Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tradition: Typical diatribe opposed to the Extraordinary Form

Update: I had meant to comment on the crucifix replacement at the parish in question. (Let me give a disclaimer: my parish does not have a majestic crucifix in the sanctuary, it has a "resurrectrix" -- the risen Christ. But it's not abstract art.) Holy Family Parish has "The Cross of New Life", as shown to the right here. It's pretty hideous in my opinion. Anyway, onto the actual post's content:

I have here a homily given by the pastor (Fr. Patrick J. Brennan) of Holy Family Parish in Illinois given on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus of this year. He says that, in the days when the feast was called Corpus Christi, the days of "thick Catholicism", the Eucharist was an "object, a holy thing that you put in a gold container" that people kept their distance from because they did not always feel worthy of it. He says that Vatican II, in its reformation of the liturgy, discovered a dynamism in the Eucharist that was previously unknown, and that the pre-conciliar faith saw the Eucharist as "static".

And then he says he is afraid that the Church is heading towards that "thick Catholicism" that has no dynamic understanding of the Eucharist. He speaks of an article in The Daily Herald about the (then) forth-coming motu proprio (although he says that the Pope has "just issued" it). He is upset over the Pope's formal affirmation that priests have right to say the "Tridentine Mass" -- it's important to note that the Pope did not grant any permissions in Summorum Pontificum, but simply affirmed the right of all priests to say Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The priest displays to his congregation "what it looked like" (I assume by turning around). He calls it "mumbling Latin words over objects". He threatens the congregation (which responds with laughter) that some day they might come to Mass and see that, since any priest will have the right to say Mass according to the Extraordinary Form.

Here's the audio feed (12:58):

Here's his homily, verbatim, with my emphases in bold and my comments [in bold red] (à la Fr. Z):
Some of us are of an age that remember this feast used to be called the Feast of Corpus Christi -- the Latin words for "the Body of Christ". It usually was held on a Thursday, and in churches there would be processions with the Eucharist, with the Blessed Sacrament. Sometimes the procession would go around the church; sometimes the processions actually went into the neighborhoods, and the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, would be in a gold container with glass called a monstrance. The priest would walk through the church and the neighborhood blessing and consecrating people with the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

There were some good things about those days. Those were the days of "thick Catholicism". [I wouldn't necessarily think "thick Catholicism" was a bad thing, especially compared to the "thin Catholicism" or the "watered-down Catholicism" I hear so much about lately.] Those were the days when ethnicity and neighborhood propagated Catholic culture. The people who celebrated Corpus Christi were people of deep spirituality and piety and devotion, and had great reverence and respect for the Eucharist. [Good! Keep up the deep spirituality, piety, devotion, reverence, and respect!]

But there was a downside to that period of thick Catholicism. For many folks, the Eucharist was an object [really?], a holy thing [the holiest! the "treasure of the Church" as Pope Benedict XVI said the very same day in his Angelus address] that you put in a gold container [it's worth mentioning that this parish's web site advertises 24/7 perpetual Eucharistic Adoration], and you kept your distance from the Eucharist. Oh, you had great reverence and respect as I said, but many people felt very unworthy of the Eucharist. [As St. Paul pointed out to the church in Corinth, it's not wrong to feel unworthy of it. You should not receive it unless you are in a state of grace.] So the Eucharist was an object, a holy thing, looked at and observed -- [Father] Denis and [Friar] Johnpaul were talking about how people used to use the language of "you go to Mass to hear Mass", not "to celebrate the Mass". The era [or was that 'error'?] of Corpus Christi.

Then Vatican II reformed the liturgy, reformed the Mass, and decisions were made to move Corpus Christi to Sunday, so that all Catholics can celebrate the importance of the Eucharist. And the title was changed to "the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus". What is the Eucharist, as renewed by Vatican II? Well, I think the answer is in the scripture readings today. Bear with me. [Brace yourselves.]

Genesis... Melchizedek celebrates a meal with bread and wine. Many folks in the Jewish tradition grew to believe that when the Messiah comes, he will offer a meal of bread and wine. And that's what Jesus did on Holy Thursday night, signifying to those who followed him that he was the Messiah, he was the promised one. And he takes that bread and wine, and he identifies the bread with his Body, and he identifies the wine with his Blood. As I say to second graders: if anybody were to give us their body and blood, what are they giving us? Their very self. In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us his very self. And notice the words in Corinthians: "this is for you". Jesus gives his very self to us in a spirit of self-sacrifice. "Do this in remembrance of me." This is a memorial meal, and in the ancient tradition of memorial meals, we remember a sacred event and the sacred event becomes present to us, and what we remember is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. [This is pretty good, but he's hung up more on the "memorial meal" idea than the sacrifice idea, I think. He mentions that the "sacred event becomes present to us", but doesn't say it's a re-presentation of the sacrifice (which is a key idea to get across). And it's not a re-presentation of the life and resurrection, it's a re-presentation (in an unbloody manner) of the crucifixion. The closest he comes to "sacrifice" is "a spirit of self-sacrifice", which I think falls a bit short of the mark, in terms of connotation.] And we enter into oneness with that mystery.

