Indeed, there’s not much new in this document on liturgical abuses. Clearly, the CDWS has a skewed view of the state of liturgical matters given the fact that complaints outnumber notes of praise by a wide margin.
My only serious disappointment in content is the smackdown on lay preaching. While I understand the tradition and sacramental connection to Holy Orders, concerns remain for me. I have found it is the exceptional parish priest who devotes himself deeply to his homilies. While admitting that 90% of the clergy I’ve worked with actually do plan homilies, I would say that with only a few exceptions do priests treat their homiletic craft with the gravity it deserves. In fact, one young priest I knew was criticized for spending too much energy on homilies, especially for daily Mass. Instead of calling the guy out, they should have sent him to study advanced homiletics.
That said, I’ve seen lay people preach horribly as well. And since I have no pretensions personally about preaching, this document won’t affect me that much. Not quite sure the time was right to close the door on it, though.
I was happy to see the active and conscious participation of the assembly emphasized with a whole subheading. Maybe that will put to rest the silliness I read about what active/actuoso/actual/action figure really means. Good to see Communion from the tabernacle put in its place again, though an outright prohibition wouldn’t have saddened me. Good also to see the CDWS telling folks to go to the local bishop with complaints first, and to do it in charity. I doubt everyone will listen to that one, but what the heck. When complaints come to me I address them in a timely way.
Will this document make a difference for me? I doubt it. The new pastor and I will likely be reviewing lots of liturgical things when he arrives at the end of June, so I was expecting some tweaking of parish practice over the next several months anyway. Since our parish doesn’t employ lay preachers, there’s not much that’s going to change on the surface. More concerned about getting a Roman Missal into use. I’ve been waiting for that since the mid-80’s. This document is more like the company mailing you the instructions for your new lawn mower. The mower design hasn’t quite been finalized yet, much less put on the assembly line. And when it comes, you really don’t want to cut your grass anyway. So if a parishioner asks me if Friday 23 April 2004 was a red letter day, I’ll probably tell them about my bridge game tonight instead.