Upcoming Liturgy Documents

Just some curious questions for the commentariat: What documents should we be sure to cover?

I have posts on the third instruction on implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium, Liturgicae Instaurationes, all queued up and ready for you. That document takes us to 1970. We could do the GIRM; the first one came out in 1969 and is referenced in Liturgicae Instaurationes. Or we could wait for the latest GIRM to come up in the time line. Or I could do both and point out the differences in the two.

Should we stick with Roman documents or would a sojourn in the USCCB Big Three, MCW, EACW, and LMT be worthwhile?

Other important mid-major Roman documents include Eucharisticum Mysterium, the instruction on the worship of the Eucharistic mystery. That followed Tres Abhinc Annos by just three weeks in 1967. I probably should include that, eh? There are also various documents outlining evolving practices in Communion under both forms, concelebration, on distributing Communion, etc.. Then we have various notes on various liturgical topics as abuses or concerns popped up. Some of these documents have already been superceded by other writings. Reading them gives a historical perspective, and I’m not sure if the readers necessarily want that. So tell me.

I do think I will devote some time to the latest Introductions to the various Rites including the GIRM. I find an occasional review of RCIA, the funeral rites, baptisms, marriages, etc. very instructive. I think every pastor and liturgist should devote time to reviewing them. (I hope they’ve all read them, at least once.)

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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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11 Responses to Upcoming Liturgy Documents

  1. Liam says:

    I would focus on the Roman documents, not the US committee documents that are likely more familiar to more people and will get derailed anyway over issues of authority and actual practice.

    I don’t know how much is available directly or indirectly online about how individual diocese implemented the Conciliar reforms by episcopal legislation. I have seen in my parish’s music library, for example, communications embedded in ritual books from a diocesan chancery (don’t recall if it was our own or another) directing priests in the implementation et cet. *Those* communications were where the rubber hit the road. For example, Cdl Krol (in)famously had the Philly archdiocese wait until the very last licit minute, as it were, to implement things that could be postponed until then. And of course there were opposite stories, I would imagine. But that’s the critical link in the chain that is often elided in these discussions.

    Limited as anecdotal experience is, my own experience as I remember it in 1969-71 was that our old pastor dutifully did what he was told and did not much lot of commotion about it. (I mostly remember having to relearn most of the prayers between First Communion and Confirmation.) There was one younger priest in the flock of parochial clerics who seemed more enthusiastic about things and helped, but by and large I had no sense that anyone (ministerial or in the pews) had an impression of a Palace Revolution oft-spoke of in traditionalist liturgy circles. (It seems that those impressions may have been more apt in monasteries, priories, convents, seminaries and cathedral chapters, where matters liturgical have historically been more politicized than in regular parishes.) I never heard anyone in the pews ore in CCD decry the reforms as such – whatever complaints I heard were more about the generally bland sort of liturgy we tended to have (pre-and-post-conciliar) in these generic suburban parishes compared to the rich (pre-conciliar) liturgical life of certain urban parishes people grew up in or near. The Council did not seem to be the factor, sad to say, but the depopulation of the Catholic ghettoes; it would have been nicer if the post-conciliar reforms would have kindled a remedy for that but I don’t think they did in practice.

    As I’ve noted before, I have a vivid memory of the first guitar Mass in my parish in this period. It was led from below – it was not initiated by the clerics, but by lay volunteers who made inquiries and were given permission to offer what they could. Given that the organ music in our auditorium-church was of the most abysmal sort (Hammond electric organ with the organist tending to rely on chord keys, or so my aural memory seems to remember), the earnest liveliness of the folk group stood in vivid contrast, though its novelty wore off within a couple of years so that it was gone in a few more years. And that parish never got quality organ music – even now, when I visit in the church that was built in the 1980s, the electric organ is better sounding if not great (and chord keys are no longer used) but there is yet a wan lack of energy and purpose to the music in that parish.

  2. David says:

    Todd,

    “What documents should we be sure to cover?”

    Whatever you’ve got I’m eager and hungry for.

    from Liam’s response:

    “…and will get derailed anyway over issues of authority and actual practice.”

    This is something I’d really like to know more about. Are Roman documents the only ones that count? Is that one of those things that some people think so and other don’t, that it’s all just a matter of opinion?
    I thought it was clearly stated in Misicam Sacram that from there the Bishop’s conferences and Bishops of individual diocese’ would take the general idea and apply it as it would fit into their own region according to local culture and customs etc.

  3. Todd says:

    Roman documents cover matters of universal liturgical practice, but they are also formulated with the spirit of Roman law: there’s an ideal, and then there’s the leeway on certain levels to acceded to the greater good in particular situations.

    MCW, LMT, and other USCCB documents do have a degree of authority in that they were endorsed by the bishops as a body. Yet they also exhibit that quality of pastoral flexibility.

    And of course, there are so many liturgical documents that some people just look for what they want. And sometimes they find it. Such a practice, however, is not particularly Roman or Catholic.

  4. Gavin says:

    I’d be interested in documents that give a historical account of the changes in the Mass (as the current one does). It’s not of a lot of use to us perhaps, but it is interesting.

