What is a “liturgist”? Some thoughts.

US HERE – UK HERE

Go over right away to read Anthony Esolen’s latest at The Catholic Thing.

He reflects on how hard it is to pray at a rather usual “Novus Ordo” Mass. His description could match any number of places.

Then he asks: What is a liturgist?

He gives his own thoughts on the matter.

My old pastor use to say that:

A liturgist is one raised up by God so that people who haven’t yet suffered for their Faith may do so.

Back to Esolen. Choice quote…

[…]

I stand in line to receive, just as I stand in line for chili and doughnuts at Tim Horton’s.  Indeed, at the latter, I may have a few moments of silence for thinking, but at Communion, no.  Keep that line moving, pal.  Body of Christ already.

The priest at this church is a very fine man, and he gives intelligent homilies.  I believe he does the best he can, by his lights, under the circumstances.  But everything in that Mass, from the music out of Glory ’N’ Praise, to the bored and slouching altar girls, to the chirpy announcer, to the disgraceful lectionary, to the bleak and bare walls, to the bad liturgical instructions come down from the chancery, acts as a drag on the ship of faith.

It is like trying to sail with anchors down and flukes in the mud.

[…]

As usual, his writing is excellent.  Go there to find his answer to the question.

Also, check out his book

Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World

US HERE – UK HERE

 

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16 Responses to What is a “liturgist”? Some thoughts.

  1. G1j says:

    Wow…If that commentary doesn’t describe my Parish to a “T”, I don’t know what does. Almost as if he sits behind my family at Mass. Barren white walls, resurrexifix behind the round altar, terra-cotta colored statues, chatter in the pews before and after Mass, EMHC’s in flip-flops. We will be there tonight for Vigil Mass at 5:00pm.

  2. ex seaxe says:

    On the one hand I would find this objectionable if any attempt were made to impose it here (Liverpool, England). Why did we install kneelers if they were not to be used? On the other hand it is what I always did in the 1950s, when there were only enough seats for women and children, so as soon as I was a teenager (maybe a year or two earlier) I became one of the men standing in the aisles. GIRM of course has local flavours, but standing except for the non-Gospel readings, the sermon, and the quiet after Communion, with kneeling at the Consecration (only), is clearly the Latin Rite norm; with the proviso that ‘where it is customary to kneel from the Sanctus to the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, and at Ecce Agnus Dei, it is laudable for the practice to be retained‘ GIRM43.

  3. APX says:

    As soon as I read Tim Hortons and Glory & Praise (I miss that hymnal. It’s really not that bad compared to other hymnals), I knew this was Canadian in nature.

    When I was 8 (early 90s) we got a new priest who tried to implement not kneeling after communion. In those days, the congregation wouldn’t stand for it. In 2011 when the new GIRM and revised Translation came out, the CCCB issued directives that the congregation remain standing after communion until the last person receives as a sign of communion. Again, people wouldn’t stand for it, and letters to Rome were written. Rome responded-the people are free to kneel after communion. That being said, the directive to remain standing if one is able still shows up in the Diocesan Mass worship aid, which the people follow religiously.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    It could easily have been worse, with the music from Glory ’N’ Praise accompanied by electric guitar rather than piano, requiring the elderly parishioners to listen to forty loud twangs as the instrument is tuned before mass.

  5. veritas vincit says:

    “I stand in line to receive, just as I stand in line for chili and doughnuts at Tim Horton’s. Indeed, at the latter, I may have a few moments of silence for thinking, but at Communion, no. Keep that line moving, pal. Body of Christ already.”

    Reading the article, I get that Esolen is angry at the Diocese of Antigonish. Given what he describes about the almost total banishment of kneeling, I don’t blame him.

    But that quote above with an extremely broad brush is too much. The “standing in line” happens in the vast majority of US and Canadian Catholic parishes every Mass. It may not be are reverent as Esolen would like (very arguably not as reverent as it should be) but that doesn’t mean those who receive in that fashion are irrelevant as esolen depicts.

    Professor Anthony Esolen is a fine writer with a deep knowledge of the Catholic Faith and how it has enriched Western Society. (He writes a series for Magnificat entitled “How the Church Has Changed the World.”) But this time, he allowed his rhetoric to go too far.

