Thursday, July 30, 2009

The 'Sister Act' Syndrome

The entertainment value of attending Mass is a topic which I find circles around over and over again. The well-intentioned comments go something like this:

  • "Mass is soooo boring"
  • "I can't stand going to THAT Mass with no choir"
  • "We're going to lose all of the young people if we can't have more modern music"
  • "Mass is soooo boring" -- Did I already mention that one?
After having recently watched the film 'Sister Act' with my son, I decided to provide the diagnosis of 'Sister Act Syndrome'. I hope to hear the term used in years to come in future catechesis, but perhaps that is my own sinful selfishness ebbing in. Always seeking fame of some sort, I suppose.

If you are not familiar with the film 'Sister Act', I'll provide a very brief synopsis. A Las Vegas singer who has 'been around the block a few times' witnesses a crime and is now the target of a mob hit. In order that she may testify against the individuals involved, she is hidden within a convent until the trial is over. She ends up taking over the choir director duties and turns a bunch of squeaky, aging and off-key sisters into a showcase. Now view this clip and listen to 'Hail Holy Queen' in a whole new way.

Of course teens abandon the crime-ridden streets to enter the empty and 'un-cool' environment of the Catholic church. And the only thing missing at the end is a 'standing O'. Absent from the video is the angry look Mother Superior gives the lounge-singer-hiding-in-a-habit. This is all part of the syndrome and frequent portrayal of it: an angry, outdated sister, with a pointer waiting back on her desk to whack the offending party, is so strick and old fashioned she is holding back progress by her strict adherence to the Magisterium. Could Hollywood would know what fix is necessary regarding the salvation of souls?

Certainly individuals inflicted with Sister Act Syndrome think that they know better than the Holy Spirit possibly can - well, they're not even sure the Holy Spirit has guided the Church - and that all we need is some feel-good music to fill the pews. I ask the question, old-fashioned stickler that I am, "Fill the pews with what? More pew mushrooms who don't know Christ is present at the Holy Mass but think that the entertainment is fabulous?"

Okay, I feel better now. We need a change, but the change needed is more orthodoxy and less Sister Act Syndrome. Solid, adherent catechesis from the ambo would be a good start. Yesterday.

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