Monday, 16 January 2017

Liturgical Abuses

A distorted experience.

I read an article by Brian Williams on his Liturgy Guy site concerning his view that the Reform of the Reform is not sustainable in the long term. A great deal of what he says is very valid. So, for example, he says: 
Those who most vociferously argue for the Reform of the Reform need to remember that any parish currently embracing liturgical renewal is only one pastoral change away from a return to banality.
Which is certainly true. Although one hopes that the people have been catechised to understand why one is an improvement on the other and will retain that understanding. So, in case he reads this, my issue is a very particular one, rather than any general disagreement. (Indeed, I've added him to my blog roll.)

However he also says some things that I'd disagree with. Most startlingly that:
The Novus Ordo both by design, as well as by its own post-conciliar development, is a liturgy of options. The most liturgically impoverished Sunday Mass might be irreverent and profane, but rarely is it guilty of any actual liturgical abuse.
Too many options there - certainly. Some of the innovations he cites as intrinsic to the Novus Ordo , though, are certainly not so. Some of the  things he cites as now controversial in the Novus Ordo are indeed generally considered controversial but this is because of abuses of the Novus Ordo rubrics. Which leads us to his statement that most liturgically impoverished Ordinary Form Masses are rarely guilty of any liturgical abuse. Here I would disagree most strongly. Liturgical abuse is rife. 

To use some of his examples.

The Churches rules clearly state that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should only be used where there is an absolute necessity. However, in many parishes it is seen as way of involving as many laity as possible, and there is an excess of extraordinary ministers so routinely used that they grow into the idea that it is a right they have. Extraordinary ministers are obviously not needed when there are enough priests to give out Holy Communion but it is routinely seen that priest stay seated whist lay ministers give out Holy Communion. Another instance of the extraordinary becoming ordinary and then demanded as a right.

One of means by which such abuses permeate the Church is by clergy taking legislation meant for unusual situations, perhaps meant for mission territories, and transferring those practices to everyday settings in parishes. Communion Services led by laity, for example. A practice meant only for Sundays where a community CANNOT get access to a priest. But here in the UK, and I know elsewhere as well, these have become regular on weekdays, for which they were never intended. But it has the advantage in the modernist mind of getting the congregation used to seeing laity at the altar and in particular, women presiding at the altar. Quietly undermining the Churches teaching on a male only priesthood. There is also an inversion of the meaning: thus when such things are discussed at deanery meetings it becomes NOT where the community cannot get access to a priest but where a priest cannot get to a particular place to offer Mass. Bypassing the fact that it might be quite possible for people to get to a nearby Mass with relative ease or a little advanced organisation. 

The singing the Propers of the Mass instead of popular hymns, mentioned as now controversial, is another one of those things that should be incorporated into every Ordinary Form Mass. Replacing these texts of Sacred Scripture with popular hymns is not a real option but a liturgical abuse. Obviously so, for Scripture takes precedence and pride of pace in the Mass.

The use of Chant for the Ordinary of the Mass is, according to the Church's rules in this matter, important and to be encouraged. Indeed every Catholic is supposed to be able to join in things like the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus in Latin. How many can? How many schools incorporate this into their liturgies? 

I could go on and on with other examples not mentioned in this particular article of practices so routinely seen in the Ordinary Form of Mass in most parishes that most people have come to believe they are intrinsic to it (ad libbing, changing wording in the Eucharistic Prayers, forbidding kneeling to receive Holy Communion, abandoning the use of the communion plate, not wearing a chasuble, to mention but a few). My point is that liturgical abuses, as well as the irreverent and profane, are rife. I think most priests never read the rubrics or the General Instruction often enough (and I include myself in that) so they pick up liturgical abuses seen or read about elsewhere and think they must be okay. Of course, there are those too who deliberately introduce foreign elements with an modernising agenda in mind. That's something else again.

Many liturgies routinely seen are as much distorted from the Norm (technically understood) as a Salvador Dali painting, so that most people's experience is rather distorted one.

(And "No" - I'm not a Dali fan!)


David O'Neill said...

And I am being threatened with removal from the Diocesan Panel for School Appeals because I have stated that ONLY Catholicism should be taught in our Catholic secondary schools instead of Comparative Religion & that teachers in such schools should be practising Catholics. WOW!!

Celia said...

Glad to say that in my diocese (Hallam) the bishop made it quite clear that Communion services are not to be held on weekdays.