Chuckles In My “Rage”


Rock takes a poke at the latest internet liturgy rumor. After I waste my time with posting at Amy’s about it, then I learn it came from Catholic World News. (Heck, if you want Amy’s link, click the sidebar; if you want CWN, go google or something.)

Two things, then I’m out of here for the night:

1. CWN doesn’t have the greatest track record on getting leaks or breaking stories right. I think we’d all be interested how Phil Lawler’s crew got their hands on this piece of mail; it’s not as though they scan correspondence going in and out of the Vatican. W maybe, but …

2. Some bishops know they’ll have a holy furor on their hands if they try to bully through substantial changes in the people’s Mass parts. Because progressives have taken over the churches? Hardly. Most Catholics have settled into a confortable auto-pilot at liturgy, especially the clergy. While bishops can afford to have an mc pointing to the right line on the right page for them at confirmation and chrism Mass and the like, your average parish Father Joe does not. He counts on being able to sail through parts of the Mass (like doing the Confiteor and the Gloria when he needs to get his bearings … and remember if the Sacramentary is still marked for last Sunday) so he can get to the parts that really worry him: the homily.

Amy’s commentariat is concerned I’m going off angry or I’m plotting a rebellion against the GLB’s and GLG’s and GLP’s who will faithfully (and gleefully) implement the new Ordo Missae. Why would I do that? It’s one thing to discuss the relatively stratospheric topics of translation versus transliteration for presidential prayers. Most Catholics couldn’t care less about the specific words the priest says. We know the Eucharistic Prayer is long. We know our kids’ attention spans are short. We know that the bishops and some clergy have drastically mismanaged the moral and material resources of the Church. If at first you fail at managing sex predators, then try something easy like changing everybody’s words at Mass.

The bishops had a lot of credibility in the late 60′s. They had guts to do serious work at a serious council. People were optimistic about the Church. For the most part, we were willing to buy into the program, at least initially, because we trusted our leaders.

Today, that trust has been squandered. Poor liturgy implementation contributed to that. But the new liturgy wasn’t bungled everywhere. People became a bit polarized over their bishops in the 80′s. But we had a lot of good discussions on peace and economics.

Today, bishops, even the innocent ones, are showing signs they don’t get it. Lots of lay people who are quite a-ideological (unlike the blogosphere) are still ticked off. They’re not going to pick up a missalette for responses they’ve had memorized for thirty years just because a priest says so. And priests who’ve been saying Mass for decades aren’t going to suddenly consult the Missal for every new phrase Bruce Harbert throws at them.

When it all comes out in the wash, I suspect Pope Benedict knows on what side the stole is more than an ex-papabile fresh off his ’04-’05 PR tour.

Honestly, folks. You’ve always known I think Liturgiam Authenticam has problems. If some of y’all see fit to criticize the English version of Roman Missal I (Vatican-approved just like the document in question) I don’t see how you can debunk any reasonable criticism of LA, just ’cause you disagree with me.

The bottom line is that we need better texts in the liturgy. Neither of the last two ideological incarnations of ICEL have been able to get it done in the past twenty-five years. Harbertism is proving nearly as unpopular as the efforts of his predecessors. Maybe it’s time for real artists with the English language to replace a few Latin I students on ICEL.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Church News, Commentary, Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

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