Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 30 May 2011

"... and Canada, and Iraq, and Belgium, and Kenya, and..."

I was not surprised to be asked to sing "God Bless America" as a recessional yesterday, (although I inserted prayers for as many other countries as I could squeeze in, the way I wonder about striving to come up with an appropriate response to "The Lord IS with you," every week.)

This parish uses the work of the hymnographer Berlin as the Offertory song for Pentecost, the Introit for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe... really, it's a go-to. We sing it at weekday Masses whenever the celebrant has a yen to stretch his tonsils.

But even so, I was nonplussed to be asked to join in My Country 'Tis Of Thee for the entrance hymn.

Really? There is NO mention of the Almighty, NO suggestion of prayer.... nothing that makes this jingoism apt for Mass.

And there is no escape. No other parish in driving distance offers any improvement.

At Midnight Mass last year an Extraordinary Minister at the Cathedral proffered the chalice thusly: The Blood of Christ, and Merry Christmas.
At another parish, obviously pursuing a policy of maximum inclusivity for laypersons with the urge to "minister", we heard a different reader at every morning Mass for two weeks straight, of whom perhaps three were competent. Several interuptted themselves in mid epistle to apologize for not having read over "the hard words" ahead of time, and several seemed unaware that the first reading, psalm and Gospel acclamation are not one long reading.

At one parish, only one verse of the psalm is permitted to be sung on Sundays, as "Father gets impatient if the Mass is too long."

At one, morning Masses at the beginning of Holy Week found the PIP in darkness, as Father wanted the lights left off everywhere but in the sanctuary since the (very beautiful) Easter flowers had arrived early, and Father wanted to get maximum use out of, and maximum admiration for, them.

June 13 cannot come too soon.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

"The Challenge of November 27"

Some most interesting commentary in the May newsletter of the Cincinnati Province of the Missionaries of the most Precious Blood, by Fr. Robert Conway, on the coming changes in the English language celebration of the Mass, along the way connecting the dots between liturgical abuse, the culture of dissent and the culture of death.
"How many Catholics have read General Instruction of the Roman Missal? Yet GIRM is the first part of the Roman Missal. It contains regulations for the celebration of Mass. [I have heard and read people insist the GIRM is descriptive not prescriptive.]...

In his 1986 Letter to my Priests, Pope John Paul wrote , "The Liturgy must favor and make shine brightly the SENSE OF THE SACRED. [emphasis supplied] It must be imbued with reverence, adoration and glorification of God."...

By now every Catholic in the United States who attends the Sunday liturgy should be, [yeah, should be... oh well,] aware that on the first Sunday of Advent the newly approved Roman Missal must be used for all English Masses...

How smooth will be the transition [interesting sentence structure] depends on [and here we have the meat of his piece,] the attitude of the priest celebrants. Their track record is not all that great. How did talking in church become the accepted norm, how did Catholics get the idea that dressing up for mass meant only for weddings and funerals, how did the sign of peace become a waving event, and on and on.

Often the celebrant himself maybe seen celebrating Mass without wearing the chasuble, using glass or crockery for the sacred vessels, ... changing or omitting words of the Mass such as skipping the Gloria or Creed or the washing of the hands,...accepting music that in no way has a place at Mass.. having done weekend fundraising at Mass in 107 dioceses in 44 states, I have seen it all and then some. [a little kvetching. As someone who on account of work has found myself in nearly as many states, though not dioceses, of a Sunday and criticized liturgies of which I therefore had first-hand knowledge, certain denizens of blogdom who had previously taken the tack that reports of abysmal liturgy were hearsay/exaggerated/apocryphal changed their tune and essentially said if you didn't like the way other parishes celebrated Mass you should stay home. Okay. End of off-topic winge]
How did such abuses get started? Is it a case of the priest knowing what is best? If so, he is imposing his liturgical will on the people of God. He is guilty of clericalism. Catholics have a right to a mass celebrated according to the Roman rite [even out-of-towners?]

There is a Spanish phrase, poca casa, a little thing. Some will no doubt think,... Why bother. But.. abuses are symptoms of.... the failure oif authority in the Church.
[In 1968] Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae... The dissent in the American Church was made known by the open defiance of a number of priests.... of the Archdiocese of Washington. According to papal biographer George Weigel, the Vatican was fearful of a schism within the American Church. So rather than enforcing discipline in doctrine, the Holy See preferred to do nothing. Cardinal O'Boyle of Washington was left isolated in his attempt to promote orthodoxy.

Years later Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. summed up the situation this way: “By reacting different ways to Humanae Vitae, the national and regional conferences of bishops undermined the teaching authority that had been attributed to them since Vatican II. Their diverse opinions could not all be right."

The phrase "faithful dissent" became the guiding principle for many in the hierarchy. To keep peace with his diocese, a bishop could condone such a policy. At the same time, how could he really effect reform in catechesis, in liturgy, in priestly discipline when those involved knew that the bishop did not wish to make waves?

The fallout from this lack of courage to do difficult things is noted regularly in the funerals of pro-choice or pro-abortion Catholic people...

I return to November 27, 2011. Will the hard-working pastors of the American Church take up the challenge of the new Roman Missal? Will they look upon this as the golden moment to once again imbue the Mass "with reverence, adoration and glorification of God?" Or will they choose the beguiling path of faithful dissent?
Full disclosure, I believe I had some measure of responsibility for at least one of those Masses, "in 107 dioceses in 44 states," which formed in Father Conway so jaundiced a view of the general state of the liturgy in these United States. Mea partly to culpa.