinking of a more straightforward title like "Pomp & Pederasty" or just plain old "Novice Rape" -- the East's finest spiritual discipline.

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    3. What I'm hearing here is, "I'll take the twinks, if you take the bears." Sounds fair to me...

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    4. Y'all seem to have an "inside baseball" kinda take on this.

      Sodomites or Catamites?

      Hezekiah Garrett

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  4. Boys, the margins of the distribution curve - of any distribution curve - are not the center where the bulk of everything is in space and time, because they are...at the margin. Not non-existent, but marginal.

    Not sure why the blogosphere here loves the margin so, but if you think you're not wasting your time, knock yourselves out.

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    1. Fellas,

      The tire of a car wheel - of any car wheel - is not the hub where the bulk of the aluminum and steel is, because it is...the tire. Not aluminum, but black rubber.

      Not sure why people like to state the obvious, but it never stops them from wasting everybody else's fucking time.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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  5. I suppose in the interest of fairness I should state that the SSPX, at least in the part of Latin American I lived, had some outreach to the poor and downtrodden. They have a chapel in one of the working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires that genuinely poor people go to. But that's just Latin America, I am not aware of any such establishment in the US (though there may be one in France). Other than that, Mass at a spa is really just a symptom of the Puritanism-cum-rosaries that is symptomatic of that petit-bourgeois grouplet of Catholicism. As I have said, this is the result of JPII going on the war path in the 1970's and '80's by replacing "progressive" clergy and liberation theologians with despotic man-children with an obsession with women-parts they can't touch. The lacey drag and chanting in a language they didn't even study in school (which is atrocious in cultural terms) is one of the preferred pastimes that is just the icing on the cake of their not knowing what the hell they're doing. Imagine these clowns trying to hold an ecumenical council. It would rival any reality show on VH1.

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    1. To be a bit fairer to the SSPX (at least in the U.S.), most of their chapels are not full-time parishes with a resident priest and, based on the few I have attended, most of the parishioners are not people of extravagant means. Many are fortunate to keep themselves up and running, I imagine. With that said, I have read about some of the larger SSPX chapels doing various charitable outreaches, though you have to keep in mind that they don't have a diocesan infrastructure to rely on. For instance, the bulk of Catholic charitable outreach in Chicago is centralized in the Archdiocese. Parishes are asked to support these efforts and take up special collections, but they are rarely saddled with the administrative and organizing costs of such ventures (which can be considerable). That doesn't mean individual Catholics can't -- and don't -- give to charities of their choosing; volunteer at soup kitchens and other charitable establishments; or lend assistance in their own private ways. I have no idea what their rates of participation in such ventures are, however.

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  6. MONAGHAN! MONAGHAN! MONAGHAN!

    NEXT INSTALLMENT! NEXT INSTALLMENT! NEXT INSTALLMENT!

    Hezekiah Garrett

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  7. I honestly don't know what you have against non-traditional worship songs, Owen...

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