I haven’t been posting as much lately, what with the demands of graduate school and such, but occasionally a story happens that demands a response. No, it’s not about the Donald Trump Show, the ignominious return of the Duggars to television, the death of Mother Angelica, or whatever thing Pope Francis is doing. This story is much more important: Kathleen Battle is returning to the Metropolitan Opera:
I can’t believe I only just found out about this one. In a rare flash of insight and self-reflection, Msgr. Charles Pope wrote an article for the National Catholic Register about how the numbers for Latin Mass participation seem to have stagnated and how Latin Mass communities need to actively evangelize to increase their numbers and their clout.
It seems that a ceiling has been hit. The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum.
Some traditional Catholics I speak to say, “If only the archdiocese would promote us more,” or “If only the bishop would celebrate it at all or more frequently.” Perhaps, but many other niche groups in the archdiocese say the same thing about their particular interest.
At the end of the day, for any particular movement, prayer form, organization, or even liturgy, the job of promoting it must belong to those who love it most. Shepherds don’t have sheep; sheep have sheep.
And once again we are back to the fundamental point: numbers matter. Groups that seek respect, recognition, and promotion in the highest places need to remember that numbers do matter; it’s just the way life works. If we who love the Traditional Latin Mass want to be near the top of the bishop’s priority list, we’re going to have to be more than one-half of one percent of Catholics in the pews
I’ve been quiet thus far about the ongoing “pope-a-polooza” going on in NYC, since I wasn’t sure that I have much to say. However, I was interested in a number of articles about black Catholics that have appeared in the last week or so.
One argument you hear a lot of in traditionalist and “reform of the reform” liturgical circles is that going to mass isn’t supposed to be entertaining. You’re supposed to go to mass to be edified, to be in the presence of god in the Eucharist, to receive god’s graces, to fulfill your Sunday requirement, to worship god, but not to be “entertained.”
While American Christianity seems to be flooding the market with bad art that will turn a quick buck, this seems to be the exception to the rule in terms of global fundamentalism, where the trend is towards violent iconoclasm.
I’m going to be taking a brief break from critiquing religion today so I can talk about an issue that’s on the minds of everyone these days: opera and the women who sing it.
Transgender issues are a major topic, both in popular culture and in the realm of public policy. Once treated as the modern equivalent of sideshow freaks, transgender people are coming into the mainstream and demanding the right to take their place in the public square. For conservative religious bodies like the Catholic church, who have yet to reconcile themselves with the existence of cis-gender lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and asexuals, this “transgender moment” must be particularly baffling. To my knowledge, there have been no “official” statements from Rome about how “orthodox” Catholics should make sense of transgender people (The Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t mention transgenderism, at least not the edition I have), but this passage from a December 2012 speech by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seems to be as authoritative as anything else on the matter: