DPPL 76: A Basis For A Relationship

STA altar at night smallChapter Three treats “Theological Principles for an Evaluation and Renewal of Popular Piety.” How can we interpret that title? That the institutional church wants to steer people to piety, but a piety that is based on official stuff, like liturgy.

The subtitle reminds that we are a Trinitarian religion, citing “The Life of Worship: Communion with the Father, Through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” Let’s read, then discuss:

 76. In the history of revelation, (human) salvation is constantly presented as a free gift of God, flowing from His mercy, given in sovereign freedom and total gratuity. The entire complex of events and words through which the plan of salvation is revealed and actualized (Cf. Dei Verbum 2), takes the form of a continuous dialogue between God and (people). God takes the initiative, and (a person) is asked for an attitude of listening in faith, and a response in “obedience to faith” (Rm 1,5; 16,26).
The Covenant stipulated on Sinai between God and His chosen people (cf Ex 19-24) is a singularly important event in this salvific dialogue, and makes the latter a “possession” of the Lord, a “kingdom of priests and a holy people” (Ex 19, 6). Israel, although not always faithful to the Covenant, finds in it inspiration and the power to model its life of God Himself (cf Lk 11,44-45; 19,2), and the content of that life on His Word.
Israel’s worship and prayer are directed towards the commemoration of the mirabilia Dei, or God’s saving interventions in history, so as to conserve a lively veneration of the events in which God’s promises were realized, since these are the constant point of reference both for reflection on the faith and for the life of prayer.

This is what I read here: God has a plan for a people in need of salvation. Dialogue implies a relationship (good, troubled, or otherwise). And remember the first sinners remained in dialogue with God, even a murderer. Despite disloyalty on our part, God has high ideals for his people, according to Exodus 19. That hasn’t changed.

The question going forward is this: does popular piety reflect God’s regard, acknowledge human failure, and keep us mindful of our history?

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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I doubt the recent letter was the impetus for a visitation in the Kansas City-St Joseph diocese. It must have been in the works a bit longer than that. Still, it seems significant that an archbishop from another country was talking and listening to people in Missouri last week.

The timetable on this is fascinating. NCRep published online about noon today. Secular news corporations had it three hours later. Tonight, media outlets from Texas to Iowa are carrying the story. I saw it first on Pewsitter, and most readers there are likely not enthused about the development.

Former chancery chief of staff Jude Huntz is quoted as saying the diocese has lost 25% of its Catholics in the past eight years. That’s just horrific.

Wait and see what happens from there.

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DPPL 75: General Principles for the Renewal of Pious Exercises

STA altar at night smallWith today’s post, we finish up Chapter Two, which examined liturgy and popular piety as taught by the modern Magisterium. We’ll let the document summarize what has been written in the previous fifteen numbered sections:

75. The Apostolic See has not failed to indicate those theological, pastoral, historical, and literary principles by which a renewal of pious exercises is to be effected (Cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directorium de pastorali ministerio Episcoporum, cit., 91; Marialis cultus, 24-38). It has also signaled the manner in which they should reflect a biblical and liturgical spirit, as well as an ecumenical one. The criteria established by the Holy See emphasize how the essential nucleus of the various pious exercises is to be identified by means of an historical investigation, and also reflect something of contemporary spirituality. Pious exercises are also required to take due account of the implications of a healthy anthropology. They should respect the culture and expressive style of the peoples who use them without, however, losing those traditional elements that are rooted in popular customs.

The Magisterium asks questions of popular piety regarding its interface with and utilization of not just liturgy, but also Scripture, ecumenism, today’s spirituality, anthropology, and culture. The key is how the local pastor and perhaps the bishop choose to interpret piety along the lines of these principles.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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A Few Surprises

On the drive from the airport last Wednesday, my brother detoured us through our old neighborhood. A few things surprised me.

First, the trees are back. When we moved into our house in 1967, the street was shaded by several stately elm trees. The next summer they were all gone, all except one black sheep sugar maple near the school at the far end of the block. Brown leaves dropping in May, and boo on Dutch Elm Disease. Maples were planted to replace, and those were vandalized. Eventually their replacements grew to house-height. Chapin Street was nicely shaded, with leaves just beginning to change color.

The parish church where I was baptized is now houses a Pentecostal community for worship. Urban flight to the suburbs, and no evangelization to make up for people like me who moved away for a career. When I became a Catholic, the Sunday Mass schedule was 7:15, 8:30, 9:45, 11:00, and 12:15. Six Masses on a weekend to zero in two generations. Make of that what you will.

The church on the other side of the park from my sister’s house is one of three campuses as part of a new merged parish for the suburb that separates the city from Lake Ontario. My brother was picking me up for a sailing adventure yesterday, so I went to the 8am Mass, and wondered if it would be like the old 7:15 Mass at St Andrew’s–no music. I was surprised to find a competent ensemble of piano and five (!) guitars accompanying a small women’s chorus.

