Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In God’s Presence

Not A Moment to Delay
Idling is a terrible thing! Apart from my Google Reader list, which I try and trim down regularly so as not to waste time, however, I do occasionally seek things out of curiosity. Audio is challenging for me: it must really be good to hold my attention. I still prefer the printed word or its blogged equivalent.
          Those of you who follow my reflections on the debate as to where our “liturgical” salvation lies this side of heaven, whether in the reform of the reform or in a full restoration as the only means of picking up the threads and promoting a certain evolution or ongoing reform of the Sacred Liturgy, as willed by the Second Vatican Council, will know that I lean toward the reform of the reform.
          The piece cited below entitled “The Battle for the Ancient Mass” has not really swayed me on that account, but it has confirmed me in the urgent need of a reform of the status quo, let us say, for the sake of the children. The arbitrary, the capricious, the undignified must be banished from our churches such that small children, young children and young people might know these spaces for what they must be, namely as God’s House. Father Goodwin quotes the present Holy Father’s judgment that much of contemporary liturgy represents rupture, a banal, on the spot product. I am not so bold in my own pleas for faithfulness to rubrics and the cultivation of a certain gravitas in the way the priest approaches the Sacred Mysteries. While some might consider my adherence to ad Orientem worship as radical, I think if they were to try it for a longer period of time they would become as convinced as I am that this is how liturgy is meant to be.
Recent attempts on my part to involve others in reflection on sacred music have been fended off with appeals to the genius of any given people and the rightness of striving for a healthy measure of inculturation as a way to the people’s heart. Sadly, what my interlocutors spell as inculturation reads for me as little more than improvisation. I am reminded of a mother superior who roundly condemned the “offertory dance procession” of some local girls we had experienced as “too jiggly”, while acclaiming the rendition by her own postulants from Africa as genuine. I saw no difference except that the local girls preferred outfits with spandex and madras as opposed to the Africans’ full tunics. Both were “jiggly” to me and bringing up the Book of the Gospels in the fruit basket from the market on some gal’s head could hardly defend itself from Fr. Goodwin’s judgment “banal, on the spot product”, or to quote myself: “Say inculturation if you will, I am still reading improvisation.”
          As I say, I’m not a “restoration man” as such or as yet, but I fully understand what Fr. Goodwin is saying “for the sake of the children”. Save him for a quiet moment and decide for yourself whether we dare lose another moment to the arbitrary!

By FSSP on May 26, 2010
Father Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, discusses the history and struggles associated with the Traditional Latin Mass in this hour long talk.


Lux Veritatis said...

You are good...and I adhere with much of what you say: a reform of the reform. However, my question is rather the following: what does the Magisterium mean when it speaks of Inculturation ? That is my problem. It is like being caught between to realities pulling on each side.

I believe that our Liturgy, when celebrated solemnly according to what is in the rubrics and ridding it of all the extras has the possibility of really transporting us "in alto"...

Lux Veritatis said...

that is "two" realities, not "to" realities... spelling !

Thomas said...

It doesn't really matter what Church teaching on inculturation is if it is never experienced. I saw a marvelous YouTube video in which Card. Arinze talks about liturgical dance. He makes some profound distinctions and sheds great light on what is meant by inculturation.

Lux Veritatis said...

Still, the Church is Mater et Magistra... What She says about inculturation is still importance. Of course, as you say, if it is never experienced, of course, it has no "existential" importance in a determined area.

Card. Arinze's video is certainly very impressive. Implicitly he is speaking about the correct way of understanding inculturation. I hear him this last weekend on a T.V. show where he tackled the issue again.

Archbishop E. Clarke has some interesting things to say about inculturation a few years ago. However, when one enters the realm of music, it is not always so easy to distinguish.

Years ago, when I was an Army Chaplain, a woman asked to come to mass on the Base. It was a week day, it was a hot hot day in the semi-desert of B.C.'s interior. So, the chapel was like an oven. At any rate, I celebrated very simply.

After Mass, the woman approached me and said, "Padre, was that the Novus Ordo mass ?" I replied, "Yes, why ?". "Well, she replied, I never thought it could be so beautiful. In my parish, the priest does all sorts of crazy things and we cannot recognize the mass, that's why I started going to Mass at the St. Pius X people".

I never forgot that. The pulchrum, verum and bonum are already there in the Liturgy. When we get in the way, it disappears !