Overplayed?

Everybody seems so surprised that Missouri’s Amendment 2 had such a tough time squeaking through. One of the amendments backers praised the grass roots efforts of the opponents. That seemed gracious. My fellow KC bloggers are bitterly disappointed. And substantially less gracious.

I know my parishioners were growing weary of liturgical time taken up by stem cells. As a liturgist, I have to wonder if it damaged liturgy. I’m pretty sure we did. As an opponent of amendment 2, I have to wonder if opening up the pulpits to cloning for the past five or six weeks was such a good idea. I think Catholics got the message. Then they got hammered with it.

In the summer I was asked to add weekly intentions for the defeat of amendment 2. I demurred for two reasons: first that the general intercessions are not intended to be sermons, and two, I opposed the amendment and wanted it to fail.

I suspect that many folks see the Sunday Mass as a captive audience. We liturgists (and pastors, too, no doubt) get frequent requests for all sorts of good and/or goofy things from people who think we have all this air time–60 minutes–and can they have a slice, too, please? I’ve heard from some parishioners who think we have to be ready for the next election cycle with a parish policy on this. I’m not discouraging them from putting it into place.

I don’t think “Clones at Church” gained any significant support the past two or three weeks. Given that it’s unlikely the issue treaded water, I’m inclined to think repeated presentations at liturgy may well have been harmful to the cause. Ultimately, it reveals a lack of trust. No trust in the formative power of liturgy over didactics. No trust in the Catholic voters to make an informed choice. No trust in the notion of doing less so God can do more.

Once I think this over a bit and hear from some parishioners on this–starting tonight–I hope to blog more on the topic.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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9 Responses to Overplayed?

  1. Tony says:

    I’ve heard from some parishioners who think we have to be ready for the next election cycle with a parish policy on this. I’m not discouraging them from putting it into place.

    The priest should be teaching from the pulpit every week. If this were the case, people would know the Church’s stand on the issues. If you have to go into some sort of “media blitz” a couple of weeks before the election, something is not being done right.

    Instead of worrying about the next election cycle, simply weave Catholic teaching into the homily.

  2. Teaching is not the purpose of the liturgy. Isn’t that why we have schools, including seminaries?

  3. Anne says:

    The liturgy should be forming Christians to be witnesses to Christian love and justice. Don’t you remember SC #10 about the liturgy being the “source and summit”? I’m pretty sure that from that belief we shouldn’t be turning our liturgy into a catechetical session and pushing agendas no matter how important an issue might be. Our liturgy presupposes that we have the faith and understanding of what it means to be Catholic Christians. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t catechise on the issues, just not within the liturgy.

  4. Tony says:

    So Todd, what exactly is the Homily portion of the Liturgy for?

  5. Eric says:

    I agree that liturgy is not the time to push SPECIFIC agendas. I compose the weekly intercessions for my parish. In diaconate formation we were taught not to propose specific solutions to God in our intercessions, but rather to express our need and pray that God, who knows better than us, may provide the solution. (By the way, an excellent reason also not to pray at Sunday liturgy for a particular individual to be healed of a particular physical ailment) For example, we have plenty of intercessions throughout the year praying for peace and a general end to all war, but we have never prayed for a specific solution, e.g., “end the war in Iraq,” “pull out from Iraq now,” or “give us victory in Iraq,” etc. These would be human ideas of what is best, which may or may not be what is needed.

    In the same way, we have parish programs addressing homelessness. We have a ministry that feeds the homeless each week, we support a food pantry for the homeless, we have periodic collections of clothing, etc. We often refer to our duty toward the homeless throughout the year in homilies. But did we say anything about a ballot proposition here in Los Angeles to underwrite homeless shelters? No, we did not have an intercession that prayed for the passage of Municipal Proposition H. Why? We have already been dealing with this issue year in and year out. We’ve done our job well in this regard. Now it was time for the people to decide if this particular human solution is the one that will work best for our city.

    Especially when it comes to calling for passage of propositions and such outside the intercessions, in homilies and announcements, that time too often turns into a set of intellectual arguments in favor of or against something. Liturgy is not head time, it’s heart time.

  6. Anne says:

    “Liturgy is not head time, it’s heart time.”
    Absolutely, because liturgy is worship time.

  7. “So Todd, what exactly is the Homily portion of the Liturgy for?”

    Good question. Sounds like a topic for the armchair liturgist. GIRM 65 says:

    The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.

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