Friday, March 28, 2008

Racial Stereotypes and the Priesthood.

Yes, but I've been thinking about this for a while.
I do hope to become a priest someday, but there's a big thing that scares me, having to do with my race and my view of liturgy.
Now, I'm African-American (Actually, Irish on my dad's side, but it's not physically evident) I'm also all for the reform of the reform. Now, as there are few black priests, most of the ones ordained go to predominantly black parishes, usually on the assumption that they are familiar with gospel music and other supposedly black christian practices. I am familiar with them, as I grew up with them, but I'm extremely far removed from them. So what's your average black parish like?

*Female altar servers
*drums, guitars,pianos, and other instruments Condemned by Pius X in Tra Le Sollecitudine
*Liturgical prancing-Um, dancing.
*Unsuitable vessels used in the Mass (glass,plastic,wood.)
*Gospel music and outdated music (Haughen,Haas, Farrel,etc.)
*Kinte cloth and other patterns in non-liturgical patterns.

Now, what do you think I like? Why,what the church has always supported!

*All male servers
*Organ only. (Orchestral masses ocassionally)
*Ad orientem,incense every Sunday
*Gold vessels,or gilded silver (Must be artistic)
*Chant,Polyphony, good choral music (Francis Poulenc being the only composer form the 1960's that I'll use.)
*Cloth of gold, good brocade or silk vestments. Fiddlebacks and birettas reccomended.

Se I'd agree with them on nothing. It'd be a total waste of time for the diocese, and only a cause of strife. It would be by far better that they send an aging liberal priest there, regardless of age, than to send a traditional priest there because he would be young and African-American. It would be like sending Bishop Williamson to St. Joan's. But I fear that the common generalisation that all black Catholics like gospel music and liturgical oddities will overrule yours truly being an obvious exception. Is it true that a priest must bury his own personality? Yes, but this would not at all be good for me, should I become a priest, or the parish I would pastor, should I become a parish priest.
I also find it quite ironic, that the National Black Catholic cobgress admits three things:
A) When gospel music was introduced into parishes in the 70's, parishes grew in size
B) Parishes that use gospel music now are not growing, but are made predominately of men and woman over 50.
C) Parishes that use gospel music are'nt producing vocations.
Wouldn't the logical decision be to try something else? No!,Of course not, you know how liberalism works. "If our method fails, then nothing will work." I also hate how they constantly refer to "The European model of worship." Chant,polyphony, organ music and traditional Catholic hymns are all "European", so don't use them. What a silly dichotomy! The church is universal, and the music of the church is univeral.(and chant, polyphony and organ are the organic music of the church. Anything else is an intrusion) How many people know how the st. Augustine mass goes? Comparatively with the reat of the church, not many. But how many millions know chant masses ( like the famous De Angelis, or Orbis Factor, or Genitator Alme for instance, )by heart? Latin is the language of the church, and anyone can learn how to pronounce it. It brings us together, while vernacular settings popular in a single area separates us. [/rant]



Anthony said...

I have been to two majority black Catholic churches in the Memphis area, and they are exactly as you fear, though the priests in both parishes are white not black.

On the other hand, I've been to a couple of churches in northern Arkansas that have black priests (from Nigeria) in nearly all white parishes, and they seem to fit in just fine. They do have thick accents, though I must confess that their english is infinitely better than my Igbo.

There are quite a few African priests in the US now (not sure how many African-American priests), but most of them seem to get assigned to predominantly white parishes, whether by accident or design I do ot know.

However, if and when you do become a priest, and if you do get assigned to a majority Af-Am church, expose them to what you like. Maybe they'll like it too.

On the other hand, if you get asigned to a majority white parish, do the same to them. God knows that too many majority white parishes have NO liturgies that are every bit as awful as you might get in an Af-Am parish.

Anthony said...

One more thing...I agree with you about Latin being the language of the church. It is ridiculous to assume that people cannot learn it, especially in light of the fact that they managed to do so for 2000 years prior to Vatican II.

Converts to islam seem to have no trouble trying to learn prayers in arabic, and ieven if they do have trouble learning it, they seem to have no qualms about trying to do so.

Arabic is the universal language of islam.

By the same token, Latin is the universal language of the Catholic church - always has been, alwasy will be.