Saturday, December 31, 2011

JUST HOW MUCH AUTHORITY DOES A PRIEST HAVE TO DABBLE WITH CHANGES IN THE LITURGY

What if a pastor under pressure from a small group of advocates for kneeling at Holy Communion who had formed a small advocacy group and the pastor gave into their demands for kneeling for Holy Communion at the OF Mass, how do you think the majority of Catholic at that Mass would feel?
What if a small pressure group of EF advocates wanted this at the EF Mass and pushed their agenda with the pastor who says, Okay, I'll appease you and do it? How would EF Mass goers feel?
It was until about 1974 or possibly later that St. Joseph Church in Augusta, my home parish where I grew up, changed the manner in which we received Holy Communion. Up until that time, we knelt at the altar railing and received on the tongue. The neighboring parish was standing, some were receiving in the hand and they had a limited number of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion--not out of need at that time, since the chalice was not given to the people and there were enough priests on the staff there, but out of theology. This was a lay ministry that had to be exercised.

Then over night the pastor told us that "Vatican II" said we should stand for Holy Communion, because we are adults and it is more "adult" to stand. Some of us were puzzled by that statement, but it was a rationale and many still use it today. It wasn't until the 1980's that my home parish allowed the common chalice, although I distinctly remember intinction around 1975 and I liked it--but that was short-lived because liturgical theologians were saying it was like "dunking donuts" and shouldn't be done, only drinking from the chalice was liturgically correct.

But the point to what I am saying is that no one in our congregation asked to stand, asked for intinction or asked for the common chalice. No one asked for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. It was imposed and this cause some negative reactions--it was top down and what Vatican II mandated.

As I read some of the comments on my blog, it seems that many who comment like this top down imposition but only if it fits their "theology and theological disposition."

Even though for the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the General Instruction and the rubrics of the Mass clearly favor the vernacular, facing the people, standing for Holy Communion and Communion under both kinds, there are some who would like all that ignored. And there are some priests who are willing to oblige. They impose their own ideology upon their flock. They celebrate Mass ad orientem in the Ordinary Form, they use a great deal of Latin and they do not allow the choice of receiving from the chalice. They do not allow altar girls (although this is allowed in liturgical law) and they do not allow EMC's although this is clearly allowed in the norms and by every bishop in the USA when there is a need. And I want to clearly say that when a priest following the norms of the liturgy that are allowed and thus makes the chalice available that sufficient chalices must be available and sufficient Holy Communion stations must be available to "facilitate" this rite of the Church. So if there is only one priest and you have the chalice and need four stations for the Host and six chalices for the laity--that is a need, not a luxury or a contrived use of EMC's.

But let's put the shoe on the other foot. We know that bishops are slow to correct actual liturgical abuses by priests and congregations in the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

Let say that I want to celebrate the EF low Mass in ten minutes and I race through it. Shouldn't I be able to impose that on you?

Let's say that I like standing for Holy Communion and I impose that on the EF Mass because there are several who want that in the EF Mass? In fact they've formed a community to push this agenda for the EF Mass? They even find priest willing to celebrate the EF Mass with standing for Holy Communion. And let's say that I want to provide the chalice for the laity at the EF Mass because a group at the EF Mass wants it and so I have a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion providing that at the EF Mass because there are some who want it and they have formed a lobby group to bring it about and I have acquiesced.

Now, how would the majority who go to the EF Mass feel if I succumbed to a small pressure group that wanted these things at the EF Mass and I could care less about consulting with the bishop about it and I do it anyway?

How would those who want to follow the rubrics of the EF Mass feel if there were a group coming to the EF Mass who wanted to make a public act of piety and stand for Holy Communion although the norm for this Mass is to kneel? And to recive in the hand? Should they be accommodated as we are suppose to accommodate those who in the OF form of the Mass refuse the norm to stand and kneel? Just wondering?

25 comments:

pinanv525 said...

Fr., first, because something is "allowed" does not mean it is mandated.

The Church is "a top-down," authoritarian structure. Priests are, and should be, limited in how much they can dabble with the liturgy and to what extent they can respond to various factions in the parish. It may be that many of us would not like it if the new changes were in the other direction, but we have a duty to obey Rome and follow what the Church demands and to attempt to comply with preferred practice. The question for any devout Catholic who cares about liturgy and dogma is: "Does there come a point at which the Church is no longer the Church?" Is there a point at which the changes in doctrine, practice, morality, or liturgy effect a qualitative change in the nature of the Church?
if the answer is "yes," then the only option for devout Catholics is to seek membership in groups like SSPX. This is dangerous ground and should be considered in fear and trrembling. (see: Martin Luther)

Henry said...

