Protestant communitarianism etc. revisited: Not so fast there, pardner . . .

The man, Steve Shiffrin, wrote and this blogger commended him, for his in-general observation about entering a Protestant church at service time and being “barraged” with greetings vs. entering a Catholic church at mass time and being ignored, the latter because for Catholics a church is for praying, not greeting.

I liked his wording —

I do not mean to criticize Catholics or Protestants here (I aim to describe general patterns).  . . .

I believe that the reason Catholics are not as social when they gather for Mass is that there is a sense of the sacred in church, and a sense that the right thing to do is to quietly pray. There is surely no intention to make visitors feel unwelcome. [Emphasis

Similarly, Protestants are not trying to make visitors feel uncomfortable. Quite to the contrary, they are simply making clear that visitors are welcome.

General patterns yes. And that’s the way it used to be in Catholic churches. Things have changed. The “sense of the sacred” has slipped away, imperceptibly. When is a church not a church? I have asked, answering, Before and after mass, when it’s a social hall.

I’ll take his “general patterns,” allowing for Catholic experience that’s as it used to be, even in Chicago and environs. but as for Chicago and environs, my before-and-after mass description holds as a general pattern. Which is what got me writing this little book.

I must hold back from endorsement of his wondering “whether the sense of the sacred works against community bonding in Catholic congregations.” Not now, certainly, and not in any parish I grew up in or experienced as an adult.

Activity, thy name is Catholic, I must say, as it’s Protestant and Jewish in my extended experience as a newspaper reporter covering churches and synagogues, including the latter on weekends, including Sundays, based on my researching religious-education classes some years back for a book that never got written.

I include also the Latin-mass congregation in Oak Park, where church mice could not be quieter during mass and in the worship area at any time, but in the vestibule after mass it was wall-to-wall family-to-family major helloing and chatting.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Catholics then and now: a qualifying comment . . .


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