“years of concerts being interrupted by the Mass”

From the fun Eye of the Tiber:

Yonkers, NY––Blake Jennings, lead guitarist at St. Therese Parish in Yonkers, New York is outraged over what he calls “years of concerts being interrupted by the Mass.” The 56-year-old accountant and father of three has played with his band at the 9:30 Folk Mass since 2009. “Our fans love us,” Jennings said, after Sunday Mass. “You can see it in their eyes…the way they droop down, lazily closing as we play…as if their entering into some kind of ecstasy. Or the way some in the parish are so moved they just can’t stand another moment of joy, and simply walk out…presumably to get some air.” But according to Jennings, many in the band have been becoming ever frustrated with the frequent interruptions to their concerts. “Father’s always interrupting…always trying to upstage us. First it’s a gospel, then a homily, eventually the words of consecration…there’s always something with this guy.” Jennings has recently begun a petition, and hopes to get 2,000 signatures to send to the diocese.

An unstable group.

Seriously, who hasn’t experienced this?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lisa Graas says:

    Insert thing I probably shouldn’t say —> HERE.

  2. wmeyer says:

    Un-be-lievable. Were I to be at such an event, I would shake the dust from my sandals, and exit.

    I mean, as much as I talk about failed catechesis, even that is insufficient to explain such a statement.

  3. Facta Non Verba says:

    Satire, correct?

  4. NBW says:

    Unreal! If he is so”popular” why doesn’t he go to a bar, coffee shop or somewhere other than the parish to perform? Why does the pastor allow this? VatII at it’s best!

  5. VexillaRegis says:

    @Facta Non Verba: Verba, non facta :-)

  6. Sissy says:

    “Our fans love us,”

    I think that explains it.

  7. Sissy says:

    Ha ha….you got me, Father!

  8. iowapapist says:

    Don’t be too hard on the banjo player. After all, isn’t “deliverance” the objective?

  9. capchoirgirl says:

    To quote the Grinch: “It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right.”

  10. mamajen says:

    I guess it’s tough for really awesome folk bands with such a dedicated fan base to share the spotlight, but I have been to plenty of masses where the priest’s prayers were accompanied by tinkling piano music, making it all part of the Broadway spectacle rather than an annoying interruption. /

  11. Sissy says:

    mamajen, I once attended one where an electric organ accompanied every word, sort of like an early silent movie.

  12. wmeyer says:

    I try each week to leave right after Father, as the congregation does seem confused about why they are there: they always applaud the (often horrendous) music.

  13. jflare says:

    I’m actually having a tough time deciding whether the original post intended to be satirical or whether he’s serious. I can’t easily believe that the fellow would be so far “out there” that he’d really think of Mass as a concert and so forth. On the other hand, I’ve run into a parish here and there which seemed more interested in a Gospel revival than Mass.


  14. Mike says:

    A Mass with NO music is ALWAYS preferable to a Mass with BAD music… ALWAYS.

  15. wmeyer says:

    Mike, they don’t let us vote… :-(

  16. Jim of Bowie says:

    Reminds me of the hootnanny group at my NO parish. They’re right up next to the sanctuary, facing the people. They think they are the show.

  17. everett says:

    I think one of our talented parody lyricists needs to develop a theme song for the blog that runs these stories…

    “It’s the eye of the Tiber, its the thrill of the fight…”

  18. Sissy says:

    The photo at the website looked exactly like the folk group at my old church, except they also had some kind of big wooden tube with pebbles in inside. It was way cool. And guess who played lead guitar? Yes, you guessed it – it was the pastor, himself.

  19. Mark Ingoglio says:

    I recently visited a rather “famously orthodox” priest friend of mine. In the course of some reminiscences (he’s elderly), Father remarked, concerning certain destructive ways of looking at liturgy, “Well, those were days of much confusion. At least you don’t see that [way of thinking] anymore.”

