Bp. Sample explains his vision for New Evangelization and Sacred Liturgy

My friend Fr John Boyle of the blog Caritas in veritate sums up a convocation of priests in the Diocese of Marquette. His notes about Bishop Alex Sample’s remarks are worth reading in full.

Here is an excerpt of the summary on sacred liturgy.

Bishop Sample suggested that the new English translation of the Mass was an opportune time for the Church, for us, to set about the work of renewal and reform of the Sacred Liturgy, and that this is central to the work of the New Evangelisation.

The bishop placed himself clearly in the camp of Pope Benedict who spoke of the need for a reform of the reform long before becoming Pope. Some might say that the bishop just wants to take us back to the way things were before? The fact that he celebrates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the Cathedral every month has apparently created some waves. And the positioning of the Crucifix on the altar facing the celebrant has also provoked some comment. But there could be nothing further from the truth. Pope Benedict allowed a greater flourishing of the Extraordinary Form so that it would stand side by side with the Novus Ordo, that both forms might enrich one another.

It is a good time to take a step back and to examine: what has been good, what has been lost, what can we recover. “I’m following, I’m listening to Benedict XVI. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides our shepherd” Bishop Sample said.

Bishops are seeing, rightly, the implementation of the new, corrected translation as a real opportunity to renew worship and – if course – our Catholic identity.

WDTPRS kudos to Bp Sample and to Fr. Boyle for the positive news.

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10 Responses to Bp. Sample explains his vision for New Evangelization and Sacred Liturgy

  1. Dr. K says:

    “And the positioning of the Crucifix on the altar facing the celebrant has also provoked some comment.”
    Ad orientem could easily resolve this issue :-)

  2. FrAWeidner says:

    Dr. K.,
    Perhaps you’re aware of Pope Benedict’s personal usage of the crucifix on the altar facing the celebrant as a compromise solution. His Holiness as a cardinal stated his preference for ad orientem, but that pastoral choice requires weeks and volumes of catechesis and conversion for the faithful in 99% of OF parishes before it can possibly do anything other than alienate the average OF (poorly-formed) Catholic.

    This article is the first time I recall anyone citing the celebrant-facing crucifix on the altar as in any way controversial or eyebrow-raising. Of course it is. The average OF Catholic in the United States expects the celebrant to be mugging at *them* during the Eucharistic Prayer. This is, of course, ahem, interesting, given that there is no other social situation in the entirety of human life in which one addresses one person and looks someone else, who is categorically ***NOT*** being addressed, in the eye. The Eucharistic Prayer is of course directed to the Father, not to the congregation. Why do most OF Catholics expect such gauche behavior from the celebrant, to the ludicrous point of being offended when it doesn’t happen? Because that’s what the vast majority of their celebrants have done for 40 years.

    Why even one single Catholic priest ever conceived that that behavior was a sapient idea is a question I can’t answer.

    In the meantime, the usage of the Benedictine crucifix, accompanied by appropriate and careful catechesis as to the God-directedness of the Eucharistic Prayer, is an excellent intermediate transition to an eventual ad orientem arrangement for diocesan priests celebrating the OF.

  3. Fr. Weidner: “Why even one single Catholic priest ever conceived that that behavior was a sapient idea is a question I can’t answer.”

    Then let me attempt an answer. Which is that those who originally foisted versus populum celebration on us sought to replace the traditional interpretation of

    –the Mass as a perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross, in which the priest offering it addresses God with
    –the Mass as a remembrance of the Last Supper, in which the priest addresses those to whom he offers its fruits.

    Unfortunately, this change they sought in the theology of the Mass has largely been successful, at least in the conception of most of the faithful, if not in the official doctrine of the Church.

  4. Maltese says:

    The TLM can enrich the NO, but not vice versa. How could the “most beautiful thing this side of heaven” be enriched by a “banal, on the spot” liturgy by commission?

    I think it’s fantastic that this Bishop celebrates the TLM; what a great example the priests under him! It is a fact that in many dioceses priests are still too afraid of reprisal to celebrate the TLM even if they’d like to.

  5. Centristian says:

    “’I’m following, I’m listening to Benedict XVI. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides our shepherd’ Bishop Sample said.”

    *applause*

    @FrAWeidner:

    “His Holiness as a cardinal stated his preference for ad orientem, but that pastoral choice requires weeks and volumes of catechesis and conversion for the faithful in 99% of OF parishes before it can possibly do anything other than alienate the average OF (poorly-formed) Catholic.”

    Alienate or temporarily bewilder?

  6. SimonDodd says:

    Centristian said…
    “Alienate or temporarily bewilder?”

    With or without catechesis, I suspect that the reaction of some will be to cry “they’re trying to take us back!” If you suggest the use of latin in the liturgy, you’re trying to take us back. If you suggest ad orientem, ditto. If you suggest using chant—even in English!—ditto. I’ve heard the corrected translation criticized as an effort to take us back. Some people seem primed to be alienated by any effort to undo anything of the last few decades. We need to lovingly and patiently engage with them to explain that we’re not going back, we’re going forward, but that in doing so, we must reclaim some of the things that we dropped on the way.

