RC liturgy hopeless, says traditionalist

Not so, if you do a work-around

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By Jim Bowman


A pessimistic view of today's Catholic liturgy:

The [post-Vatican 2] Pauline rite [Paul VI's] is so radical a deconstruction and reconstruction of the Roman liturgy that it does not exist in the same tradition of organic development. It is a new departure, a new thing, not a revision of the old thing that had been handed down over the centuries.

As an artificial liturgical entity constructed out of pieces of the Roman heritage combined with modern scholarly inventions, any future reform of it would be no more than a variation on the new theme. The only way forward is not to tinker any more with this "fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product" (as Ratzinger called it in 1992), but to return steadfastly and stalwartly to the Catholic and Roman liturgical tradition embodied in the preconciliar Missal.

Indeed, only in this way can the deepest aims and aspirations of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy be achieved and even applied.

In other words, it's beyond fixing.

There are times when I agree, as when:

* The fist-bump of peace before communion becomes a silly thing, with people all over the church waving at anyone and everyone eagerly, frantically.

* The church becomes a social hall at end of mass, regardless of blessed sacrament, what we used to call the real presence up front.

* When at communion time when we jockey for position to find the extraordinary minister with bread first, then the one with wine If we take wine, in each case going up to face someone who wants to engage you who may be seeking communion of a more spiritual kind.

* The music, as of piano-banging, blasts away in a sort of holy vaudeville performance, one catchy tune after another.

* The sentimental romanticized lyrics, with their dreary melodies threaten to stay with you like a radio commercial.

On the other hand:

Done well, the fist-bump -- handshake or hug or what suits you -- can be a good thing, and one can usually manage it well enough. After all, we mass-goers are a well-meaning lot and usually more than that. A moment of sincere welcome needn't disrupt a sacred moment. The overly demonstrative can be put off with a bit of uber-solemnity. One and done is my motto here, except on family or ceremonial occasions such as a class-reunion or wedding mass.

After-mass chatting bespeaks love and even liking of one another. It's a good thing, and with the weather so cold outside is making the best of a bad situation. Also, if you are serious about some after-mass contemplation or woolgathering, people usually leave you alone.

Communion time is manageable. You keep your head down, avoiding eye contact with the dispenser of communion. Sticking out your tongue, eyes closed, is a bit clumsy while standing. Some churches offer the choice (a rail and kneel space), but most don't. Take the host and run is my motto here.

Music can be ignored along with other distractions, once you embrace your freedom as a Christian. It may call for making up your mind to ignore many sights and sounds, including what the priest says and does; he has a key role but needn't be allowed to distract.

After a while, you spontaneously supply your own distractions, say by reading the New Testament or a missal of the olden times -- anything to keep you in the spirit of worship. Then you maybe can relax and above all learn to love, even like, your fellow worshipers and the relevant ministers, they being sin-filled pilgrims like you and Pope Francis.

This work-around does not address the concerns of the man quoted above. God bless him. He makes good points. But in my neighborhood, what he says is best kept as background data while I make do.

Email: jimbowman7@aol.com Twitter: @BlitheSp

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