Monday, December 1, 2008

A Roman Catholic Take on our Congregation

From the weblog of a Roman Catholic visitor to Mt. Zion on Easter Sunday (2006)

Why Can't We?

I went with my father-in-law to Mt. Zion LCMS in Greenfield for breakfast and Divine Service.

Some things I observed:

A sense of reverence. This particular congregation is very "High-Church". The pastor wears a chasuble; the Sign of the Cross is made; the people bow when the processional cross (with corpus) passes them; and the elements are elevated during the chanted words of institution. Also, there are icons on the walls and even on the altar. And I wonder, why can't we be more like that?

Solid preaching. Pastor Koch preached a very well-put-together sermon about the truth of Christ's resurrection, beginning with a fisking of the "Gospel of Judas", complete with a citation of St. Irenaeus. Granted, I naturally won't agree with all of his content, but it seems like your average Lutheran pastor can out-preach your average Catholic priest. And I wonder, why don't we do a better job on homiletics?

This isn't to say that we Catholics don't have our stalwart preachers. But they seem to be more the exception than the rule. Even if you're in a solidly orthodox parish, you run the risk of listening to a sermonette with little substance, or a poorly planned and poorly delivered ramble .

High-caliber music. I need not go into the condition of Catholic music; it's been gone over enough. But one still wonders, why does a Lutheran congregation of a few hundred have better music than a Catholic parish of several thousand? Mt. Zion has a choir of eight, and they did a beautiful job. The organist provided solid accompaniment, and the hymn selection was impeccable. Too often we Catholics seem satisifed with mediocrity. We refuse to challenge ourselves musically (and otherwise).

Of course, none of these things are going to make me desert the Barque of Peter. That being said, I'd love to videotape Mt. Zion's service and send it off to certain people, with a note saying, Why can't we?

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