Fr. Martin Fox, the newly installed parochial vicar of St. Rose Church (and director of archdiocesan priestly formation), has been getting reacquainted with his hometown.  Here he is “slumming around” my East side neighborhood:

> I love Panera for lots of things, but not the quickness of its service. If you have several cash registers, maybe one of the folks milling around at the sandwich counter could come over when the single line gets to be four- and five-deep?

> Not too hot to sit outside; nice!

> I went over to Old Navy–I need to replenish my supply of baggy cotton shirts and golf shirts. It’s been awhile since I went to Old Navy; it looks like they are skewing younger. I found what I wanted, and as I was checking out, I said, “maybe you could start a new branch, called the “Really Old Navy” for us fat old guys?” She laughed.

> Oh yeah, the alarm clock; where to go? After looking around the Rookwood Commons mini-mall, in vain, for something suitable, I powered up my iPad and searched for Wal-Mart. Over on Red Bank. How do I get there again? (Sad how nine years up north makes me forget things like this.) Over Wasson? Nope; how about Brotherton? After a few uncertain turns, I remembered how quirky that section of Red Bank is–nothing seems to connect to it. Drove by the old Frisch’s Mainliner: the old drive-in is gone, but the old signs are still there.

> In Wal Mart, I made my way to the hi-fi section; at least, I think we’d have called it that, back in the day. Seriously, boys and girls, I can remember when a “clock radio” was the new thing! It took me awhile, but they still have them. Two alarms! De Luxe! That’s what I wanted!

And here he is musing on the “lingering effects of theological insanity” after visiting a local church:

I know what you’re thinking: so why did they move tabernacles?

All right, I’m going to explain it to you. And you’re not going to believe this: but it’s absolutely true.

Some time after the Second Vatican Council, someone developed the idea that our Lord’s “static” presence in the tabernacle would be a “distraction” from, or in competition with, his “dynamic” presence on the altar, during the celebration of the Mass. A related idea was that when the “Eucharistic Assembly” gathered for the liturgy, their focus should be on the proclaimed word, or on the presence of Christ in the people, or on the work of Christ in the liturgical action–not on the reserved sacrament…which, by the way, was mainly about keeping the Eucharist for the sick; the reservation of the Eucharist wasn’t for adoration! As another priest I know was told (and I heard this too): Jesus said “take and eat,” not keep and adore.

Now, let me be plain: there is absolutely nothing in the documents of Vatican II about any of this; any more than you will find a thing about shoving statues into closets, or ripping out altars and throwing out, or selling off, beautiful furnishings; or removing altar rails, or whitewashing artwork; or painting over multicolor statues with beige (this really happened in one parish I know of; it was the compromise in lieu of removing them altogether).

So why did they do these things?

Because someone told them to; because someone thought it reflected badly on the Gospel to have too many fancy items decorating the church (never mind they had already been purchased, with some money coming from the wealthy, yes, but much of it from folks of limited means who wanted God’s House to be beautiful); because somehow it’s more “authentic” to have drab things rather than attractive things–because of course, our Lord would never have worn, or used, anything elegant, even if someone gave it to him. And our proof for this is…er…um…let me get back to you.