Today, we remembered the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by offering a "Mass in Time of War or Civil Disturbance" at my parish. We did this at our regularly scheduled 8:00 AM Mass. After the Mass we tolled the church bell for about 15 minutes. But we are not having any additional Masses or special services at my parish today.
My pastor has caught a little bit of heat for this from some parishioners, who felt that we ought to have a "special" Mass or service today. But I think that the way we have handled this day is fitting. I'm not sure I can put my finger on the reasons I think so, but I think that having a "special" Mass for today would not have been appropriate. We certainly recognized the significance of this day in the prayers, and I did in my homily, which emphasized that the only true source of Peace is Christ and his redemptive work. But I think that today should be a "low-key" sort of day, and not the frenzy of emotional hyperbolics we have seen building up to today.
There was also some disappointment expressed about the relative lack of patriotic music at today's Mass. We closed the Mass with "America the Beautiful" but that was the only patriotic song we sung. I think this was also fitting. I have always been uneasy with patriotic music at Mass. And that's not because I'm not a Patriot. I love expressions of patriotism as much as any American. I sing the national anthem enthusiastically at public events. I'm all in favor of things like starting the school day with the pledge of allegiance. But I don't think the Mass is the proper place for unrestrained expressions of patriotism.
Finally, a couple of older people I know have pointed something curious out to me. We see that there are a plethora of different "remembrance services" and the like going on across the country. Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with them, but I am somewhat puzzled at what I see as an over-multiplication of them. In my little town of St. Joseph, Michigan, there are something like 35 different services today, in addition to the big service for the whole town at the firehouse. The announcements of them took up almost a whole page of the local newspaper. But these older people observed that nothing like this happened in World War II, for example, in marking the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They told me there was nothing like the kind of almost-frenzied series of different services, rallies, or the like. This stikes me as interesting, and indicative of some sort of change that has overtaken American culture between then and now. What has changed? Is it a change for the better or worse?
Don't Be Alarmed
I know some people were worried yesterday because apparently my blog page came up as blank for couple of hours. They took this as a sign that perhaps my blog had been "silenced." No, nothing like that happpened. It was a purely technical problem.
Also, don't be alarmed if I don't post for a few days again. Nothing sinister going on. But they're switching our servers and software at my church and school over to Novell, and we'll be off-line for a day or two. Not to mention that, even once we're back on-line here, I fully expect that nothing will actually work right. That seems to be the way it is whenever you make changes or attmept to "upgrade."