January 12, 2007


Friends Forget Me Not and Carolina Cannonball reminded me of a post I had meant to write on liturgy.

As a convert, I was certainly attracted to the liturgical life of the church. But once I was living within the catholic world, I found things frustrating and confusing. Everyone seemed to have a different opinion on the right and wrong of liturgy, and feelings ran high. I was young, and didn't know applesauce from sin besides, and all around me liturgical debate ran around, full of terms I didn't always grasp: what was appropriate, reverent, inviting, inclusive, valid, licit, inculturated, etc.

Of course I was more attracted to liturgies that expressed sobriety and reverence than those that seem like cooking shows, but I told myself this was a matter of taste and tried not to attach any ecclesiological importance to it.

This trouble was only amplified when I entered religious life. Eventually I didn't know whom to trust about anything, so I came up with this strategy, which I have been using to this day:

I took the GIRM and the GILH and read them for myself. Then, whenever anything was my decision, I did my best to follow the instructions plainly. When something was beyond my control I tried not to worry about it, and did my best to stay out of discussions. Yes, I've endured a lot of illicit Masses and home-made liturgies of the hours, but I've kept myself from a lot of useless upset.

It's kind of "serenity prayer" approach to living in this tired liturgical world we find ourselves in:

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

In other words, when something is up to me, I try to just simply follow the instructions. When it's not up to me, and things aren't quite right, I try to accept it as a work of obedience, and above all try not to get worked up about it.


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

You know, it had just occurred to me this morning that there's a chance we'll have Father "Make-It-Up-As-I-Go-And-Leave-Out-All-Masculine-Pronouns" at Mass this weekend. I was dreading it, because all of that distracts me AND my daughter, who then distracts me....I am going to try your approach. That Serenity Prayer may get a workout....but as you say, it's beyond my control. So I will pray that I can respect Father because of his personhood and priesthood, and try not to focus on his distracting words but instead on the faith, sacrament and sacrifice that is occurring.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comment, Barb. It just goes to show the error we often commit in ministry: giving people what we think they need without consulting them.

In this case, the effort as so-called inclusive language, what is supposed to be ministry and sensitivity becomes a distraction!

Just to throw another monkeywrench into the works, this is one among many problems we could solve by celebrating the Roman liturgy in its ordinary language: Latin. But then we have to come to terms with the full, active and conscious participation demanded by *Sacrosanctum Concilium.*

Thanks again, it's good to hear.

myosotis said...

I'm missing something here. So even the Mass is politically correct?
I live in Italy and I haven't heard a Mass in English in a very long time, but I have never heard one in which all masculine pronouns have been left out. It sounds ridiculous, but I can't even imagine it. Can you give me an example?

myosotis said...

By the way, thanks!

Ladderman said...

I truly wonder if some of the things you write is written for my benefit(yes, hermano. It is all about me). LOL

I think what motivates those who tinker with the liturgy is twofold: a motivation to a particular meaning for those present,inclusiveness or perhaps simplification of language, for example. The other motivation is to draw attention to themselves: 'look how hip, progressive, and clever I am.' I think the first one is only problematic in as much as it too often devolves into silliness, like Barb's example. And I suppose the best way to avoid silliness is to stay with what is on the printed page. The other we can all see the difficulties within.

Charles, I'm not sure whether you are serious about returnng the celebration of liturgy to Latin, but you give only one of the practical pratfalls that would come with that.

Brother Charles said...

Ladderman, old friend, it's good to hear from you, as always.

I have a lot of thoughts about the Latin thing. Trouble is, it's very hard to have any discourse about it because it seems to be automatically connected to a restorationist sensibility, and this doesn't need to be the case.

Just quick and dirty, here are some of the lines of my reflection. The reformed liturgy allows liturgy in the local language-but is this just another way that the Council accepted the middle modern world just as it was going out of existence? In other words, is this local language thing about accepting the modern idea of the nation-state? In this late or post-modern world of mobility and "multi-culturalism," does all that still apply?

Also, where I work we have Masses in two languages besides English, for newer immigrant language groups. But, as the kids leave the old language and find themselves as English speakers, then the liturgy comes to be in, what is for them, a liturgical language. And if you're going to use a liturgical language, anyway, then, well...you see where I'm going.

The trouble with being a proponent of Latin is the same trouble my mother has with being pro-life - she wants to be against abortion but she can't bear the company.