Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thanks to Father Mario and His Thoughts on the Liturgy

Posted by Webster 
I got quite a surprise tonight—and a renewed sense of responsibility—when Ferde, James, and I drove through ice and snow to a men’s night at the nearby Carmelite Chapel, in the basement of the North Shore Mall, only to find that the first speaker, the genial Father Mario, had something to say about . . . YIM Catholic! As in, this blog.

In particular, the California-born Carmelite said he had run across this site “providentially” in the past week and proceeded to quote from it at some length. His comments were based on recent posts about the liturgy—this one and particularly this one. Also upon comments by a certain Anglican commenter who goes by EPG. (Watch out, man; hang around these precincts much longer and you’re going to be famous!)

In his prepared comments, and impromptu remarks over coffee and donuts after the meeting, Father Mario had some insights into the questions we’ve been discussing on these posts. Quite simply, he said that the new Roman missal is going to be our missal “until the next Vatican Council”—in other words, until long after you and I are gone. He urged us men, as heads of households, to prepare our families for its reception later this year. And he suggested we read materials on the Web site of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to study the changes in advance.

He showed little patience with the campaign currently being waged by a monsignor in the State of Washington to slow reception of the new missal, implying, though he didn’t say it directly, that the campaign was simply a case of disobedience. Father Mario’s message was, The Holy Father has endorsed this new missal, and our new missal it shall be. Changes are mostly to the Canon of the Mass, that is, to the words said by the celebrant; the laity’s “line changes” are limited.

Warren would have smiled to be there, as would Frank, who wrote me an e-mail earlier this evening that read:

I think this may be an example of the "noise" (changes to the Missal) getting more attention than the "signal" (the truth of Catholic Church teaching).  Some times "noise" lasts an awfully long time. For example, the Jansenist "reform" attempts emanating from the Cistercian Abbey of Port Royal lasted from the 1640's until 1790. Over 150 years of "noise."  Blaise Pascal was associated with this monastery and this movement before he died in 1662. But the "signal" has stayed true as was promised by Our Lord. 

Ferde, whose e-mail sign-off reads “If the Catholic Church teaches it, it must be right,” was grinning from ear to ear, throughout coffee and donuts.

The Carmelite men’s meeting usually includes two talks, or meditations, and the second tonight provided a perfect counterpoint to Father Mario’s thoughts about the new missal. Father Herb discussed a book about Catholics in the Dachau extermination camp who had to resort to extreme subterfuge to receive communion from the few priests who were present. The host was sometimes consecrated, then carried by a priest for hours or even days before it could be passed secretly to a communicant.

When we understand that the point of the Mass is to come into the presence of Our Lord, and to Adore Him, why exactly do a few changes of wording matter?