Vatican II said that the Eucharist is not a static object to be observed. No, the Eucharist is a dynamic celebration, in which we become one with Jesus, and one with each other, and one with God. And we're told also by Jesus and Paul that this meal is a celebration of a new covenant with God [it's more than a meal], a new bond with God, a new oneness with God, in and through the Real Presence of Jesus, and in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The Eucharist is a sacrament, and a sacrament -- the word sacrament means a lot of things, but I'd like us to reflect on one thing today: the Eucharist pushes us out into a whole way of life. [Fr.] Eugene LaVerdiere [S.S.S.], a Scripture scholar [and a priest of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament], said that when you come to the Eucharist, it's the experience of living the Gospel for an hour, or an hour and fifteen minutes; it's like getting a booster-shot of Jesus, and what he meant by the good news and the reign of God so that we can go and live it when we leave here.

I mentioned before that we went through a period of thick Catholicism, where this dynamic understanding of the Eucharist was not present [I don't think he ever really proved the pre-conciliar Church didn't have a dynamic understanding of the Eucharist. Consider Mirae Caritatis by Pope Leo XIII in 1902.] in Catholic culture. I worry that we're going back to that period, and we're losing that dynamism that we rediscovered in the Scriptures and through Vatican II regarding the Eucharist. I don't know if you saw the front page of The Daily Herald this morning. The front page of The Herald says-- right now, if you want to offer a Latin Tridentine Mass, you have to go to the Bishop and say "can I do that?" And the Bishop may or may not give you permission to do a Latin Tridentine Mass. The Pope has just issued [sic] a document that says any priest that wants to can offer a Latin Tridentine Mass. [I don't think the priest read the article very carefully. See my comments after this homily.]

Those of you my age and older, this is what it looked like... mumbling Latin words over objects. [Cliché.] "Dominus Vobiscum." [True to form, he stumbles through the pronunciation of "vobiscum".] One of these days you're going to come to church [laughter] and this is what it's going to look like. Any priest can offer a Tridentine Latin Mass! Question: why is the Church so liberal in propagating medieval [another cliché] traditionalism-type [what does that even mean?] rituals, and so conservative when it comes to the vision of Vatican II? [I beg to differ; there has to be a widespread conservative application of Sacrosanctum Concilium! Perhaps the "vision of Vatican II" never made it onto paper? Fie on that oral tradition!] Why can any priest do Latin stuff [they could always do Latin stuff...] now, Tridentine stuff now, but just a few months ago: [I don't know what he's referring to exactly, but it was probably some USCCB or archdiocesan statement about the enforcement of the GIRM and another liturgical norms that this parish might have been in violation of.]

Who can stand up here? [Is this in reference to people congregating around the Altar during the Eucharistic Prayer?]

Who receives first? [Probably in reference to EMHCs communicating at the same time as the priest. The priest must consume the sacrifice in its entirety first.]

"Get away from the priest, he's a special guy." [Sounds like the pastor is trying to downplay the Sacrament of Holy Orders.]

"Don't come up here." [Possibly related to the previous statement, but I'm not sure.]

Who washes the dishes [He must have meant purifies the sacred vessels]? "The priest has to." [Probably in reference to the indult (which allowed EMHCs to purify the sacred vessels) not being extended.]

All sorts of liturgical legislation: controlling the liturgy. [It would seem this priest wants to control the liturgy himself, even though the type of control he's after (ignoring the norms) is forbidden by Sacrosanctum Concilium 22.] But when it comes to a medieval traditional mode of liturgy [and what's wrong with that?], hey, open the floodgates. [No, the Extraordinary Form (like the Ordinary Form!) has its own rubrics and norms that must be followed.] My goodness. We need good pastoral leadership in our church. [He ain't kiddin'.] Not controlling, abusive [?], top-down ideology [So no Pope? No visible head? Just a bunch of appendages?]. The liturgy, translated, is "the work of the people". [Liturgy (λειτουργία (leitourgia)) is the "public work", in this context, the worship of the Church. The "public" part is important. It's not our private devotions, it's what the Church, as a whole, does as its public act of worship.] Not the implementation of what hierarchies demand that we do.

