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Sunday, 2 August 2009

An Apologia, of sorts, Prelude to a Kvetch...

In my own defense, in light of what I just wrote, and in light of what I'm about to write, I wish to protest, that I do not go about looking for things to which to object at Mass.

If people are doing their best I am infinitely flexible and forgiving.
I don't electively attend liturgies that I know will set my teeth on edge.
I don't scour the internet for what I have read described as "liturgical porn."

But if they make no effort to be informed except 3rd or 4th hand, yet presume to instruct others, or if they present opinion as fact, they deserve censure; if redeemed from blasphemy only by their sheer wrong-headed ludicrousness objects or activities present themselves, and all but send up flares to get attention, they are fair game; and unique events, that are generally important, marred by absurd and individualistic approaches that were particularly arrived at?

Well, just give me a moment while I sharpen my tongue.

Anyway, I wasn't googling for an object of ridicule, I was googling for information, and came across a diocesan organ, quoting a diocesan director, of a diocesan office of worship, who.... well, either the reporter/editor is incompetent and inaccurate or this person does not know whereof he or she speaks, yet felt him- or her-self competent to teach the PIPs.

The new GIRM (when it was new,) was the subject, and the faithful of his or her diocese were at his or her mercy....

The most common concerns raised were exactly when to bow their heads after receiving Communion, and what to do about parishioners who insisted ...
[Hmmm... "insisted."
The word has an editorial effect, doncha think? but we won't blame the subject for the journalist's choice of word]

... on continuing practices like genuflecting after receiving Communion.

["What to do"? Why must anything be "done"? What's it to anyone else?]
People should bow their heads as they say "Amen" after having taken the host.

[What's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah, that's it -- "whaaaa?" They are to reverence the Christ's Body and Blood BEFORE they receive Him, not after. "The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves...
When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister."
See GIRM 160. The only possible reason I can imagine for disseminating such misinformation is that reversing the order, trying to make people pronounce their "amen" and execute their bow after they receive -- not "take" -- the Host, would discourage reception on the tongue.
It would also preclude utterly receiving under both species, except amongst Catholic ventriloquists.]

The director reports that one positive comment often heard in parishes that have already implemented the liturgical changes, is that people appreciate the periods of silence during Mass.
[In what sense are any silences required by the rubrics part of the "changes"? GIRM 1975 said, "Silence should be observed at the designated times as part of the celebration. Its function depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus at the penitential rite and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what has been heard; after communion, all praise God in silent prayer." The Vatican II instruction on Sacred Music told us that "at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence," back in the '60s.]
The director cites the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (the book that contains the order of the Mass), which says that "any semblance of individuality is to be shunned. We come together to form the body of Christ, and that should be our goal."
[Um, okay.... that may be a laudable goal, but the GIRM doesn't actually say that. The director apparently says that. And in fairness, at the time of this writing the dubium regarding the right of the faithful not to be forced or badgered to assume identical postures may not have been answered, or even asked yet. And finally:]
The list of changes includes longer periods of silence, notably, after the readings, homily and Communion; carrying the Book of the Gospels, not the lectionary in the entrance procession; the congregation's bowing from the waist during the Profession of Faith and when the priest genuflects after the Consecration; Catholics bowing their heads when Jesus' name is said and after receiving communion; and different directives on when to stand, sit or kneel. Singing is also emphasized.

Ummmm....? No.
Except for the singing, I think a case might be made that that was given greater emphasis in the latest GIRM, (although the word sing occurs with greater frequency in the previous General Instruction, a quick word count informs.)

But all the rest of that? the "changes", the new stuff?

Of long standing.

What's my point?
Besides exercising my body's kvetchoids and niggleceps?

That if you are in the position of instructing, either because you have chosen it or because it has been thrust upon you you have an obligation to be instructed first.
You have an obligation to get the real skinny on things, not just what you might have gleaned from skimming a hand out at a workshop facilitated by another such as yourself.

You have an obligation to go to sources, either human or print or electronic, but sources, primary sources.
And since very few dicastery muckie-mucks or congregation honchos have time for the likes of you or me, that means you READ THE DOCUMENTS.

Not a committee's take on the documents, not your chancery mate's recollection of what he read once upon a time, not the commercial church music publisher's handy-dandy-all-in-one-simple-to-read-pamphlet interpretation of the documents.

The documents.

All the pertinent ones are relatively comprehensible, and readily available, they needn't even cost you anything but your time.
There are wonderful people all over the interent who have graciously gathered the links you need.
Some have constructed searcheable databases.

The Vatican website is very generous with the authoritative documents, (albeit slow with the translations, sometimes.)

So if your job is to tell me what's in the documents, go read the dang documents.

Read the documents.

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