The Armchair Liturgist: eBooks at Mass

With a side theme of the recent discussion at PrayTell about the Book of the Chair, I was surprised this topic never came up for the purple armchair: electronic books for Mass, Lectionary, Missal, and even music. What do you think: thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs swiping across the screen of a tablet?

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Cinquant’anni Dopo 17-18: A Mystical Liturgy

Fr Ev farewell MassWe continue our examination of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s June 2015 essay for L’Osservatore Romano.

The liturgy is a fundamentally mystical, contemplative reality, and consequently beyond the reach of our human action; even our “participatio” is a grace from God. Therefore it presupposes on our part openness to the mystery being celebrated. Thus, the Constitution recommends the full understanding of the rites (cf. no. 34), and at the same time prescribes that “the faithful… be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (no. 54).

I don’t see the connection between these. I agree with the insight that liturgical participation is a grace. SC 34 suggests “noble simplicity,” a principle that finds some resistance in traditionalist circles. SC 54 endorses lay participation in the Mass, which in 1963 was conducted in Latin. The operating principle of the council bishops was that the people enter into a vocal response for the Mass Ordinary. If the language changes, then the principle of SC 54 is still satisfied. It does not require an unfamiliar language to form a faith community in the idea that their act of worship is due to the initiative of God.

Indeed, understanding the rite is not the work of unaided human reason, which would have to grasp everything, understand everything, master everything. The understanding of the sacred rites is that of the “sensus fidei”, which practices a living faith through the symbol and knows by being attuned more than through concepts. This understanding presupposes that one approaches the mystery with humility.

This paragraph is quite sound. The council never recommended a “full understanding” as cited earlier in the document. I think a “deeper” encounter with the Lord is laudable. But even the clergy don’t need to understand everything that goes on at the liturgy.

Unfortunately, we live in an age both skeptical and rational. Skeptics don’t want to enter into mysteries without a blueprint. The age of reason informs us that everything (or at least many things) can be known. Again, a matter of prudence: just because knowledge and information is available, it doesn’t mean it will be helpful.

Notes: I’ve used an “early” translation, attributed here to Michael J. Miller at Catholic World Report. I wasn’t able to find the original essay on the L’Osservatore Romano site.

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Laudato Si 76: Nature and Creation

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Paragraphs 76 through 83 give us a reflection on “The Mystery of the Universe,” the title of section III of Chapter Two. To start with, Pope Francis offers a technical distinction between two concepts:

76. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.

An adjustment in the vocabulary for people of faith? Possibly an important distinction when we are speaking of things of reason and things of faith.


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This Side of the Atlantic … I Wish

to SwanseaFriend and frequent commentator David sent me this image earlier this week. After getting the first goal of this week’s round of the Capital One Cup … and winning easily … they get the young miss’s favorite at home. In league competition.

When said young miss and I went to our first Sounders game last week, my wife asked if I wanted to bring my Swans scarf. Except for it being upper 70’s, and I was sure we would be inundated with lime green and blue scarves, maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. We sat near Sunderland fans. They had shirts.

In other football news, Donald Trump wants Pope Francis’s favorite team.

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The Armchair Liturgist: Scheduling Funerals

At my last parish, when we had a rare funeral, daily Mass at noon would be “cancelled,” and people were invited to worship at 11am, 10:30, or the late morning time when we scheduled with the family and funeral home. This never totally sat well with me, as the lunch hour was predictable for university staff, and students, well, they weren’t going to get out of class for most any schedule change.

The parish before that, we had early morning Mass, and funerals were “extra” liturgies, again, late morning.

My new parish has far more funerals than the university community, but we also have a varied daily Mass schedule: two days at 8:30, and a third at 11am.

Sit in the purple chair, and render judgment. Usurp daily Mass? Your call. Remember, some parishes have only one priest available.

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Cinquant’anni Dopo 16: Proper Attire

Fr Ev farewell MassCardinal Robert Sarah criticizes certain behaviors of lay ministers in June 2015 essay for L’Osservatore Romano.

In this regard it is deplorable that the sanctuary in our churches is not a place strictly reserved for divine worship, that people enter it in worldly garb, and that the sacred space is not clearly delimited by the architecture. Since, as the Council teaches, Christ is present in His word when it is proclaimed, it is likewise harmful that lectors do not have proper attire that shows that they are not pronouncing human words but a divine word.

I’d like to know how he views the “sanctuary.” My sense is that this would ideally include the nave, and so it opens up the discussion to all the laity.

As for the notion that clarity is sometimes blurred by architecture, that also has a context in diverse individuals. Some people have a very narrow view of what constitutes a “proper” church. And others are more attuned to sacred architecture however they encounter it.

Lots of clergy attempt to encourage people to a higher dress code. It’s probably worth looking more deeply at the underlying assumptions regarding the shift from Sabbath to leisure as the primary understanding of Sunday.

Even liturgical ministers fail now and then in this regard. My sense is that they should blend in with the people, and attract no notice at all, either in terms of too dressy or not dressy enough.

Notes: I’ve used an “early” translation, attributed here to Michael J. Miller at Catholic World Report. I wasn’t able to find the original essay on the L’Osservatore Romano site.

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Laudato Si 75: Proper Places for God and People

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

75. A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.

The imposition of human law: this is a topic frequently visited in other areas these days. Do you see abuse of the environment as an example of people not knowing their place in the cosmos, of human arrogance and narcissism?

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