Saturday, August 25, 2012

What is Wrong with this Picture?

A kitchen table is the daily Mass "table" inside the tabernacle chapel of a prominent local monastery.

I complained to a monk, dressed in lay clothes, who laughed and explained that the monks only want one "altar" in the church, and thus the dining room table.


  1. I have a question about this. I agree that this picture looks very jarring and very much unlike our Tradition / tradition of sanctuaries and churches. However, if this looks bad (and IS bad) because of the "kitchen table" altar, then is it permissible and laudable for a priest to offer a Holy Mass in someone's home? I am obviously thinking of a home without a set-aside altar, but where a table is used.

    Is it that merely the Holy Mass in a home is a once-off, but the above picture is a permanent setting?

  2. What is Wrong with this Picture?
    Absolutely everything!!!!!

  3. The monk dressed in lay clothes should have been a dead give away.

    I remember one time going to a modern parish. When I entered the parish office, there was a man in a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks. I asked him if I may speak with the pastor for a confession. He then replied;

    "I am the pastor!"

    Needless to say, I got in my car and left immediately.

  4. Glad you complained. Sorry you weren't heard.

    Sad, just sad you weren't taken seriously.

    Given the mood I am in after a dismal Mass this evening at my former parish, and by dismal I mean horrid music by well intentioned musicians playing bar room renditions of "Hey-God-look-at-me" ditties with drum set, guitars and constant feedback, and unruly kids in the pews, etc., I am inclined to suggest an uncharitable follow up to your unfortunate experience with the monk(ey) in lay clothes.

    Perhaps I'll err on the side of caution and say that I feel your pain.

  5. Mission? Collegeville is worse.

  6. Why does this monastery's chapel look like a storage room?

  7. Posturally it also bad for the back of the celebrant - a table is fine for sitting at , but not for standing at (I assume that they do stand ...)

  8. Sad photo. Good comments. Wendell, sorry to hear about another lame liturgy. Kids crying is not the problem: it's the bad music and drums that are repulsive. It takes a tough pastor to conquer the ego of musicians. And the photo is sad: cold location for the tabernacle, lack of kneelers, stupid kitchen table, boring brick walls that are presented as the main event. Well, trust that the Lord is watching and each person's actions carefully.

    I like the photos from Westminister Abbey in Mission, BC.

  9. John-of-hayling

    Probably not!

  10. Novus Ordo delenda est.

  11. in all fairness, the monk in lay clothes was probably working in the fields

  12. In all fairness, the monk in lay clothes was probably working in the fields

  13. I hope this is a practically empty, on the verge of closing monastery.
    Let me guess.....Trappists?

    They're really gone bizarre since Vatican II in the USA and Canada...and elsewhere. Once great Order...from 4,600 before Vatican II to about 1,820 today. Average age in Trappist monasteries....30 in 1954............76 today!!
    Vatican II has done its work on this Order too. Sad !

  14. Hold on, let me clarify a few things, having experience with this monastery.

    1. The monk in lay clothing is most likely a Brother who was working manual labour on the grounds. They have a farm, some beautiful landscaping, they run a retreat house, and of course they need to keep the place clean (and it is incredibly clean). So there was nothing wrong here - monks do not do their manual labour with their habits on!

    2. The chapel in question has changed since I've seen it. The tabernacle is the same, but the table? It is an oddity (it wasn't there almost 30 years ago when I was there as a seminarian). But even then, the Mass held in that chapel is for the monks themselves, mostly the monks who either have to cook or work the farm early in the morning, and so they have their Mass there before sunrise. Occasionally they allowed a seminarian or guest from the retreat house to join them, and I must say that the Masses there are some of the most quiet, most dignified, and most simply beautiful Masses I've ever attended. No guitars or priests without vestments sitting on the floor! The Main Mass is held in their huge church building, and that is open to all.

    3. The monks in this abbey have got to be the most devout and conservative monks I've ever seen. And they have a ton of young men in their novitiate and already professed. This monastery is going nowhere soon, believe me. If anything, they will be around for a very long time.