  7. uptoncp says:

    The trouble with “temporarily bewildering” your congregation is that they may not come back to be un-bewildered again. It therefore becomes permanent bewilderment, i.e. alienation.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    uptoncp,
    Yes, you’re absolutely right, and for many people this eventually leads them to wander out the door. They cease to see the point anymore. It loosens the bond and in many cases breaks it entirely. And then to fill the void, they find something else, be it secular or religious in nature. But they’re gone. There’s much empirical evidence that exactly this happened to many people, that this phenomenon went viral after the introduction of V2 to parishes, and that it continues to this day.

    However, I believe that at long last, that were are stepping out of this time warp that we’ve been stuck in since the 60s/70s. One of the main reasons for this is a growing concern by bishops and some others (maybe you could even call it a panic) over the number of people who have left the church and the drop in support for Catholic parishes. I mean when it gets bad enough even the Church, who keeps lousy records on what’s going on, starts noticing the pinch. The recognition is finally taking hold that the number of eyes they’re looking at on a weekly basis getting smaller and smaller and overall, less and less comprehending.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ll go out on a limb and say that for many Catholics in the pews, the infinitessimally fine points about which way the crucifix is pointing and what altar clothes we’re using and such things don’t really matter near as much as the recognition that mass is worship of God, and a recognition of why they are there and what they are doing. In order to have this for the average person, there needs to be some reverence, continuity with the past, stability and sound teacherly catechesis (read clarity, constance, simplicity & truth). This gives average people (and most people are average) “access” to worship and “access” to the Church at the right level for spiritual growth through their lives. It’s just that simple. Maybe we are back to where we can recognize that now. I certainly hope so.

    The fine points of liturgical matters are important as well, and they should be arranged correctly and with an element of continuity and coherence, at least in part, to foster the aims of the past paragraph. But when these particular fine points haven’t been attended to properly, I’m not sure they’ve been as important as some of the other debacles of the post-V2 experience such as the raw displays of force, constant change and basic “baiting the faithful” to get a rise out of them. All of these things were done after Vatican II and some of them are still being done in attempts to get the people to “grow up” or to support popular causes or some such very passe temporal or political motivation.

    I particularly find the “hymn of the month” thing obnoxious. How many of you have noticed that hymns don’t seem to have the right lyrics and moreover, that lyrics change over time? Even old Protestant hymns that we’ve basically abducted have warped lyrics now. Strange. I expect this keeps copyrights current so that the “liturgical” music companies can make money. And it’s just one more method of “baiting the faithful” to keep them off their stride. Despicable.

  10. Centristian says:

    uptoncp:

    “The trouble with ‘temporarily bewildering’ your congregation is that they may not come back to be un-bewildered again. It therefore becomes permanent bewilderment, i.e. alienation.”

    I doubt it. I think you’d only be alienating those people who are permanently malcontent to the Left, as it were, and those who have been looking for an excuse to bolt in any case.

    Let’s consider, though, not the “wymyn”, not the armchair liturgists, not the “activists”, but the average Catholic in the pews. I have a very cynical suspicion that many Sunday worshippers would not even realize the difference and that few would care in any case. It seems to me–and I could be way off, here–but it seems to me that not many Catholics in the pews are very concerned at all about what the priest is doing and saying at the altar, the way we followers of this blog are.

    If a parish priest were to address his congregation this Sunday and explain to them that when, say, Advent begins, he’s going to begin celebrating the Eucharistic Prayer (he’d have to explain to them what the Eucharistic Prayer is) at the original altar instead of at the table altar, told them why, and reiterated this objective in his sermon each week between now and then, his congregation would be as prepared as they need to be for the “big move” back to the big altar.

    There would be a number of parishioners who will not have been paying attention to Father’s sermons week-after-week who would still be caught off guard but as inattentive as such parishioners are and have always been, they would hardly be the types to raise a stink about anything. Church is church: get us out of here in 45 minutes and you can face any direction you like, Father.

    That’s actually not a bad tactic: make a deal with the congregation. “Folks, if you go along with me on this and just give it a shot, I’ll promise to give three minute homilies every Sunday for a year.” Not that a priest would actually need to make a deal, though. Again, I just don’t think many worshippers would object very strenuously to begin with due to the general apathy of Catholics in the pews at this point.

    That apathy, in any case, is something that we would want to shake people out of, isn’t it? A “reform of the reform” that happens rather more quickly and suddenly than everyone imagines it should would likely have that effect to a certain degree. Many Catholics would, I think, find such reforms intriguing. Few, I think, would find them alienating.

    If the Church waits for everyone to be ready before imposing the reform, it will wait an eternity. In fact, I believe that by their apathy, Catholics are, in fact, ready now. If changes should be made, why not make them now, when nobody cares.