Liturgy in the Time of Cholera

Those of you who follow this blog closely may have noted the dropoff in the quantity of posts over the past several months. August 2010 had my lowest monthly total in four or five years. I don’t think my feelings for writing have dropped off the map. On the contrary, I still like to write. But music has been taking more center stage in my mind. The intellectual isolation I felt in rural Iowa (2000-02) and later in Kansas City has pretty much vanished. I don’t need to go online for stimulating Catholic discussion. I have parishioners, residents and students alike. I value my internet-cultivated friendships, to be sure. I’m just not sure that I’d go looking for them if I weren’t blogging by now.

Except for my post-conciliar liturgy series, this site might be lurching toward the fallow. I confess I don’t have the time for most other sites these days. I was down to commenting only on three or four blogs, and now I’ve cut back to just one. I have no time for the silliness of propers and slavish translations. I’ve been banned on a few more sites this past year, and wearing adolescent rejection got old pretty quick three-and-a-half decades ago. No need to revisit. The Roman Catholic Church, thanks in large part to those devoted to the ministry of unity, is heading toward a splintering. We might all be remaining in Communion more or less–depending on what Archbishop Burke has to say–but I think significant damage has been done already. And an old man in the Chair of Peter is either blind to it, or handcuffed by his curia.

As it is, I no longer see the point in large-scale engagement on the ecclesial front. Parochialism seems to be more safe and productive these days. I’ll get involved in my diocese, my deanery, and go full tilt in my parish. If there was a membership roll in St Blog’s, I’d be turning it in.

Part of my own frustration is in seeing Roman Catholic liturgy hijacked by fearmongers and dillettantes. Some of that trickles down to our internet-experienced students. I encourage them to engage liturgy not as an abstract internet exercise, but as a real spiritual discipline–something they celebrate and do rather than something they talk about in the abstract. Recently, a student leader raised the issue of too-many Communion ministers at Sunday Mass. One of my colleagues gave him a brush-off, so I sought him out to uncover his thoughts on the matter.

Over the summer, we actually revised our procedures for the Communion procession, reversing the former flow from the side aisles and return down the center. We also went from 5 ministers of the body and 6 on the cup to four and eight respectively. So I explored with my young friend how many people are needed to make Mass as long as expected. One priest and two cup ministers could effectively distribute Communion at our 700-person 10:30 Mass. One communicant every three seconds gives us a pretty reverent thirty-five minutes. Cool, I thought. A half-dozen Communion songs, easy. We could probably cover the entire Psalter in a semester.

Eventually, we got to the core issue, as he identified it. Are our Communion ministers as reverent (and transparent!) as possible? That’s something we can work on, we agreed.

Assessing why we do what we do: I like that. I find myself less dismissive of seemingly impractical notions than some of my colleagues. When I shared the Communion Minister story at the parish’s Faith Formation Commission meeting, one of the CM’s there guffawed loudly. But wait, I said, we have to examine these things. And the process of the journey with our students–these budding adult Catholics–is part of what we do. Plus, I don’t mind skewering the sillier ideas that spawn on the net these days. And teaching them in turn, to consider everything they read electronically on liturgy as suspect, until proven otherwise.

So the blogosphere hasn’t gotten rid of me yet. But I’m going to enjoy the next several months a lot more than if I were writing a few hundred posts a month.

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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 Liturgy, Parish Life, The Blogosphere. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Liturgy in the Time of Cholera

  1. As one of the crazy hijackers out here in cyberland, I hope you continue to post frequently, even if not as frequently. As much as I often (mostly?) disagree with you, I’m always happy to see when you’ve posted something new. I’m often angered, but usually challenged, and semi-frequently provoked to at least modify my own views.

  2. Copernicus says:

    Here’s my suggestion: keep posting your thoughts, and turn off the comments.

    Blogging makes everything into an argument. What the Catholic-liturgy corner of the internet needs is more intelligent columnists and fewer dim-witted responses. Tell us what you’ve been up to, or what you’ve been thinking about, and spare yourself the stress of contending with knee-jerk critics. I’ll keep on reading what you write!

    • Eb Hurley says:

      I agree with Copernicus. Turn off the comments but please continue your writing. You are gifted.

    • FrLarry says:

      I have to agree with Copernicus and Eb, too. Keep posting and turn off the comments. I notice Rocco over at Whispers doesn’t have comments. IMHO, comment boxes come pretty close to occasions of sin for a lot of people anyways. BTW, I love your blog!

  3. RP Burke says:

    Well, I don’t say as much as I used to, either, and I reserved but have never begun a “Progressive Classicist” weblog. Both are good things, I think, for my own sanity. I’m not as directly involved in liturgy as I used to be: I finally have students for the campus ministry for which I once organized music and liturgy, leaving me as a parish lector only.

    But, sometimes, I just cannot hold it in. There is too much stuff and nonsense out there.

  4. anne says:

    “Those of you who follow this blog closely may have noted the dropoff in the quantity of posts over the past several months.”

    Well yes. I think it’s the same these days at most blogs that offer any “sensibility” on liturgical matters. Keep up the good work…those of us who follow your blog closely would miss the sanity found here while our church is marching backwards.

  5. I was pleased to see that this post was followed, Todd, by… more posts!

    I’ve continually been amazed at the volume of your always substantive posts here. I hope that stepping back a bit (not too much, please!) will give you some room to breathe.

  6. Jimmy Mac says:

    Todd: all church is local. That is where we all need to focus. The rest is, well, a near occasion of sin in most cases.

    I’d miss the combox, but would still tune in to read your musings which are some of the best going.

    Ad multos annow!

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