From the Ottawa Citizen with my emphases and comments.
Ottawa archbishop lays down law on kneeling [Huzzah!]
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Ottawa’s archbishop has ordered all Catholics to conform in how they kneel during mass, despite widespread grumbling that uniformity doesn’t equal sanctity, or even unity. [Well… its a start.]
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast circulated a letter recently asking that everyone kneel for the entire Eucharistic prayer from "Holy, holy, holy" to the conclusion "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" — about five minutes in all. [It’s sooo haaarrrrrd!]
Currently, some congregations stand for most of the prayer, kneeling only as the priest prepares holy communion. Some stand for the whole thing; others kneel throughout.
Archbishop Prendergast said in his letter: "I have noted a wide range of practices … which present a lack of harmony in a matter where we should be united — the worship of God.
"I know that it may not be easy for some to accept. However, I am convinced its implementation will bring blessings to our archdiocese and I invite your co-operation with this directive." [YES YES YES! This is an example of "Save The Liturgy – Save The World"! Kneeling with have consequences. I believe I wrote something about this yesterday, about genuflections before the Blessed Sacrament. Kneeling, I think, makes a difference.]
In an interview later, he explained: "It’s a sign of reverence. People say, ‘I don’t like that. We are the people set free, we no longer have to kneel to God,’ [Oh… yes. We are so grown up now! Modern man is so very sophisticated. We don’t have to kneel.] and I said, ‘Wait a minute, we do have to kneel to God. Christ knelt in the garden. People knelt before Jesus. Why can’t we do that for a few minutes at mass?’ "
One woman told him her husband might not come to church because of this. "She said, ‘we French Canadians have a bit of an inferiority complex. We don’t like people telling us what to do’."
He replied that, if the husband does come, he is free to stand through the prayer, but at the back of the church, where he won’t confuse everyone else.
It seems a small thing to ask the faithful to kneel during mass, but opponents say that’s just the point, especially since it is the archbishop’s first firm order since he arrived in this area last year.
"Is that all they have to think about?" asked former Ottawa councillor Toddy Kehoe, a parishioner at St. Joseph’s parish on Laurier Avenue East. "I don’t see the Catholic church as doing loving things. [Unreal.] I don’t see them as the caring community they should be. It isn’t whether you stand or kneel."
St. Joseph’s Rev. Richard Kelly declined to comment, as did a staff member who said in an e-mail: "It is hard to believe that a kneeler is such a big topic, and I wish I could say something about this piece of furniture that was meaningful, and about the prayer posture we have been requested to assume, but we are in difficult times and the focus for us as a parish is really how can we participate in the truth and reconciliation process with the aboriginal community of Canada." [WHAT?]
Even Rev. William Burke, associate director of the national liturgy office at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, refused to comment for fear of fanning the controversy. Canadian bishops have already agreed to adopt this rule when the new missal, or Catholic mass book, is introduced in the near future.
Archbishop Prendergast acknowledged the underlying strains. "Every time you talk about liturgy, everything else going on in the church is reflected." [Exactly.]
Right now, the Catholic church is asking, "Is (the mass) our thing or is it God’s thing? There are certain tensions in the church about that. [Well said.]
"After 40 years since the Vatican Council, we have gotten away from certain aspects of reverence; we’re trying to have more harmony and co-ordination. Harmony will help bolster a sense of divine worship, something that has slipped away.
"What has happened with the liturgy is that it is being asked to bear too many things." [It is at the heart of who we are.]
At one mass, people got so enthusiastic about greeting each other at the exchange of the peace that it took 45 minutes to get back to the pews and resume the service.
"That’s not what mass is about. It’s about worshipping God," Archbishop Prendergast said.
"At one time, nobody ever applauded. Now, they applaud for everything. It becomes more like a concert."
As to his authoritarian message, [perhaps "archiepiscopal" message] he said, "The bishop is the mentor of the liturgy, moderator, the one who calls the shots. I try to do it gently."
Nevertheless, to both clergy and congregants, he says, "I know you disagree, but I would like you to come along."
If someone comes to church and stubbornly stands, they won’t be asked to leave. But, the archbishop says, "You sort of wonder, what are they proving when there are two people standing in a church of 500 kneeling? Some people always have to let you know they’re right."
WDTPRS applauds Archbishop Prendergast.