Friday, June 27, 2008

The Polka Mass

Some years ago I slipped into the back pew of a local Catholic church to see it for myself. And yes, there it was - a local polka band prominently perched on the high altar, ready to 'lead' the worship in a rousing 'oompa' to inspire the faithful. I was aghast at what I saw, observing one denim-clad young mother swaying to the music as if she was at the summer fair. But I was equally disappointed when this 'event' showed up shortly afterwards in a local Lutheran church as well. Now I open my paper and see the advertisement once more: "Church plans polka Mass." And yes, they even call it an "event." Of course it was an article in the paper, and the word may not have been provided by the pastor or the church. But they got it right. Polka and polka bands are musical "events" and not to be mistaken for reverent worship, no matter how one attempts to dress it up. I am embarrassed for these poor people. It must take every ounce of strength for someone not to suddenly erupt into "Roll out the barrel" in the middle of the liturgy.

The logo above is from the site which calls itself the "Home of the Polka Mass." Here Father Perkovich states that his polka masses are "presented in a manner of dignity that enhances the solemnity of the mass." Raised in a German-Lutheran-Catholic community where polka bands were the regular staple at beer gardens and wedding receptions, I'm struggling to see it his way.... An interesting counter-argument from the EWTN site can be found here.


Cindy Ramos said...

Crazy things happen when people try to make church cool, fun, or entertaining. Reverence goes right out the window, and the service becomes much more about us than about God.

We live between Green Bay and Pulaski, and I've seen signs for polka Mass, generally coinciding with the local polka fest. The idea used to make me chuckle, but I suppose if I actually went to a service I would have your reaction - aghast, not amused.

Steve Newell said...

So how is this any different than a "U2" liturgy that a New York Episcopal church lead some time ago. I love U2 music and there are a lot of Christian referenced in their lyrics, but it is not music appropriate for worship.

We confuse the secular with the sacred in so many ways. We are coming on one our high holy days in many churches, Independence Day. How many churches will have special music and sermons on the US while at the same time failing to have the same type of worship services for important days such as Pentecost.

Don Engebretson said...

>>We confuse the secular with the sacred in so many ways...<<

I agree. On the weekends of patriotic holidays I confess that I use one of the hymns like "God bless our native land" as a closing hymn, but the theme of the service remains with the seasonal designation (e.g. 8th Sunday after Pentecost.) We need to keep the focus of our worship on Christ and not on personal tastes or preferences. Thank you for the post!

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