DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     February 25, 1999     vol. 10, no. 39


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe. Today, he completes a two part series on the confusion and consternation that has evolved from abuses of something the Vatican II Council Fathers never intended to be so perplexing: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Mass Confusion part two

          A teacher of liturgy recently spoke about the "Mass Confusion" around the 'new' New Mass with gratifying clarity: "The Council was a Copernican revolution." There is taking place today a "revolution in our understanding of the Church" towards a "new Church." Now, the congregation is the subject of the worship service. And he added the deceptive and untrue statement that "The Council has not left to us the path of Tradition." (Ideology and Liturgy: Worship as the Cult of Community by Rev. Robert A. Skeris)

          This has led to what can only be described as 'Fad Masses'. If we read polls, we see a dramatic drop in attendance at Mass by 'faithful' Catholics. (One poll says that 90% of America perceives themselves as religious though only approx. 40% attend Sunday Mass.) So, in order to bring the people back, they run off after innovations to make the Mass more 'enjoyable', more 'pertinent'. (Though how the worship of God isn't pertinent is beyond me)

          Where once we sung hymns giving glory to God (even modern ones) we hear more hymn's giving glory to the community. "We are the chosen people, we are the church of God, united with each others…etc." I call them the 'How great We art' hymn's.

          Once, the Consecration was the center of the Mass, the Eucharist the 'life' blood of the Church. Now, according to polls, it's the 'Hand shake of peace' and/or the 'Great Amen'. The Eucharist, being the Real Presence of Christ, unites us to Him when we receive Him, and to each other as each of us receives It worthily. However, we can see by just watching the people go to receive Him, that this reverence is, if not gone, seriously lacking. Not only those who receive It without any outward sign of reverence, but the 'assembly line' way in which we receive it, lends itself to a lack of reverence. (the priest and/or eucharistic ministers can hardly watch someone consume the host, as they're supposed to, while they do so as they walk away and the next person moves up. Reminds me of an old 'I Love Lucy' episode!)

          Now we even have parishes which remove their kneelers since it's beneath them to kneel before their Lord God during the Consecration.

          In many parishes, the priest no longer has anything to do with the Liturgy, leaving that to a 'trained' Liturgist and/or a Liturgy Council. Hence, parishes run 'polls' to find new ways of innovation.

          When I hear someone remark, "I come to Mass here because Fr. Joe is so cool!" Or, "The Ba Hai church up the road recommended this Mass." Or, "Fr. Joe makes the Mass so alive, so joyful." If it takes Fr. Joe for you to find joy in the Mass, then you don't understand what the Mass is. "….the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty…." In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory." (SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM)

          Fr. Robert A. Skeris points out six factors which has led to confusion and the 'remaking' of the New Mass.

      1)" The spokesmen for permanent liturgical revolution never tire of inculcating their new gospel: that we should eschew the narrow and restrictive views of an earlier age and conceive the Mass not so much in terms of worship or sacrifice, as of God's action upon men, as though _ in opposition to all the great theologians and all the councils _ it were less a matter of adoring and glorifying the Most High God by means of an appropriate propitiatory sacrifice, and more a matter of human wellbeing and happiness."

      2) "we must recall that today, when the infinitely holy and adorable majesty of God has receded so far into the background, and gradually faded away in favor of a "nice," friendly God, it has little by little become fashionable to deny that the essence of the Sacrifice of the Cross is satisfactio vicaria, vicarious satisfaction.

      What sort of a God would that be, they ask, who demands such a bloody sacrifice? And in this context the propitiatory character of the Sacrifice of the Mass naturally fades away, too. . . ."

      3)" we should note the transformation of what was formerly called the "consecration" of the Mass into the "words of institution" or the "institution narrative," of which one now simply says, "It . . . proclaims in the form of a prayer the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus." How often has each one of us observed the "institution narrative" mechanically rattled off without a pause or a break, while the celebrant (the "presider"?) candidly gazed at the assembly!"

      4)" it has become generally accepted _ at least by the members of the Liturgy Club _ "that it is no longer the priest alone, but rather the assembled congregation as a whole which is subject and executant of the liturgical action." (And as a matter of fact this statement actually represents a "Copernican revolution." For in spite of the assurances that "all the faithful participate in Christ's priesthood," it is simply no longer true that the ordained priest, as such, clearly and unmistakeably acts in persona Christi Who functions as the real High Priest. Hence it is no accident that in such a context one finds curious statements such as this: "All things considered, one must indeed say that the concept of `priest' is not particularly suitable . . . for describing the specific function of office- holders in the Church." (Th. Schneider, professor of dogmatic theology at Mainz, cited in Richter-Schilson)"

      5) "the transformation of the priest into a "presider," a term which is used with an almost exclusive pointedness in the new liturgical books. It is not only the new word which is significant. Here we find a palpable instance of demythologisation in the manner in which the doctrine of the indelible character which the candidate receives in the sacrament of Holy Orders." (Is it any wonder? 'Anyone' can be a presider, even a woman. Hence, the ultimate goal of groups like the Women's Ordination Committee isn't the ordination of women, but the end of the priesthood and the beginning of 'community-ordained facilitators')

      6) "it is not difficult to discern the demythologisation lying in the confusion which mistakes that noble simplicity the last Council desired for the liturgy, for the straightforward transparency to which I have already referred. This pellucidity (clear, translucent) has become one of the standard demands of the liturgical tinkers: as if it were quite appropriate, instead of completely grotesque, to call for the same insipid clearness which we rightly expect in everyday events _ but at the sublime event of Holy Mass, in which the mysterium tremendum of the Incarnation repeats itself, in the correctly understood sense of that expression. If there is anything which has driven people out of the churches in such large numbers in the wake of the last Council, then it is this presumptuous insistence upon banal intelligibility, this cheapening of the Sacred which reduces it to the level of the normal and the everyday, thus effectively profaning it." (Ideology and Liturgy: Worship as the Cult of Community)

          So, when you go to Mass, what do you go for? What do you go to see? To be entertained? To be given a group hug? Or to join with others in the worship of God?

          If the Mass is the worship OF the community, then there is no need to attend if one doesn't 'feel up to it'. Just as one need not attend a social function. "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." And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: "Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense." (INAESTIMABILE DONUM Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery Approved and Confirmed by Pope John Paul II)

          Hopefully these two installments have helped clarify somewhat the muddled mess we have found ourselves in with the Novus Ordo which was never intended to be an innovative experiment but rather a continuation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the vernacular with greater participation by the faithful.

    Pax Christi, Pat

February 25, 1999       volume 10, no. 39


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