You’ve gotta hand it to SNL this time. VIDEO

Things that are funny, especially ironically or satirically funny, are so because they instantly recognizable kernels of the truth.

You’ve gotta hand it to SNL this time.  They cut pretty close to the bone.

More and more reasons for Summorum Pontificum.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I can appreciate the humor in this, having experienced some of this first hand. However, it is kind of a sad commentary on the state of the liturgy. Nothing in the SNL clip was focused on the Lord. What’s sad is that, at the same time, it was not that far off from some Masses I’ve seen.

  2. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    This is exactly how it is on Sunday.

    On the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year, our deacon sang the “Whoville” Song from the Grinch during his homily. I got up and quietly left, and went to Mass somewhere else. It wasn’t a vast improvement there, but at least I didn’t want to stick a skewer into my skull.

    It’s a sadly accurate depiction of Mass on Sunday.

  3. Iacobus M says:

    Ouch! It’s sad that this is so funny.

  4. poohbear says:

    sad, but true

  5. St Donatus says:

    I remember this kind of thing from my teen years (after which I left the Church for 30 years) but thankfully I don’t have to deal with it anymore. I found a great FSSP parish that the Bishop brought in to serve those who want the Mass of the ages (the Tridentine Latin Mass) with none of this stuff going on. We had a solid sermon that taught us about the importance of the octave of Christmas (whats that?) and how each day can lead us to a closer relationship with our Lord. Maybe I should visit some of the other parishes in the area for a little humor.

    No, I will just get angry at the disrespect given to our Lord and what so many Christians have died for over the last 2000 years.

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  7. bbmoe says:

    I once knew a Ms. Chapin. She recited the reading as though she were in some Edwardian poetry guild. Years ago, a friend sent me an audio of Edna St. Vincent Millay reading one of her poems, and it sounded JUST LIKE THE MOST PRETENTIOUS READER EVRRRR.

    Since I’m here: I’d like to put a word in for those folks who really try and who prepare and who slave away to make Christmas services a really good and reverent experience for all involved. I am closely related to someone who gave a “review” of the Christmas Mass we went to to all and sundry. It was too long, they didn’t sing his favorite verse of “Joy to the World,” they didn’t read the correct readings (i.e., the ones in the Magificat, which, as I pointed out, was not an exhaustive list of proper readings: correct me if I’m wrong, please), blah blah blah. I was disappointed in his attitude, to say the least, but I knew that of the people in that church, at that time, I was in the minority. I was dead tired and I remember at about 9 am (I had been awake for 5 hours at that point) thinking, “I’d give anything to be able to skip Mass.” I immediately thought, no, I owe this to my God. It’s the least I can do, the very least. Was it the “best” Mass ever? Maybe not by some standards, but I was there, with Jesus, it was reverent, and the miracle happened and I knew my God, and I prayed for my family, friends, and those in need. What else is there?

  8. Grumpy Beggar says:

    . . . kind of like one of those medicines that tastes real bad, but is “good for what ails ya.”

    The part that hurt more for me was each time they said “St. Joseph’s Church”, because of a personal devotion I have to St. Joseph , but that still couldn’t keep me from cracking up and almost FOCL while I watched the video (lol).

    Where I’d give them full marks , is , as evidenced by the comments so far too, it’s clear they had to have consulted Catholics to get it that close – and that’s what really made it funny: They “cut pretty close to the bone.” They weren’t laughing at the Catholic church – they we’re laughing at the anomalies that bug real Catholics. With SNL , I never expect much they do on religion to actually seriously be about God. Some stuff they’ve done in the past tends towards disrespect and to mockery of God and the Church, but this one is almost purely satirical. I think this video provides some much needed comic relief for those of us who endure these things. And the point gets driven home by the lady who asks the man singing beside him, [at roughly 2:29] ” Is this all still about Jesus? ”

    I don’t think this particular one is disrespectful – I watched it a second time and almost laughed as hard.
    That being said, as individuals, it’s a good thing if we’re able to each draw our own personal line as an objective reference point for watching comedy. One movie where I did draw the line was with Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. Even though most of my friends saw it , I couldn’t bring myself to. . . (seen almost every other MP skit episode and movie, but never that one).

    This was a chance to laugh at the unholy mess that often stems from that offering of the sign of peace – it wasn’t in Church so we weren’t obliged to be politically correct ; it wasn’t with our pastor so we didn’t have to be polite. . . all we had to do was laugh freely if we wanted.

