DPPL 6: Terminology

STA altar at night smallDirectory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL) gives a brief history:

6. The history of the Western Church is marked by the flowering among the Christian people of multiple and varied expressions of simple and fervent faith in God, of love for Christ the Redeemer, of invocations of the Holy Spirit, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the veneration of the Saints of commitment to conversion and of fraternal charity. These expressions have grown up alongside the Liturgy. Treatment of this vast and complex material which is sometimes referred to as “popular religiosity” or “popular piety”* lacks a uniform terminology. Hence it will be necessary to adopt a certain precision of language. Without pretending to resolve all difficulties in this area, it will be useful to outline the commonly understood meaning of certain terms employed in this document.

* Treating of the same material, the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 48, for example, having recalled its richness, states: “because of this we gladly call it popular piety, that is, religion of the people, rather than religiosity of the people”; the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae, 54, uses the expression “popular piety”; the Code of Canon Law, can. 1234.1, adopts the term “popular piety”; John Paul II uses the term “popular piety” in the Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus; The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1674-1676, uses the expression “popular religiosity” but is also aware of the term “popular piety” (1679); the fourth Instruction for the correct implementation of the conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (37-40) Varietates legitimae, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (January 1994) employs the expression “popular piety” in article 45.

This extended footnote gives some of the post-conciliar background of the terminology the curia would like to use. Note the wide range of source material: not only liturgy, but catechesis and evangelization. One would be correct to say this has far-reaching impact on many areas of Catholic life. When it comes to specifics, we’ll get into more detail as we progress through the document.

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Wedding Extras

wedding ring placementThe wedding I served as a musician this past weekend had no unity candle, but a ceremony for washing feet. One of our recent graduates married in another state the same day. A few of my staff colleagues attended. They reported no unity candle either, but the couple signed the wedding license on the altar after exchanging rings and vows.

I’ve seen a lot of “symbols” added to the wedding liturgy over the years. Here’s how I would rate the additions …

10 - Washing feet. Maybe it gets an extra point or two for tweaking those who insist that Holy Thursday foot fuzz is about men only. Another extra point for those who read and preach John 13:1-15 at the wedding liturgy.

9 – Wedding rings. One can be married without rings, but as a person who dislikes jewelry of any kind, I have to confess a degree of trauma when my wedding band slipped off my finger when I was hauling a fallen tree across the backyard a few years ago. I have a replacement, but it’s not quite the same. Even after it was blessed by the pastor. My problem with wedding rings is largely with the pressure commercial jewelers place on couples, especially men, to shovel a sixth of an annual income to get that diamond.

8 - El lazo. Maybe I’ve been to too few Hispanic weddings. I saw a lazo once that was too small, and it was awkward for the couple to be inside it as they exchanged vows.

7 - Las arras. The groom gives the bride thirteen coins. Some sources suggest Jesus and his apostles. My wife would have preferred milk chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil. When we got married, I only owned two gold coins. But I divested of gold and silver in my coin collection a long time ago. But I digress: exchanging money on a wedding day just seems wrong.

orthodox wedding crowns6 – Crowns. The Orthodox have crowns. I mean Eastern Christians, not Catholics-more-than-the-pope. Crowns seem cool to me.

- Special song. This can be really good, but more often it goes horribly wrong. I remember one bride who insisted on a song, the whole song, for the unity candle. I told them it takes ten seconds to light a candle, and the music would last four minutes. So we had almost four minutes of awkward making-googly-eyes.

- Flowers to the Blessed Mother or Holy Family. It’s not that I object to devotion to Mary. And if the couple has a true devotion, this rates much higher than a four. But it’s the kind of gesture that seems better outside of Mass.

3 - Wedding license. Signing a civil document on the altar? Really? I guess it could be worse. One couple forgot their wedding license last year. They thought the church provided it. Mad scramble to find a judge to ensure the liturgy was celebrated on time.