Father McDonald, I wonder whether this post could be interpreted as posing a problem where none exists.

At almost every OF Mass I attend, there are some who kneel at the communion rail to receive on the tongue after the majority have received standing. So far as I know, no parishioners worry about it.

At almost every EF Mass I attend, there are some remain standing at the head of the center aisle and receive communion from the priest as he passes from one side of the communion rail to the other, whereas the majority kneel to receive at the communion rail. So far as I know, no one worries about it.

At the typical OF Mass in our parish there is communion in only one kind, communion for both kinds being reserve for special occasions. So far as I know, there has never been any disagreement on the matter.

But if these questions were posed in pressure group language, I wouldn't be surprised if pressure groups formed in response to the invitation. "Build it and they will come?"

Bill Meyer said...

Henry, at least you have a communion rail. i never kneel to receive because, in the absence of a communion rail, rising again would be problematic.

I also never receive from an EMHC. But being of an age where some things work less well than in the past, there are practical limits to what I am able to do in a structure of modern form.

Anonymous said...

If "pressure group accommodations" are motivated by convenience not piety, or based on ignorance, than shouldn't that be a consideration on whether the accommodation is worthy of contemplation and/or implementation?

For example, the ministry of EMHCs, their motivation is presumed to be piety; anything else would be uncharitable. Unless they represented their calling to that ministry in a secular "right to ownership" demand.

Why then would it be presumed to be anything but piety that motivates those requesting a kneeler (or choosing to kneel)at the OF Mass?

I don't like the be-shashed procession of EMHCs any more than some people may dislike my option of a kneeler.

However, you have explained that this is their calling and the Chalice is not forbidden. Therefore, their ministry was supportable and defended. I accepted this return to the Mass, and now exercise my choice to not receive the chalice that is optionally provided.

It would seem to take alot less effort and coordination to place 2 kneelers at the center stations than it has taken to accommodate the EMHCs ministry. Unless the presumption is pride over piety for those that want kneelers; which would be an uncharitable presumption.

Is there some prohibition in either Mass that prevents standing to receive or kneeling to receive?

That is the question that should be answered. It shouldn't matter how "put out" the uncharitable-minded are.

I kneel, because I feel humbled.

Bill Meyer said...

I meant in my original post to note, in passing, that in the specific matter kneeling, that is a personal option, supported by the Canons, and not up to the priest, or even the bishop.

Anonymous said...

This is the paradox of leadership.

To some degree the priest may find himself dealing with the parishioners as one would a group of squabbling children. "If you want the EF Mass then you'll have to work for it, not just bang your spoon on your highchair." Likewise, if a group is going to scour Vatican II for wedges for their pet grievances then they will have to be dealt with firmly up front so as not to waste the precious time of the priest.

So, if a priest could resolve, internally, how to have an 8AM EF and a 1030 Clown Mass, then it is best if the respective groups were to facilitate their individual objectives and not fight over the limited resources of the parish. Ironically, this is relatively easy to do if each of the groups were to work to ensure that the *other* group gets everything it needs. This sort of community is the result of successful leadership and pastoring and takes a very patient hand.

So I might be able to get alter rails for the ad Orientem, EF Mass with a room full of fiddleback vestments for my priest if I also help the other group get all the makeup, fez', and little motorbikes they need for the 1030 service.

rcg

Anonymous said...

This isn't about how any of us "feel". As a priest, you are not obligated to accept altar girls or extraordinary ministers. If you told us to kneel, that would be "imposing" something on us, thanks to the USCCB. If you told us to receive on the tongue, you would not be "imposing" anything, because that's the worldwide norm. You would be preventing Eucharistic abuses, because EVERY TIME Communion is distributed in the hand at Mass, particles of the Host are lost on the floor, in spite of everyone's best efforts. I think your proposals and arguments are mischaracterizing the situation.

Marc said...

The difference, of course, is that standing is not allowed in the EF (unless the person cannot kneel). Oh, and kneeling is also the universal norm in the Church even in the OF.

