Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Monday, January 30, 2012

Orate Fratres?

No, the question does not refer to the lack of posts recently. The author of this blog is just getting a very busy month of work – and illness – behind him. What ‘Pray Brethren?’ really refers to is the diminishing masculine form of the common, local liturgy. Now Christ has ensured this will remain to some degree because he has given us an all-male priesthood, but this does not mean that the laity understand the masculine character of the liturgy when they are at Mass each Sunday.

In the book Why Catholics Can’t Sing, Thomas Day writes that the tone set by a congregation often lets a visitor know who’s welcome and who’s not. A casual look around a Catholic weekend Mass will tell you a lot about this – the Mass is a family affair, pure and simple. Maybe this is because the Church has bled out so many members over the last forty years that the family is the last bastion of the Faith in our society. More still, the Church teaches that the family is the basic building block of society, so it makes sense to keep families coming to Mass together.

At the same time, the tone of the liturgy – especially the music, but also the priests – reinforces the old belief that religion is for women and children. What’s more, in our age of shunning male authority, our own clergy are often too afraid to play their fatherly role in leading the worship of God as men. The net effect of this is to leave the fathers of our families board to tears during Mass or not present at all. In our liturgy, the best way we can strengthen our families is by raising up strong men of faith, dedicated to the sacrifice of the Mass and ready to live it out in building up the city, state, and nation. But this will mean putting a little manly muscle back into the liturgy. The new translation is an excellent first step, but more is needed.

It’s high time we put Orate Fratres to work and begin to pray as brethren!

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