Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
7 August 2012
Building a church presents opportunity for a Catholic community, but also potential challenges. How do we give an appropriate expression to the many different styles and forms, even perhaps within a single parish?
§ 4 § Catholics who live and worship in the United States in the twenty-first century celebrate a liturgy that is the same as that of earlier generations in all its essentials but significantly different in its language, style, and form. Recent shifts in the visual arts and in building styles as well as the development of new materials and sound amplification systems have created both opportunities and challenges for those engaged in the building and renovation of places for worship.
New materials will provide some answers. But not all of them.
§ 5 § To be able to make specific recommendations about building and renovation projects, parish members need to understand the nature of the liturgy, the space it requires, and the ways in which the physical building can help or hinder worship. Because of the spectrum of ideas, opinions, spiritualities, and personal preferences present in every parish, the assistance of church documents and teachings and of consultants and facilitators is beneficial in the processes of learning and making decisions. With such assistance, parish leaders and members can develop the skills needed for building consensus and resolving conflicts.
BLS 5 presents a very wise ideal, that parishioners need to understand the basic principles of liturgy, then apply them to the building project. In a way, it’s more challenging than the task of building a church, then fitting everyone’s spirituality into a finished product. BLS outlines here in brief the role of the liturgical design consultant. Such a person must be knowledgeable about the theological and pastoral possibilities. But the consultant also needs to be a skilled facilitator. Building concensus and good decision-making is not unlike building a structure. It needs a plan. It requires care.
§ 6 § The challenges of building or renovating church buildings increase as the Church grows. The richness of ethnic and cultural groups in the Church in the United States today presents opportunities as we strive to become truly “catholic.” The Church seeks to integrate and utilize each culture’s strength in accomplishing Christ’s mission to bring the Gospel to every person and to proclaim—through all the concerns of daily life—the abiding love and presence of God in the world. (Lumen Gentium 17, Varietates Legitimae 18)
Things are more difficult now that American Catholics have moved past ethnic communities modeling their church buildings on the religious aspects of their mother culture. BLS suggests that we need to become more “catholic,” and less German, Irish, or Italian. I would say we also need to be more Catholic, less traditional/progressive/left/right/old/new.
I admire the bishops for addressing these big problems upfront, for suggesting that a consultant is often a useful piece of the process, and that the human relationships of a faith community need just as much attention as the building materials.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
7 August 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Liturgy
, Other Places 1 Comment
From Australia’s CathNews site, a liturgy mess. A Melbourne priest presides at liturgy outside the auspices of his archbishop. The Age reports on this. And it happened that while their reporter was in attendance, a visitor gave part of his communion to his dog. Archbishop Hart protests through this press release.
Commentary, but where to begin?
A first-time visitor to a small breakaway “inclusive” community offers a portion of consecrated bread to his dog. That strikes me as less an “abomination” (the archbishop actually labels the person who did it as an “abomination,” not the act) and more a lack of an understanding, or at worst, stubbornness. There’s no theological intent behind the action. And the animal, obviously, is an innocent.
The Age is obviously reporting on a story of human interest. The incident with the visitor’s dog seemed to just get in the way. The reporter, Barney Zwartz, was likely on assignment from his boss. It’s far from likely that Mr Zwartz and his editor are going to pull an assigned story because of how people might react to what happened with the canine. It’s probably less a situation of ridicule and more one of curiosity: this twist will draw a little attention, and get a few more readers hooked.
Nobody, not even the archbishop, seems concerned enough to mention that this small congregation is something of a breakaway group, and not operating under official Catholic auspices. Archbishop Hart seems to accept the validity of what his former foil is confecting.
Other religions get treated better, says the prelate:
Your integrity in this matter can be judged by asking whether, if something sacred to Judaism or Islam had similarly been desecrated, you would have treated the matter with such flippancy.
My sense is that the archbishop is right, but way overstates his case. In so doing, the alternative Catholic community gets some press. People who wouldn’t dream of attending have another thing to criticize. People in the fringes might have something to check out. If newcomers start bringing their pets, then they have a serious situation on their hands.
As for the notion of animals participating in human sacraments, I can say this. I’m a pet owner and an animal lover. But animals are innocent companions to human beings and there is no need for their participation in the sacraments. When people insist on it, it really says more about their own needs than what benefit the pet might receive. When people protest, it often says more about their own emotional makeup than the rightness or wrongness of a particular act. Something liturgical might be wrong, but such things are not usually personal attacks on the institution. Ridicule? No. Abomination? No. Overstating the protest? Could do more harm in the long run.
7 August 2012
After Vatican II, you liturgy geeks will recall that a small raft of documents was produced to guide the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The 1966 document Ecclesiae Sanctae was intended to do the same for the documents addressing bishops, clergy, religious, and missionary activity. Think of Ecclesiae Sanctae as a parallel to the series of liturgy documents started with Sacram Liturgiam (1964), and continued with Inter Oecumenici (1964), Tres Abhinc Annos (1967), and Liturgicae Instaurationes (1970).
The section of Ecclesiae Sanctae treating norms for implementing Ad Gentes has twenty-four numbered sections. But first, there’s a brief introduction:
NORMS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECREE OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL AD GENTES DIVINITUS
Since the Decree Ad Gentes Divinitus (On the Missionary Activity of the Church) of the Holy Second Vatican Council must be in force for the universal Church and be faithfully observed by everyone so that the whole Church may become truly missionary and the entire People of God become aware of its missionary obligation, local Ordinaries should see to it that the Decree comes to the knowledge of all the faithful. Discourses on the Decree should be given to the clergy and sermons preached to the people in which everyone’s responsibility in conscience with regard to missionary activity is pointed out and inculcated.
Rather optimistic, I’d say. Note that the whole Church is intended to become missionary, not just a subset of those called to the mission apostolate. The bishop is also responsible for advancing this evangelical quality among the clergy and laity of his diocese. Note also the importance given to sermons (not homilies) to people. Does the annual mission co-op preacher satisfy this directive?