By Abigail Bissac
Translation Louise Thunin
A taste for what is « cool » or « likable» in churches is in fashion. We put sofas in different parts of churches, so that they look less like churches and more like living rooms. We upset the order of the liturgy, because prayers are out-of-date. We accompany singing with guitars and forget about the organ, which belongs to the past. We abandon hymns : we’re not going to sing Clément Marot in 2021, how antiquated ! And the sermon is shortened. If it goes over ten minutes, we risk boring the parishioners, don’t we ? And the pastoral robe ? What good is that?
There is some confusion, it seems to me, between the intention to teach the Christian faith to people firmly anchored in their time and the wish to create an appearance of being cool. It’s not cool or « in » to go to a church service. It’s supposed to allow you to hear in a persuasive way words about the human condition. If you arrive at the service heavy-hearted, angry or with your head full of butterflies, what you hear should be able to give its full dimension to your suffiering, your anger or your joy. The Church, the service should take us seriously. Human life is not inconsequential. It is made up of days that cry out to be lived and interpreted in such a way as to live life abundantly. Nothing of that is cool or « in. »
Of course, it would be silly to hang onto traditions that that would give a certain propriety to a service but that would be meaningless. What we need to seek out is not tradition for tradition’s sake (for example the time when the service begins), but something that can communicate a feeling of surprise, experienced when your life has taken on an over-sized dimension. The opposite of cool or likable is not sad or austere ; it’s serious. Even joy is serious.
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