Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Dance is not known in the Latin Rite of the Mass. Our congregation [for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments] has considered it for years. There is no major document of the Church on dance, but the directive we give from our congregation is this: In the strict liturgy -- that means the Mass, the sacraments -- Europe and America should not talk of liturgical dance at all because dance as known in Europe and North America is not part of worship. So they should forget it and not talk about it at all. [applause]Bravo, good Cardinal! Here's the audio stream:
But, it is different in Africa and Asia: not a concession to them, but because their culture is different. If you give a typical African the gifts to bring at Offertory, and you give a typical European the same gifts to bring, if they don't see one another: the European will be rather stiff in walking to the altar; the African is likely to have movement, right, left. It is not a dance, it is a graceful movement to show joy and offering. Also in Asia they have refined movements showing respect, adoration, joy. In Africa all the cultures are not the same. If you are in Ashanti in Ghana, they have some refined movements.
The Bishops of each country have to watch this, knowing that the aim, the reason for Mass, the reasons are four: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and asking for what we need. If the movements help towards that, yes; if they do not, no. Now, if you say dance in Europe and North America, people think of Saturday evening, ballroom dance: one man, one woman. And it is all right as recreation. But we do not come to Mass to enjoy, we don't come to Mass to admire people, and clap for them, and say "Repeat! Repeat! Wonderful! Excellent!" That is all right for the auditorium, for the theater, even for the parish hall... presuming that the dance is acceptable from a moral point of view. Because there are some dances that are wrong everywhere, even in the parish hall and in the theater, because they are provocative unnecessarily. And also in Africa and Asia, every dance is not acceptable. There are some dances that are totally not acceptable in any religious event.
So it differs. But as for North America or Europe, we think that the dance should not enter the liturgy at all, and the people discussing liturgical dance should spend that time saying the Rosary. [laughter and applause] Or they should spend that time reading one of the documents of the Pope on the Holy Eucharist. We have already enough problems; why banalize more, why desacralize more? Haven't we already enough confusion? If you want to admire a dance, you know where to go. But not Mass.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
One of the worst things that happened to Christianity was when Constantine made Christianity the state religion, the Church then looked at pagan Rome and said, "Well, that's the structure we should have for the Church," and they sprinkled Holy Water over a pagan system. ...Oy vey. While Fr. Brennan makes a nice point about the altar (and therefore the cross) being the (earthly) throne of Jesus, he neglects the heavenly throne of Jesus.
The Church has become a monarchical system. [Fr.] Richard Fragomeni told me that the last couple Popes have had just a simple chair in the Vatican... but they've restored the Papal Throne. And our Cardinals are called "Princes of the Church", and the new Cardinals today get gold rings from the Pope, and they wear purple, and they wear red: symbols of monarchy. There's the throne of Jesus Christ, right there in the center of the church. The symbols of leadership in contemporary Catholicism are in stark contrast to that throne from which he led the Church and leads the Church today, on that throne he emptied himself and allowed the power of God to fill him...
This morning, there's a program called "Threshold of Hope" (9:00 - 10:00 AM). This is my kind of show. What's the host, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., doing? Reading papal documents! They're on Catechesi Tradendae (one I haven't read).
Where can I sign up? I'll read papal documents on television all day!
Monday, November 26, 2007
When did Judas say that, you ask? Different Judas. This is Judas Maccabeus. And he spoke important words to the Jews of his time, and they still ring true today.
"In order that a remedy may be applied to such abuses, 'there is a pressing need for the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful', so that the Church’s faith and discipline concerning the sacred Liturgy may be accurately presented and understood." (Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 170) For this reason, I am assembling LAMP, the "Liturgical Abuse Mending Package". It is a group of documents that will assist you in identifying and correcting liturgical abuses at Mass. The documents are listed in order of necessity. MS Word documents are from my blog's Vox Ecclesiae page unless otherwise noted.
- Sacramentary - This is the book that contains the Ordinary, Propers, and rubrics for the Mass. It is indispensable! I bought a chapel-sized Sacramentary for $55.
- General Instruction of the Roman Missal (HTML) - The Sacramentary has its own copy of the GIRM inside, but it will be an older edition (unless you have the 2002 Sacramentary, in which case you are truly blessed). Get the most up-to-date edition from March of 2002. EWTN has the original Latin version online, since in most countries, the GIRM is not only translated but also amended with the particular customs and practices of the country.