I’m not a fan of metrical hymnody during Communion, but they led this song, which is new to me, and people sang it fairly well. I was the only one who brought my book into the procession. I was also surprised they altered the meter on David Haas’ “We Are Called,” playing it in cut time rather than as a gospel waltz.

The young associate presiding at Mass had a pleasant singing voice for the dialogues and the preface. I’m not sure I like elevating one part of the Eucharistic Prayer to priest singing and leaving the others alone. That’s my main objection to the old Mass of Creation, by the way. The homily had a good lead-in, but the idea stumbled when the priest insisted on equating the Kingdom of God with heaven. Several times. He also talked about the main purpose of the Christian is to be saved, which, while important, is not quite the mission we are given in the Gospels. Our mission is to preach to the nations. The distant ends of the universe, if you will. Christ takes care of salvation.

I feel particularly sensitive and attuned to things this week. I see and hear a lot more of my parents as I watch my brother’s interaction with his children and my sister’s care for our mother. Some good, some not so good. I’ve found myself slipping into an old pattern or two: some good, some not so good.

I also see some growth. My brother, when younger, was much into cars and racing and going fast. Sailing seems to have taken an edge off him. He has the competitiveness still, of course. But a fun afternoon regatta in very light wind would not have held his interest a few decades ago. He took great pleasure in making the best of what seemed to be a calm day and navigating a course with a crew not entirely a well-oiled machine.

Blogging will continue to be light as the month draws to an end.

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DPPL 73-74: Liturgy and Pious Exercises

STA altar at night smallA restatement of the exact relationship between liturgy and other public forms of piety:

73. The Church’s teaching on the relationship of Liturgy and pious exercises may be summarized as follows: the Sacred Liturgy, in virtue of its very nature, is by far superior to pious exercises(Cf. SC 7), and hence pastoral praxis must always accord to the Sacred Liturgy “that preeminent position proper to it in relation to pious exercises”( CDWDS, Circular letter Orientamenti e proposte per la celebrazione dell’Anno mariano, 54); Liturgy and pious exercises must co-exist in accordance with the hierarchy of values and the nature specific to both of these cultic expressions(Cf. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus 31, 48).

As I’ve said before in this series, the challenge is when the institution cannot provide clergy for the sacraments. What then?

74. Careful attention to these principles should lead to a real effort to harmonize, in so far as possible, pious exercises with the rhythm and demands of the Liturgy, thereby avoiding any “mixture or admixture of these two forms of piety”(Italian Episcopal Conference, Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy, pastoral note Il rinnovamento liturgico in Italia (23.9.1983) 18, in Enchiridion CEI, 3, Edizioni Dehoniane, Bologna 1986, p. 886). This in turn ensures that no hybrid, or confused forms emerge from mixing Liturgy and pious exercises, not that the latter, contrary to the mind of the Church, are eliminated, often leaving an unfilled void to the great detriment of the faithful(Cf. Marialis cultus, 31; Puebla, 915).

I can imagine that after long periods without the sacraments, faith communities might have some difficulty here and there when a priest is finally assigned, and the worship and piety already developed have to adapt.

Check the full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, online at the Vatican site.

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The Armchair Liturgist: A Last Optional Word

At PrayTell, they are discussing an introduction to the Mass of the day.

I’m not a fan of the practice. But as an alternative, what do you make of an introduction back into the world for worshipers? After the Mass announcements and before the final blessing, the associate pastor at my parish will offer a few sentences. Most often, he mentions something to do or to watch or to pray in the coming week.

I have to admit such a thing might not work as well after the homily. But if we were more organized in our parish message, it could be published.

What do you think? Turn off the priest’s mic until the final blessing? Or let him say a last optional word before people scoot for the parking lot?

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DPPL 72: Pious Exercises a Part of Worship

STA altar at night smallWhen pious exercises and liturgy combine:

72. Pious exercises are part of Christian worship. The Church has always been attentive to ensure that God is glorified worthily through them, and that (the believer) derives spiritual benefit from them and is encouraged to the live the Christian life.

Some, but not all clergy do support, or at least, they do not forbid them:

The actions of Pastors in relation to pious exercises have been many. They have recommended and encouraged them, or guided and corrected them or simply tolerated them. Among the myriad of pious exercises, some must be mentioned, especially those erected by the Apostolic See, or which have been recommended by the same Apostolic See throughout the ages(Cf. SC 13). Mention must also be made of the pious exercises of the particular Churches “that are undertaken by order of the bishops according to customs or books lawfully approved”(SC 13); of the pious exercises that are practised in accordance with the particular law or tradition of certain religious families, or confraternities, or other pious associations of the faithful, since such have often received the explicit approbation of the Church; and of the pious exercises practised personally or in the home.
Some pious exercises which grew up among the community of the faithful and have received the approbation of the Magisterium(Cf. canon law 23), also enjoy the concession of indulgences(Cf., EI, Aliae concessiones 54).

What would be some examples of these? Signing oneself after receiving the Eucharist? Genuflecting upon entering a pew? May crownings, or a gesture to Mary during a wedding? Which ones do you see that work, and that perhaps don’t?

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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