    If hyou want to convince me to investigate the Traditional Latin Mass, denigrating the common practice of the Norvus Ordo Mass is not going to do it. Try to convince me that I’m missing out. But don’t tell me that, in effect, I may as well have stayed Protestant, rather than come into the Catholic Church to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The point of the standing in line remark is that communicants are supposed to be free to go whenever they like, and that anyone not going to receive should be free to keep his knees planted on the kneeler. That is the freedom of the children of God, and the standard operating instructions for Mass.

    Now, I was raised in a parish with lines, and knew nothing else; so I learned to meditate standing up and walking, and not really to see anything distracting. But there are times when you cannot do that and are rubbed raw, spiritually, by all sorts of things, and most of all by knowing that things are supposed to be different and better. It is like attending Mass in a church where half the equipment has been stolen, but nobody else even seems to notice the crime against God, and the deprivation of future generations.

    Esolen seems to be going through such a time, so it is a pity he is not in a more gentle atmosphere.

  7. Hidden One says:

    Dr. Esolen, if you’re reading this, consider kneeling for Communion next time. As you probably know, your former bishop–now administrator–is a rule-respecting canonist (with a degree in liturgical studies), and so in the event that someone attempts to deny you Communion, you have direct recourse to someone who will do his job in this matter.

  8. TonyO says:

    The point of the standing in line remark is that communicants are supposed to be free to go whenever they like, and that anyone not going to receive should be free to keep his knees planted on the kneeler. That is the freedom of the children of God, and the standard operating instructions for Mass.

    Sub.banshee, I was under the impression that there was actually a rule to that effect: the people were NOT supposed to approach the Eucharist row by row, pew by pew, rather all higgledy piggledy. However, when I went to look it up, I could not find it. Can you point to the source / location / rule? It would be a big help.

    That said, people who have been formed to expect to go pew by pew are going to carry that over to whatever church they later attend, and I can easily see it spreading merely because it does ease up some traffic problems. It is practical, in a sense. Of course, it is also practical in very nearly forcing someone who doesn’t really think he is prepared to receive communion to go up in line … and then we get the nonsense of either crossed arms (if we are lucky), or people receiving in a state of mortal sin out of shame in “standing out” like a sore thumb (much more likely). It is, of course, all of a piece with modernist Catholicism that simply assumes everyone should receive.

  9. TonyO says:

    In 2011 when the new GIRM and revised Translation came out, the CCCB issued directives that the congregation remain standing after communion until the last person receives as a sign of communion. Again, people wouldn’t stand for it, and letters to Rome were written. Rome responded-the people are free to kneel after communion. That being said, the directive to remain standing if one is able still shows up in the Diocesan Mass worship aid, which the people follow religiously.

    ex seaxe, my recall of the events was a little different, but I could be mistaken. In the US with the Novus Ordo (i.e. after 1969), the standard was to kneel for the consecration, stand for the Our Father, and kneel after the Agnus Dei through the Communion Rite. This was the almost universal US practice other than (a) where there were unusual circumstances (such as Mass in a wet field); or (b) there were too many people crowded together (and no pews with kneelers) so that kneeling would take up too much space), and (c) where flaky priests tried to discard the practice everywhere else out of a spirit of experiment and rebellion.

    When the 2011 General Instruction came out, where the universal rule was re-stated with a caveat that made an exception where the national conference of bishops specified otherwise, I thought the US Bishops via the USCCB asked for permission for the usual US tradition of kneeling after the Agnus Dei to be retained, as indicated was permissible in the GIRM. The Vatican approved that adaption of the GIRM, US-wide. Thus the rule in the US was to kneel after the Agnus Dei until the end of the Communion Rite (other than for receiving communion, naturally).

    Then, some US bishops (and some priests with or without approval of their bishops) decided to try out the experiment of copying the practice in other (not US) places, which had perfectly legitimate reason in other places, as was in conformity with custom there>/b>. But the rationale given here was not perfectly legitimate, it was made-up horseradish, and pretty transparent at that: “as a sign of communion”, my eye. As a sign of horizontal displacing the vertical, in reality. In any case, I thought Rome referred to the approval given to the US bishops to have the norm be kneeling after the Agnus Dei, through communion.

    On the other hand, the practice before the Novus Ordo seems to have been a much more hands-off attitude about telling the laity what posture they are supposed to have, and there was a bit of diversity of practice – but across the US it was common to kneel throughout the Communion rite. To the extent a priest might want to utilize THAT freedom, he should be permitting people to stand, but not telling them to. And certainly not telling them NOT to kneel, given that the Vatican has explicitly denied that the GIRM is to be understood as to enforce a not-kneeling posture in favor of some made-up symbolic togetherness.