So, those of us who advocate kneeling at the OF are merely advocating the universal norm be followed. If people were to advocate standing at the EF, they would be advocating liturgical abuse. There is a big difference.

The same is true for many of the things you mentioned about the options of the OF. You can have EMHC, but probably not in the numbers they are normally found. You can allow the common chalice, but you don't have to. Therein lies a major problem with the OF.

For example, I am out of town right now. I'm going to the anticipated Mass tonight. What will I see at that Mass? I have no idea what to expect. If it were the Latin Mass, I would know exactly what was going to happen regardless of the priest. That shouldn't be the case.

Templar said...

Father your authority is limited by the Laws of the Church, the Rubrics of the Mass, and your conscience.

If some one pressures you for a Clown Mass you don't need a papal document to tell you this is wrong, it's as clear as the nose on your face. If someone "pressures" you for a kneeler to use at Mass it is a matter of how charitable YOU wish to be. It is not against the Laws, it is permitted, and therefore it is only YOU who stands in the way of that.

Once upon a time you felt VERY strongly that Communion under both species wasn't necessary. Please correct me if I am wrong, but the appearance from the pews and from what you have written is that a "small pressure group" asked for it's return and YOU choose to accommodate it. Some may not like it, but we accept it as within your authority to do so. It clearly doesn't violate the Law, or the Rubrics, and therefore is SOLELY up to YOU unless prohibited by your Bishop, which I know is not the case.

So, with kneelers we come to the same issue. It is not against the Laws, it is not against the Rubrics, and is clearly SOLELY up to you, unless prohibited by your Bishop, which I know is not the case.

Ad orientem, kneelers, the amount of Latin in the Mass, EHMCs, Altar Girls, clown Masses, Guitars, etc, in all these matters you must clear some hurdles:

Is it against church law?
Is it against the Rubrics for the Mass?

If you answer No to both of those questions you are left with one qualifier...and that is YOU and YOUR conscience, with the caveat that your Ordinary may or may not have prohibited a specific thing.

I hate these type of posts because they are infested with the Modernist tendency to descend to litigious debate over minutiae. You don't need a Canon Lawyer to tell you right from wrong, at least you didn't before the vagueness of the 2nd Vatican Council became part of the Church.

pinanv525 said...

Kneeling is a universal sign of humility and reverence. If ever people in a culture needed to kneel, it is the people in modern day America. I get impatient with people bitching about kneeling. My grandmother (good Presbyterian) knelt to pray on her old arthritic knees by her bed every night until she died at 97. I have had students with bad knees in my martial arts class for years who are required to kneel more often and for longer periods of time than at Mass. They struggle up and down and do not complain. I dare say that the reasons most laity complain about kneeling are not theological or liturgical...they are based upon laziness, inertia, mule-headedness, arrogance and, well, sorriness. I make exception for the truly disabled, who are few.

Henry Edwards said...

Actually, Marc, I'm not aware of any rubric that dictates the posture of people at the the EF. Indeed, it appears that micromanagement of the people--whether by norms or by power-freaked liturgists--is a strictly Novus Ordo thing.

Of course, it has been virtually universal custom--to which some ascribe a higher status than mere descriptive norms (like those of the GIRM)--since medieval times for Latin rite Catholics to kneel for communion. I'd suggest it was true before and is true now that the typical traditional Catholic takes the Real Presence so seriously that he would not contemplate voluntarily standing for Holy Communion.

And, inversely, that the inception of standing was promoted primarily and is maintained by liturgists who sought (successfully) to diminish belief in the Real Presence (and the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross).

Joseph Johnson said...

Father,
What if a pastor took the initiative and simply announced that, because it is still the universal norm to receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue, that he was going to make that option available for those who choose it. To avoid the mis-impression that he was imposing this, he would also, of course, mention that to receive standing (either way)is still the norm in the U.S. and that we still have the indult in the U.S. to receive in the hand, if we so choose.

To facilitate these options in a church without a rail, the pastor then instructs the ushers to bring out a portable double-width kneeler in front of the altar at Communion time to accomodate the two lines in the aisle. Both sides could, theoretically, be handled by a single priest (alternating to each side) or by a priest on one side and a deacon or EMHC on the other. The chalices could then be handled by whatever other deacons or EMHC's are available(probably only two in most parishes in this Diocese).

