Friday, September 26, 2008

A Liturgical Parable

[One of the subjects I am teaching is sacraments. Needless to say, I am trying to educate the students on the liturgy. A recent assignment involved the students writing two paragraphs on "If you had the authority to change the mass so that it is more interesting what would you do to make it more interesting." I received some interesting responses. But the consensus was that the liturgy was boring, the music was bad, it was too repetitious, too redundant, it doesn't releate to modern life, the homilies are boring, and I can continue with their whining but will stop here. In short, this was my reply to them, in an attempt to discuss the need for some of the things they don't like or understand.]

It’s a Monday morning on Jesuit High School campus. A student walks up the main stairs past the Mary statue and tiredly trudges into the building. He walks down the “Hall of Honors” and stops in front of his locker, grabs his lock does two turns to the right, one to the left, and a partial turn to the final number and pops the lock open.

About this time, another student walks up to the locker next to the first student’s and goes through the same process to unlock and open his locker. Almost instantly the two begin chatting about what they did on the weekend: the dance at the near by girls school, getting grounded for low grades, a friend’s birthday party, and even an all night Madden marathon where the New Orleans Saints win the super bowl complete with Drew Brees as league MVP.

The discussion of Madden brings the first to ask the second, “Man, did you see that LSU-Auburn game on Saturday? It was awesome!”

The second sheepishly replies, “I guess so. I didn’t watch it.”

“You guess so. You didn’t watch it?!” says the first student in disbelief. “Guess nothing. It was amazing! LSU beating Auburn in their own house. That hasn’t been done in 10 years. There is no guessing about that.”

“Well, the thing is,” begins the second student. “The thing is, I don’t really like football, so I don’t watch it. I find it boring.”

“Boring! Boring!” exclaims the first student. “What is boring about football? Let me tell ya. Nothing. Nothing is what is boring about football.”

“It is just the same thing over and over and over,” explains the second student.” There is too much redundancy in the sport. They run a play that lasts for 15 seconds then they stand around for nearly half a minute before running another play. It is a wonder that the game ever gets finished. Football is the only sport that can make 60 minutes last 3 hours. If I were in charge of foot ball, I would make the games be much shorter. As it is the game seems to carry on forever. Three hours to play a game that is supposed to last only 60 mins. is way too long. Furthermore, the refs or officials just seem to run around the field waving their arms about like mad men. Its like they think they are at Mardi Gras or something. If I did what these refs do on the street, people would call me nuts and try to lock me up in a mental ward.”

“Ok, ok,” says the first student. “But you have to at least enjoy the music and get pumped up by it.”

“The music they play at the games is so cheesy, says the second student. “How many times can they play ‘Who let the dogs out’? With that incessant drumming and barking in my ear that makes my head want to explode. The music is so dated. They don’t keep up with the trends in music and never play anything that has been on the radio in the last 10 years. I’d prefer to just listen to my iPod and music that I like”

“That’s alright,” replies the first student. “I usually bring a radio and listen to the sports casters when the game is going on. The commentators usually know what is going on.”

“Commentators,” begins the second student.” Commentators are the biggest bore of them all in football. They can’t think of anything new to say. It is the same recycled junk that has been used for the past 100 years. If I have to listen to the same tired old moanings of some old ex-football player turned sportscaster say, 'such and such a player "breaks through the line"' or have him say something about ‘deep penetration in the back’ [warning: if you teach all boys, stop hear and wait for laughter to subside.] or yell out where the ball carrier is, while I am watching TV 'the 40, the 30, the 25, the 20, the 15, the 10, the 5, touchdown!' I don’t know what I am going to do. Plus, they really need to learn that the word 'execute' is far less nauseating when used 100 times over the span of 3 hours than the phrase ‘make plays.’ Furthermore, If I hear one more thing about the ‘big tight end' -- its always the big tight end from Miami -- or about the gun slinging QB or the savvy veteran, I think I am going to shoot someone.”

“What are you talking about?” says the first student. “Foot ball is so exciting. The fans are into the game.”

“Into the game!” replies the second student. “All they do is yell. And all the constant repetitive standing and sitting is a drag. It makes me so tired. They stand for 5 mins. We sit for 10. I wish they would make up their minds. Either stand or sit. None of this stand, sit, stand, sit, business. Plus, I never know when the standing is going to happen. It just happens and everyone says a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand. Plus, there is no way for the fans to participate in the game. They keep them off the field. The commissioner needs to find ways to get the fans more actively involved in the game. More fan participation on the field. Really, when it comes down to it, football isn’t a game that relates to everyday life, so I don’t see the need to ‘get into it.’”

“Man,” says the first student. “You just don’t get it do you?”

On that final statement the first student shuts his locker, reapplies the lock with a twist on the dial and heads off to class shaking his head. As he walked away, the second student thought he heard the first muttering something about ‘a moron.”


Tonda said...

How Wonderful! I don't normally post comments but I had such a good laugh I had to let ya know.
I also wanted to say that I used to feel the same way as your students. Now I really enjoy the services especially when I think of all the other Catholic Brothers and Sisters worldwide worshiping with me in the same manner, covering the same Scriptures, all united. It is just a beautiful image in my head, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of that group before Our God.

James H said...

Great Great post

Brant Pitre said...

Fantastic post, Paul Cat!!
Liz and I are sitting here cracking up.
I want to use this one for my liturgy class.

And oh, by the way, give me a call sometime.
It's been too long since we chatted.

Dr Pitre

reprehriestless warillever said...

Great analogy.
Very funny.

Brett Page said...

Great story...but it won't really resonate with most kids. The trouble is that the liturgy IS boring and there's not much anyone of us can do who isn't an unmarried old man within the Vatican heirarchy! Matthew 6 provides the only instruction from Jesus on prayer that appears in the Gospels. He eschews public worship in favour of 'going into your room and closing he door and praying to your father in these words...' which are what we know as the Our Father. 'Do not be like the hypocites who stand in the public houses of prayer...' said Jesus. And more and more people are taking him at his word.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea! I love your blog! Insightful. Have you told the boys about it? Do you mind if I do?

I've always wondered what its like in Jesuit classes. Haha... You seem like an awesome teacher!

Annnd... go jays!

John said...

Interesting! Thats pretty cool!Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.Do you have any idea on my shop: NFL Shop.

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