It is not often I take exception to my friend Liam’s words and attitude, but it illustrates the situation in which the Church finds itself with regard to liturgy. And recently, the matter of the words of liturgy.

I believe it is possible to celebrate a liturgy with faulty tools, namely the words some would describe as accurate and others might characterize as inadequate. Each side has thoughtful reasons or justifications for advocating as they do. Which make the resulting tensions all the more inscrutable. Such tensions are part of any human community. And such tensions have always been part of earthly liturgy, whether we recognized them or not.

Thanks to the initiatives of our two previous popes and especially their liturgical advisors, we are in a situation where many people are dissatisfied with the liturgy. Certainly people of various or even opposing ideologies complain. Conciliar reform was sabotaged. A timeless rite was marginalized. And locally, bishops, clergy, and lay people may have bumbled the implementation.

I think Liam is inaccurate to raise the issue of shibboleth. A deeper dissatisfaction I notice is the belief that the opponents (perceived as well as real) are deaf to sincere concerns. This is a pastoral, if not an interpersonal matter. The dialogue of the deaf isn’t just a phenomenon of CDF vs LCWR. My sense is that it can be cultivated on many levels of church culture.

As a church professional, I’m obligated to adhere to aspects of liturgy for the benefit of a greater cause: unity. But that doesn’t wash away my interior skepticism on a theological point such as many/all in the institution narrative. It also doesn’t prevent me from being critical of a lack of intellectual rigor on one side or the other–even the institution/magisterium. I may well come to accept “many” as better. I just haven’t read a convincing case for it.

It might be that we live in times when church teaching is truthfully presented, but the reasoning is poor or the implementation is faulty. One serious drawback is the inability, or sometimes the outright refusal to incorporate any kind of “loyal” opposition into the effort. In many years of church ministry, I have known many people convinced to support many issues–even one about which they still harbored doubt. Bishops in particular–if they are to be true to their apostolic calling–have a duty to unity, and to draw all the disparate elements of the Church together. The curia of the last few decades has pointedly not done this. It is perhaps where they have abandoned the ministry of overseer or bishop and been seduced by ideology.

As for the liturgical matter of many/all, it seems to me the latest choice is unsatisfactory, and not necessarily because of the decision itself. My post here was focused more on the complaint about it in papal liturgies and then devolved into a discussion of the particular point. That should tell us the matter is far from settled in people’s hearts. And no doubt, suspicions abound. Motives are questioned. Such unrest is not of the Spirit, and shows me that a little more work is required on this point. Until then, we all live in weakness.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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8 Responses to Weakness

  1. Liam says:

    I think this is more honest and transparent in its fullness. Your other approach had peevish and resentful quality, and I deliberately engaged in mirroring.

    It’s up to each of us to stop the cycle of resentment – first by noticing it honestly and without defensiveness (typically in the form of rationalization) and then saying, I am getting off here even if it leaves the other “side” with a seeming “win.” It’s not easy, of course, in practice. For any of us, very much including me.

  2. Liam says:

    PS: Don’t forget we still get “all” in the second half of the Institution Narrative, helping to drain a Jansenist read of “many” in the preceding half.

    • Liam says:

      Correction due to multitasking scramble: “all” in the first part of the second half, and the “many” in the succeeding second part of that half…

  3. charlesincenca says:

    “One serious drawback is the inability, or sometimes the outright refusal to incorporate any kind of “loyal” opposition into the effort. ”

    Methinks thou dost complaineth in excess.
    Just who is now “the loyal opposition?” Surely not the liturgical crew of the Shrine Mass? “Many/all” is a didactic argument that likely will never achieve consensus. Ever. But, as an eclectic programmer in good standing, the effort to signify the “many” liturgically into the “all” was a lamentable failure at the Shrine. I don’t give a rodent’s derriere about the vernacular base being Spanish, but the parcing out of musical moments and prayers can never be satisfied by percentages as was evident yesterday. Put the obvious aside, each of the “specialty” music ministry groupings were waiting for “their moment” in the sonic sun. It’s clearly paradoxical and antithetical to even “many,” much less “all.” The diminution of the “Asians” was therefore so egregiously self-evident in the Universal Prayer. Regarding “representing,” Mass is not a whole or unified that can ever achieve that via percentages or demographics. Okay, we got Zumaya, but not Victoria or King John of Portugal. We got GROESSER GOTT, but no Alberto Grau. We got weights and measure, but no real balance. I argue not for Latin as the anti-Balkanization of the liturgy, but we need to now, in this era, consider the use of one lingua franca, or maybe two: that of pontifical Rome and political/economic English. If il Papa wants todos Espanol, then do it all Spanish.

    • Todd says:

      Excess? I think not.

      I have in mind the willingness to entertain opposing views in certain arenas, if not all of them. The specific liturgy you reference is not on my mind. But rather the closed, and fearful attitudes under the last few CDWDS prefects.

  4. FrMichael says:

    “Thanks to the initiatives of our two previous popes and especially their liturgical advisors, we are in a situation where many people are dissatisfied with the liturgy.”

    People have been dissatisfied with the liturgy going back to Paul VI. And the Liturgical Movement was started because monks and others were dissatisfied with the liturgical praxis under the earlier Piuses (Pii?).

    The job of the Missal translators was to translate the Latin text faithfully into English, not to compose an alternative Missal or conduct theology. “For many” does that. Case closed.

  5. It is indeed a dialogue des sourdes and I am as weary of it as I am encountering the wooden LatEnglish every Sunday, Worse than ever as we now have an African pastor trying his best to deal with it.
    It’s reduced me to silence, and I am happy to leave my hearing aid at home these days.
    Drop out, tune out, turn off – with apologies to Timothy Leary.

  6. Atheist Max says:

    “Such unrest is not of the Spirit…”
    I don’t know where such statements originate. You will not be at peace with Jesus until you buy the entirety of His program. And nobody here has the guts for that – thank goodness. For there are no checks and balances in Jesus. It is all or nothing with that person. ..only the victor who takes that narrowest most enigmatic path is worthy (Matthew 7:14). It leaves one frantically grasping at straws in the dark.

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