    Check out this dialogue again and see how closely they nail it – I believe they’re confirming that the sign of peace becomes a distraction way before we’re actually asked to exchange the sign of peace . . . for the simple, painful fact that we can see it coming (at a time where we’re supposed to be immersed in prayer) :

    “And Mr. Drubler who’s eager to say, ‘Peace be with you’, while holding out the sweatiest hand you’ve ever seen !”

    For satire that tells it like it is, I tip my hat. I’m afraid I don’t always have the luxury of being able to go elsewhere when liturgy becomes sprained or dislocated – I serve voluntarily in pastoral long-term and palliative care , in an institution where the now secular-minded administration has been gradually choking the sacramental life out of the pastoral services and has reduced the Catholic chaplain’s (priest’s) hours down to 18 hours a week, where they had originally been full-time -( and it looks like they aren’t finished cutting yet) – even though the patients are 92% old-school Catholics – well grounded in their faith. For me, going elsewhere would directly result in less patients attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion, voicing their concerns (those who are still able to) among other things.

    So I choose to stay with the patients in the trenches , and every once in a while that means I have to take a hit from some spiritual shrapnel flying off the edge of some new or repeated form of liturgical abuse.

    Fr Z. : That SNL video was a most welcome bit of R&R for me. Thanks for sharing the smiles. May God Bless you abundantly in this season and always . . .will make a point of praying for you later this evening.

  9. Way to rub it in Donatus. While I’m glad you found an FSSP parish the rest of us while simultaneously petitioning and working for for a latin mass, have to stomach this very thing over and over, Sunday after Sunday. For me, filtering out these absurdities and resisting the urge to abandon this goofiness is my own test of Faith.

  10. Stephen D says:

    The noise in the Church before the Christmas morning Mass was deafening, most people were chatting loudly. A teen in front of me kept his hands in his pockets throughout Mass and looked bored and unhappy throughout. A group of adults beside me passed around a soft drink bottle from the time they sat down and all went up to receive Our Lord. A child of about 7 on the other side of me was either talking, walking about or asking his mother why he had to be quiet. Almost no-one near me sang the carols or made the responses. We had a procession of children dressed as the nativity characters that ended in the sanctuary where the homily took the form of questions from the priest and answers from the children which had me squirming with embarrassment for all involved.
    At the end of Mass, Santa appeared to loud applause and walked down the aisle passing sweets to the children. It sounds terrible to say so but I hope that these ‘once a year’ Catholics would just stay at home next year. It was very irreverent, distracting and so depressing.

  11. StJude says:

    Thats really funny.

  12. Fern says:

    Thank you, Father
    Since most of us have no choice in where we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is a relief sometimes to have a good laugh. I, too, agree that the originator must have questioned real Catholics. No one could make this up and come so close to reality!!
    Happy New Year to all.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    I watched it twice, the second time to see if I’d missed what was hilarious, and it didn’t really make me laugh.

  14. jflare says:

    I rather agree with Elizabeth D on this. I didn’t think it was offensive, but I didn’t think it terribly humorous either. Actually, if anything, I found mostly..blah. …Um, ho-hum might be a better description really. ..Not too different from Mass at the average parish, sad to say.
    The best I could do muster was a somewhat bored snort at one point–I don’t remember what about–and that was about it.

    As Fr Z says though, a good video to encourage the traditional form of Mass or at least a Novus Ordo with more mindset toward traditional norms.

  15. All good satire/parody has elements of truth in it. Definitely more reason to promote the traditional forms. I found it to be funny…..even Pat with the wrong colour for Christmas (the two concelebrating priests at the Roman parish I went to wore purple, not gold)….

  16. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Even in the skit, they asserted as evident that certain (lame) jokes wouldn’t appeal to everyone’s (if anyone’s) sense of humour ; – yet another truth, with human beings’ psyches as complex as they are and senses of humour being highly subjective – despite several opinions to the contrary :Some would have us believe that a sense of humour isn’t subjective , but who tells us whether something is funny or not ? It’s either funny to us or it isn’t , regardless of how it’s effect on others.

    That SNL video won’t be everyone’s cup of tea . Subjectivity of a sense of humour would appear further confirmed in maxim first coined by poet John Lydgate:

    “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

    And our Blessed Lord had to have had a sense of humour, us being created in God’s image. Yet we don’t find much of a trace of it in the bible ; perhaps because when applying a humouristic view in relation to things sacred there is always a heightened potential for it to fall into mockery. One who seemed to be more successful than others at combining the two was venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, yet I don’t recall laughing personally every single time he cracked or slipped in a joke in the videos and recordings I’ve listened to. It is notable that these jokes appear more rarely in the majority of his writings; which would suggest to me that he was using the jokes as a method of getting his listeners’ attention for the more serious part of the message, while one’s attention could already be presumed if they were reading one of his books.

