At Catholic World Report, we find an address Fr. Peter Stravinskas recently gave to a chapter of Legatus about liturgical issues. He breaks down, Barney style, some super important issues which, today, are controversial. Inter alia he:
- strongly endorses Robert Card. Sarah and his invitation to priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem
- he explains the utility of Latin in a highly mobile age
- examines distribution of Communion by lay people
- looks at Communion in the hand – quite a bit of space, to this! – and advocates Communion on the tongue while kneeling
He has an amusing rejoinder to those who say that we are just trying to “turn the clock back”.
These issues are controversial today. They shouldn’t be. But they are.
They are controversial and they should be. We must talk about them. In fact, we have to have the fight about them, that’s how important they are.
Why? Because our sacred liturgical worship is our collective ecclesial unum necessarium.
I have long advocated a widespread increase in the use of the traditional Roman Rite from the conviction that it will, as Pope Benedict intended, exert a strong “gravitational pull” (my image) on the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated. As priests learn the older form, their ars celebrandi changes. In turn, that will have a knock on effect on congregations and, thereafter, the whole life of the Church in every sphere.
Why? Because WE ARE OUR RITES!
As I have been pounding away at for years, decades as a matter of fact, if by the virtue of justice we are bound to give to human persons what is owed to them, then also by the virtue of religion we are bound to give to the Divine Persons what is owed to them, chief of which is worship.
In our relationships and in our actions there is a hierarchy. What goes to God must be first and foremost.
If we don’t have worship of Almighty God squared away, then nothing else that devolves in our hierarchies of relations and actions will be properly ordered and effective.
This is why I am constantly harping on the fact that no initiative we undertake in the Church will be effective unless it begins in worship pleasing to God and returns to worship.
God helps us to get all of this straight by giving us a Church with His own authority to teach us and to tell us how to worship in sacred liturgy. The Church’s sacred liturgical worship is pleasing to God when we are faithful to it and we give our very best to it.
Hence, my perpetual lament – echoed just the other day – that priests and bishops (especially bishops!) get up in front of people and make speeches about this or that issue but they almost never bring liturgical worship of God into the picture. When they occasionally do, I get pretty worked up (for example HERE).
It is as if most bishops see themselves as senators or aldermen rather than as priests.
Again, all our initiatives are doomed to failure if they are not rooted – first – in sacred liturgical worship.
Remember that whole thing about the Eucharist (Itself and Its celebration which is Mass) being the “source and summit” of our Christian lives?
Again, we are our rites. Change them and you change our identity and, hence, our impact in the world around us (as in “Save The Liturgy, Save The World“)… not to mention our path to salvation.
Hey bishops and priests! Wanna promote social action with real fruits? Then revitalize worship! Clean up the abuses! Say the Black and do the Red (after all, each gesture and worship in our liturgical rites is Jesus Christ the High Priest gesturing and speaking)! Get down on your knees before God!
Stravinskas hit for six on this point in the opening section of his talk, where he wrote/said:
I told an archbishop-friend of mine that I was going to address business people about liturgical concerns. He was slightly bemused [sigh] and said, “With all the problems in the Church and the world, you’re going to talk about liturgy?” He went on: “Of all the clergy I know, you and Cardinal Sarah are at the top of my list, but I don’t get the stress on liturgy.” I replied: “The principal reason for the existence of the Church is to offer fitting praise and worship to Almighty God. There is nothing more important. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] If we can’t get that right, we can’t get anything else right, either.[My exact perennial and incessant point.] Indeed, every other good thing we may want to accomplish flows from our life of worship.” He seemed to “get it,” although I am not sure if it will stick with him long-term. I hope I can have a more lasting effect on you.
I’ve disagreed with Fr. Stravinskas on a few practical issues now and then, but there is absolutely not the hint of a question that, on the connection of liturgy and – well – EVERYTHING that we hold dear as Catholics, he truly gets it.
Would that in the future and soon more priests and bishops, especially, will get it. Then we all have to close ranks and really get to work… together.
Enough of the fragmentation and turf-defending B as in B, S as in S!
Lay people: You have a role to play. You have great influence. You have a right to sound sacred liturgical worship, faithful to the Church and consistent with what our forebears understood, loved, foster and bequeathed to us as our rightful and honored patrimony.
Priests: I’m going to promote myself. If you want a serious talk about these matters with your own parish, I’ll come and do the heavy lifting. I always weave this stuff into what I speak about, for example during parish missions. Just ask the great iPadre, whose parish I recently visited for a parish mission. I’m sure that Stravinskas and other good priests who get it would also do this well and often. We should form a team, a kind of Joint Sacred Liturgy Task Force…. Joint Catholic Identity Task Force? Joint SURVIVAL Task Force? Same thing.
We need a revitalization of our worship here, there and everywhere. Let’s get on it, together.
BASIC ACTION ITEMS:
- Liturgical catechesis
- Communion on the tongue and kneeling
- Fewer lay ministers
- Ad orientem worship