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Friday, 8 August 2014

"Maintain Clear Blue Water Between Liturgy, the Action of Christ and Other Human Activity"

Very solid piece of commentary regarding what the author, Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, rightly calls a "non-story" about a "major matter," the attempt by the CDW to try to restore some dignity, some sense of the sacrality, some set-apart-edness to a portion of the liturgy that anyone with a lick of common sense would acknowledge has gotten out of hand in so many places.

The world "reserved" may mean stodgy in one context, but face it, an attitude of reserve is not out of placed when actions, places objects and words are reserved to a special use.
At bottom what lies behind this question is the major matter of maintaining clear blue water between liturgy, the action of Christ in head and members, and other human activities. The Congregation is rightly concerned to maintain the dignity of liturgy, and to avoid all those activities which undercut its true meaning. (Leaving the altar to greet people at the peace absolutely undercuts, indeed contradicts, the meaning of the Sign of Peace, as it entails leaving the altar and ignoring Christ Himself who is on that altar, and who must be the only focus of the celebration.) Moreover, once more, the Congregation is calling all of us – and the clergy must take the lead here – to guard against the loss of reverence, and the loss of transcendence in our liturgical celebrations. 
Whenever I mention these matters to people I sometimes notice their eyes glaze over. They simply do not ‘get’ why liturgy matters. Surely there are more important things, they ask? Actually, no. There are no more important things. Liturgy is central. [emphasis supplied] It is the reason why the Church exists: to carry out the command of the Lord, in the way He wants it to be carried out, as He commanded us to do at the Last Supper. We must guard and defend the Church’s precious liturgical heritage at all costs. 
The chief threats to it are secularisation – that is not a dig at the National Secular Society, but rather at those Catholics who wish to make the Mass more or less indistinguishable form any other human activity, by chipping away at its sacral character.. 
The other threat is theological and historical ignorance, and those who want to leave out elements of liturgy on the grounds of being ‘up to date’, unaware (at least one supposes they are unaware) that liturgy is a language, and the omission of certain elements may make the elements that remain incoherent. 
The final and perhaps most insidious threat comes from those who wish perhaps to change the theology of the Church and make it into a different sort of church altogether. If one changes the Mass sufficiently, one changes the belief that sustains it, and which it in turn sustains.

And not to pick on Fr Reese, (okay, not to pick on him about this one thing, moving the Pax to its historic place, I'll gladly pick on him about other things) -- no, a change in the structure of the Mass this soon after the promulgation of the corrected translation would lead to exactly the liturgical atmosphere of my childhood, where the adults around me all seemed to engage in EffCap with an exasperated but resigned attitude of, "Okay, all right, what're they messing with, what'o we have t'learn, what's new, what're the liturgists changing THIS week?"

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