Parish shopping

Parish shopping

Miss Kelly, a Catholic revert, has just started Mass-hopping, that is going from parish to parish to find one she likes. This is a relatively new phenomenon and something that would have been downright forbidden a few decades ago.

In the old days, you went to your geographic parish. Period. If the pastor of another parish caught you parish-hopping, he would send you packing back to your own parish. There was a valid point. Catholicism is not an individualistic faith. We come to worship God as a family, in a Body, and the basic unit of that family is the parish. The parish forms bonds of communion that go beyond Mass to caring for each other. It used to be common—and God willing, it still is in places—that everyone looked out for one another in a parish. If one man lost his job, there would be casseroles in the freezer the next day and outstanding bills would mysteriously find themselves taken care of. There was no going to welfare, no institutionalized Catholic charitable agency. The family took care of it.

But times changed. For one thing, we became a lot more mobile. Where before we walked to the parish that was close by, in the Boston archdiocese, we can now drive a half hour and find a half dozen or more parishes, even in the most rural outposts. And as younger folks who never knew those old parish loyalties begin to seek out more orthodox and traditional worship against the bizarre post-Vatican II practices that have taken hold, they have begun to Mass-hop.

I can hardly blame Miss Kelly as she describes the banality and lack of transcendence she finds at her local parishes. It’s not that her demands are all that onerous. In fact, they’re quite modest.

I’m not looking the Latin Mass, but I am looking for a Mass which transends the normal, secular, day-to-day experience.  I’m looking for a worship service that is conducive to prayer and reflection. I’m looking for “bells and smells,” the traditions and sensory experiences that transport one to a contemplative, spiritual place.  I’m looking to be part of church community which respects the Mass.

Incidentally, I’m not so sure that Catholics have been dispensed from their obligation to support their local parish, but I’ll leave that to the canon lawyers to sort out.

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  • Sorry, Rick, but you’re going to have to re-read St. Paul, especially his letters to the Corinthians. We certainly are called to be part of the Body.

    And there are lots of things Jesus didn’t explicitly mention—like, say, the New Testament—that are still important to our faith.

  • My parish is a Novus Ordo parish, but I do like to get to the Tridentine Mass once a month or so in Providence at The Holy Name of Jesus Church.  We were in Tampa last weekend and I saw in the phone book a chapel called Immaculate Heart of Mary, where the Tridentine Mass was offered, so my husband and I chose to go there for Sunday Mass. The day before we went to a local parish where the tabernacle was not only not in the center of the altar, it was behind a closed door and the only indiction it was there was a red candle lit beside the door!  How sad.  So we looked forward to this Tridentine Mass at this lovely little chapel on Sunday, with beautiful statues, tabernacle in the center, St. Louis de Montfort books on the shelves.  The chapel was full with young families and older people.  The Mass was beautiful, hymns beautiful, excellent homily. The priests were of the Society of Priest of St. Louis, King of France.  When I looked them up when I got home I couldn’t find them..couldn’t find the chapel on the register of churchs for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.  I believe it is a sedavacantist group!  Wow…how is one to know!!!  This surely is the first experience of this type for us, and from now on will be much more careful!  But is is something, such a beautiful, reverent Mass there, and at the diocesan parish we attended on Saturday, there were EMs all over the place, no statues, no tabernacle….. 

  • My home parish is hippy-dippy.  I had a scrupulous dedication to avoid parish hopping, so I stuck around in order to avoid becoming a liturgical tourist.  Then bizarre, irreverent dress on the part of the new pastor(a one-time event which was applauded by many churchgoers) scared me off of Sunday masses.  I went to a more traditional parish nearby, and I’m much more cheery now.

  • “Now, if a priest is calling evil good and really preaching heterodoxy then act rather than leave.  Record word for word what is being said and/or describe any unlawful extras, activities and let the authorities know.”

    This is important, too.  In my situation I certainly wasn’t silent about the priest.  However, sometimes sticking with it can nurture a sort of pride:  “look how much I put up with!  Aren’t I special?” can really hinder one’s spiritual progress.

  • IMHO – kevin’s point is valid, that pride can take over and we can side-tracked and hinder our spiritual journey by “sticking with it”.

    I reached a point after much frustration and “offering it up” that I just did not want to be angry at Mass anymore, and did not want my kids to have to listen to me and my husband discussing the latest liturgical abuse happening in our parish.

    So we started going to the other parish in town, and it was so much better. Good homilies. No theatrics. No grandstanding for more and more money (for lawn sprinklers – I kid you not – and a grandiose parish center)but honest stewardship shere we supported a school in India.

    Unfortunately, parish reconfiguration closed our little haven, although the sit-in continues. We now are in the next town over, ver affluent but even more reverent than the last.

    Looks like we are on an upward trend ! On the rare occasions when I have to go back tou first parish, I am quickly reminded of why we left and have no regrest, other than my deep regret for their dissent.

  • Your relation with a canonical parish isn’t just a detail on paper, as ultimately they are responsible for your pastoral care: e.g., for sick calls, or for ensuring that your kids be prepared for their first confession, first communion, and confirmation.

  • The first pastor was right. It is the primary responsibility of the parents to educate their children, not the parish and that’s one of the reasons we’re in the mess we’re in.

    When I was DRE at my parish, there plenty of kids whose parents dropped them off for religious ed on Sunday and then picked them up after and that was the only exposure to the Catholic faith they had: no Mass, no prayers during the week, nothing.

    What’s the point then? This is another topic entirely, but I will say that it’s unfortunate that we’ve let the passing on of the faith to our children become a school model. That’s not how it should be at all.

  • There’s nothing evil in it or against orthodoxy, I just found it utterly uninspriring.


    What did you do to try and turn it around?

  • You know, there are some things you just can’t “turn around.”  Sometimes the pastor just turns a deaf ear, and with the lack of good formation from the pulpit and all the politically correct homilies over the years, the large number of folks in the pews just continues to smile and listen attentively to him, and anyone who questions anything is immediately looked at as coming from the dark ages or being “judgemental.”  Even meeting one-on-one with the pastor is like speaking to a wall. It is very sad.  We now have sent letter to our Bishop over the situation, but two weeks have gone by with no response yet.  And this is not a small issue!