Pastor's Corner 030313

posted Feb 27, 2013, 10:21 AM by Music Director

The following is an email I received recently from a young parishioner that I’d like to share with you.  I won’t identify the parishioner, but the email was signed and included a return address:


Dear Father Mike,
I go to 7:30am Sunday Mass with my family. I find the TVs in Church quite distracting. My family comes to Church a few minutes early to reflect and prepare ourselves for Mass. However, we are unable to do that due to the TV slideshow. Whenever we attempt to reflect upon the Crucifix, our eyes shift to the changing TV screen, being right next to It. Therefore, it distracts us from concentrating on prayer.  A possible solution would be to not show anything on the screens before Mass. Announcements are already made during Mass and in the Bulletin; I don't think displaying them before Mass [is] necessary. I also hope that you will not remove the missalettes. I use them frequently during Mass, rather than looking at a TV screen. They help me follow along with the Mass. Actually, the constant switching of the slideshow gave my brother a headache. Thus, we prefer the missalettes. In conclusion, I believe that the TVs are very distracting; annoying, to some. It becomes hard to concentrate on prayer, the Priest, or even Mass in its entirety. 

My response:


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.  I’m so happy you felt that you COULD, and thrilled that someone of your age takes their faith so seriously.  Your parents must be very proud of you, and so am I!  You make some very valid points, but let me explain why we decided to install the video system.


First of all, using screens will save us an incredible amount of money on the cost of the missalettes (paper, printing, shipping costs, etc.).  The screens are also more efficient and less wasteful.  Electronic technology can, if used correctly, save more of the environment (in this case, trees, and the energy needed and waste produced in converting them into paper and shipping them to us).  Pope Benedict has been a strong voice encouraging us to be more sensitive to the environment and protecting and conserving our natural resources.  Using the video screens will enable us to eliminate the use of practically all printed materials, which is good for us and good for the earth.


Secondly, posting all the prayers, readings, responses, music, etc. on the screens will make it much easier for those unfamiliar with the Mass to follow and join in.  I’m very happy to say that we have a lot of people returning to the Church here at St. Charles, and we often host others who are not Catholic, including those who may be interested or are in the process of becoming Catholic.  Many if not all of these people are unfamiliar with the Mass, especially since a lot of the wording of the prayers was changed last year.  You probably have noticed that it’s pretty difficult to follow the Mass using the missalette, as you have to jump around from section to section.  That might be ok for someone who’s used to using one, but it can be pretty intimidating for those who aren’t.  Using the screens, then, is more in keeping with our parish commitment to be a more friendly, hospitable & welcoming community. 


Third, by using the screens instead of the missalettes, people must lift their heads up.  You would be surprised at what a difference that makes in sound!  The volume increases because the sound is projected upwards instead of downwards.  This creates a louder, more joyful sound, which encourages more people to join in, which creates a more enthusiastic and inclusive congregation; one where most if not all are truly involved, truly taking part, which is what liturgy is, by its very nature, designed to do.  Furthermore, rather than having one’s head buried in a book, the people are able to view the action that’s taking place as well as join in the sung and verbal responses more easily.


We may also eventually be able to use the screens to illustrate a point the priest or deacon is trying to make when preaching, or illustrate a scene being described in the scripture readings, or General Intercessions, or even the Eucharistic Prayer (other than the consecration, of course).  I’ve seen that done in other churches and it is very effective. 


And having our own video system means we no longer have to rent one for special presentations such as the yearly House of Charity appeal.


For all these reasons the video system is here, and it is here to stay…It’s something new, and like all things new it might take a little time to get used to it.  The missalettes were something new at one time, too.  We only started using them in the late 1960’s, and they were supposed to be only temporary, to help people get used to the Mass after the changes made to it by the Second Vatican Council.  Prior to the Council there were no such things as missalettes.  But many people would buy a personal missal, which contained all the prayers, readings, etc. of the Mass for the entire 3-year cycle.  (I still have the one my mother used to use!)  They still make them, so if you feel the need to have a printed book in your hand, you can always purchase a personal missal and bring it with you each week.  You can find them at any Catholic bookstore like the St. Jude Shoppe or Abbott’s Church Goods.   


You do make a very legitimate point, however, when it comes to the announcements.  Perhaps we can use the screens only for scenery to help set the mood, and/or to put up a concise introduction to the Mass (like what the readings will be about) until maybe 5 minutes before Mass begins, and then put up the announcements.  If that is still too distracting for you, you could always bring a rosary or small crucifix with you when you come to church, and use it as you prepare yourself for Mass. 


Thank you, again, for having the courage and the love to share your thoughts with me, and if ever you have any other questions or concerns please know that I am always open to listening and taking them to heart.  God bless you and your family always!



Fr. Mike