There are few things in Satan's military arsenal more upsetting than the monstrosity that is the Polka Mass.
(alright, alright, things like genocide, abortion, slavery, blasphemy, adultery, and a few others are trillions of times worse. But good Lord.)
This summer, due to many different comedies of errors involving traveling, mixing up Mass times, and oversleeping, I've been subjected to *three* Polka Masses. The all had varying degrees of hokeyness and irreverence, but regardless of the band's talent, the congregation's degree of participation, or the popularity of the concept, all three had something in common: they were liturgies where I received Jesus in the Eucharist but spent most of the Mass trying desperately not to groan or hiss. I slipped up a few times. Last Sunday when the Umpa Band began playing "Peace Like a River" in lieu of the Agnus Dei, I did audibly hiss. The woman next to me stared. I gave her a sheepish apologetic smile before muttering under my breath, "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi...."
The most ironic thing is that all the parishes where I
suffered through experienced a Polka Mass normally have beautiful, reverent, appropriate Novus Ordo liturgies. They were a beacon of hope that the "Spirit of Vatican II" and her liturgical dancers, clowns, 261 Eucharistic Ministers, and stand-up comic priests were on the outs.
Where did this tradition come from? I know it's a very Wisconsin thing, since there are lots of people here with Polish heritage. I was talking to a friend about this, and he said, "A few years ago the pastor [a more traditional fellow] tried to abolish the yearly Polka Mass but people howled. So he moved it to Saturday afternoon, where most of its fans [ie, elderly people] are anyway."
The Polka Mass, and its fellow liturgy-abusing cousins, is deeply troubling to me because it reflects a fundamental problem with how we see liturgy. A Mass that reminds me of a beer hall is not one where I feel like I'm in heaven. A Mass where liturgical dancers float up and down the aisle reminds me of an elementary school dance recital, not the Lamb of God. A Mass where the priest tries to be a folksy stand-up comedian during the homily reminds me of a high school talent show, not the Communion of Saints. In all these cases, liturgy becomes about "us" and not about "Him." I don't know whether the GIRM precisely forbids themed Masses (probably not), but something like this-- where the form severely detracts from the meaning -- can't be good.
I've just finished reading Seraphic Goes to Scotland's hilarious and informative "Secrets of the Trid Mass" (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four). While I do love Novus Ordo when it's done well, I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't make the effort to check out a TLM every now and then, just to comprehend what my grandparents' Mass experience was like. I don't think I'll become a regular TLM-er, nor do I believe that we should revert solely to Extraordinary Form, but I do appreciate Papa B's motu proprio which gives us the opportunity. Time to buy a mantilla!