Saturday, May 5, 2012

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

I originally posted this on December 31, 2011. I think it has a great deal to do with what is happening at St. Mary Parish in Platteville, Wisconsin where Bishop Morlino is about to place the parish under "interdict." I had about 25 comments to my post which you can read by pressing the sentence below or read the post which I have copied below. (The one I reprinted below has updated pictures though!)
JUST HOW MUCH AUTHORITY DOES A PRIEST HAVE TO DABBLE WITH CHANGES IN THE LITURGY

This is an Ordinary Form Mass at Saint Joseph Church:
This is an Extraordinary Form Mass at Saint Joseph, can you distinguish it from the Ordinary Form above?
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 (which was the most controversial after Holy Communion in the hand). 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?
Female lectors at the EF Mass anyone?
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.

And if I want lay preachers at Mass, like U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss "preaching" at our Cherry Blossom Festival Mass on "Pink" Sunday (Laetare) shouldn't I be able to do that even if he is Episcopalian?
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?

And if I want to parade around in pink with my parochial vicar, just who says I can't?

5 comments:

ytc said...

Please point out with references where the Ordinary Form prefers or presupposes the vernacular, versus populum worship, and Communion under both Species to such an extent as to mandate the use of EMHCs. (Side note: I would support such a measure that either mandated the use of intinction or forbade the distribution under both Species if it meant in a particular instance that having EMHCs was inevitable.)

The difference is that in the EF, you can't do any of the things in your post as regards the EF. You can't have "lectors" (really readers) because there are none in the first place, and so to do so would clearly be an abuse. You can't have CITH and standing, because that is clearly an abuse. You can't provide the chalice to the laity (except for those unable to receive the host), because that is clearly an abuse. You can't have any "lay preachers" at all in the EF, because that is clearly an abuse.

The overall problem is that the OF is a schizophrenic multi-personality bipolar piece of scissors-and-paste-pots identity-challenged self-conscious archaeologistic desk product, where everybody gets to be right because there are all these stupid "suggestions" about what "should be done" and what gets "pride of place," whatever that means, but no one does them and then justifies it with *whiinneeeee* "because the people don't like it" or whatever. I can justify a magnificent Ordinary Form Mass with beautiful polyphony and Gregorian, following the current laws of its celebration. And then Joe Schmo can justify a disgusting didactic nonsense "Eucharistic Gathering/Parish Event," following the current laws of its celebration. Sure, the "preference" is on my side, but no one follows that anyways. AND THAT IS A PROBLEM! A beautiful Mass and a totally irreverent crap Mass can be justified in the OF. THAT IS A PROBLEM! Not with how it is celebrated; no, truly, with the books themselves.

Sometimes I don't follow your posts, Father. You admit that the post-Vatican II era has been horrific in almost every way, but then you justify practices of that era. Can you please post something that at least ties these together? You admit that we have much reconstruction to do. But then you justify the status quo. Perhaps your overall theme is that we have much to restore in the realm of liturgy, catechesis and Catholic identity, but that it must be done with faith, hope, charity and explanation. Is this it? If so, I agree. But that doesn't mean that where we're currently at is good and sustainable. No, where we're currently at sucks! And we have to admit it, otherwise we risk rolling around in filth for another fifty years. Like I said, this is going to be a process, and we have to do it in a good and charitable way, but we have to do it nonetheless!, and we can't keep validating current practices with silly arguments. It is quite possible to do a Great Catholic Reconstruction in a charitable way. Charity and Catholic Restoration are not incompatible terms, not incompatible like charity and 70's Catholic Destruction were. In fact, a Catholic Restoration BEGS to be done in a charitable way. And it will be done in that manner.

:)

Henry said...

You illustrate pretty brutally the disintegration that the "dictatorship of relativism" has visited upon the Church, with every decision determined by someone's personal preference, whether that "someone" is a pastor or individual or clique or committee in a parish, or a bishop or a special interest group that foists its pet idea on the USCCB for inclusion in the US-adapted GIRM.

The only rescue from this chaos of institutionalized sacrilege is a return to the sure and certain guide of tradition and immemorial custom as to what is right and proper, and the corollary that error of innovation has no claim to right when it conflicts with practices sanctioned by the Holy Spirit throughout the ages.

Perhaps the real question is whether the Church get back on track without losing some who have lost or rejected all sense of Catholic identity, resulting in a smaller and more faithful Church.

Anonymous said...

ytc, your third paragraph is spot on. However, I do follow Fr's posts, or at least I think I do, as I interpret this one as tongue in cheek with a bit of peripatetic thrown in. In this case he is addressing the inclusiveness gone wild nature of the Spirit of V-II and asking, well, if everything is allowable, then anything is allowable.

What caught my attention in his post was the central issue of the priest responding to the congregation, or any segment of it, to make them happy. This is a non-stater. Certainly the priest should enlist the aide of parishioners according to their gifts; but only to accomplish goals he has set IAW the Bishops.

Now that statement opens another issue with this post. I am first to confess happiness with our Pope's direction and with the bishops that support him. This exposes me to criticism that why was I not as happy when clown masses and tie-dyed vestments were instated. The reply is this: the Bishops, including the Bishop of Rome fell under the influence of their congregations and allowed that influence to affect their actions during V-II conclave and more importantly, afterwards during interpretation and implementation. A similar effect can be seen in the results of popular psychology on the women religious in this country. Devastation. In many cases it is very clear where similar external appeals wormed their way into our Liturgical practices through prominent theologians and individual bishops.

So the top down transmission of change, from the priest or from the Bishops, is clearly good when the Bishops and priests consult tradition and prayerfully consider their charter and craft to determine how best to lead us to God. It fails, and jeopardizes the souls of the flock, when that same group is simply acting as a surrogate under the influence of an otherwise frustrated group of heretics.

rcg

John Nolan said...

The altar cards in the second photograph suggest an EF Mass so why is the subdeacon not holding the paten in a humeral veil? This change in the rubric dates only from 1965.

Henry said...

(Thanks to Fr. Z's alert) Bishop Morlino of Madison says what I really think:

"When we look for candidates to the priesthood and as we pray for vocations, we are looking for men who are brave in their willingness to seek holiness, to speak the truth, to lay down their lives. There is no place in the priesthood today for wimpish-ness. There is no place for an attitude that just wants to please people, no matter what they think and no matter what they want. Today the priest has to stand up and be brave, preaching the Truth with love. He has to be willing to be unpopular. And if it comes to it, he has to be open to martyrdom.

In today's post-mandates Church, it is unrealistic for priests to expect to be "covered" or taken off the hook by episcopal and papal decisions and rubrics. I believe the Church, and specifically its liturgy, will be restored one priest at a time--who takes his role in persona Christi seriously, and is willing to stand up and pastorally lead his people to what tradition tells him is right. And I believe Pope Benedict is call on individual priests to follow his example, not his rules. He is counting on young priests who are real men and not wimps, to man up one by one until the Church is reclaimed.