Thursday 15 September 2011

Fracture since the Second Vatican Council. Are we creating a New Tower of Babel?

The Tower of Babel signifying the hubris of doing it yourself!

Over at A Reluctant Sinner there is a wide ranging and thoughtful post which gives some sad insights into the state of the Church in these times: "Fragmented Liturgy - There are far too many different ways of celebrating the Mass within the Roman Rite. For the sake of its mission, it's time to restore unity in the Church."

Dylan draws our attention to the dis-unity there now is in the Church; spiritual, moral and liturgical. The constant adaption to groups and individuals summed up by what has happened in the Mass. "One of the hall-marks of the novus Ordo is that the priest, as an individual man, has become far too important a figure during Mass, whilst, conversely, the priesthood of Jesus Christ - the one who is actually offering himself - seems to have diminished."

The immediate context for this is the introduction - or not - of the new translation. Letters to the Tablet (from what I notice are nearly all elderly priests) raging against the new translation's words. But they miss the point, the new translation is to be accompanied by catechesis on re-sacralising the liturgy - reverence and paying attention to the rubrics is something we are supposed to have been doing with the old missal but many people didn't bother. I've heard ofpriests here in my own diocese saying they will refuse to use it but I suspect that eventually they will but with the same lack of care to the rubrics and church law, freely changing words and gestures, in complete contradiction to the fact that the Church tells them not to.

I'm sure there was always dissent in the Church but the structure held and called us together. If we dissented, we knew we were dissenting and from what. Now, all those dissenting believe they have a better handle on the "real" meaning of the Faith. Reluctant Sinner refers to the seemingly endless innovation in the Mass but actually in very many places it's not so much new innovation as some strange aberration that crept in years ago (often a "nice" thing to do for the children or to make people feel "included" - usually thereby excluding someone else!) In fact, these things have become dull, boring and meaningless, like the offertory processions that bring up things that are not in fact offered to anyone but taken back by the person who carried them up. Or the sign of peace that has lost all spiritual content and become merely a secular exchange.

I'm preparing for a (EF) Solemn Mass here next week. What I notice on such occasions is that there is no committee that gets together to decide what "our" theme will be or what new activities can be incorporated into the Mass to keep people interested and occupied, or how we can include as many people as possible "doing" things. Rather, those who are involved (musicians, cantors, servers, sacred ministers) study the Missal, the rubrics, the given text and feast of the day and go to Fortescue, O'Connell and Reid to try to make sure they can carry out the actions and words of the Mass in the received way. In other words, the whole animus is to be obedient to something outside ourselves. While that may help the liturgy to proceed with dignity, it also points to a different attitude. The Mass is not mine or my group's but the Church's, Christ's. Our Christian life is not to be lived as I want but as Our Lord teaches in the Scriptures and through the Church he founded. Or in the words of Bishop Malcolm McMahon in an earlier post:
"The Mass is a mystery whose depths we can never plumb, whose treasures we can never exhaust, all the while drawing more riches and grace for us.

Pope Benedict reminds us that it is God’s gift and God’s work, or it is nothing at all.”


Jacobi said...

I have for some time now come to the conclusion that we are experiencing a Modernist/Relativist Reformation in the post-Vatican 11 church.

The Reformers used the liturgy to bring about doctrinal changes, and how successful they have been given the liturgical chaos and heterodoxy that has resulted.

One answer is to recover the liturgy and the Traditional Latin Mass, now slowly becoming more available, will be the standard against which the "Reform of the Reform" of the Novus Ordo will be measured.

I note Father, that you are preparing for an EF Mass next week. I hope it will be at 11.00am on Sunday morning and not 3.00 pm on Tuesday afternoon or whatever?

Fr Simon Henry said...

Jacobi, If you look at the sidebar you will see there is an EF Mass every Sunday here at 11.30am. The High Mass I referred to is for a special event on 24th Septmber.

Genty said...