- Redemptionis Sacramentum (MS Word) (HTML) - This is the 2004 Instruction from the Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum "On Certain Matters to be Observed or Avoided Regarding the Most Holy Eucharist". It is not exhaustive, but it covers a lot of ground. You can find this in on this blog as well.
- Ecclesia de mysterio (MS Word) (HTML) - This is an Instruction from 1997, co-authored by six Congregations and two Pontifical Councils, which lays out guidelines for the collaboration of non-ordained faithful with the ministerial priesthood. This document sets forth, among other things, the term "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion", which is the official and proper name for those laypersons who are entrusted with the duty of assisting the Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, during the distribution of Communion.
- Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds (MS Word) (HTML) - This is a USCCB document from 2001 (and subsequently updated in regard to the purification of the sacred vessels) which explains the norms and procedures for administering Communion to the faithful under both species of bread and wine. It makes copious references to the Sacramentary and GIRM, so it's really a summary document (but a rather thorough one).
- Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at Mass (HTML) - This is a USCCB document that briefly summarizes the responsibilities and limitations of EMHCs. It is a condensed version of the NDHC document listed above.
- Sacrosanctum Concilium (MS Word) (HTML) - This is the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council. Read it yourself! See what the Council actually wrote on the need for liturgical reform.
- Sacerdotium ministeriale (MS Word) - This is a Curial Letter (sent to Bishops) from 1983, authored by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (whose prefect at the time was none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). It is a brief letter about the importance and necessity of the ministerial priesthood. It describes a few erroneous opinions about the priesthood and the Eucharist, and then explains the Church's traditional teaching on the matter, and exhorts the bishops to root out false teaching in their dioceses. Its primary use for LAMP is for the reinforcement of true teaching regarding the priesthood.
- Memoriale Domini and En réponse à la demande (MS Word) (HTML 1, 2) - These two documents, from the Congregation for Divine Worship from 1969, outline the granting of permission (by indult) for the reception of Communion in the hand by laity. The first document explains the traditional practice of receiving on the tongue, and reminds that it will remain the universal norm; it then goes on to explain the polling results from the Bishops on the question of receiving in the hand, and finally what Pope Paul VI decided to do about the situation. The second document is the first form of the "norms" for receiving in the hand. Note that n. 4 of En réponse suggests the possibility of "allowing the faithful themselves to take the host from the ciborium or paten", a practice which has since been reprobated and forbidden.
- Immensae Caritatis (MS Word) (HTML) - This Instruction from the Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments from 1973 permitted for the first time "Special Ministers of the Eucharist" (in Part 1). It explains why they were permitted, for what purpose, and who should be admitted to such service; note that it does not mention "active participation" as a reason. Parts 2 and 3 are of less interest to LAMP. Part 4 is entitled "Devotion and Reverence Toward the Eucharist in the Case of Communion in the Hand"; it is a reminder of the catechesis that must accompany this permission, and that the practice must be done with extreme caution.
As I discover more and more helpful resources, I will add them to this list. I am considering books such as Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite and Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, but I'll only know for sure once I've read them through. Please suggest resources that I've missed!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
What follows is the letter I sent to Father "Bill" about the "Jenga" Mass (although I most certainly did not use that term in this letter):
Dear Father X,
Greetings to you in Christ Jesus. I am writing this letter to you in an effort to explain my attitude (which I would describe as uneasy or anxious) at the Mass you celebrated for our group. I do thank you for taking the time to celebrate Mass at our request, but I have some real concerns about the manner in which Mass was said: certain parts (including gestures and postures) of the Mass were omitted, certain actions were added, and certain roles proper to an ordained minister were relegated (in whole or in part) to laymen. While I have no desire to present a list of “offenses”, I do think it is important to explain why I think that particular celebration of the Mass was detrimental to the individual spiritual growth of the members of the group and how it actually served against your purpose of seeking to make the Mass “open” to us by answering questions and explaining the elements of the liturgy. I hope that a dialog can follow this letter (if you wish it).