In this scenario, there are no pressure groups and I don't see any license being taken by the pastor. He is simply doing what the Church allows in the OF. Do you see a problem with this?

Anonymous said...

Seems that those of us who desire these things that Father does not feel free to give, could do what we CAN do.
Who is to stop us from praying the Rosary together in Latin after the Latin Mass or at any other time?

I see no value in debating these fine points with the good Father who does have to walk a tightrope of sorts.
There are ways we can help him to help us.

I wish there was a way we could communicate privatley with each other outside of this blog. Then those of us who are in the same locale do join together and do what we CAN do.

Would anyone be displeased to see us do some things that don't require Father to go against his conscience?

Praying the Rosary in Latin together is merely one example.
Actions speak.
~SqueekerLamb

Marc said...

Henry, you are correct. Sorry I misstated that in my rush to post. I believe kneeling in the EF is the universal custom and custom has the force of law in the Church, whether it is universal or local. So, I agree with your assessment that kneeling is probably more stringently required as a law than it would be as a norm. Therefore, to advocate change is a huge misstep and abuse.

Marc said...

Squeaker, I agree with you and I would love for us to get together. I don't mind sharing my email address on here if people want to email me privately their email addresses, I can set up a list and we can all communicate about how we can help.

wmermine@gmail.com

If you're interested in getting together for prayer, etc. please email me you address and I'll share everyone's address with everyone else. Hopefully, Templar, Carol, and anyone else interested will see this post.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Because of the diversity of the manner is which it is possible to celebrate the Mass today, either in the EF or the OF, but especially the OF, it is important to love the Mass in any form on the merits of what the Mass is. There, Tradition with a capital T remains--it is the sacrifice of Christ re-presented in an unbloody and the Paschal banquet which follows. This is true of both forms. One form has norms and the other form has norms. Both norms should be respected, but most of all the local bishop as the primarily "liturgist" of the diocese should be respected. Some bishops allow for some things and others don't. That is their prerogative and there is broad power given them in canon and divine law. One bishop celebrates the OF ad orientem, another would not allow it in his cathedral.
Just so everyone knows where I stand, I stand with the bishop and I do not have the personality or the theology to aggravate him or challenge him and as a priest of the diocese I don't see myself in "private practice." Some bishops allow priests to decide where the tabernacle will be placed in a local parish, other bishops mandate the location. There is great variety in the OF Mass and practice, like it or not, and the bishop is the one who allows or disallows. It is the foolish priest and congregation that is constantly trying to stick it in the bishop's eye if they don't like his perspective or theology.

Anonymous said...

Just so no one misunderstands what I meant by doing what we CAN do....
I never even thought about going to the Bishop, nor meant to lead anyone else to think such thoughts.

I merely meant things like praying together Latin prayers of the Church, and other parish level Catholic practices which were wiped out with V2.

Another example: only today did I learn about the prior practice of Ember Days during each litugical season, not only during Advent and Lent.

Because of the spirit of V2I feel so robbed.
Yet, I also feel so blessed to be in a parish where there is an appreciation for orthodoxy.
I shudder to think what would have happened if I had returned to the Faith in a 'modern' parish. Probably nothing would have happened, and I would have drifted away again.

FYI: 'cafeteria religion' exists in other religions too...and from what I have observed, all those who practice this form of disobedience pay a very great spiritual price.

As for me, while I have my strong preferences..orthodoxy...the bottom line is: I'll gratefully accept the Eucharist from any parish, any priest, and in necessity from an EMHC without any reservation whatsoever. If my kneeling on the hard marble creates any level of trouble for my pastor then I stop, if a priest refuses to give me Holy Communion on the tongue then I'll receive in the hand. I do my best to receive worthily and know full well that I don't deserve so great a Gift.

Templar said...

I don't think anyone here would take exception to even one word of your last post on this thread Father. I think, if any of them are like me, we would just like a clear definitive answer. You post these topics and I (we?) assume you are soliciting input. That gets us excited that perhaps something we hold dear to us will be permitted to us. If that is not the case I would love to be told that in unequivocal terms.

Such as: I have asked the Bishop for permission to say Mass Ad orientem and he has said no.

I have asked the Bishops permission to provide kneelers for those who wish to avail themselves of them and he has said no.

