Rusty and I have been doing church tours. For her, I think it’s more anthropology; for me, I’d like to find one and settle down. I’ve done the 2 local Catholic churches (Windham and Garrettsville), and we’ve done a couple of nondenominational churches, and the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in Warren.
Today, we went to Queen of the Holy Rosary, the Tridentine Rite church for the Diocese of Youngstown, in Vienna (that’s “VY-enna”, not “VeeENna”). The modern building is simple but quite beautiful. My favorite detail was the round window directly behind the joint of the crucifix….that and the glassed-in room in back for parents to take their screaming babies.
QHR was started as a private “emergency” chapel in 1978. I’m not clear if that was from SSPX or what. It was regularized in 1991 and is now run by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. The history is relevant to the vibe of the congregation, I think. These guys are serious. The bulletin contains a 2 1/2 page essay by Cardinal Francis Arinze, and a serialization of a commentary on the Sacred Heart. Indeed, out of 8 8.5×11 pages, only 2 were actual “bulletin stuff”. They also had out a “policy book” which specified definitions of members, and rules for First Communions and weddings (Biggest thing: obey the dress code…dresses at least 5″ below the knee. My wife was in violation, though at least she was respectably if not modestly dressed.)
Besides the traditional opening and closing hymns, all music was chant. The Ordinary was the Missa de Angelis; the propers were psalm toned. There was Alma Redemptoris and Ave Maria for extra music for the Offertory and Communion, respectively. The choir was maybe 3 men and 3 women, not all of whom were equally strong. The organ was an older electronic instrument; they have an organ fund drive going, but I heard nothing that would merit a better instrument. Still, the music was all appropriate both to the service and to the forces available. It would have been nice for the congregation to sing the Credo and in general to be more involved in the music.
Fr. Bouchard’s sermon was the best preaching I have heard in a Roman Catholic church (not, I fear, a very high bar). In discussing the plight of the modern family, and how the Holy Family provides some pattern for that, he pulled no punches. I’d made a comment to Rusty the other day that “in spite of appearances, the Catholic Church is not a fertility religion”. I’m not entirely sure that QHR got that memo. There’s a gravestone memorializing the victims of abortion at the right front corner of the parish house, members were organizing a novena over the Freedom of Reproduction Act, including praying the Rosary at the courthouse, and it came up several times in the sermon (it WAS Holy Family). I’m not saying that the Church shouldn’t be witnessing against abortion, just that there are a lot more things to witness about.
The missal contained both Latin and English, and instructions on when to stand sit kneel etc. It would have been helpful for the bulletin to contain the texts of the Propers, for those of us who are Latin-challenged (that’s probably just the Word-obsessed Lutheran speaking). There were also some differences in the consecration from what I’ve seen at the Mac and at St. James: no Elevation between Sanctus and Benedictus (no “between” there; they went storming on, and lifted the Host later), more silent prayers, priest sang the Pater Noster alone. And while it’s often clear why you sit/stand/kneel, it isn’t always so, and my experience would be enriched by knowing exactly why I’m playing Popish Aerobicize (yeah, I know, real Catholics learn all this stuff with their ABCs).
My general take was, “These people are a little odd, but I like it.” Trinity Lutheran felt like home; QHR felt like a place I wanted to be home. There was an almost magnetic energy streaming from the congregation to the altar. It was a very alive congregation, with plenty of younger (and many very young) people. Yet everything felt very calm and nourishing. It’s a place where people are really doing it right, and with energy and commitment.
Rusty was both happy and perplexed to have escaped the service without being gladhanded by an usher or church member. I pointed out that that was a Protestant thing (and particularly a low-church Prot thing), and that people were assumed to be there because they really wanted to be.
I’m trying to decide “what I am”. If I were to go Catholic, I would probably be going here. But I’m not entirely sure I’m to go in that direction. I think a careful analysis of Catholic vs. Lutheran theology is called for. And there are parts of Catholic culture that wouldn’t be appropriate for me….for example, a focus on the BVM, just because, well, it would be too easy to revert to Goddess Mode. And parts that are still foreign.