I’d like to continue this site’s close examination of Msgr Marini’s address to clergy in Rome. Some internet commentators are satisfied enough to just cut and paste and use the ctrl-B key to highlight cheer-worthy passages. While I don’t agree with the man’s reform2 leanings, I do think that addresses like this should be pondered, engaged, and used to further the liturgical discussion. The third of five parts treats “Adoration and union with God.”
On one hand, we acknowledge that as mortal beings we are entirely dependent on God’s grace for our sanctification. There is nothing we can do: sing, dress, act, be silent, be charitable, be evangelical–that can in any way earn God’s grace. And yet, something doesn’t quite ring true about the emphasis on adoration at Mass. Msgr. Marini quotes Augustine, “nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit; peccemus non adorando – no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it.”
Yet instead of appealing for silence, Msgr Marini and the pope promote outward signs: kneeling to receive Communion on the tongue, for example. Is that really a sign of adoration–the external manifestation of piety?
And yet, I wonder if the quality we’re seeking isn’t a withdrawal from the crassness of human social gatherings. We don’t need priests and cantors booming on the microphone. We need a measured silence in which the texts of the liturgy can settle in and rest in us. We don’t need rush and hurry to get one crop of people out so the next shift can enter in for their fifty-two-minute Mass. We need lots of reflection time after the readings, the homily, the reception of Communion. We don’t need clergy and lectors rushing through words like adolescents. We need the texts proclaimed as if we all were praying Lection Divina. We don’t need communicants bowing to the butt of the person in front of them. Encounter the Lord for real; don’t go through the motions like they’re some magic gesture.
On this point I feel somewhat sympathetic to Msgr. Marini, though I think the real opponent of “adoration,” as he terms it is pragmatism, not creativity or standing communicants. And I think we need something more than “adoration” at Mass. Adoration is part of it. Mindfulness is the phrase I use in training liturgical ministers. Be mindful of all that is going on around you. Celebrate and sing when the rite calls for it. Reflect and adore at other times. Listen and ponder at others. Feel enlivened to live the example of Christ in the world when it’s time to come down from the mountain.