Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Liccione assaulted by bog liturgy in Charlotte

In case any of you really wondered about some of my stories about liturgies in these parts, Michael Liccione has a story of his I offer as corroborration in an otherwise sensitive and thoughtful post entitled "Turning toward the Lord" (Sacramentum Vitae, March 5, 2007).
I must say that I was appalled. The music by the teenaged choir was, without interruption or mixture, the worst of the saccharine, 70s Jesuit stuff I thought I had left behind for good after abandoning the Catholic campus ministry in college three decades ago. The priest—whom nobody would mistake for an intellectual, or even for an NPR listener—practically tied himself in knots with solecisms. His five-minute homily, which relied on The Lone Ranger as an extended metaphor, preceded a long presentation by a portly, middle-aged woman about the Diocesan Support Appeal. The chief feature of that was exhaustive number-crunching done dialogically with the congregation in the format of a quiz show. (Don't ask any more, please.) That lasted fifteen minutes; they ought to give partial indulgences for having to sit through such a thing.
After describing his teeth-gritting posthaste escape to his favorite pub to nurse an oatmeal stout, Liccione concludes this way:
What can one say? In the Catholic Church, it is time to "reform the reform" of the liturgy so that Mass once again becomes a place where the eternal can be perceived as penetrating and elevating the temporal. One gets the sense that many Catholics, including clergy, don't even know what that means anymore. Yet as I've also observed, enough do to make such a reform doable.

A good place to start is to, um, turn toward the Lord physically. Let's bring back celebration of the Mass ad orientem, which means that both priest and people symbolically face the Lord together by facing east during those parts of the Mass when the priest addresses God on the people's behalf. For more on that topic, I recommend Fr. Scott Newman's recent post and the book he himself recommends.

Pope John Paul II's private chapel did Mass that way. There's no reason why it can't even be offered as an option for the mass of laity. I'd bet the bishops would be surprised at how well received the option would be.

No comments: