Friday, December 13, 2013
CAN WE OBSESS ON THE LITURGY AND TURN IT INTO AN IDOL OF FALSE WORSHIP?
In pre-Vatican II times, apart from a small scholarly group of liturgical theologians, there was no critique or disparaging of the worship of the Church. It was what it was. The only acknowledgement of a problem with the liturgy had to do with the "immorality" or lack of faith of the priest who celebrated it. In those situations the Church relied on what is called "ex opere operato" meaning that if the priest celebrated the Mass as the books designated and did what was needed in the ceremony for the Mass to be valid, then that Mass was valid. And even if there was some action or lack of action on the the part of the priest that made the Mass technically invalid, there was the "insurance policy" of the Church call, "the Church supplies" what is lacking so that the laity are protected (such as when it is discovered a priest was not validly ordained because of some technicality discovered only later, the Church provides valid sacraments for those people (and the priest) who celebrated these Masses and other sacraments.
Of course in the pre-Vatican II times there were parishes that were rich and had splendid rich vestments and other very nice and arty "thing" for the liturgy. There were poor parishes too and while the "things" they had were hand-me downs or cheap, these were usually tasteful and nothing was omitted from the liturgy due to lack of adequate funding for the basics needed.
But since Vatican II this all changed and complaints about the liturgy, either the one prior to Vatican II or the current revised Mass rose to loud decibels. While it isn't as bad as it was in the 1970's in terms of complaints, complaints still exist.
What are these complaints?
--The Ordinary Form of the Mass is too banal and manipulated too much by the priest who improvises too much
--the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is outdated and too clerical and does not promote active participation of the laity or allow women to do anything formal during the Mass except for choir parts
These two complaints are mild compared to what people read on blogs and comments on blogs. It is as though the liturgy is the source of adoration, not of God but of the liturgy and who does what and how it is done.
When, however, we see the liturgy as given to us and the old true cliche, "Say the Black and Do the red" is accomplished, no one should complain about the liturgy in either form. The clergy and laity celebrate the Mass as prescribed following the rubrics and General Instruction of the Mass but do so with style, energy and grace.
It is when improvisation takes place that people start complaining because priestly improvisation of the Mass and adding to it with a multiplicity of other words interjected during "breaks" in the Mass imposes an unprecedented clericalism on the Mass that is far beyond any codified "clericalism" of the pre-Vatican II Mass. It makes the Mass the "play thing" of the priest or the congregation's psychological needs, not their spiritual needs.
My personal opinion is that bishops make errors in judgement when they crack down on what is allowed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, such as "ad orientem," "intinction" and "kneeling for Holy Communion" and fail to address the core issues of the actual true and divisive aberrations of how the Mass is celebrated neglecting entirely the rubrics and General Instruction of the Roman Missal.