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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

How Bullwinkle Helped Me Find Liturgical Peace, Part I.

A mighty tempest today about the leaked draft of the new liturgical directives coming out of the Vatican.

To which I give a three word response.

It doesn't matter.

So, it addresses the abuses seen in Mass, and explains why they shouldn't be permitted.

It doesn't matter.

It shows the depth of Rome's concern about the issue.

It doesn't matter.

It heralds the end of the do-it-yourself "eucharistic celebration."

It doesn't matter.

Oh, it's clear-eyed and chock full of perfectly appropriate and inspiring language about the importance of the Eucharist, and the dangers of noted abuses, as the following quote shows:

But these encouraging and positive aspects cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so); an increasing loss of the sense of the sacred (abandonment of liturgical vestments, the Eucharist celebrated outside church without real need, lack of reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament, etc.); misunderstanding of the ecclesial character of the Liturgy (the use of private texts, the proliferation of unapproved Eucharistic Prayers, the manipulation of the liturgical texts for social and political ends). In these cases we are face to face with a real falsification of the Catholic Liturgy: "One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification."

None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are -- and cannot fail to be -- the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.

The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: "No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority."

Good stuff, eh? Again, it doesn't matter.

OK, I pulled a fast one on you. The above quote is not from the new document. It's from a very old document--Inaestimabile Donum--issued by the Vatican in--wait for it---April 1980.

It's over two decades old. I wasn't quite eleven when it came out. Read the whole thing, as I'm fond of saying. See if there's any abuse there that's been stamped out. See where there's a duplication of effort in the new documents.

Orthodox Catholics tired of being the crash test dummies of the diocesan liturgy office, take note. You're always waiting for Rome to gallop to the rescue, flinging another heavily-footnoted directive at the litiots wrecking the mass with FemLit, Earth Literacy, the Exaltation of the Ennegram, or some other half-assed, whipcrack-driven, flavor of the month stupidity designed to increase "active, conscious participation"--or else.

Starting to sound like Bullwinkle trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat, you say "This time fer sure! This will put the litiots and their priest acolytes in their place."

Why do you think it's going to work now?

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