Thursday, January 7, 2010

A fellow-feeling

I don't normally post articles from the National Catholic Reporter. But this one, which they carry with a CNS byline, is worth passing on:
VATICAN CITY -- The pope's chief liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini, endorsed calls in the church for a "reform of the reform" of Catholic liturgy.

"For some years now, several voices have been heard within church circles talking about the necessity of a new liturgical renewal," Marini said.

A fresh renewal movement would be "capable of operating a reform of the reform, or rather, move one more step ahead in understanding the authentic spirit of the liturgy and its celebration," he said.

Marini, who has served as master of papal liturgical ceremonies since late 2007, spoke Jan. 6 to a conference of priests from English-speaking countries gathered in Rome to mark the Year for Priests. The conference was sponsored by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the U.S.- based Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

The papal liturgist said the goal of the new reform movement "would be to carry on that providential reform of the liturgy that the conciliar fathers had launched" but which has "not always, in its practical implementation, found a timely and happy fulfillment."

That last sentence above is a masterpiece of understatement, isn't it? Do read the whole thing.

And when you're finished reading it, check out the comments below the article. I've copied a few of them here; click on the number I've randomly assigned each to go to the original comment:

1. Please can we have a Vatican 2 Ordinariate? Or even just be left in peace? I wish to continue the liturgy of the past 40 years.

2. I don't think these guys have implemented Vatican II as of yet.

Or is it just same-old, same-old? Communion on the tongue is just an attempt to re-infanticize adult Catholics who are more than capable of receiving the Eucharist in their hand and feeding themselves.

4. What happened to full, active participation by all. I get annoyed by all this babble about facing the east. There is still so much education needed for priests and people to understand the great principles of Vatican II. We Dominicans had a seminar on celebrating eucharist by Dr Bill Graham from Catholic University. It was the best seminar I have attended; something the church should be initiating belatedly, if it does want to enforce the principles of Vatican II. All the rest is window dressing for an empty audience.

5. The more I read, the more I know, that one day I will never go back to the "old " church. And, I know that I am not the only person that feels this way.

6. I am utterly speechless and totally dismayed with this whole mess! God save us from the patriarchical, hierarchy of the church. Hopefully they will one day truly LISTEN to the Holy Spirit, and not listen for what they want to hear. And we wonder why there are "cafeteria catholics"? The menu is as old as the hills.

One wonders why Pope Benedict XVI thinks the reform needs to be reformed at all, with such examples of faithful, obedient Catholics informed by its rituals as can be found at the links above. Of course, the work of singing and liturgically-dancing a new church into being must continue, despite all that retro patriarchy and talk of (shudder) kneeling, mustn't it? Otherwise, one day we'll all go to Mass and find that the sense of the sacred has been ramped way, way up, while the Japanese tea-room/comedy club/group therapy vibe has been banished to some dark closet, along with the felt banners and the aging tambourines.

Those of us who await that glad day with joy and hope ought to sympathize, though, with the angry adherents of the Spirit of Vatican II. The sense of loss and isolation which they experience as the liturgy they made peculiarly their own is re-created to be what it ought to have been in the first place is not entirely unlike the sense of loss and isolation many of our parents and grandparents experienced when the burlap peace signs replaced some gorgeous statue of St. Therese of Lisieux, the shards of which were later discovered in some basement closet after the pastor enjoyed his own personal brush with iconoclasm. Their vision of the Church has proven false, and is being rejected as it ought to have been. Still, it's going to be hard for some of them to accept what the Church has decided to do with humility and trust, when they've been rather sure of themselves for four decades, and rather fond of telling all of the fogeys old and young why our rituals and devotions and religious practices were displeasing to God and had to be abrogated or suppressed.


LarryD said...

Fr Z fisks this article expertly, as usual.

A friend told me about a line from the homily our bishop gave at his son's confirmation.

"Some people complain that the Mass is always the same. It HAS to be the same! It is in the Mass where our Lord has given us His very all, and if anything is changed, then the Mass is diminished. And if the Mass is diminished, then our Lord no longer gives us His all."

