Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comments, a Question, and a Poll

Posted by Webster
My most recent post about the liturgy came back to mind this morning when I saw some British coverage about an American priest’s “plot to sabotage the new missal.” Old news? Yes. Tempest in a teapot? Judge for yourself. I, for one, got more out of the comments on my post. I’ll begin with a few excerpts then throw out a new question about the liturgy.

Amy wrote: “I think a crucial moment of understanding for me came a few years ago when I realized that the contemporary Catholic understanding of liturgy is that of a ‘prayer meeting’ which is not the same as the ancient understanding of ‘liturgy.’ Prayer meetings and gatherings are good and important, but the Mass is—and almost has been understood as—something different. Understanding that difference is key to discussing this intelligently.”

Several readers, including Michelle, picked up on an important theme raised by an Anglican friend in my original post: “Have I become an idolater of the words of the liturgy? This I've never thought of before.”

In what I might nominate as the comment of the week, Anne took Michelle’s thinking a couple of steps further: “Am I in love with the consolations of God or the God of consolations? It's a lot to ponder. It fits in with, am I in love with nature or the creator of nature, am I in love with others or the God I see inside of them? I worry quite a bit about idol worship, feeling that I am extremely guilty of it. But when it all boils down, God made the people I love, God made the nature I love and God made the church I love. I know others could easily argue with me on this, but the reason that I love anything, is because I love God. Yes, I love the words. They are immensely powerful and beautiful. But nothing can surpass The Word, without which none of those words would mean anything. And if I happen to enjoy the words as a consolation from God, it's all gravy!”

Warren and Frank both were, perhaps predictably, more on the side of, Stop worrying and worship! Tap agreed with them. Warren wrote: “I think that I have found the spirit-check (think ‘gut-check’ but much higher) one should get out of our highest ritual, the Mass, has more to do with my assisting at the Mass, no matter the liturgical rite. If I involve myself in the inspired Word, and adore ‘my Lord and my God’ in the consecration, and eagerly look to take His Body and Blood—all of which as has been meant for two millennia—I am with Him, and He is with me.”

Tap recalled the introduction of a new missal in the 1960s and his reaction: “I was one of the few that didn't wander away from the Church just because a few ceremonies and words changed.”

Frank wrote: “I'm with Tap on this one. ‘Because of the Authority of the Church’ has more weight with me. I too love the Liturgy but changes to it would not be what brings me in to the Catholic Church, nor what would drive me away.” I suspect Ferde would agree. His e-mail signature reads: “If the Catholic Church teaches it, it must be right.”

So far, Fr. Patrick, a priest from Monterey, California, has the last word, and I think it’s worth noting. We lay people can sit around all day debating the liturgy, but our priests have to present it and bear the consequences. Here’s what Fr. Patrick wrote:

“A sociological survey in a three-mile radius of this parish in Monterey was taken some years ago; it was for all households, not just Catholic homes. When the word WORSHIP was offered, the word most chosen in connection with it was ENTERTAINMENT, 70 percent. As a parish priest this seems the most pressing problem. In a more progressive parish this may involve anything from rock music to the priest presenting as TV personality; in the more traditional approach, the ludicrous video of a Solemn High Mass in St. John Lateran with an orchestra playing to the left of the high altar. In either case—entertainment. Devout celebration of Mass involves a true selflessness on everyones part--a true challenge to us in 21st century USA.”

Here’s a question to further the discussion, and we’re going to post it as a poll, too. So you can give it a quick click or a longer comment here—

If you had the opportunity of regularly hearing the Mass in Latin, Would you do so? Would you go to a Latin mass sometimes and a vernacular Mass sometimes? Or have you become so accustomed to the Mass in English that you stay away from the Latin Mass?

Please vote above and/or comment here—