    Satire is commonly aimed at human folly, but mirth is not its essence; mirth rather is it’s subjective consequential side-effect or byproduct. In other words, if you saw the truth in it, you still got it – even if it didn’t make you laugh.

    Thomas Aquinas appears to suggest that even though we may not all be laughing all together, all of the time , humour still can serve a therapeutic purpose.

    A quote of St. Thomas Aquinas provided by the The website of the English Dominican Congregation of Stone, Staffordshire:

    “It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”

  17. Ed the Roman says:

    Stephen D, the once a years did not make that Mass. It may have been done for them, but it was done by people who are there all the time, and understand so little that they think they should do that for the the once a years.

    And for the record I once stormed out at the end of a Christmas Midnight when Santa came in after the blessing. At a Marine Corps chapel.

  18. Andrew says:

    Grumpy Beggar:

    It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.

    “Relaxation” is not the best translation here. St. Thomas speaks of the “quies animae” which is to be understood as “resting of the tired mind” which is not sought for its own pleasure, but out of necessity, since one who engages in continuous contemplation reaches a point of exhaustion.

    Ref: Summa Theologica, Part II, Q. 168, Art. 2

    Sicut autem fatigatio corporalis solvitur per corporis quietem, ita etiam oportet quod fatigatio animalis solvatur per animae quietem. Quies autem animae est delectatio, ut supra habitum est, cum de passionibus ageretur. Et ideo oportet remedium contra fatigationem animalem adhibere per aliquam delectationem, intermissa intentione ad insistendum studio rationis.

  19. Mike says:

    The sketch Fr. Z shares made me smile, but at no time was I in danger of rolling on the floor. It’s never seemed to me, though, as if SNL was dedicated to a mission of creating side-splitting humor at every turn: more like “find something ironic, dump in the gags and let ‘er roll.”

    Such is a familiar format for improvisational comedy, resonant of (but, in SNL‘s case, carried off with greater aplomb than) Second City from whom SNL has over the years recruited some of the better-known members of its troupe. The deftness of SNL‘s touch — which is burdened by fewer sacred cows than the mainstream media at large — is evidenced by the infrequency with which they’ve evoked roars of offended rage over some four decades on air.

  20. ordinary means says:

    I don’t watch SNL. I don’t find their content good for the soul.

  21. Sonshine135 says:

    At first I laughed at this, but at the end, I let out a heavy sigh. It is sad that this is what the church in many ways has become. Were it not for the FSSP, and others working to maintain the reverence in the Mass, it is not to much of a stretch to think that Catholics would one day abandon the Mass completely and take on a Methodist approach of “church” being everywhere. I have to imagine that many of the even more liberal “c”atholics are starting to cringe at some of these antics.

    Unfortunately for me, I could not tell you what Mass was like at my church on Christmas. Let’s just say Christmas “flu” by for me.

  22. Fr. D. says:

    Steven D,
    What a horror story you give. Can it ever get worse? It is a sham, a sacrilege, an insult, all in the name of sincere religion. And our culture supports it and applauds it. My prayers for you not to be scandalized and to find a place where such things are not introduced.

  23. Having been reared on Monty Python, SCTV, and Warner Brothers cartoons, I might be expected to laugh, but for some reason I didn’t. Maybe it’s because some parishes are like this one. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen far worse in my travels. When the boundaries have been destroyed, the only way to be outrageous is to impose one’s own boundaries and poke fun at those.

    In any case, many parishes both ordinary and extraordinary form have good liturgy. That may be cold comfort for those who are stuck with silliness for whatever reason, but it isn’t bad everywhere. I wish we could do more to highlight the good ones.

  24. majuscule says:

    I thought it was funny, but not because my church is like that. But I have seen examples of those people, usually elsewhere. The readers– mostly at weddings. Joking priests– but no longer at my church. We don’t have an organist.

    For our OF Christmas Day Mass I noticed that we didn’t get a lot of CEOs (Christmas/Easter Only). There was one family that comes more often than that but may go elsewhere other Sundays and there were several people I have never seen before. But all the rest were regulars. Some of our regulars were away visiting family, so all in all we had the usual Sunday amount of pews filled.

    It will be interesting to see what January 1st attendance is like.

