Sunday, January 9, 2011

Communicating the Sacred

There are countless signs that progress is being made in recovering a sense of the sacred in worship. Needless to say, much is left to be done as still too much abuse occurs and begs the question that ends up not getting asked: "Is nothing sacred anymore?"

After being exposed to a wretched little YouTube video of a Christmas Mass in the north of France, where a youngish looking priest (fully garbed) seemed to be leading what looked like an aerobics class in church, I've been feeling a bit like the man who has had the proverbial rug pulled out from under his feet. One of my hopes was never again to see a youngish face so compromised on the altar and yet there he was, swinging, dipping and twirling as if he had no good sense at what was touted as Catholic liturgy. Sad and discouraging! "Is nothing sacred anymore?"

Fr. Z came to the rescue this morning by drawing my attention to a Michael Vorris video on RealCatholicTV entitle: 1 Peter 3:15. Michael basically invites the laity to make a New Year's Resolution to dedicate 30 minutes each day to formation, to learning your faith, to becoming strong in your faith. I think the resolution was presented as doable and giving priority to sanctifying one's own soul, lighting that little candle rather than cursing the darkness is a right approach. Meantime, some of us have to do something to take a stand and counter such sacrilegious behavior as took place in the north of France at the hands of someone (a priest) who ought not to be classed a barbarian or an infidel.

How can self-education in the faith counter my French aerobic priest? Obviously it can't and that is the point. Education of the laity in the faith can only and rightly be aimed at giving ballast to the barque of Peter. It won't close the seminary in France that produced our whirling dirvish or rid parishes of all those willing to splice into a sound system so as to blast the sound needed to thump-thump accompany such poorly choreographed folly. It is unlikely to nudge older priests straddling the fence or the less than courageous "Hamlets" among God's anointed to opt for decorum and strict adherence to the rubrics for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice. It won't keep buildings in the round from being built or inspire criteria at diocesan level for rennovating churches which are once again oriented and focused on the Dawn from on High Who has come to visit us.

The pictures from this morning's celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel are beautiful, but even there I still haven't seen an image of the Holy Father at the Altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, all together turned toward the Lord. I have to admit I was looking for something sacred and beautiful to wash the images and droning of that Frenchy from my mind's eye and ear. Honestly, that is not so important as the fact that despite the Holy Father's writings and example, at least one young priest in northern France seems totally oblivious of what is expected of him when he leads God's people in worship.  "Is nothing sacred anymore?"

Let me renew my appeal especially to learned canonists to start writing for a renewal of the practice of issuing diocesal or better provincial synodal norms which apply the existing law of the Church in a manner which would put e.g. rubrics in the hands of priests who seem incapable of gleaning them from the General Instruction to the Roman Missal. I can remember going through and finding such small handbooks in the libraries bequeathed to the seminary by deceased priests. Such books seemed superflouous to me back then as they only applied the universal norms everyone was supposed to know. The older I get the more I see the wisdom of stating the obvious even for those who are supposed to be wise.

Good example and reasoned discourse, just like self-education by a laity deprived of basic knowledge of the faith, are terribly right and wholesome. But with a manual bound and in hand it's easier to say that playing a recording of Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way" after Communion at Grandpa's fineral just doesn't go, nor does a danced Ave Maria by Grandma's budding ballerina.

"Is nothing sacred anymore?" It can be through reasoned discourse, good example and applied norm.

properantes adventum diei Dei

1 comment:

Son of St. Philip said...

Canonists ??? What about Liturgists ???