I will no ask the Bishops permission for a regular Latin Mass because...fill in the blank with whatever reason applies.

I will not ask the Bishop for permission to say Mass Ad orientem because I don't believe it's proper.

I guess what this all comes down to is this, is this Blog merely for the purposes of theoretical debate, or are you generally looking to solicit opinions from your parishioners as to what they are thinking, feeling, wanting? If all you want is the virtual equivalent of having a nice chat
I (we?) will stop getting all worked up when it appears as if someone in the Catholic Church that has the opportunity to effect our lives appears to give a hoot in a holler about what we hold Sacred.

Joseph Johnson said...

Check out the article on Fr. Z's blog dated today and entitled "Install It and They Will Kneel." It sounds a lot like my earlier comment with hypothetical proposal for the use of a double-kneeler at Communion time--only much better!

Notice that (as in my hypothetical) it does not impose kneeling and even goes so far as to restate the U.S. norm for standing and receiving either way while allowing the universal norm as the third option.

Carol H. said...

I have nothing against the OF, but I prefer the EF because it draws me into a deeper spiritual communion with our Lord. The EF inspires me to want to give Him my all- I struggle with foreign languages, but I am doing my best (albeit slowly) to learn latin; I devote more time than I used to to prayer and to study things scriptual; and I am always looking for things to do within my means to promote the faith.

This is why I would like to meet with like-minded people on a regular basis. When the Fire of the Holy Spirit inspires a soul, it is impossible to just sit at home and not take action- the faith is meant to be shared, not buried under a bushel.

I have seen many people grow bitter because their love for the EF has been ignored or ridiculed. This is NOT the case at St. Joseph for which I am grateful. In fact, I never attended a latin Mass before St. Joseph with Fr. McDonald. It is so spiritaully rich, I don't understand why more people don't attend.

I think regular meetings with like minded people will help our faith to grow into a beacon of light that will attract others to Christ. This is much better than becoming bitter herbs that everyone tries to avoid.

Anonymous said...

Templar, I think that shot landed a little wide. Fram has offered EF, ad Orientem Mass as well as Latin in both forms. Saint Joseph led the fleet rolling out the New Translation. What is difficult to remember is that the shepherd guides the sheep in the back of the flock as well as those in the front, that he watches when some sheep sleep and feeds them when he goes hungry. Long, hard hours being pulled a lot of different ways.

I have also noticed slight changes that indicate the new bishop is guiding his sheep as well. Whatever Fr M is being told he is required to inculcare it with his efforts to continue this novation.

The good news for guys like you and me is the bishops are caught in the middle, too; Summorum Pontificum put them there. So we wait and we can provide support, which is a form of gentle pressure in a specific directIon for as long the support is needed.

rcg

pinanv525 said...

I agree with Carol. The EF is much more contemplative, and it does seem to me to draw one inward to prayer. The OF is just a very different worship experience; I appreciate the OF and enjoy Mass in the vernacular, but the EF "experience" stays with me longer when I leave the Church. I know these are subjective and impressionistic reflections, but a whole lot of devout Catholics are having the same reflections and experiences.
I, too, would like to get together with like-minded people for prayer and reflection...maybe even coffee...
Templar, I share your impatience sometime, but, in Fr.'s defense, he has gone far beyond what most other Priests are doing and his passion for the Mass, both EF and OF, is palpable. Let's see how this Bishop turns out. He hasn't revealed much of himself yet.

Templar said...

I apologize if any of you feel I have been unfair to Father. I have apologized in person to Father previously for anything I may have posted on this Blog which may offend him. I am grateful to Father for what he has done, and I love and respect him as a good, and Orthodox Priest.

I will not however, for the sake of "being nice" back down from challenging him to do more for the Salvation of Souls. This is not about people's feelings and sensibilities, it is about eternity, and if being rude saves one soul then perhaps I will merit an eternity in Purgatory for my efforts.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't know of anyone who has done more for the salvation of souls than our Holy Father, Pope Benedict and yet he has yet to celebrate publicly the EF Mass as pope and we have no evidence that he does so privately, meaning if it is private, no one else is invited. So what' good for the pope is good for me, but at least I celebrate the EF weekly on Tuesday and monthly on Sunday. Not even the Holy Father does that!

Templar said...

The Holy Father also distributes Communion kneeling and on the tongue exclusively. Please feel free to follow suit.