Thursday, January 15, 2015
DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN IDEOLOGIES, SOCIOLOGIES, THEOLOGIES AND DOCTRINE/DOGMA
So much of liturgy consternation, discussion, dissension and other tidbits is based not so much upon theology, doctrine or dogma, but upon opinion and the dictatorship of liturgical theologians who make their theology or allow others to make their theologies and ideologies into infallible dogma.
Let's look at three things liturgical that are thus affected:
1. Altar railings. In the 1970's despite the fact that there are no official documents from Rome, from Vatican II or Consilium, liturgical theologians decided that altar railings were in fact fences to keep the laity out of the sanctuary. These were portrayed as very, very clerical inventions to keep the worship of the Church in the hands of the clergy, to keep it clericalized and masculine. Today, you will find people, men, women, priests and religious who still battle with this old slogan when altar railings are restored or never removed or new ones are placed in new construction. It is stale ideology to say the least, the dogma of authoritarian liberals.
Altar railings are an extension of the altar. Sanctuaries are to have a demarcation either with a railing, elevated floor or some other distinction. There is nothing theological, doctrinal or dogmatic about having or not having altar railings. The removal of altar railings or the opposition to their restoration is purely ideological and sociological, to promote an egalitarian ideology where there are no distinctions between clergy and laity and that the laity should be able to do what the clergy do liturgically.
2. Altar girls. The pre-Vatican II custom of only boys and men to serve the altar which is still the norm for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has a theology behind it. It is linked to the ministerial priesthood and a sociological tool for the recruitment of future priests who are only male and can only be male from a dogmatic, infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church.
Some who promote the use of altar girls and see no problem in having them in the Ordinary Form of the Mass do so from a sociological point of view. They believe that altar serving should be a way to involve young girls in the liturgy of the Church so they do not feel excluded or banned from participating simply because of gender, not necessarily theology. Many desire to include girls, not as a ploy to promote women's ordination, but from the inclusive point of view and to keep girls connected and engaged in the work of the Church which is symbolized by their service to the altar.
Unfortunately, there are those who have an ideology of seeing altar girls as paving the way to change an infallible dogma. Of course this is not possible in the Catholic Church. Women will never be ordained to the Catholic priesthood because it cannot occur dogmatically.
3. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The common chalice is the ideological center of the proliferation of these EMHCs. Despite the unsanitary nature of several people drinking from the common chalice, it is promoted and proper hygiene and physical health are ignored even during an epidemic which many states are experiencing currently concerning the flu. The reason for this is ideological. It allows more men and women to have what is called an active "clericalized" role in the liturgy.
Now that I celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, I realize two things. The Ordinary Form of the Mass's formula for distributing Holy Communion to the laity is truncated from what the priest says for himself when he receives. It was the same for both clergy and laity in the EF Mass: "May the body of Christ keep me/you safe unto life everlasting. Amen." For the priest this formula is still in place in the Ordinary Form, but not for the laity. It is truncated to "Body of Christ, Amen." This is crass clericalism truncating the formula for receiving Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form.
But more obvious is that the priest no longer make the Sign of the Cross with the Host for himself or the laity to whom he gives Holy Communion, an individualized "Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a priestly blessing."
Why is Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament removed in the Ordinary Form when distributing Holy Communion? Because still in the Ordinary Form only a priest can give a blessing and only a priest or a deacon in the Ordinary Form can offer Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Removing the "Sign of the Cross" with the Host when giving Holy Communion thus paved the way for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion when there is considered a need.
What is canonical or liturgical law in the Ordinary Form is that when there is a need, a lay person, man or woman may be commissioned to distribute Holy Communion, which in the reform of the Mass has become a purely mechanical service. In a sense, because laity are allowed to distribute Holy Communion, one could push for self-communication by everyone coming to the altar to self-serve. This is the logical conclusion of removing the Benediction prior to distributing individual Holy Communion and shortening the formula for the laity. The priest's ordained ministerial role as pastor/assistant pastor, as priest is symbolically removed from the distribution of Holy Communion. A lay person can usurp this role and diminish it from that of the ministerial priesthood point of view. This is an ideology masked as a theology. It is not doctrinal but it is promoted from the highest liturgical levels of the Church.