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Sunday at Five PM, they break out the guitars and tambourine, find piano arrangements weirdly evocative of an 80’s piano bar, and sing about Jesus not as Redeemer, but panacea for one’s problems, just in case Prozac© Cialis© or Omeprazole© don’t work.

This is The Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass? The Confiteor is abbreviated, combined, if not blurred altogether, with the Kyrie. Why not? Confession is mandated but once a year. You can do a lot of sinning in 365 days. Your mindfulness can all but vanish and the rationalization of your selfishness can take free rein.

Somehow, The Church has abandoned exhorting, guiding, and nurturing the faithful in the discipline of personal holiness. Practice of faith comes with minimal abstinence, fasting or penance. Quiet contemplative prayer is the province of decrepit monks and praying the Rosary is relegated to little old ladies in Warsaw, Sicily, or Mexico City. The Hail Mary is now a synonym for a desperation play in football. And the clergy? They agreeably play along as if spine on their part was optional, if not downright rude.

The Church acts as if good social policy, and a cheap sentimental love are substitutes for the selfless love that Christian love, agape, compels of us.

The sappy music follows the Mass like the soundtrack of a Hallmark Channel Christmas show. And the nagging questions never pierce our consciousness, “Am I loving God with all my heart, mind and soul?” “Am I willing to walk away from my life, comfort, prosperity, the esteem of my friends and family, for the love of God?”

The Precious Body of Our Lord is distributed as if it were a cookie.

The Mass soon ends. As the last strings have been strummed, the last chord played and the tambourine shakes no more for at least another week, the audience, oops, congregation applauds. Yes applauds. Can a priest at least admonish the parish that this is not entertainment? Applause is inappropriate.

I feel as empty as I felt when I walked in.