Wednesday, November 30, 2011
HAS JOHN ALLEN HIT THE LITURGICAL NAIL ON THE HEAD? YES AND NO!
John Allen describes his experience with the corrected English translation of the Mass this past Sunday. This is a small excerpt from what he wrote:
Chatting briefly with Mass-goers afterwards, I heard several versions of what I would label the "common sense" perspective on liturgical matters. In different ways, most people -- whatever they thought of the new language -- said that the things that really matter in shaping the quality of their liturgical experience boil down to three points: How good the preaching is, how good the music is and how welcoming the community seems.
If those three things are in place, they said, the most defective translation in the world won't prevent them from coming back. Conversely, if those three things are off, even the Platonic ideal of a translation won't get them in the door.
The consensus seemed to be that at the grassroots, most Catholics wish the church would devote even a fraction of the time and energy it's poured into debates over translation to the things that really strike ordinary people as decisive: preaching, music, and community spirit.
My Comments: Since Vatican II we have gauged the effectiveness of the Liturgy as some sort of product that the Church sells to its customers. If they don't like it, we have to sell it as new and improved.
What about the Mass, no matter how good the community is, how poor the music is and how bad the preaching is as the One Sacrifice of Christ re-presented on our altars in an unbloody way for our personal salvation and the salvation of the world? If that is lost in the conversation, then God help us!
John Allen is giving us more of the same of the silly season right after Vatican II about the Mass being a feel good experience for customers.
I'm not opposed to community. We need it, but this must happen naturally through other venues in the parish.
I'm not opposed to good music, but there has to be an objective norm by which good liturgical music is evaluated and it can't just be something that affects our hormones and elevates the spirit in a narcotic "feel-good" way.
I'm not opposed to good preaching, but the Mass can stand on its own without any preaching! It's the Sacrifice of Christ re-presented in an unbloody way for our salvation that is central and foundational. Everything else, including warm community, good liturgical music and inspiring preaching follows.
How did we get so far off track in what is important about the Mass and make false god's out of the icing on the cake?
The corrected English translation of the Mass and a vigorous new emphasis on its sacrificial content will go a long way offering the world what is essential for their salvation--it ain't just community, good preaching and good music! It is Jesus Christ and His suffering and death on the Cross and His resurrection that forms the Community of Saints on earth, in purgatory and in heaven.