Someone came up to me after Mass at the 9:00 Mass and she was crying. She said, "The direction I see the Catholic Church going in, I don't know what to do about it. People are leaving the Church. I feel so frustrated with it. What do I do about it?" And I didn't have an answer for her. [Not even "pray and fast"?] I told you before: 13 guys ordained priests this year -- one American, we don't even know if he's a Chicagoan. Next year, 11 guys getting ordained -- no Americans. Can you imagine that there's not one person [man] in the Chicago metropolitan area that wants to be a priest? [I don't know the source of these statistics.] You think there's a direction here? You think there's a problem here? Do you think there's something symptomatic going on here? Let's not allow our liturgy to be turned into the "holy thing" that we feel distanced from. [Perhaps the lack of vocations in the parish's area is due to men not wanting to be connected to the liturgy. Or perhaps men don't know the importance of the liturgy and how vital the priesthood is, nor how to discern the call to the priesthood.] Let it continue to be the celebration of the Body of Christ. And that's what I want to close on, folks: not only in this sacrament do we receive the Body of Christ, we realize that we are the Body of Christ. [Dangerous comparison. We do not become the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. We do not become his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He's mixing metaphors here in a way that can lead to a hazy understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence.]

Did you notice what Jesus did in the Gospel today? There's 5000 men, and he breaks them into groups of 50. That's what Jesus was: he was a community-formation person. [And for that they crucified him?] And that's what it means on the Feast of Corpus Christi also: to realize that you and I are the Body of Christ, we're the Body of Christ in the world. [But we are not the Blessed Sacrament.] In the back of church this weekend, Wilma Growney is back there, the leader of small Christian communities, inviting folks to consider being in a small group during the weeks of summer. So if you might want to be in a small Christian faith-sharing group, a Bible Study group, a group that reads a book together in faith, please see Wilma in the back of church?

And finally, would you pass these cards down? There are different colors in the pews.

To become more genuine community, we have a ministry in our parish called "Neighborhood Ministry". If you look at the back of this card, there are 20 neighborhoods listed. Neighborhood Ministry is an attempt to get coordinators or overseers of each neighborhood, and then neighborhood representatives that at least once a year will make a phone call, send an email, to try to connect with their neighbors. I find this to be a very important ministry, and it's a ministry that's very much in need. I ask you to consider, do you have just an iota of time to be the parish's representative in your neighborhood? Even if you're interested in that, could you fill out this card, and give it to one of the ushers before you leave. Neighborhood Ministry: an attempt to connect the Body of Christ [at least once a year], instead of allowing us to live in pseudocommunity as the philosopher/psychologist Scott Peck has said so many religious people experience.

I mentioned this woman to you before, and I'll close with this. The music minister out at Orland Park where I served for eleven years, Mary Ellen Liebowein [spelling uncertain], wrote a song based on the words of St. Augustine, and the words go like this:

Be who you are: Body of Christ.
Become what you eat: Body of Christ.

I think that so captures what we're about at this liturgy today, and at this celebration. And let's pray that the Holy Spirit will bring forth new leaders in our Church that are not just trying to recreate a Church that aging male celibates [this cliché leads me to believe he did not read the newspaper article] are comfortable with. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit will call forth leaders that will create [?] a [new?] Church that the world really needs. [The Catholic Church has been fulfilling that need for nearly 2000 years. It doesn't need replacing.]

We believe in one God... [applause]

Thank you.
There are a few issues I'd like to deal with. First, the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII I mentioned (Mirae Caritatis). Its headings are "The Source of Life", "The Mystery of Faith", "The Bond of Charity", and "The Sacrifice of the Mass". I have read it (I have it at home with highlighting marks throughout) and I'll write about it some time in the near future as it pertains to the understanding of the Eucharist in the Church. I do not think, as Fr. Brennan says in his homily, that the pre-conciliar Church did not see any dynamism in the Eucharist. To think that the concept of anamnesis did not exist in the Church, or to think that Catholics saw the Eucharist as a "static object", is to display a fair amount of ignorance of the theology of the Eucharist in the Church. The re-presentation of Calvary at Mass is fundamental to Catholic theology, and it's something that seems to have slipped out of view since Vatican II.

Next, the newspaper article from The Daily Herald. Here are some excerpts (again with my emphases in bold and my comments [in bold red]).
Old Tradition, New Generation: Young Catholics reviving their faith via a return to old-style Latin rite.
From: The Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date: June 10, 2007
Byline: Lisa Smith <lsmith [at] dailyherald [dot] com>

Katie Kralka wants her children to experience their Catholic faith through a centuries-old tradition she only recently discovered herself: the traditional Latin Mass.

The 24-year-old
Montgomery woman [she's not an "aging male celibate"] and her husband, Jason, [nor he] were wed in a church ceremony followed by a Latin Mass ["Latin Mass" throughout this article means what is now known as the "Extraordinary Form"] and baptized their daughter using the Latin rites. They plan to do the same for their second child, due in October.


