Friday, 18 November 2011

How about an African Mass..... leafy, (not jungly), Hertfordshire?

Oh, dear, not more nonsense from the Shires of Westminster?........

'Fraid so. I came across it by chance, just like Livingstone tripping over the
 source of the Nile*.
There was I, searching for a proper Mass for Christmas Day, and what should I find? - An African Mass (not, I think, on Christmas Day, but on a bi-monthly sort of a basis).

And, what is more, it is run by the AA. Whether that is the motorist's organisation or the boozer's one I am not sure but the African priest definitely has the letters "AA" after his name.

It all sounds such jolly fun, here is how the Diocesan website describes it:

"It incorporates African hymns and music, drums and dancing though the Mass setting is in English. All people welcome to come. The Mass is followed by a social so if you plan to come to that a plate of food would be very welcome".

O joy! How very uplifting it all sounds. But hang on one sec.....dancing? drums? Is that allowed? Not by the Holy Father all sounds rather bongo bongo to me.

And then there is the very African style of wording...all people welcome to come.......a plate of meat would be very welcome".
Do they mean that one is going to be ultra hungry after all that dancing and waving of knobkerries so be prepared for a good old blow out or do they mean, bring along a haunch of giraffe?

It's all very confusing and not to say just a little worrying. For a start there are over 2100 languages in Africa, is that why they have plumped for an "English setting". and what does that phrase mean?
Isn't it a bit like holding an "English Mass" in Masvingo and stating that the setting will be Zimbabwean? I mean, it all sounds a bit silly really.

Will the dancing be around maypoles a la morris dancer meets zulu style?

Unfortunately, I just cannot free up a bi-monthly Sunday to attend at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew in Hitchin (or Hitchinberg as it is now known) but I will say this prayer for them:
Baba Yetu uliye mbinguni,
Jina lako litukuzwe;
Ufalme wako ufike,
Utakalo lifanyike
Duniani kama mbinguni.
Utupe leo mkate wetu wa kila siku,
Utusamehe makosa yetu,
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe waliotukosea.
Usitutie katika kishawishi,
Lakini utuopoe maovuni.

* Yes, I know that Livingstone fouled up on finding the Nile, call it Blogger's licence!


  1. I'm very discomfited by clapping, dancing and drums at Mass, but Cardinal Arinze says 'it is different in Africa and Asia' ( So perhaps you shouldn't be so critical?

    And I don't see the problem with the invitation for a potluck dinner afterwards...

  2. Dom....why should it be different in Africa and Asia? 50 years ago it was the same the world over and no one fainted.

    No problem with the meal...but tell me...was it provided or do you BYO?

  3. I don't see what your problem is with choral prayer, be it Charistmatic Mass or African Mass? Your comments are harsh. Christianity practiced daily and joyfully, even in the most elementary precepts should be welcomed not condemned or mocked by smothering Christian Joy with haughty and half-wise comments.

  4. Anne - I have the same problem with bongo drums and dances in Holy Mass that the Holy Father has.
    They have no place in the Catholic liturgy.

  5. I don't remember reading anywhere The Holy Father nor Blessed John Paul II mocking the Choral sounds of prayer in any form in African or Charismatic Masses? But I am aware of The Holy Father's preferences and his outstanding, lucid reasonings for the Sacred Liturgy. The validity of the Mass does not alter no matter how it is presented.

    What I am aware of are individuals who love the lights of the candelabras and holy lamps, but they themselves are not sufficiently lighted from within by the loving radiance of Christ and have not learned how to sweeten their acidity of their character by loving their neighbour and nor restraining stingy and haughty scoldings.

  6. Anne - please see

    I also do not think that 'folk' singing in church can in any way be described as 'choral'

  7. The celebration of African and Asian Masses have their place - in Africa and Asia, no question. Inculturaton, up to a point, has been accepted by the Vatican.

    However, when the reason appears to be a "novelty", as in this case, it amounts to a hermeneutic of rupture. If there is a large African ethnic presence in Hitchin, Herts. UK, one would expect this form of Mass to be celebrated weekly rather than a one-off.

    So what is the purpose? To engender reverence for the Holy Sacrifice or a form of liturgical entertainment?

    Incidentally, I note that for the Pope's liturgical celebrations in Benin, large chunks of Latin are in evidence, especially during Sunday's Mass.

    I don't believe anyone sets out to trash a Mass simply because it's not to their taste. Rather, it is about whether a particular form of celebration detracts and distracts from its core purpose of worshipping God and morphs into a celebration of community.

    It seems to me that haughty scoldings are more often the province of advocates the style of liturgy and music dominant since the 1970s, maybe that's all they know, and are unhappy that those who adhere to the Latin rite are being heard after being silenced for decades.

    I have to say that the over-used and repetitive lack-of-charity barb is getting a bit wearying. *Sigh*

  8. Since when has the Daily Telegraph been an authority on the Sacred Liturgy? I suggest you go its source for information.

    As for 'folk' singing. God has gifted us with a voice for His Glory, Honour and Praise. Just because the notes do not suit your personal temperament there is no need to ridicule peoples attempts. It is far more worthy to Worship the Lord in your own way than to ignore Him completely. Nature abhors a vacuum, something far worse will take its place if it does not belong to God.

    If you are familiar with The Psalms you will note:
    Psalm 98:3

    Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! ... Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. ... Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than ...

    Psalm 33:3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

  9. Anne - far too much shouting going on.
    The Daily Telegraph reported precisely what the Holy Father said.
    Are you a tambourine player perchance?

  10. Er..I was once invited to attend an African mass...but there was no dancing or clapping or uvelating.

    The mass was in English and French and so were the hymns...but it was solemn and reverent. I don't think it's a norm (even in Africa) to have a mass with the all the "works".