Musings Of A VINTAGE Curmudgeon

February 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An alien from outer space studying the Catholic Church of the last few decades might be puzzled at the rate of recurrence and apparent significance of the term ‘experienced banners’ in Catholic discourse. It seems to sum up much of what’s incorrect with the Church, at least for many Catholics, but it is seldom explained.

It doesn’t have to be, because just about everyone has seen these items, and we realize the importance of the behaviour and processes which resulted in their screen and production. Familiar as the phenomenon is, it is useful to try to articulate what is at issue. The partisans of thought banners do not prefer ugliness over beauty necessarily.

Their concern, rather, is to prioritize the contribution to church adornment of the incompetent over that of the artistically skilled artistically. As the latter might be paid, or might not be members of the parish, or might be long dead, their contribution has less value seen as a form of participation in community life.

What has happened is a trend in the manner these things are judged, not in one set of creative standards to some other (as might happen when a particular artistic style is out of fashion), but away from artistic standards completely. The contribution of the artistically incompetent is valued because, for those people, their making of the thought banners signifies a sort or kind of involvement.

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In exactly the same way, it is experienced that incompetent singers shouldn’t be taken off a cathedral choir, because the grade of their performing is secondary to the ‘participation’ which their performing represents. Again, on these concepts, nothing at all should be sung in cathedral which can’t be sung by the whole congregation, because it would be incorrect to exclude any members of the congregation from this form of involvement.

As many people as possible should be recruited for ‘ministries’, such as distributing Holy Communion or mentioning the gifts, lest they not be able to ‘take part’. Equally, it might be incorrect to exclude females from the offering team: no matter the theological arguments over that might be, the value of participation trumps them.

This understanding of ‘participation’ is a unusual one. Does one not participate, or ‘actively participate’ even, in Mass through attending as a typical person in the congregation, uniting oneself in prayer with the offering of the Mass? What does it add, to the, to have disfigured the church with was feeling banners, or involve some, perhaps pointless, little job to do? The novel conception of involvement is so common, however, it has crept into standard documents of the Chapel even.