According to the pope, there is a renewed interest in the rite - especially among young Catholics
[see? young Catholics are interested in it] like the Kralkas. This generation is embracing a custom that's much more familiar to their grandparents than even their parents, who were young adults in the 1960s when widespread use of the Latin Mass [and the Latin language] ended following the major church reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"We were just kind of sick of the song and dance Masses,"
said Katie Kralka, Virgil's village clerk. "We were just looking for something that was a little more conservative." Kralka found that in the traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass because it was codified during the 16th century Council of Trent. Versions date back to the 6th century. [Congrats to Lisa Smith for doing her research.]

Unlike the typical Mass attended by most Catholics today, the priest faces the altar
[with the parishioners] instead of his parishioners. Communion is received on the tongue while kneeling at the altar rail, rather than in the hands [or on the tongue] while standing [or kneeling].


The Latin Mass affords little interaction between the priest and his parishioners and among the laity, unlike the typical Mass in which parishioners respond verbally to the priest's prayers
[which still happens at some celebrations of the Extraordinary Form] and greet each other with a handshake.

Participants can follow along by referring to a Latin-English guide provided by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a Glenview-based lay group that promotes the Latin Mass. The booklet includes a transcription of the priest's utterances in both Latin and English and explains the meanings behind his movements.
[I'm curious how many Ordinary Form missalettes ex]


Two-thirds of U.S. dioceses offer at least one Latin Mass on a regular basis - a statistic [Mary] Kraychy [the coalition's director] believes could grow exponentially.
[I'd like to point out, mathematically speaking, 2/3 "growing" exponentially is actually a declining trend ;) ]


"There's something very transcendent and beautiful about this Mass," [Cristina Borges, development director of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest] said. "People who come are searching for more depth in their spiritual life. This is a language that transcends our common day experience."

Lucretia Walker began attending Rockford's St. Mary Oratory because it was the only local church with a daily Mass that accommodated her schedule. She was taken aback when she walked in and heard Latin but began attending regularly. A few months later, she convinced her husband, Todd, to attend.

The family, who moved from Crystal Lake to Belvidere three years ago, has been attending St. Mary Oratory for two years and baptized their son, Jack, in the Latin rite Saturday.

"What keeps drawing us back was the sense of reverence that we found missing in the more contemporary church," Lucretia Walker said. "This was a new experience for us completely."

Walker hopes her children grow up experiencing a similar reverence, especially as they receive their sacraments. When her daughter, now 11, received her first holy communion at the family's previous parish, it was viewed simply as a rite of passage.

"There was a lot more focus on it being a big party and less (focus) on the sacrament," she said. "That's the difference I see. You're more focused on the meaning of the sacrament (at St. Mary Oratory). I think it's a very different environment. It's not just that the Mass is in Latin. It is the attitude that permeates everything at St. Mary's. It's very traditional."

Not all are heralding the expected return of the Latin Mass, however. A Call To Action, a Chicago-based Catholic lay group that favors ordaining married priests and female priests, said the group would not oppose an expansion of the Latin Mass as long as it doesn't result in limited access to the post-Vatican II Mass most Catholics know.
[Surprise surprise.]

"If there are people who feel their spiritual life would be enriched with the Latin Mass, we don't have any problem with that as long as it's not to the exclusion of other forms of liturgy,"
[Fr. Z makes an excellent point about the gravitational pull of both Forms on one another. I'm hoping to see a "reform of the reform" as a fruit of this.] said Linda Pieczynski, a spokeswoman for the group. "Quite frankly, I don't see a lot of people clamoring to have Latin Masses. [Well, not with the crowd you hang out with!] Whole generations have been raised on something completely different." [Could not the same have been said immediately 40 years ago?]


But to the Juns, celebrating Mass in their own language is what they relate to.

"For us the participation is a big part," said Lori Juns, who lives in unincorporated Burlington Township. "Although Katie and Jason's wedding Mass was beautiful in Latin. It's just not something for us every week."
And finally, a letter to the editor (with a tone I can't really pin down) about this article:
Some folks will be drawn to Latin rite

One would never, under any circumstances, find a girl acolyte at a Latin Mass! [You wouldn't find a girl acolyte at any Catholic Mass.] Horrors! (Old Tradition, New Generation June 10, 2007).

Those who do not understand what a Mass is will be drawn to the Latin rite. [That's plain mean, and ignorant to boot. The Mass cannot have changed in meaning or substance, or else it's not the Mass anymore. Perhaps the oft-altered liturgies most Catholics get are shrouding what the Mass really is.] To them, Mass is a place for private meditation [during some of the sacred silence, certainly], or for praying the rosary, or just idly staring at the back of a priest [cliché] and dreaming about a tragic Greek drama [never heard that one before...] which the action of the Latin Mass resembles.

There is plenty of space in the Roman Catholic church for people who prefer the Latin Mass. [That's the opposite of what I thought the last sentence would say.]
So there you have it. Perhaps Fr. Z will treat this on his blog. He'd probably do a better job than I did.

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