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Monday, February 2, 2015

Modern Liberal Mass or typical African American Catholic Mass?

Back in the 1990's while I was still a Baptist, I bought my house in a town that had no Baptist church.  My family Baptist church was several towns away and I wanted something more local, so I visited the two closest Baptist churches I could find at the time.  The first was a Southern Baptist church.

This church had exactly 7 members.  Yes, that is seven, not including the children.  These 7 members were from (if I recall correctly) three families.  The entire church was three families and had a very cult like feeling.  One Sunday was enough for me to not go back there. 

The second Baptist church I found was an African American Baptist church.  I'm not African American, but that didn't bother me and it didn't seem to bother anyone at that congregation either.  I was the only white person there aside from the woman who played the piano for them.  I liked these people and they seemed to like me, I was invited to join several bible groups and I did.  I enjoyed most of my time at this church.  They were friendly people, welcoming, loved the Lord and wanted to spend hours and hours at their church on Sunday.  Services were hours long with a break, then you were invited to come back after lunch and again after dinner for more services.  At the time I really liked that- I wanted to spend hours at church on Sunday with people who really loved the Lord and wanted to study the scriptures like I did.  What I didn't like, was the shouting, hand waving, dancing and "whoopin' & hollerin" DURING the service.  I was told this was a "cultural thing" among African Americans and I'd get used to it as it was part of how they worshiped.  OK, I didn't particularly like it when people yelled out "Thank you Jesus!" in the middle of a reading or prayer, but if that was their thing I was willing to try and adapt.  But what I couldn't adapt to and was most disturbing to me was the running around, talking in tongues and "fainting" while the minister preached.  It was not at all like the more conservative white Baptist church I had grown up in.  That was the part that finally had me moving on. 

Why am I bringing up my history and experiences with African American worship?  

Well, today I stumbled upon a Youtube video of a Roman Catholic Mass (Holy Angels Catholic Church Mass, Chicago, Illinois, 1-11-2015) and I wondered what their Mass would be like compared to what I had experienced myself in a Protestant African American congregation.  

Would African American "culture" show up in a Roman Catholic Mass?

The answer I discovered was 'oh yes... and more'...

Here is the video...

And here are some parts that struck me...not really in good ways.

There is a LOT of clapping going on.  This was typical in the African American Baptist church too.

They sang the "Amen" just like in "Lilies of the Field"...

While "Hallelujah" is being sung the priest and his deacon hand out bottles of blessed Holy Water...

The priest goes into the pews and everyone holds hands for the "Our Father"...

There was singing at the pulpit (I've never seen this in any parish or congregation anywhere)...

The priest again goes into the pews for the Sign of Peace- which here in this parish means all around hugs for everyone!!

Here is the priest going in for some hugs...

Everyone is leaving their pews and wandering around to hug other people...

Holy Communion nightmare...

After Holy Communion when we should be praying in silence a sort of Gospel concert takes place with dancing, hand clapping and waving hands in the air while the priest and deacon clear the altar.  There is ZERO reverence or silence and absolutely NO quiet time to reflect on the Eucharist they have just consumed.

Remember these people have JUST had Holy Communion a second before this occurs...

Once the altar is cleared its Happy Birthday time at this Catholic parish.  The priest asks anyone who is celebrating a birthday to come up front for a blessing and birthday cards...

After the birthday blessings the priest also called up a couple celebrating their 7th wedding anniversary and the entire process repeated, complete with cards.

I've never seen a Mass like this... I don't know if its typical in other parishes (African American or otherwise) but little of it seemed Catholic to me.

I was saddened to see that (to me) a peoples "culture" took precedence over their Catholic Faith.

My question is...was this just another example of the "modern" liberal Church in action at Mass or is this typical of all African American Catholic parishes?

I'd love to hear from others who have personal experiences with such parishes.

God bless.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner



  1. Does not seem too Catholic to me either.

    We have a, um... "Black community" parish in our diocese. In *their creed* they say something about Jesus being on safari.

    Lord help us.

    Catechist Kev

  2. Julie, this is an ordinary Black rite Mass. No, Black rite is not the correct word but I use it so that we all understand. Nothing can be done about it unless all the other ethnic semi official rites are suppressed and that's not ever going to happen.

  3. Can't wait till the pope comes from Africa!

  4. Dan, we've already had popes from Africa.

  5. Thank you all for the comments.

    Dan, please don't confuse African AMERICAN Catholics with African Catholics- they are very different.

    I have been to Mass with priests from Africa and those Mass's were NOTHING like the one in this post.

    And for the record, it was my prayer that when Pope Benedict retired the next pope would have been either Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria, Africa. I believe he would have been a fantastic pope.

    In Christ,

    Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

  6. They did the birthday thing in my former parish in Harrison NY. Once a month the priest would call all the children who had a birthday in that month to come up to the altar for a special blessing and a birthday ribbon or pin was given to each child and the folk group would play happy birthday and a big round of applauds would break out. BTW this was NOT an African American parish.

  7. Wow this is horrid. Report to bishop asap.

  8. Wow this is horrid. Report to bishop asap.

  9. Reading this and coupling it with your terrible pictures is disturbing to me. The type of Catholicism your talking about is white, Western European. Have you ever traveled to Eastern Europe, anywhere in the Middle East or central and South America or honestly, the southern US (example: New Orleans). Being Roman Catholic there makes you guys look like a "southern baptist cult". I'm not Southern Baptist, general baptist and I'm not catholic. I am simply a follower of Christ. I have actually spent a lot of time attending mass because I crave the tradition, history and ritual that it offeres. I just urge you not to mistake your culture with your faith. It leaves you with what feels like a bitter heart. David of the bible danced and "became undignified" for his God and your own pope looks to me to have a hugs-all-around personality that is more than willing to hand out a few birthday blessings but the again, he is also from South America. And by the way, in your pictures with the arrows, when the woman had the blood of Christ spilled on her dress, what was it you expected her to do? Last time I checked, spills were no sin. I actually saved your photos to send to a friend from mass because they were almost comical in their display of a critical and pharisaical attitude. I was a missionary and am today a faith based mental health and addiction therapist. I lived among people that were dying of treatable diseases, we're pimped out and trafficked as children by their own parents and perhaps most applicable, lived in a country with giant cathedrals yet only 1% of the population to fill them because they found faith in Christ to come with too many mean spirited and judgmental attitudes attached like your own. That kind of attitude is, I know for a fact, a sin and a mortal one at that (pride). It drives people away from the God they so desperately need and that, my friend, makes them a friend of a few members of the Catholic Church perhaps, but an enemy of God. My advice for what it's worth ( I encourage you to talk to your priest about it), is to stop focusing on what everyone around you is doing wrong and start investigating what you can do to show the world the love of Christ. You will never go wrong, and never make the mistake of producing racist pictures with arrows on them, if that is where you fix your eyes.

  10. Dear Unknown,

    You clearly know nothing of the rubrics of the Catholic Mass- that was the point of this post. (Look it up and educate yourself)

    And about the "spill"- this is horrendous. The Precious Blood IS the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ himself. It does not 'represent' the blood of Christ, it IS the Blood of Christ.

    Imagine yourself at Calvary and Christ goes by you and his blood falls on something, do you flick it off? The very Blood of Christ?

    If your answer is "yes" we've got nothing left to discuss.

    In Christ,

    Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

  11. You sound like someone who should worship in the Western European way. No one way is better. It's just different, like the early congregations of Corinth and Ephesus.


This is a Catholic blog, please keep your comments respectful to my Faith even when you disagree.

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Thank you and God bless...

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

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