Liturgy always brings out a vigorous discussion. I do think it’s important to sort out sensible arguments from the flimsy ones.
In response to Tony, I think that the post-conciliar Church is likely not to be particularly more feeble in the poorest of its decisions than the pre-conciliar folks were. Clown Masses versus Polka Masses? In their element, clowns and polka music are just fine. At root are we talking an error in pastoral adaptation by a DRE, a youth ministers, a cultural element in the parish, or a priest? I don’t think you’d find a liturgist of any generation who would feel at ease with either example.
And the wish for authority to step in and fix things? Well over a billion Catholics in the world: that’s a lot for a pope or his chancery over which to keep watch. No progressive would argue against the notion that Vatican II implementation could have been done better. And I think the authority card is an important one in Liam’s suggestion that an occasional concert Mass is an appropriate adaptation. You wouldn’t get an argument from me. But on the other hand, the Roman temperament these days is one of crackdown. Personally, I don’t find the facilitation of distributing Communion by having lay people near the altar to be a problem either. But we all know how that one’s being treated these days, don’t we? That’s why the “pastoral adaptation” line is thought to be somewhat frayed. And who’s to say that your average suburban American parish hasn’t come up with something fitting?
Fr Philip indeed brings some interesting insights to the discussion. Not having been in seminary, I find “Father’s Little Helpers” to be mostly men, but not exclusively. I do think that liturgy is something in between the stasis of 1570-1962 and massive upheaval of the immediate post-conciliar years. Change happens in more substantial ways in parishes with the reassigning of pastors. Clergy rarely see it from that end, but trust me: it’s often on the scale of an ecumenical council for the impact it makes in the neighborhood.
I do think the PLR is again a bogeyman best left in the conservative dark closet. It’s better to just present one’s own views on liturgy, rather than trot out Horror Stories Which Back Up Our Personal Experience or our imagined arguments of our adversaries. The truth is that we all have sad, hilarious, and shocking stories with which to amuse ourselves. And the thinkers among us take a lot of time working up argumentations in our heads to adversaries real and imagined. I think I present enough of both my opinions and experiences on my blog that guests need bother with neither. Though a good story is well worth a listen, usually if we can leave the ideology out of it.
Patti is on to something significant. The pre-Vatican II Church taught Catholics a lot of bad lessons on leadership, authority, and just plain getting along with other people. Unlearning those lessons should have been a higher priority in the 60′s. And it still needs to be at the top today.