  25. James C says:

    Parody relies on exaggeration, but my Lord—this video doesn’t exaggerate things at many parishes!

    If anything, I’ve seen worse. Several years back, I had to endure the rector of a cathedral repeat the same awful joke during his homily at two back-to-back Sunday Masses (one on a solemnity): “How much cocaine did Charlie Sheen snort? …….Enough to kill “Two and a Half Men”! (chortle chortle).

    I’ll spare everyone the horrid details of the shambolic liturgy seen at that cathedral.

  26. oldconvert says:

    Thanks be to God, my own parish is nothing like this, but I have definitely encountered these characters while visiting elsewhere – especially the Priest Who Will Insist On Cracking Weak Jokes In The Homily and the Lector Who Insists On Emoting – so yes, I did find it funny!

    No doubt I have equally as comical shortcomings – perhaps one day SNL will do another short, focussing more on the people in the pews…

  27. The Astronomer says:

    This rang close to home. Our local parish is a close approximation of this skit. We too have Fr. Tells-A-Joke and the stern, grimly serious lectoress who ‘proclaims’ the readings with the tone and demeanor of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. She also is compelled to make eye contact with as many congregants as possible.

    That’s one of the reasons why my wife and I officially switched to an orthodox RC parish 40 minutes away. Our pastor, Fr. Daniel Hesko, is a true Alter Christus and an inspirational blessing to his parishioners.

    In light of RC parishes in closer proximity to us, Fr. Hesko make even the Novus Ordo look Tridentine by comparison to them.

  28. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Andrew says:
    Grumpy Beggar:
    It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.

    “Relaxation” is not the best translation here. St. Thomas speaks of the “quies animae” which is to be understood as “resting of the tired mind” which is not sought for its own pleasure, but out of necessity, since one who engages in continuous contemplation reaches a point of exhaustion.

    Ref: Summa Theologica, Part II, Q. 168, Art. 2

    Sicut autem fatigatio corporalis solvitur per corporis quietem, ita etiam oportet quod fatigatio animalis solvatur per animae quietem. . .

    Hi Andrew. It’s a pleasure to read comments/arguments which provide exact reference coordinates. Thanks.

    I have to wonder though whether resting of the soul might be a little better rendition than resting of the tired mind (although there is no question that the mind would be tired and would need to be used for what is implied – since , as you point out – it relates in large part to contemplation, which , I might point out, becomes part of our everyday life the more we endeavor to walk with God). All English versions of the Summa Theologica,, Part II, Q. 168, Art. 2 , I’ve read to date have rendered it that way :
    New Advent’s English Version
    Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica, Part II-II (Secunda Secundae) Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province.(scroll halfway down the page to see the text)

    As far as I am from being proficient in Latin , it still appears that anima and animae are translated as “soul” in English. All those who have translated the Summa into English, in this same answer/article of the Summa , according to the resources linked above, consistently and directly correlate the English word mind to the Latin animum, animus – and not animae.

    Part II, Q. 168, Art. 2 of the Summa speaks of weariness of soul, or being soul-wearied.
    My point was that St. Thomas believed humour to be therapeutic.

    As to “relaxation” not being the best translation, it really does depend on context and perspective. In this same answer, if we read further, St. Thomas himself quotes Ambrose: “relaxation of the mind” – “dum relaxare animum volumus”, as opposed to resting of the mind. It is somewhat obvious that we aren’t relaxing our body when we laugh.

    I would agree that the resting of a tired mind could be an apt interpretation (or even a besieged mind as I intimated back in my first comment on this thread) ,but the best Latin word for “mind” appears to be “animum, animus” – not animae.

    To rule out the word “relaxation” could be premature since Aquinas paints, in that same answer, a really nice “visual” of what he’s speaking of , using the analogy of relaxing the mind by comparing the tension of the mind to the tension of a strung bow, which “would break if its tension were never relaxed”: [Unde beatus Ioannes subintulit quod similiter animus hominis frangeretur, si nunquam a sua intentione relaxaretur.]

    Incidentally this reference directly above by St. Thomas, is said to be a direct quote of St. John the Evangelist , whose feast we celebrate today – this anecdote about St. John is a lot better in context-
    An excerpt from the Summa Theologica Part II, Q. 168, Art. 2 :

    “. . . Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure, by slackening the tension of the reason’s study. Thus in the Conferences of the Fathers xxiv, 21, it is related of Blessed John the Evangelist, that when some people were scandalized on finding him playing together with his disciples, he is said to have told one of them who carried a bow to shoot an arrow. And when the latter had done this several times, he asked him whether he could do it indefinitely, and the man answered that if he continued doing it, the bow would break. Whence the Blessed John drew the inference that in like manner man’s mind would break if its tension were never relaxed.

