Whenever my family members find ourselves on vacation and that “first of days”—Sunday—rolls around and we must needs present ourselves at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I have learned to expect the worst—and have usually gotten it. There have been a few notable exceptions here and there, but I can count them on one hand. I have been subjected to Happy Birthday sung at Mass for those celebrating their annual trip ’round the sun, lay people angrily confronting the priest during his homily, terrible taste in music and even worse execution of the ceremonies of the Sacred Liturgy. I have had my fair share of aging hippy bands whose pitch sags worse than their lead-singer’s skin, and my children are instructed ahead of time that if Father asks if there are any visitors in the crowd, for heaven’s sake they are to keep their hands down.
It would seem that some Roman clergy have had enough of the questions from those traveling and have decided to share the locations of those offering a more, shall we say, reverent Mass. At “Reverent Mass Locator” they have listed the locations of a growing number of reverent Masses across the nation to better help them prepare for what they might find or find what they are looking for amid the often banal and sad choices out there. In other words, Rome is not far from Lutheranism in the tragedy of congregations and priests who have decided to surrender their identity to what fits the moment and makes people feel better. I wish I could say I was comforted in knowing this was not simply a Lutheran problem. I am not.
Of course, anyone with interest can find listed some of the more egregious worship practices of parishes that supposedly pass as Lutheran or Roman Catholic. Sadly, those in solid liturgical and confessional settings seldom realize what a blessing they enjoy week after week after week. It is a profound blessing to know that God's Word will be faithfully preached, the liturgy observed with appropriate reverence and decorum, and the devotion of God's people ordered by confession over preference. That said, if you are in one of those reverent parishes, let me know. I do get requests from people visiting or moving and am all the time looking to recommend a solid parish to them. So to the Lutherans out there, jump up and down for joy and let your pastor and parish musician know how deeply you appreciate their faithfulness and let me know so that I, too, may rejoice. May I suggest that you also increase your giving, praying, and appreciation for having such a blessed parish to call home. Look around. It is not, sadly, a common blessing.