2 - The Two Music Traditions, Wagner and Mendelssohn. You know what I mean. If you don’t, you don’t want to know.

- Unity Candle. The only reason it has a point at all is because of …

0 – Unity Sand. I’d love to know who thought up this one. Perhaps they could be buried in sand, but not at a destination wedding location.

Maybe we should be grateful some of the truly tasteless reception traditions are not done in church. Garters, bouquets, the Chicken Dance.

Any liturgical extras you’ve seen  I’ve missed? Mainly things you’ve liked.

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Examen for a Wedding Day

wed couple and carI played a wedding Saturday. I was at church early to get my usual Saturday duties out of the way. Looking for a few moments to practice a few classical pieces on my palette, the nave was largely bustling with a very large retinue of attendants (twenty-one) and family (more, believe me) getting their memories recorded to digital imagery.

The groom looked happy–he was in between fetching various people for the photo-flash. I stopped to wish him well. I mentioned my wedding day was one of the happiest of my life. Then he startled me with a question. He asked for advice.

Take a moment or two during the day to step back and drink it in. You’ll have jogs to your memory in the images and video captured of the day. But I think the time is ideal for pulling out of the scene for a minute or two and just look around. A few times. Or even just once. Watching one’s beloved walking your way. Watching a tender moment with a parent or young sibling or cousin. The other hand signing the marriage license.

I was thinking about that a bit more about that yesterday. That couple was now married one day, I thought. I had eighteen-and-a-half years. Do I follow my own advice in the experience of marriage? Did I that day? Do I have a memory album with images not captured in the green embossed book my wife keeps in the spare room?

I was thinking about the practice of the Examen today. (Check a good summary here.) How would this translate:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.

Marriage PrayerI’m a big fan of praying before going to bed at night. How many couples practice this on their wedding night? Likely fewer would take time out to share an examen of the wedding day.

But after the liturgy, feasting, and merriment has concluded, a couple might find themselves alone for the first time all day. Would it benefit to take ten minutes to hold hands, take a deep breath, and become aware of God’s presence and regard for a beloved son and daughter?

Think back to the day: waking up and the thoughts that accompanied that, getting ready, getting to church, more preparing, those endless photographs, the liturgy, traveling together in a large vehicle probably driven by someone else, a meal, cake, clinging dinnerware on glasses, dancing, and celebration.

A couple could share their emotions as the day progressed. Maybe one feature of the day was particularly striking. How does one pray “from” that moment? It’s mainly about a conversation with God. Why, Lord, are you showing me or us this experience? What does this experience tell me or us about our wedding day, our marriage, our future?

What am I most looking forward to doing with you tomorrow? That question could be directed at one’s spouse as well as the Almighty.

I didn’t practice the Examen on my wedding day. But often in my experience of praying the Examen as a long-married person, my wife and the experience of our marriage figures frequently in my daily reflection. And whether you couples out there practice the Ignatian Examen or not, I hope you can take just that minute or two to withdraw and reflect on the experience of love and shared life.

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Adventures in Second Marriages

broken bandsdotCommonweal looks at some Cardinal Kasper detractors. Some of their own readers take them to task for giving a platform to one of the more conservative enclaves. Indeed, my friend Crystal offers the obvious question in the commentariat:

Interesting how vowed religious have such strong opinions about a relationship they have no experience of.

Another dearth of experience is in the situation that happens more frequently than divorced spouses reconciling.

Say you have an inquirer, Mary, who is interested in the Catholic Church. As she gets involved in the parish and does the intake process, the interviewer sighs in relief to learn she has only been married once. But then it gets tangled. Her husband, a non-Catholic, has been married previously. I’ve known situations of people being evangelized who were married for years, if not decades. But the institutional focus is on a first marriage that lasted months, if not weeks. Contact is lost, and the possibility of an annulment is mostly a pipe dream. Probably crack.

