The church is not a club and the liturgy is not a concert

Continuing my work on the Boselli translation (which I explained a bit here), I came across this passage this morning. A good one, perhaps, as so many of us prepare to head off to Sunday morning Mass (or perhaps wonder whether or not we want to go):

A French liturgist [Louis-Marie Chauvet] has described well the temptation faced by many of the faithful, especially those given to a certain aesthetic, musical, or artistic sense, who are troubled by the quality of the liturgical celebration: “My parish is not beautiful. The church is ugly, the cantor sings poorly, the priest’s homilies are banal, the children are noisy, and so on. Am I not perhaps more united to God when I watch the Mass on television at home? Sitting in front of the television, I pray better!” The response of the church is clear: “It is to your parish assembly that God calls you, even if it is less beautiful than the Mass on television.” Why? Because that concrete assembly, where you encounter people whom you have not chosen, teaches you what the church is. The church is not a club made up of friends who enjoy spending time together, and the liturgy is not a musical concert (although singing and music of high quality is important). In the assembly of  the church, we do not gather in the name of human affections and friendships; rather, we gather “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It is no coincidence that the Eucharistic celebration begins with this Trinitarian formula: each time, it reminds  those who gather that the Church is not a gathering of people of our own choosing, but the gathering of men and women whom God, and no one else, has called to himself.


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