  5. Talmida says:

    I’m kind of interested in funeral rites — i hear bloggers mention black or violet vestments but I’ve never seen any but white. And I always see photos of national flags on coffins, but catholic funerals in Canada require a white pall instead.

    I’d be curious to see what rites are local and which come from the Head Office.

  6. Liam says:

    “MCW, LMT, and other USCCB documents do have a degree of authority in that they were endorsed by the bishops as a body.”

    The USCCB did not promulgate MCW, LMT or EACW. They were statements of the Committee on Liturgy. Some bishops may have formally adopted them as local diocesan law, though that would need to be documented and even then would not be binding to the extent that provisions were preempted or contradicted by higher authority, et cet. I think many diocesan offices of worship tended to treat them as if they were binding, which is a different matter.

    This is why I don’t think it’s going to be worth much to discuss this, because much depends on what local bishops actually legislated and how much of that legislation was not preempted/contradicted by higher authority.

    It’s not very necessary unless someone feels a need to ground a position in those documents as binding that they cannot find anywhere else. Progressives normally would not care to be doing that in the first place…

  7. David says:

    “The USCCB did not promulgate MCW, LMT or EACW. They were statements of the Committee on Liturgy.”

    So these documents really have no real authority at all? Can one bishop agree with them and another not?

    “Some bishops may have formally adopted them as local diocesan law, though that would need to be documented and even then would not be binding to the extent that provisions were preempted or contradicted by higher authority, et…”

    What would a formal adoption look like? How would I find out what our local diocese position on these is, just call up the diocesan office? Do you think there are things in these documents that contradict the Roman ones?

  8. “The USCCB did not promulgate MCW, LMT or EACW. They were statements of the Committee on Liturgy.”

    This is not exactly true. The music and art statements were endorsed by the USCCB in 1983. They were products of a committee, true, but so were many of the Roman liturgy documents.

    “So these documents really have no real authority at all? Can one bishop agree with them and another not?”

    The reform2 crew often overlooks that these documents quote universal liturgy legislation and documents quite liberally. What is quoted naturally has great authority.

    “What would a formal adoption look like?”

    If a local bishop bothers to legislate liturgical law or liturgical procedures for a diocese. In some places, you might call up the diocesan liturgy office and ask if such a thing has ever been codified in one place.

    “Do you think there are things in these documents that contradict the Roman ones?”

    Not really. It’s important to keep in mind this iten that the reform2 crew often overlooks: these documents were intended not as US legislation, but to serve bishops, pastors, and parish musicians as guidelines for doing parish liturgy well. The pastoral approach to liturgy in the 70′s–for better or worse–was far different than the liturgy wars of today would suggest. There was still a great deal of optimism that good intent was going to carry liturgical reform higher and farther.

    I’m not sure a professional liturgy office would treat them as binding in the sense that authority-focused Catholics would. In their day, these documents contained the best available principles for celebrating good liturgy. A diocese or parish wouldn’t go wrong adopting them.

  9. Liam says:

    “The music and art statements were endorsed by the USCCB in 1983.”

    I’ve never been able to find a source for that endorsement. What are yours?

    EACW was superceded by Built of Living Stones, which was furthermore adopted by the USCCB and is listed at the BCL website as a USCCB document. MCW, by contrast, is still listed at the BCL website as a Committee document; LMT is not even included anymore.

    Now, I agree in the main with your characterization of the intended *purpose* of these documents, which is why I had discouraged a discussion of their authority. But I am hardly alone in having witnessed progressives wield them as bearing legislative authority (not just 20 years ago, but even still, if less frequently) to quell those questioning their decisions. It’s my belief that this practice is what has been one of the engines for the game of authority that has, inevitably, become self-defeating. I think progressives need to own our part in this cycle, not as mere reactors but as at least co-creators of the problem.

  10. Todd says:

    “I’ve never been able to find a source for that endorsement. What are yours?”

    The Capuchin Ed Foley quotes the 1983 USCCB document, The Church at Prayer #44, in which the bishops refer to the three documents in question, and give this conclusion:

    “The norms and guidelines of these documents should be followed by pastors, and all those engaged in the liturgical arts.”

    “I think progressives need to own our part in this cycle, not as mere reactors but as at least co-creators of the problem.”

    Since I’ve never used documents with the intent of suppressing parishioners, I’m not going to join the class action defendants on this one. I was trained as a liturgist in the 80′s, when there was an awareness of high ideals for which to strive in parish liturgy. Yet we always knew, even in diocesan circles, that pastoral concerns outside of anyone’s control often intervened to scuttle the best theoretical solution.

    This discussion has convinced me that MCW, LMT, and EACW probably deserve a strong look. My sense is that the discussion in reform2 circles these past several years has been to minimize them as sort of a tit-for-tat with the perceived slight given Musicam Sacram. It might be very instructive to look at BLS and EACW side by side and see how much the documents have in common. And certainly, it might be interesting to see how much Roman documents are quoted in these works.

  11. Liam says:

    Todd, thanks for the source. That pastoral statement was issued on 12/4/63 to mark the 20th anniversary of SC, btw. It is an endorsement, not legislation, so it while it lacks full legislative authority it also elevates the salience of those documents.

    Of course, as I originally mentioned, I tend to be much more interesting in diocesan legislation that never gets covered.

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