You readers do know what happens if the pastor is one of those JP2/B16 straight arrows, right? The husband must get an annulment. Doesn’t matter if he’s not Catholic, or has no intention od becoming one. The whole procedure is hung up on convincing people totally outside the Church to undergo a “healing” for-pay process of which they likely have little to no understanding.

Adding an unnecessary burden?

test tubeCrystal’s point is aptly considered. I think we have far too many busybodies in the Church these days–people who offer opinions to those outside their circles. Even theologically astute folk who might find themselves out of their depth. I think care is needed in these situations. I think cross fertilization in most instances is good: lay people discerning seminarians, priests counseling engaged couples, lay associates of religious orders, women and men religious serving parishes, lay people in Roman dicasteries. But such persons are responsible for seeing the whole picture, not just offering a serum concocted in their own test tubes.

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EG 263: Evangelization Today Not Harder But Different

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis is not too concerned with the modern environment for sharing and urging people to the faith. Saints of history, especially during the Roman Empire, might actually have had a tougher go of it:

263. We do well to keep in mind the early Christians and our many brothers and sisters throughout history who were filled with joy, unflagging courage and zeal in proclaiming the Gospel. Some people nowadays console themselves by saying that things are not as easy as they used to be, yet we know that the Roman empire was not conducive to the Gospel message, the struggle for justice, or the defence of human dignity. Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all. These things are ever present under one guise or another; they are due to our human limits rather than particular situations.

Rather than blame the world, let’s be challenged by our own weakness. Then turn to God to work with us in spite of our failings. That rings more true than playing the victim card.

Let us not say, then, that things are harder today; they are simply different. But let us learn also from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day. So I propose that we pause to rediscover some of the reasons which can help us to imitate them today.[Cf. V.M. Fernandez, “Espiritualidad para la esperanza activa. Discurso en la apertura del I Congreso Nacional de Doctrina Social de la Iglesia (Rosario 2011)”, in UCActualidad, 142 (2011), 16.]

And if we find ourselves at a loss, Pope Francis’ advice also strikes me as deeply useful: look to the witness of the saints.

Evangelii Gaudium is available online. Worth reading as a whole.

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Colossians 3:1-10, 12-17

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe Wedding Lectionary offers verses 12-17 as a possibility. You can check a wedding-friendly essay here.

Scripture scholars have remarked on the similarity between this section of Colossians and Ephesians 5 on which we posted last month. The main difference would be the addition of the urging of virtues in Colossians 3:12-17, because the theme of verses 1-10 is familiar.

For this post, I’d like to focus on the first ten verses:

Brothers and sisters,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

You might remember the theme of Ephesians 5 if you read this series closely. Believers are urged to a higher standard than their life had before. But since most Catholic baptisms are administered to infants, perhaps this passage is best saved for those transitional moments: the transition to the sacraments of Confirmation, Ordination, and Matrimony.

This passage, for example, might be a good one to share with a couple celebrating reconciliation before their marriage. It might work especially well if they’ve chosen Colossians 3:12-17 for the wedding liturgy.

Confessions are often heard on retreat. The encouragement to recognize the opportunity for a change in life is very present in many retreat situations and this reading might be fitting. Let’s keep reading:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.

A shorter selection from one of the sample liturgies has Col 3:5, 8-10, 12-17. My sense would be that just verses 12 through 17 make for a nice reading for the Rite of Penance by themselves.

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The Gardens of Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy - 26 Jul 2010Catholic watchers know of the summer vacation spot for popes. Astronomy buff may know of it as the location for the Vatican Observatory, run by Jesuits–even before Pope Francis. BBC has a nice video feature on Pope Francis opening up the gardens there to the public. Why wouldn’t I be surprised?

Osvaldo Gianoli, director of the residence there, has a brief interview in the segment. The gardens were acquired in 1596, developed as a papal retreat in the 17th century, and renovated under the orders of Pope Pius XI in the 1930’s.

The head gardener is pretty dry and funny, too. A tour costs 26 euros.

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