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Catholic Rite of Catholic Lite (Satire) - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:24 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:25 PM ]

By John Buzzard '19

In a shocking turn of events, the Vatican has released a new encyclical that will “fit our modern times.” As the Church faces a time of crisis, it seems as if more and more people are turning away from Catholicism in response to unanswered questions from their clerical leadership. In order to address these questions, the Vatican has decided to avoid controversy by refusing to initiate any dedicated discussions on the topic. Instead, the minds of the Holy See have released Tempus Boomerorum, a brand-new, full-length document that confronts the current trends of modernity.

 Many proponents of the encyclical are lovingly referring to the document as “Catholicism Lite.” One Vatican official added, “We call this Catholicism Lite because sometimes tradition is hard to uphold. We’re in a very fast-paced time, and it’s up to us to meet that pace. At the same time, through Tempus Boomerorum, we can appeal to many of the lost sheep and be the “lite” to bring them back. It’s a very fitting name.” Inside the encyclical, we find encouragements from papal authority to reduce all the difficult aspects of Mass, such as kneeling, being silent, and paying attention. The specifics are clear: the Church wants to work with us and base itself on our example rather than thousands of years of tradition.

The press release indicated that Tempus Boomerorum will address several Mass-related issues. Mass attendants will be encouraged to keep their phones on and with them at all times. One congregant stated, “I’m glad I can finally feel guiltless about when my phone rings during Mass. Sure, it’s usually just my friends inviting me over to watch football, but it could be something serious.” As we can see through the above example, sometimes we have to give people the benefit of the doubt; they might be attending to important matters rather than mindlessly browsing social media. The encyclical also encourages congregants to wear shorts and sandals into Mass. The Vatican wants to encourage comfort – not a hot, unfocused congregation – when commemorating Jesus Christ’s suffering and dying for our sins. A parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church told reporters, “I mean, I never saw the problem with wearing sandals at Mass. Jesus wore them, right?” The encouragement to bear more skin seems like a net-positive for Church attendance. Dress codes are, after all, the most significant factor in most people’s Mass attendance.

Tempus Boomerorum is a groundbreaking encyclical because it adds another optional Mass that the celebrant may offer. The “Lite Mass” is one that can fit the pace of society. Each Mass has a maximum run time of 30 minutes; while God only asks for one day a week, that time can always be repaid later on in the future. The celebrant is also encouraged to offer Mass from the pews with the laity as a way to involve everyone in the proceedings. While ad orientem Masses may seem “hip,” they exclude the people in attendance, who are the backbone of the Mass itself. At the same time, versus populum may seem like a happy medium, but for the Lite Mass, it just isn’t enough. The rest of the Mass remains the same, but the attendees are also encouraged to join in holding hands for the music. The music will also feature the “instruments of the people,” the guitar and piano, rather than the exclusionary organ and choir. At St. Cecilia’s in New York City, a parishioner added, “Well, the organ is nice and all, but if I can’t see the person playing the instrument, what’s the point? I want to feel involved rather than excluded.” The proponents of this encyclical are willing to abandon outdated, traditional liturgical music for a more relatable soft-rock atmosphere.

 Perhaps the most lauded piece of Tempus Boomerorum is the 100 page warning against global warming: an absolute must for this update to the Church. Vatican officials wanted global warming to be the focus of the encyclical, despite commotion from detractors that “wanted to focus on Church-based issues rather than political debates.” The response to these detractions was to include another 50 pages that were loosely related to Church issues, but were sure to mention the importance of separating trash and recyclables. “Our Earth is ours for future generations, and we are called to be stewards of creation”, stated one Vatican official. While it seems like no one was criticizing the statements about respecting our environment, the inclusion came at an interesting time of deflection (or, rather, reflection) in the Church.

The greatness of this document will shine for generations. Each Youth Synod will be allowed to make alterations to the document, which is a novel idea to the eternal Church. As the youth are the next to take charge of the Church, officials felt that their input on the encyclical will begin a new bridge between two out-of-touch generations. One staple of each Youth Synod is the inclusion of a suggestions box for how the Church may improve. The youth in attendance are encouraged to write down their suggestion on a notecard or tweet with #MyModernChurch to @Pontifex. The very nature of this document being open for changes is a sign that the Church is going in the right direction. In such open-ended and free responses, there had to be some restrictions. For example, the Minister for the Youth noted, “The youth think they’re humorous in writing their responses in Latin, but frankly, the Latin language isn’t very inclusive for most of the world. Please write your response in the vernacular. The Minister of Vernacular Languages added, “I’m glad to announce that our Catholic Church has received suggestions in over 60 languages, and am looking forward to appointing a committee to go through each response in their native tongue.” Truly the Church can say to its critics, “we’re keeping up with the world, so how about that?”

Tempus Boomerorum is sure to be the stepping stone for a Third Vatican Council. One can only hope that the Church can better fit with the world governments today and make the necessary changes to exist in the 21st century. As we await the positive outcomes of this encyclical, rather than addressing the negatives, we hope to be able to stay in touch with Vatican officials in order to see a new, tolerant, and truly universal Catholic Church.