  10. APX says:

    TonyO,

    This is Canada, not the USA. Prior to the new GIRM, Canadians didn’t even kneel for the Consecration.

  11. JonPatrick says:

    Unfortunately it is not easy to find a TLM in Atlantic Canada. For a short time there was a regular Sunday TLM in St. John New Brunswick, until the priest was transferred. I recall one family that came from near Halifax NS, a 4 hour trip each way. That’s dedication! Of course Antigonish is on Cape Breton, even further away.

  12. ejcmartin says:

    Mr. Esolen might be thankful that they use “Glory and Praise” and not “Catholic Book of Worship III,” (CBWIII) which was published by the CCCB. CBWIII is a beacon of inclusive language, and most references to sin, sacrifice etc. has been totally expunged. For example, “How Great Thou Art” the third line is missing. The CBWIII was updated by a committee of liturgists led by the former Bishop of Antigonish, Lahey. This is the same bishop who was very much in favour of the whole standing routine. In addition, he was eventually found to have child pornography on his computer and was laicized.

  13. APX says:

    ejcmartin,

    G&P and CBWIII commonly go together in a parish. CBW IV is being released this coming Advent. It still has that awful inclusive “Living Faith” version of Faith of Our Fathers that only includes the first verse and then goes on about Faith of our Sisters and Mother’s, etc, but I’m told it’s overall has more traditional hymns and Latin chant than CBW III.

  14. Volanges says:

    APX, not every parish stood during the Consecration before 2011. As a military dependent I’ve been posted across Canada since 1975 so my experience is in all provinces except B.C. I’ve been in some that didn’t kneel at all, some that knelt just for the Consecration, some for the entire EP, and some for the entire EP and after the Agnus Dei. When I first came to my present parish we knelt for the Consecration and after the Agnus Dei. Then someone convinced the Pastor that we should not be kneeling at all and in 2001 an announcement was made that we were no longer to kneel at all. A few kept kneeling for the Consecration but most stood.

    Fast forward 13 years and the new Pastor asks at a meeting,
    “I’ve been here almost a year and I have to say that I’m still disconcerted that nobody kneels for the Consecration. I’ve never seen that anywhere. What do I have to do to get people to kneel?”
    “Years ago they were told, by the Pastor, not to kneel. If you go in Sunday and say “I would like you to kneel after the Holy, Holy” all knees will hit the kneelers.”
    “Really?”
    “Really. They’ve just been waiting for the day it would happen.”
    We now kneel for the entire E.P. A few also kneel after the Agnus Dei, but it’s not widespread.

    It has always bugged me that when the 2002 GIRM was originally released, the posture hadn’t changed from that of 1975. But where nobody had seemed to notice that the universal GIRM of 1975 only called for kneeling at the Consecration and had pretty much kept doing what they wanted (except the US which had an adaptation for posture which originally had to be observed everywhere but which in the late 90s was changed to give Bishops the right to decide on the posture after the Agnus Dei) all of a sudden a big to-do was made about being forbidden to kneel after Communion.
    Funny how nobody ever thought they were forbidden to kneel after Communion prior to that.

    I was eagerly awaiting the new CBW, especially new Mass settings (8 years of nothing but Angeles’s setting is just about enough) but it seems that our choir has decided that since they haven’t learned everything that’s in the CBW III we don’t need a new hymnal. As I look through the index of the CBW IV, I can’t help but wish they’d included everything from “Jubilate Deo”. Last Thursday I would have loved to sing “Ave Maris Stella” but I’m afraid I don’t know it by heart and neither CBW II or III include it.

  15. KateD says:

    I love the imagery of trying to maneuver watercraft while something is creating drag…it is often frustratingly futile…but sometimes when one is being rapidly dragged out to sea by a strong current there is no other immediate option available but to paddle like crazy in hopes of countering the current as much as possible while praying for a miracle.

    When first exposed to the term liturgist I was immediately reminded of a YouTube video a friend recommended where a certain former satanist discusses the assignment of individuals, such as himself, to many Baptist and every Catholic Church for the purpose of creating chaos and disunity within in those communities.

  16. KateD says:

    As to the comment on standing it seemed to me a complaint about the lack of silence….but that might just be a reading comprehension issue on my part as I try to string words together on a one inch by one inch screen