    I did not want to contradict him, but my experience has been quite the opposite. In the wake of the new ICEL translation for the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the opportunities afforded to the Extraordinary Form, it has been my experience in the last few years that, as elements of the sacred are restored or proposed, certain folks have not “gone gently into that good night.” Rather, they hang on, they maintain their positions in parishes, they attempt to bully their pastors, they make snide remarks when the opportunities present themselves, et cetera. Reading this article reassures me; I have not been imagining things.

  20. RichR says:

    This is obviously a satire, but it gets the point across: there’s no place for narcissism in the Presence of the Almighty – musical or otherwise.

  21. Phil_NL says:

    I guess that, in a month or so, we’ll see some anglicans (episcopalians if you prefer) will ask a judge for a restraining order against their vicar for exactly this reason.

    After all, as soon as you can think of it, the anglicans actually do it, and turn up the level of irony.

  22. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Surely the problem with satire in our own day is that truth clings too closely to it.

    I don’t know of a place where this conversation Actually occurred, but I can easily call to mind places where it might have.

    How sad.

  23. Rich says:

    I have the nagging feeling that this piece is satire. If not, then it is still funny for the “it’s all about me” attitude which pervades it, as well as for the idea that the music minister finds competition in the people’s directing their attention toward the priest. I wonder what this person would think if someone told him that the Mass isn’t about people’s attention being on him or the priest, but on God.

  24. wmeyer says:

    Surely the problem with satire in our own day is that truth clings too closely to it.

    I was thinking much the same: nothing seems too outlandish to be true, any more.

  25. Dave N. says:

    The author fell down in two spots. Few people aged 56 are named “Blake.” And Blakes’s been at this for waaaay longer than since 2009 :)

  26. Katheryn says:

    That. Was. Awesome.

  27. yatzer says:

    Sadly, I was not immediately able to decide whether this was fact or satire. (sigh)

  28. pfreddys says:

    Um, Father, have you been reading “The Onion” website again?

  29. Mark Ingoglio says:

    Satire? Uh oh! I got “got!”

  30. Boniface says:

    Yes, it’s satire – seriously, people. This is not the first one of these Fr. Z has posted.

    Funny, though.

  31. acricketchirps says:

    @Dave N.
    The Blakes I know are getting up to about 56 by now. Sad but true.
    But you’re right, he’s been there longer than 3 years: maybe 15, when the previous lead guitarist moved to Thailand with his boyfriend.

  32. “Blake Jennings, lead guitarist at St. Therese Parish in Yonkers”

    Is not this line alone worthy of SI’s weekly “Sign of the Apocalypse” feature? The liturgy having disintegrated to the point that parishes have lead guitarists surely indicating that the end is near, there being no lower to go.

  33. Phil_NL says:

    @Henry Edwards: surely you can go lower. “Lead tambourinist” would qualify.

  34. Random Friar says:

    I’ve dealt with music ministers like this… I’d rather hug porcupines than deal with this kind of musician. To be fair, I’m sure the musicians could call out a few Padre Primadonnas.

  35. Cantor says:

    Was this not what The Master intended when he said:

    Upon this rock I will build My Church?

  36. Aegidius says:

    Cantor, excellent thought! I was always wondering why they did not actually play Rock at the Heilig-Rock pilgrimage in Trier, recently.

  37. ndmom says:

    Blake needs to be more along the lines of 66, not 56, to be a credible lead guitarist for a folk Mass.

  38. laurazim says:

    Satire, perhaps. But far too familiar around here, sadly.

    Although our family has attended Mass in the beautiful Cathedral Parish, and are regularly treated (if that word suffices here) to not only reverence by nearly everyone in attendance, but also a stunningly beautiful Mass–even if it is the NO, for Pete’s sake–every Sunday, with dignified music.

    Before we came to this parish, though, we thought along the lines of so many: we’ll go to the parish that’s a block from our home. Small town, one church.

    The problems were too numerous for me to go into here, but one of the glaringly obvious issues was the group of musicians who had been the resident “talent” for better than 25 years (and this was about 10 years ago–the priest had been there 15 years at that time). TWO guitars, a piano, occasionally a bass player, and a little troupe of singers comprised mainly of women in their 50s and 60s who insisted on wearing seasonally appropriate sequined shirts. They chose the music according to Hallmark, rather than the Missal. And if the lead guitar player thought Father talked too long, or did not like what Father was saying…..he *turned off his mike*.

