April 30, 2001
volume 12, no. 120

The Germs of GIRM

Part Fourteen: 'Renew' by dissing the tried and True?

    The Renew program, or Renew 2000 or whatever else you want to call it, has been a willing architect in the wreckovation of our churches, our liturgy and Catholic absolutes. Unfortunately many dioceses have embraced this anomaly and the results have been - well, look around you. Does it in anyway resemble the absolutes of Roman Catholicism? The outward signs say no for the outward signs given by God to signify the graces being given in the Sacraments have been diminished and altered.

Paragraph 20 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire liturgy, involves the use of outward signs that foster, strengthen, and express faith. There must be the utmost care therefore to choose and to make wise use of those forms and elements provided by the Church which, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will best foster active and full participation and properly serve the spiritual well-being of the faithful."

Comment and Analysis:

    Talk about a loaded paragraph. Paragraph 20 links the service of the spiritual well-being of the faithful with what will foster "active and full participation." Thus, the plain implication here is that any "liturgy" which does not foster "active and full participation," as that concept is defined by the liturgical revolutionaries, is not in the service of the spiritual well-being of the faithful, giving those bishops and priests who are hostile to our living liturgical tradition more ammunition to give the faithful increasingly higher doses of revisionist history about how bad things were in the old days when the people did not participate actively and thus suffered from a lack of spiritual well-being.

    Paragraph 20 is critical in that it continues to develop the recurring theme in GIRM that the Mass is an act conditioned by the circumstances of time and place, not the perfect prayer which transcends every time and every place, the prayer which transports us back in time to Calvary - and forward from Calvary to eternity.

    What does "utmost care" mean? What does "to make wise use for those forms and elements provided by the Church" mean? These are loaded terms which can be deconstructed by those at the local level. Given the lack of supervision of liturgical matters from Rome (and a similar lack of supervision on the part of many bishops, many of whom have let the infamous Renew program redirect the celebration of a parish's "Sunday worship experience"), Paragraph 20 effectively means that anyone can do anything he wants with the liturgy as long as it can be connected to the "needs" of circumstance and place, as well as an attempt to claim that those local adaptations are done in the interests of the spiritual well-being of the people. Please, spare me.

Paragraph 21 of GIRM reads as follows:

    "The purpose of this Institutio is to give the general guidelines for planning the Eucharistic celebration properly and to set forth the rules for arranging the individual forms of celebration."

Comment and Analysis:

    Although brief, Paragraph 21 is the most important part of Chapter One of GIRM. The much anticipated new General Instruction of the Roman Missal resolves nothing. Not one blessed thing. It is merely a road map or a sort of Acme How to Do Liturgy manual which outlines some basic principles but leaves the specifics to individuals.

    Paragraph 21 makes GIRM an essentially irrelevant document which can be rendered in relativistic meaningless by the mere invocation of concerns for local needs and customs. And this is not even to mention the more malignant parts of GIRM, such as its stated preference for a free-standing altar and the celebration of the "Liturgy" facing the people.

    Thus, all a bishop or a priest has to do to justify some improvisation is to refer to Paragraph 21 and to dismiss GIRM as a set of guidelines which give great latitude to local churches (dioceses) and congregations. Confusion is thus heaped upon confusion and disarray.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.

Tomorrow: Part Fifteen: The disorder of the New Order

For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives

April 30, 2001
volume 12, no. 120
CHRIST or chaos
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