    Now such like words or deeds wherein nothing further is sought than the soul’s delight, are called playful or humorous. Hence it is necessary at times to make use of them, in order to give rest, as it were, to the soul. This is in agreement with the statement of the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 8) that “in the intercourse of this life there is a kind of rest that is associated with games”: and consequently it is sometimes necessary to make use of such things.

    Nevertheless it would seem that in this matter there are three points which require especial caution. . .”

  29. James C, the other repeat offender “joke” is the irreverent one I’ve heard about 5 times from the pulpit already about the stoning of the adulteress where Our Blessed Mother is present. Most people have heard this terrible “joke.” I don’t find it funny – actually find it bordering on blasphemous:

    Blasphemy includes “Serious contemptuous ridicule of the saints, sacred objects, or of persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is indirectly attacked.”

  30. donato2 says:

    My prayer is that those who long for the traditional Mass be granted it. For years I suffered through what one commentator here once aptly called the New Mass”wasteland.” Recently however the extraordinary form has become available where I am through the FSSP and it has been a complete joy. The extraordinary form a lifeline.

    I’ve become convinced that the “reform of the reform” is not a solution. “Innovation,” disunity of liturgical practice and bad music effectively have become permanently linked to the new Mass. These tendencies are too endemic to be rooted out.

  31. kimberley jean says:

    This was darn near a documentary of Mass at some of the local parishes in my town. When DID it become fashionable for the lector to do all that emoting?

  32. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Thomas Aquinas appears to suggest that even though we may not all be laughing all together, all of the time , humour still can serve a therapeutic purpose.”

    This is a somewhat complicated subject. St. Thomas only made a few references to humor, per se. Mostly, when he did, it was in the sense of mirth. He doesn’t, to my knowledge, address the theology of joking, per se, except in the context appropriate for any moral act. Certainly, he never defined humor except by example and he never defined what constitutes a joke (neither did Aristotle – well, technically, he might have in a manuscript we only have fragments of called, On Comedy).

    St. Thomas describes the tension-release model of humor. It is a fairly old model and might have been known to Aristotle. Humor is defocusing, as it interrupts processing in the pre-Frontal Cortex, but whether or not it is always therapeutic is in doubt. The most recent review of the medical literature by Rod Martin and Sven Svebak (2002, if memory serves) shows that humor can have both constructive and deleterious effects. In fact, it seems to have accelerated the deaths of a sub-population of people. It is known to be effective for pain relief, however.

    There is even a type of fear of humor called, gelotophobia, which has been under study since the late 1990’s. The effects of humor are fairly complex and we are only beginning to understand them. This is a case where common sense doesn’t always apply. St. Thomas gives a fair treatment of the common sense understanding of mirth, but it should be considered as just that, a lay explanation.

    The Chicken

  33. Michael in NoVA says:

    Overall, I think the degree that one finds this funny may depend on how one has been involved with a parish. My brother, who is a priest, and my father, who was a pastoral assistant at a very orthodox parish in Georgia, loved this sketch and could identify multiple people who fit certain stereotypes portrayed by SNL. I, on the other hand, have not worked in that capacity and could only shrug at some of the characters while being grateful that I don’t endure the overall experience.

    kimberley jean asked:

    When DID it become fashionable for the lector to do all that emoting?

    Well, over emoting is definitely making the reading about yourself. However, I do appreciate it when the lectors (or priest, for the Gospel) make a little effort to convey the emphasis of the reading. This doesn’t mean acting it out, but simply using the tools of tone, grammar, and punctuation that exist in the English language.

    For example, when Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites or a brood of vipers, he probably didn’t use a tone of voice that resembles a dieter reading a nutrition label. I don’t need Father to become Clint Eastwood, but the exclamation point is there for a reason.

  34. Joe in Canada says:

    Christ was born that he might die for all those people, both the ones in our own parish, and for the actors, writers, directors, crew. I am one of them.
    ps regarding emoting, Anglicans (Episcopalians) do it all the time. I think chanting it would be better than emoting, or acting it out.

  35. my kidz mom says:

    Yes Father Z, this video cuts close to the bone. The choir soloist at 1:01 is a grad of an AZ catholic school. In fact, the cringe worthy song “Bethany” sings in this video is still sung at her alma mater’s Masses. I have been there and heard it with my own bleeding ears. :(

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