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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

People who think like me are the smartest people I know.

The magnificent Fr. Joseph Wilson comments in some detail on the removal of Fr. Paul Weinberger from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Dallas. In doing so, he comments on why liturgical reform coming from Rome is nothing to get excited about.

There are other problems with Deacon Havard’s observations also. As noted previously, it is NOT true that Fr Weinberger’s transfer is routine. More seriously, Deacon Havard publicly asserted that the diocese has received "many complaints" about the Latin Mass at Blessed Sacrament; yet diocesan policy requires that all complaints be signed, and that copies be immediately forwarded to the pastor of the parish concerned.

Father Weinberger has received no copies of complaints.

All of this is deeply troubling, for a number of reasons. For one, anyone tempted to rejoice at the publication of the third edition of the Latin Missal, or over the attention given to the new directives of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, or the disciplining of the liturgical translators of ICEL, must stop and realize that, in reality, Rome can send over ocean liners full of decrees – but the implementation will be presided over by bishops like the Bishop of Dallas, whom Rome put in place and leaves in place, governing in such a way that his spokesman, a clergyman, has no hesitation publicly saying that his boss is above the Universal Law of the Church. The Missal of Paul VI with accompanying norms is quite clearly crafted to allow for a certain legitimate diversity of implementation. Certainly, it is NOT crafted to disallow classical forms of sacred liturgy.

Yet it is the case in parish after parish, diocese after diocese, in chapels of seminaries and religious orders, colleges and universities that Catholic liturgical worship has been dumbed-down in the most mindless possible way. We do little or nothing to foster the arts through the Liturgy; indeed, we routinely deny people their very birthright, so that the Gloria of the Missa de Angelis or the haunting melodies of Iesu Dulcis Memoria mean nothing to people who think the Mass invalid unless it includes the ghastly "Eagles’ Wings" and other specimens of consecrated camp fire music.

I came to the same conclusion back in September, after the strange euphoria over the alleged "crackdown" document started.

[After quoting extensively from a strongly worded Vatican directive on the Mass] 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?


Here's why it won't work: Rome can issue all the "disciplinary documents" in the world. It can drop them into the hands of well-meaning, orthodox prelates. It can drop them from the sky if it wants. Unfortunately, that's where the buck stops. If priests and diocesan liturgists want to follow it, they will. If they won't, the directive becomes so much toilet paper covered with Latin cognates. After all, no one ever gets disciplined for liturgical abuses. Ever.


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