After The Vote: The Next Steps


At least somewhere in Catholicism, there are folks who will jump up and down with glee after Thursday’s USCCB vote on the new Mass translation. With the very vocal British and Australians conceding to the new ICEL, I don’t hold much hope for anything but the Americans following suit. Even a thumbs down to ICEL would eventually see pretty much the same translation imposed later. This way, I would suspect the bishops will hold out for some American adaptations to get approved by Rome.

Some of the same Catholics will see this as a triumph of good liturgy over bad, but I think they would be gravely mistaken. Even if I were to concede that the ICEL translation will be a good one–and as my readers know, I have serious doubts–this is a job that should’ve been completed at least twenty years ago. Thanks to liturgical infighting, we’ve been spending most of the bureaucratic energy in waging turf wars. And make no mistake–that’s what the last forty years have been.

So when I wrote:

I just hope the bishops realize there are a lot more steps to be put into place once the cookbook recipes are complete.

Fr Totton from my diocese asked:

I am just curious, but what did you have in mind? (this is not a challenge, but an honest question).

And I’m always willing to tackle an honest question. First, I’d cite Sacrosanctum Concilium 11:

But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

The context of this paragraph is occasionally abused, but I think it’s a smooth fit for our Roman Missal III situation, especially in the US. Bishops and pastors will be responsible for the next stage of liturgical renewal. (And they thought their job was done!) It will be their task to put a happy face (as opposed to a frowny or gleeful one) on implementing Roman Missal III. Their job will be to urge and teach lay Catholics coming to Mass to have a two-fold expectation: the worship of God, and the openness to God’s grace for a holy life.

Catholics may now leave at the door: resentments toward staff or neighbor, political expectations, and other distractions. Minds attuning to voices implies that if they’re feeling prayerful on the inside, that the Roman liturgy includes an expectation that they express that worship externally as well. Actual participation includes activity, as it were, as a baseline expectation.

Pastors are charged with the responsibility to ensure that parish worship transcends liceity. That means good, if not great homilies. That means great, if not excellent music. That means investing in the time and talent of people who can make that happen, be they parish professionals, speech teachers, Scripture scholars, artists, decorators, composers, voice teachers, and the like.

In short, the clergy will now be responsible for moving (or keeping us moving) toward better liturgy. For those who disagree with Harbertism, that will be a significant task, first in compliance and then in rallying the doubters. And for those who cheer the new old English, the realization that the real work lies ahead.

A bit later, if I get the chance today, I’ll talk about what I think Bishop Finn needs to do next in Kansas City.

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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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