There is one bit of your post which has left me open-mouthed. Are there really parish lay committees deciding a theme? A *theme*?
At one church I know, the priest is v. keen on peace and justice so practically every bidding prayer is skewed so it contains one or both words in it. But that's about it.
On the other hand, at another parish recently where the priest plays a tape of the clapping Gloria, an indignant woman of a certain age stood at the lectern and started on about how dreadful it was in the days when only the priest could handle the Host, distribute Holy Communion, stand in the sanctuary, etc. etc.
The young guest priest had already been bossed, by another woman, to leave the sanctuary in order to glad-hand the entire congregation (of about 30) at the sign of peace.
It was after Mass, so I fled. I can only surmise the lady at the lectern was appealing for more volunteers to usurp - sorry, help - the priest. It really wouldn't surprise me if a lay committee there decided on themes.
I couldn't agree more about the processing up the nave with the gifts. It's a pointless add-on and interrupts the Mass. And it's usually the same half-dozen people taking turns as if they were the "elders" of the congregation. If it's because no-one else wants to do it, that sends a very clear message about its worth.

GOR said...

Under the rubric “If given an inch, people will take a yard” I suspect there will continue to be ‘individual interpretations’ even with the new translation. Fr. Finigan recently highlighted issues with the Lectionary and which version of the Bible being used (my parish uses the ‘gender neutral’ one – RSV? New RSV? New-New RSV? – I’m lost…).

In a nearby parish the pastor started catechesis on the new translation already earlier this summer and was implementing it week by week. I was impressed, as the parish is a rather ‘progressive’ one (Tabernacle in the vestibule, hordes of EHMCs, ‘orchestra-pit’ next to the Sanctuary, complete with guitars, giant speakers, electric organ, etc. etc.).

Father’s approach was good I thought - relating words and phrases to the original scriptural passages. So I’m thinking maybe there’s hope for this parish…until I noted something odd. Father was not saying “The Lord be with you”, rather: “The Lord be with your spirit”… Sometimes you just can’t win!

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

I've been told by senior clergy in my diocese that the E.F. will be resisted because it will cause division. Also, given our multi-cultural make-up there aren't enough priests available for extra Masses on Sunday. If you've ever been to an O.F. in a foreign language you know what division feels like.

Jacobi said...

Dear Fr Henry,

My apologies. I missed that sidebar notice. If only there were more like you. But there will be.

Peace and Harmony said...

I do resent these people who say that the E.F. will cause division. A previous bishop of mine also said the same. Can they not see that it was the introduction (forced imposition) of the NOM that caused the division in the Church. When once we had a uniform universal rite for the entire Latin Church (allowing for the Dominican rites and suchlike) and peace and harmony, we now have a situation where Masses in adjoining parishes quite often bear no relation to each other and people travel from parish to parish looking for something reasonable. The new Tower of Babel was created in 1970 and, like Topsy, has growed and growed since then. If our bishops and priests want an end to division then simply restore the EF as the norm. Simple, really.

Anonymous said...

Peace and Harmon is correct. It is the NO that caused the division.

Also, isn't the reason why the Mass was codified at the Council of Trent because there was no unity in the way the Mass was celebrated at that time? And the reason why the reception of Holy Communion under both kinds discontinued then because of the same misconceptions regarding the Sacrament we are encountering again today?


Sixupman said...

Indeed we are!

An iconic [liability] church in Preston, at one time mooted to be sold to the local university [a la Holy name Manchester Deo Gratias saved] rebuffed the suggestion that a traditional order take it over - on the basis it would attract/detract from from other parish in the locality. God Bless Bishop Clarke at Shrewsbury for his openmindedness.

I have recently departed a parish in Somerset, where the Diocese appears to have adopted the CofE approach - of placing it under the care of likeminded clerics. There, the Parish Priest preached against the Pope and the Ordained Priesthood - in favour of a Presbyterian format; the altar and Communion as the best table and meal in town; etc., etc. ad nauseam. My confessor said I should consider attendance thereat as a form of mortification - he may have been joking,

Clergy getting heated about the revised translation - where was Charity when the Old Mass was abandoned, in respect of both laity and clergy?