So what's more important at church?
Father's most entertaining sermon?
The beautiful art and stained glass (or lack thereof)?
The really cool programs that "engage" our youth?
Songs we can sing, or even like to listen to?
Or is it the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
A no-brainer right?
It would be simply amazing if all Catholics, laity and clergy alike, understood the real reason why we worship the way we do.
Certainly aesthetics play a big, big part in how we worship. But, to dwell on what might seem the negative aspects (Father's long homily, the "style" of music, the way people dress to go to Mass, etc.) to the exclusion of recognizing the greatest miracle that happens at EVERY Eucharistic liturgy is to deny the why and Who.
This has become especially clear to me as, much to my previous yet unwarranted chagrin, I was moving from a traditionally-styled church with an equally-styled "traditional" liturgy (where doing things "by the book" and in Latin were the way) to something decidedly more "contemporary." If I had judged a book by it's cover, in this case, I might have run away, holding my very sad but close-minded head in sorrow, from a very holy parish with a very holy man at its helm.
So what if the pastor doesn't wear a cassock, or a Roman collar outside of the liturgy? Here, my new parish provides Eucharistic adoration 24/7...24/7! So what if the music comes from the major Catholic publishers with a more "in-style" style? This new parish of mine sings the ordinaries in Latin during Lent...in Latin during Lent! So what if they offer a "teen Mass" with a band at the last Mass on Sunday evening? Here, this surprisingly wonderful parish utilizes both a cantor AND a psalmist as to not put the focus on one person as well as keeping the music from becoming a performance...cantor AND psalmist!
This tremendously active parish also runs the second-largest food bank in the state, supports a parochial school, has CCD sessions on three separate days to accommodate everyone, and has a benefactor, so dedicated, that many of the stained glass windows have been installed in this relatively new church building.
Best of all, however, is the fact that, despite the entirety of what mere humans have projected into the parochial community, Jesus...JESUS...comes to this bit of Heaven on earth at every Eucharistic feast and can be found in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at all times, waiting to be worshipped and adored.
UPDATE (11/8/12): Well, the honeymoon is now over at this parish I'm at. It is true that there are many wonderful things about my parish. And, while it is the compete Truth that the Eucharist is the ultimate goal of parish life, it must be said that liturgy must be done according to the rubrics to enable people to worship properly and without obstacle. While I can get over poor homilies or banal music at Mass or even that the priest wears birkenstocks and street clothes, the fact that the pastor does not wear clerical garb at all outside of Mass and prefers not to be called "Father" but rather by his first name only only give rise to confusion and conflict. His refusal to be identified as a priest outside of Mass is just a subtle sign of bigger problems...oh, like non-submission to church authority, rubrics or the magisterium, the blurring of Catholic teachings, the summary dismissal of concerns of the faithful who have a right to and request authentic liturgy, and quite possibly the big H...heresy. This is a priest who has been told by a staff member he is no longer allowed to teach RCIA because his opinions (which do not jive with the Church) confuse the candidates, this is a pastor who continually refuses to say certain words that were changed with the new translation because HE believes them to be heretical (though 2000 years of church history and a bunch of well-renowned theologians beg to differ), this is a leader who allows all sorts of ugly and illicit practices creep into our liturgy because he believes he is being ecumenical and shepherding, this is a member of the clergy who never speaks of sin and I question whether he even believes that there is a hell and that we can go there by our own choosing if we turn away from God. Beware of namby-pamby, weak shepherds...they may just lead the sheep to the wolves.