    Yep. Like that.

    There came a Sunday when they were all going to be gone. I offered to proclaim the Psalm a capella, which I had done on previous occasions in our former parish. The woman in charge let me know that if I did, I’d never be welcome to sing with them in the future–after all, Father needed to learn how valuable they were, and that people didn’t come to the 10:30 to come to Mass, they came to hear the glorious (*ack*!) music. It continues that way over there. The musicians and the priest remain, and nothing has changed, so far as I know. For this reason–and so many, many more–we left and have not gone back. We have driven in near white-out conditions to get to the Cathedral Parish, and shall continue to do so.

  39. JimGB says:

    This is a satire. I was born and lived in Yonkers, NY for many years and there is no parish by that name in the city.

  40. Mark Ingoglio says:

    Point taken, Jim. My thought was, “Right near Dunwoodie?!? Wow!”. Even so, elsewhere in the same Archdiocese in Kingston, we DO have a lead guitarist in one parish who is married to the funeral director who gets all the catholic “business,” the which husband has been herd to say on many occasions, “We don’t do cookie cutter funerals.”… To illustrate, the man gave a “ferverino” during a Funeral Mass in one Kingston parish, during which he poured a glass of wine, toasted the Deceased (during Mass, remember), and toasted her. Then the priest used the wine glass for a chalice. This wasn’t the 70’s. It was last year. He also arranged, in his capacity as funeral director, to have an openly pro-gay lifestyle protestant pastor, known to all as, “Rev,” to give a talk from another catholic pulpit (There was no homily given by the priest.). Anyway, this kind of hubris and nepotism still goes on in the upper counties in the Archdiocese, which was why I was quick to belief that story. Should have fact-checked the Yonkers parish, though.

  41. Gail F says:

    The Eye of the Tiber is a new satire blog, do bookmark it. The author is anonymous… though there are many guesses!

  42. Clinton R. says:

    This happens at my parish. Often, the priest has to wait until the ‘band’ has finished their self indulgence. Again, the post Vatican II crowd sees Mass as a performance.

  43. oldCatholigirl says:

    Thanks for the link to Eye of the Tiber, Father Z. I looked at a lot of the previous posts, too, and they’re hilarious. After all, it’s healthier to howl with laughter than wrath.

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ve seen this sort of thing before. There is a certain small number of people who fancy themselves great musicians, who can only get an audience if it’s a captive audience like the one in Church. You really can’t get up and leave no matter how bad it is, unless you want to find another mass or miss your mass obligation which is far worse. So there you are.

    These are people who, if they struck up a tune at the local bowling alley, would get walked out on. These are people who could empty a bar on Friday night with their yowling. So they take advantage of people in Church. It’s just that simple.

    Parishes need to just shut them up. They need worship as much as the next person and this whole performing, look at me thing is as bad for them as it is for everyone else. This is not what Church is for.

  45. jflare says:

    “Reminds me of the hootnanny group at my NO parish.”

    I’m rather surprised to see the word “hootenanny” in ANY context. I thought that music had mostly died off by the 80’s.
    (I loved the record my folks had, including the song regarding Daniel Boone. I wish we knew where that went; I’d like a CD re-recording of it.)

    “Yes, it’s satire – seriously, people. This is not the first one of these Fr. Z has posted.

    Funny, though.”

    Honestly, Boniface? I’ve come close to seeing this kind of thing in Mass before, I don’t think it’s very obvious as satire at all. Even if it’s not real, it’s NOT funny.
    It’s sickening. [Lighten up.]

  46. MAJ Tony says:

    Reminds me of, as Fr. Magiera put it so eloquently, “St. Paul outside the Church” on campus of Indiana Univ. in Indiana’s liberal bastion of Bloomington, except the priest seemed to be on the side of the group, which had a female leader, and the priest referred to her mostly male team as her “boy-toys.” *cringe*

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