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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fun with autocephaly.

My longtime readers--who can safely and simultaneously pirouette in a bus stop kiosk with both fists extended--are no doubt asking:

"Hey, if Dale was up north, that meant he was in Saginaw Country again. Did he go to a local parish, or did he do the Long March thing to Lake City? After all, the region has had a new bishop for nigh unto nine months now."

I am happy to answer both persons' questions: We bit the bullet and went local.

Yep, there have been some dramatic changes, too: The PA, while still administering, has vanished from the sanctuary. Reliable reports have drifted back that a stern dressing-down accompanied the reversion to (most) rubrical norms. Kneeling apparently requires further study and/or the translation of the Mass guidebook into Apache (mustn't leave anyone left out), but I've learned to let that one roll off. We kneel, and that's all she wrote.

Fr. gave an interesting homily in which he deployed and explained "permissive will." He also, to our relief, explicitly stated his delight with the presence of crying "babies" and said he hoped to hear more. The plural was a gentle face saver for us--Rachel was the sole culprit, having spent multi-minutes shrieking out some almost indescribable noise.

Think a combination of "the most irritating sound in the whole world" from Dumb and Dumber with the bellow emitted by a pickled Irish midget who was just informed that "last call" was three hours ago, and you're in the ballpark.

[Rachel's short, being weaned, and part-Irish, so I recommend you file all of your complaints about my description here.]

Heather teared up with that friendly acknowledgment, for which we thanked him profusely afterward.

And hey--they even had missalettes, now, too. Not by OCP, either.

All around, a good thing, right? For the most part, yes. Two complaints, though, in ascending order of seriousness:

First, the Dread Saginaw Blessing is now in print, and inserted as a separate sheet in the back of the missalette. The wording is attributed to the late Bp. Untener, but I have no way to verify that, so we should refrain from comment on authorship questions. It could very well be a product of the U Community, and not the ipsissima verbi of the late Bishop, who was the furthest thing from an idiot. And it would be idiocy to instigate a direct clash with Rome on the pronoun used to address the Almighty. Moreover, it wasn't used, so there's an almost "who cares" feeling about it. In fact, it struck me as a kind of "take my ball and go home" pout. Fine--if we can't have the Incredible Concelebrating Nun, then take that!

Second, and more substantively: there's something deeply, fundamentally wrong here. No, no--I'm not griping about the fact positive changes have been made. But here's the bottom line: no bishop should have that much impact on the form and substance of Catholic worship. That's where the concept of collegiality goes flying off the rails and starts to barrel roll.

If he does have that much power, then in a very real sense you are less a Catholic than one of the faithful of the Church of (Arch)Bishop X. Worship changes (or does not change) on his fiat alone. Wait until he gets promoted, retires or passes away, and everything can change. Talk about a quite-literally man-centered religion....

That, I submit, is manifestly screwed and out of whack with any recognizable Christian tradition. Yes, the Orthodox have collegiality, but they don't pretend the bishop has any special mastery over the form and substance of the Divine Liturgy. For them, it's hands off, your excellency. Time to start listening to the wisdom of the East again. And start removing the episcopal "escape hatches" from the liturgy--it sounds good on paper, but in practice...

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