From what I can tell, Dorothy Fortenberry is a pretty ordinary Catholic, though an extraordinary writer. I found her piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books put front and center what should be the heart of our reflections on and discussions of the liturgy, but that we can sometimes lose sight of.

Too often we (and I’m including myself in this “we”) spend our energy on discussing styles of music or the quality of translations or whether the reform should be reformed or whether there should have been a reform in the first place, or when people should or shouldn’t stand, kneel, or sit, and we forget what it is that draws ordinary Catholics to church. I don’t want to romanticize the people-in-the-pews (I was one myself for too long to do that), and I recognize that some go out of social pressure or sheer habit, but I think that most go for the kinds of reasons that Fortenberry gives, even if they would not or could not say it as eloquently as she:

Church isn’t an escape from the world. It’s a continuation of it. My family and I don’t go to church to deny the existence of the darkness. We to go to look so hard at the light that our eyes water.


  1. Fritz – I’m really grateful for this article. I sent the URL to the leaders of our worship commission with the suggestion that it be shared with the commission to be used as a mini-reading-and-discussion project for them.

  2. Fritz, I second Jim’s gratitude. This piece is spectacular. It’s a kind of religious, but not spiritual manifesto. I”m going to use it in class in the Fall when we talk about the interplay of “belief” and “practice.”

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