St. Pius X Church / Bl. JPII Parish, Warren OH

or, “the Apotheosis of the “Spirit of Vatican II””
Ordinary 20 (St. Maximilian Kolbe)
Missalette: Breaking Bread
Penitential Rite A, Eucharistic Prayer III
Responsorial Psalm: Timothy R. Smith, “based on” Psam 67
IMpropers/sandwich fillings:
Holy, holy, holy / Dykes
We walk by faith / Haugen
We are many parts / Haugen
We are called / Haugen
Duration: 56 minutes

I had intended to go to the 4PM at St. Columba Cathedral, since I found out they really do have music there, and that’s when it is. But Rusty would have had to fix dinner, with the grandgirls here…who were all three standing on my last nerve and preparing for a re-enactment of Holy Innocents in August. So I decided I needed an attitude adjustment.

St. Pius X is in a residential neighborhood full of cul-de-sacs. I had been there once before, for their summer festival, to hear my neighbor Jack Fealko play accordion with the Rex Taneri band, but I still had to consult Mapquest. The church is an expansion of the school, and looks like it, a one-story gynmnasium-like structure with watch-your-neighbor seating, carpeting, drop-tile ceiling. The most striking piece of interior decor was the crucifix, which had Jesus with his arms stretched out in a sort of praise-and-worship pose, not at all connected to the wood. “Oh yes, I’m just up here standing on a peg because the view is so good.” Now, I don’t think the crucifix needs to be the plastic-arts equivalent of Mel Gibson’s Passion, certainly not in-your-face gory, but this seemed to blasphemously minimize the suffering of Christ. There was a skylight right above it, which would have been a nice touch except that some things shouldn’t see the light of day. I forgot to bring my camera, but trust me, you aren’t missing anything.

Apparently this is a recently-blended parish, so there was much uncertainty in the crowd and a lot of people checking the place out since they no longer had an 11AM mass at St. Joseph. The music began with a poppish organ improvisation (with a little foot even), but moved to piano after the first hymn. The keyboardist/cantor was competent within the limitations of his style; better handling of dipthongs would have been welcome, but he played the we-we hymns in the proper cocktail style. The Gospel Acc had a different, longer verse, and the Great Amen was troped with “alleluia, forever and ever”. The Memorial Acc was troped as well, “When we eat this bread [of life] and drink this [holy] cup…” The cantor’s intro to the Communion hymn. “As we share this meal…” set my teeth on edge; it’s not “just a meal”.

The priest is apparently Polish…2nd one around here…what, is the Mahoning Valley a mission field now? He was quite good. He started the homily by telling Dorothy Day stories, which would have been a bad sign except for the Gospel of the day, and he didn’t go anywhere with it that was either explicitly political or outside the social teaching of the Church. Upon hearing the tale of Day giving a diamond ring which had been donated to Catholic Workers to a poor old lady, I thought, “You could do that with that piano. I’d be a deserving recipient, but I don’t have room…but I’m sure you could find a deserving Catholic music student, who needs it more than any church.” He was warning against judging people, and I’m not judging people here; I’m judging a liturgical culture. I’m sure none of the participants in this liturgy really asked deep questions about what they were doing and why they were doing it; they’re just doing what’s been done. Given some of the flagrant liturgical abuses I’ve seen around here, this was all quite proper. Not at all my style, not at all the Church’s music, but you certainly won’t go to Hell for going there. The irony is that the we-we songs are being done in a church named after St. Pius X. It’s enough to cause the lapsed Lutheran in me to break out and nail a copy of Tra le Sollecitudini to the church door.


10 Responses to St. Pius X Church / Bl. JPII Parish, Warren OH

  1. Ben Yanke says:

    Wow. The irony, musically speaking, is really quite rich. That music lineup in Pope Pius X parish? I almost burst out laughing!

  2. kishnevi says:

    regarding the crucifix–IIRC, Jesus suffering on the Cross was a medieval innovation, with Christ glorified and elevated on the Cross was the norm before then–Christ the King.

  3. jeffreyquick says:

    I could buy that, if glory were the clear message. This was more Buddy Jesus: “C’mon up here with me and watch the Passover pilgrims.”

  4. mes Quick says:

    Ah my Son, do you not worry that someone will send your blog to the Pope and he might excommunicate you for doing the Lords work of Judging. In my humble opinion, The Priest and the Par0ishoners are much more important in Gods sight then either the music or the Church arcatexture.


  5. Remiel רעמיאל says:

    I have to say that for a person claiming to be nonjudgmental and hiding under the umbrella of “I only judge the liturgical culture,” you certainly have plenty of negative and demeaning comments about orgnists – since they choose the music and play it,cantors – since they lead the people in singing, presiders – since they set the tone of the liturgical celbrations and also different congregations of God loving people, who actually come to their churches to pray and not to critique their worship eperience. Congratulations on your knowledge of music, hymns,songs, liturgical rules, norms, regulations, canons, Gregorian chants, a pretty good wit and ahh how could I forget, your knowledge of the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church:)and of course of those teaching revealed to us by God himself in the Holy Scriptures. Impressive to the point that if I did not know any better I would have thought that you may be either an ex-priest with a music backroud or maybe just simply someone who has forgotten how to be open and accepting of our diverse liturgies in this beautiful country of ours. I feel tremendous pity for people like you who have frozen in time and if they could, they would gladly bring the Council of Trent back with all of its glory, anathemas, smells, yells and bells and of course distancing themselves from the people of God, the very people they are supposed to serve. It is rather disturbing to see that you do have strong feelings about the involvement of women in the Catholic liturgies, foreign priests,the overall church architecture and the church furnishings and arts. It is especially disturbing to see such anattitude of a fellowbeliever, during the time and age when many churches in Youngstown are being closed and merged. I hope that one day you will realize (and find in your heart a little bit more compassion and understanding) how many people are grieving and mouring the loss of their churches. Truly and honestly do any of us have the the right to kick a wounded dog? While the latin phrase: De gustibus non est disputandum,reminds us very clearly that we are entitled to our opinions, nevertheless, it is truly sad when a fellow Christian posts such unChristian and critical comments. Maybe there is a need here to apply the wisdom of the Hippocratic Oath: “to never do harm to anyone.” I guess at the end of the day we get from our church attendance (or as someone eloquent I know on this blog would say: our liturgical worship experience)nothing more and nothing less, but exactly what we come to the church for – just like the tax collector and the pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. In Jesus’own words:”But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying,

    ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
    I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    I wish you the best of luck in your future apocryphal writings. I most certainly hope that they will bring you much satisfaction and maybe fill that deep hole in your heart that somehow causes you to critique the liturgies instead of enjoying them and using them as vessels or tools as you may say it, to bring us closer to God and to one another. Take what I have written for what it is worth – just a private observation but nethertheless a valid one.
    With God’s peace.

  6. Remiel רעמיאל says:

    Oh, by the way I love to hear piano music during our worship experiences – I think it adds some much to our celebrations. Thank God for talented directors of music who know how to play it and incorporate it during mass in order to enhance our liturgical celebrations. Without them we would probably still be listening to the doom and gloom of the Middle Ages while waiting the the upcoming Armageddon.

  7. jeffreyquick says:

    Well, Remiel, I guess that what I say DOES reflect negatively on people performing/executing the liturgy, because they are the ones making choices out of line with what the Church wants. At least the flaws here were aesthetic; there was no gross liturgical abuse, which puts St. Pius X near the head of the pack of churches I’ve visited in the Diocese of Youngstown. Diversity is a good thing, and I’m very thankful that the Tridentine Mass is back. But if Trent were totally my thing, I’d always be going to Queen of the Holy Rosary. I’d like to see the dignity of the Vatican II documents (Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musica Sacra) integrated into the Ordinary Form Mass. That’s happening In many places; come fall, I’ll be working in such a church in Cleveland. In the meantime, I’m performing a public service by letting people know what happens in various churches. Those who like piano-accompanied songs about “we, the people of God” instead of about God can go to such a place; those who don’t can go elsewhere, and in the end people will vote with bodies and dollars.

    As for your deeper critique: don’t think that it hasn’t occurred to me that, to the extent I am actively observing and taking notes, I am not worshipping. Part of my purpose in all this church visitation is to understand American Catholicism. As a convert whose experience has been primarily with the Latin mass, I’m a Rip Van Winkle, reliving the experience of Catholics in the 1960s. Like it or not, the Ordinary Form IS the ordinary form, and I need to learn how it works. I’ll settle down eventually, where I can be of most use to God and His people.

    Funny, I don’t find most chant and polyphony full of gloom and doom. But given the state of our culture and our souls, I don’t think a little gloom and doom is a bad thing; do you?

  8. Remiel רעמיאל says:

    Believe me when I tell you that I have a lot of love and respect for our Catholic customs, traditions and especially for “the old classic songs, music and Gregorian chants.” However, just like Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux (née Hollingsworth) from the Golden Girls said it once: there is a need and wisdom in the Church of today to find a happy medium by implementing “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” I bow my head to you for being a convert and trying to deepen your knowledge and your love for the Church and her teachings. My prayers go out to you as you will begin your new ministry in the Cleveland Diocese. Just keep reminding yourself that Church ministry although not easy is very rewarding. Jesus never promised any of us that our lives are going to be all cream and peaches. However, there is nothing more beautiful to see other then people coming from different walks of life, worshiping together the one and true God and experiencing love, compassion and understanding that can be found and experienced in the church of their choice where both our spiritual and physical hungers can be satisfied and we can be stranghtened by our music and sacraments that we celebrate. Best wishes and prayers.

  9. Andre says:

    Hi Mr. Quick,

    After reading this post I believe that you may be the kind of person who can help me. I met a man online who lives in the Warren area who wants to convert to the Catholic faith. Taking into account fidelity to the Magisterium, availability of the sacrament of penance and Eucharistic adoration, and decent liturgical practices, to which parish in the area would you trust someone wanting to convert? He started going to RCIA at Blessed Sacrament but some of the things they say “authentic Vatican II”, “communal penance” make me wary. Looking at some of the others hasn’t turned up much better so far.

    God Bless,


  10. Jeffrey Quick says:

    Andre: If Fr. Thomas Ungashick in Newton Falls teaches RCIA and does so like he preaches, he’d be worth looking at. Fr. Leo Wehrlin in Windham/Garrettsville does a solid RCIA; he’s a little more laid back if you like that sort of thing. I’ve seen Fr. Bouchard at Queen of the Holy Rosary in Vienna do good adult ed, but it’s a pretty intense place that hasn’t wholly moved beyond its historical roots as an SSPX parish.

    But really, I think the question is a little misplaced. The rite is valid, whatever priest performs it. As for education, there’s no teacher like yourself. There’s the Catechism (Fr. Leo uses the Compendium, which I think is better for beginners than the original full Catechism, which can be daunting), as well as older catechisms (Baltimore, or Louis LaRavoire Morrow’s My Catholic Faith, which is what Fr. Bouchard uses…available as a book on online here.) If you can find Fr. John Corapi’s old Catechism audio series, it’s great…Corapi got full of himself and did a crash-and-burn, but his work was solid, particularly that. Lots of good stuff online now, and most pretty orthodox…I see very little magisterium-of-nuns liberal stuff, but you may want to watch out for sedevacantist fever swamps.

    In short, the only bad RCIA is the one you don’t do because it’s not perfect.

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