A pioneer of the Catholic blogosphere, Amy Welborn, popular before I came onto the stage, has on her site a comment or three about a Mass she experienced.
Here is the part I found most interesting. My emphases:
When I went to Mass on New Year’s Day there, I thought about what “pastoral” means. It’s a word with many dimensions, and there are many ways to be “pastoral.” One foundational way is to give the people what the Church wants them to have, and not impose one’s own ideology or narcissistic personality on the ritual, whether we are ordained or lay. It’s respectful all around. It’s respectful of the Holy Spirit working through the Church’s tradition of prayer and worship, it’s respectful of the maturity of the people in the pews, it’s respectful of the delicate dynamic between human and divine action at work in all the Church’s life. God works through our efforts and presence, but we have to be continually humble and discerning of when our own needs and desires are creeping into the picture and threatening to distort what is there. When a “pastorally sensitive” liturgy turns on the opinions, tastes and likes of the celebrant, musicians and liturgy committee, you never end up with a “pastorally sensitive” liturgy. You end up with a liturgy that – not surprisingly – reflects the opinions, tastes and likes of the celebrant, musicians and liturgy committee with, quite often, personalities, rather than ritual, dominating the proceedings.
There’s a school of formation that believed that “the people” would best experience Christ through the distinctive personality of the minister – so that the celebrant’s warm, welcoming, and personal style was key in an individual and community’s encounter with Christ. It’s too much. It makes an idol of that person at the center. It opens a door to manipulation and cults of personality. We certainly meet Christ through the love and compassion of others, but structures and rituals exist as a form of checks and balances – to minimize the chances of an attention-seeking cleric or other minister to exploit his or her leadership position, and to afford a setting for prayer so the rest of us aren’t dominated by that personality.
When I went to Mass this week, the priest, quite honestly, hardly “did anything” – from an external perspective. He prayed the appropriate prayers – chanted most of them – without inserting his own extemporaneous remarks. He preached. But there were two deacons, several servers and a lot of music that was well done, but not intrusive or overbearing. In other words, the whole thing was organic, with no one piece or person dominating.
Read the rest there.
Allow me to add that the word is pástoral and not pastóral, pástorally and not pastórally, and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY not ever “pas-tó-ree-al.”
Pastorally sensitive liturgy?
Reason #87 for Summorum Pontificum.