The SOV2 folks don't get that.

Anonymous said...

In my little town and the twin town across the river, there are at least six fine large Catholic churches, plus the cathedral, and an Eastern Orthodox church. Each one has the flavor of the close-by Catholic community. Some have regal pomp and circumstance and a full robed choir complete with the rare white-crested warbler. Some are located in a building with a comfortable open modern design with old founding families (1950s'). Another church features younger bustling families with special coming-of-age ceremonies, a vivid celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe (US patron saint), and beautifully heartfelt traditional Good Friday services, etc. Still another is associated with the Order of nuns that established a local hospital, and is located in a neighborhood which has its own personality and is staffed by the hospital's Catholic ministers. On the college campus, Dominican priests and nuns serve the young and zealous community. Down by the river close to where there are more hearty Irish traditionals, a robust church community that rejoices in a retro Latin Mass celebration. I never ceased amazement that folks have an issue about attending a certain kind of despicable Mass en masse. I am free to attend any Mass I so choose, and I have attended Mass at all of them, especially as sometimes I have to work long hours on call throughout the weekends or during a holy day.

Growing up in a mission church, located 20 miles from the closest Catholic Church, even 50 years ago, when we were assigned a priest, the flavor of the priest colored the Mass homily, not the ceremony itself, because it was all the same. If it had diverged from the Order, it wouldn't have been a Mass. I was in the choir so had a 'leg up' on the chosen music, but we sang our hearts out, no matter if we were singing something modern (then) or from the 1600's. And, I'm firmly convinced that certain issues of how we celebrate tend to be divisive and non-contributory to the health of the living Church. Some may suggest that this attitude represents a point of view that is a. simplistic, b. off-the-mark, c. ingenuous, d. hypocritical, e. etc, but I think that this is the spirit of how Jesus Christ told Peter to build His Church.

I think skipping or substituting liturgical vessels and vestments for crude, unblessed ones in someone's living room in certain circumstances may not always be right, may be improper, and incorrect in some way if there is any disrespect, mockery or blasphemy, but if the folks that attend this types of Sacrifices are worshiping at Mass there is less risk for accusations of limiting access to the Mass, as if providing a low-, or high-church 'performance'.

Nowadays, there is the tremendous weight of cynicism, disenchantment with honest adoration, temptation of double-speak, and so it's much too easy to point out what might seem to others as blaspheming.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'm Protestant, born and bred, and by conscious choice as an adult, so, I am not entitled to any opinion at all about what liturgy the Roman Catholic Church should use. If there were some law requiring me to attend mass, then I would offer my opinion on the subject, loudly, because I would be entitled to do so. But there isn't, so I don't. If I don't like the mass, I don't have to go. I actually have been to mass a few times, it was different each time, and it was always a very inspiring service of worship.

It does occur to me, reading all these comments from born and bred Roman Catholics, that the more diversity there is in the style of the mass, the more truly catholic the church can be. If there is only way way to worship, then anyone who wants something a little different will have to leave this church and seek another one. I even read an article by a young Catholic lady who said she would like a return to conducting worship in Latin, because if the priest is talking in Latin with his back to the faithful, he won't have much chance to tell her how to vote.

TomE said...

Well thanks to these gentil commentors of NCReporter I learned quite a few thinks. I never would've thunk I was so infantile for kneeling to receive (but only when I go to Latin Masses ;-)

...and the apostles probably didn't kneel. Did they have chairs at the last supper? Perhaps we should get a bunch of woodlegs situated around the altar of sacrafice...and we should have a passover meal at every Eucharistic celebration (along with a certified butcher to slaughter the lamb) and sprinkle blood on the doors of the church. These people are rather astonishing to say the least (though I don't mean that in a positive way). I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it, but it was worth an awesome laugh (if we didn't have a sense of humor about this kind of thing, we'd be carted off to the funny farm ;-) Thanx, Erin.