Let me first explain my background. Yes, I was an altar boy when I was growing up; I probably served for around 7 years or so, and my training is still with me. My oldest brother is a priest and pastor. When I moved to Plainsboro two-and-a-half years ago, it was after a spiritual wasteland of sorts: I was not a practicing Catholic at college. I was determined to find a parish (Queenship of Mary), get involved, and get back to being Catholic: now I am a reader (a non-instituted lector) and I serve on the Parish Pastoral Council. During Lent of 2007, I attended a series of lectures on Deus Caritas Est at a nearby parish. This got me interested in the writings coming out of the Church, so I read the encyclical, then I read Sacramentum Caritatis, and then I spent a lot of time searching out and reading the Church’s documents and teachings on the Holy Eucharist as well as the
Before you began Mass on Thursday, you stated that you would welcome any questions about what was being said and done, and provide explanations. This is truly a noble task, because “there is a pressing need for the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful”. I do not know the level of liturgical formation of the other members of our group, but I expect we all would have welcomed explanations of certain parts of the Mass (especially those parts which are said silently or in a low voice by the priest). However, I believe you worked against that purpose by not celebrating the Mass as we would expect to see it celebrated under other circumstances; the changes served to hinder a more complete understanding of the
Because we started Mass sitting down together, I don’t think you ever approached the altar and kissed it; and since we were sitting, we did not stand for prayer or the Gospel. There was no Act of Penitence – the Kyrie, yes, but nothing before it. You had Chris read the Gospel (and invited laity to comment on or add to the Homily) – which, according to Redemptionis Sacramentum, is a “grave matter”. Because you did not read it, I do not know if the sign of the cross was traced on it, nor if the prayers before and after its proclamation were prayed. If you had done these things (specifically, had you prayed the silent prayers in a low voice which we would hear), it may have evoked a question from the group; but many things were omitted which would have done well to be explained!
When you invited us to gather around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, you gave us the opportunity to hold the paten and pray over the bread, asking God to make us part of the Sacrament we were about to receive. Here I think a prime opportunity for explaining the “actual participation” of the assembly of the faithful in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was lost; it was replaced with an illicit addition to the liturgy designed to give us more “active participation” which we will simply not find outside the small-group Mass we attended. You could have spoken about how the faithful of Christ offer themselves up as the priest (in persona Christi) offers the Body and Blood of God the Son to God the Father; Pope Pius XII wrote beautifully about this joining of ourselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:
[T]here is also a more profound reason why all Christians, especially those who are present at Mass, are said to offer the sacrifice. … Now the faithful participate in the oblation, understood in this limited sense, after their own fashion and in a twofold manner, namely, because they not only offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest, but also, to a certain extent, in union with him. … [T]he conclusion that the people offer the sacrifice with the priest himself is not based on the fact that, being members of the Church no less than the priest himself, they perform a visible liturgical rite; … rather it is based on the fact that the people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. … In order that the oblation by which the faithful offer the divine Victim in this sacrifice to the heavenly Father may have its full effect, it is necessary that the people add something else, namely, the offering of themselves as a victim. … But at that time especially when the faithful take part in the liturgical service with such piety and recollection that it can truly be said of them: “whose faith and devotion is known to Thee,” it is then, with the High Priest and through Him they offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice, that each one's faith ought to become more ready to work through charity, his piety more real and fervent, and each one should consecrate himself to the furthering of the divine glory, desiring to become as like as possible to Christ in His most grievous sufferings.
Instead of making up a “visible liturgical rite” for us to perform, you could have explained the sense in which we join our prayers with yours (the Eucharistic Prayer) to the Father, and join ourselves with the oblation on the altar as “a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God”. The other problem encountered by having us around the altar for the Eucharistic Prayer is that kneeling there is quite uncomfortable – I know that from experience now – although kneeling is the prescribed universal posture for the consecration.
Among the changes to the words of the Mass, the one that caused me the most grief was “Let us proclaim our faith”, spoken immediately before the Memorial Acclamation. Now, I am not a fan of the current ICEL translation of “mysterium fidei” (“Let us proclaim the mystery of faith”), but at least it retains the words “mystery of faith” which are the direct translation of the Latin words in the official Missal. While I expect the Eucharistic Prayer you prayed was one with the approval of the Holy See, I cannot believe it would have rendered “mysterium fidei” as “Let us proclaim our faith” and have received that same approval! The Eucharistic Prayer is the climax of the celebration of the Mass, and so to alter the words is wholly inappropriate. At least one prayer after the Our Father was truncated somewhat; to what end, I do not know.
Your remark after Mass had concluded – “Do you know what we forgot?” – made me wonder what might have been omitted that I had failed to notice. That was the state of mind I was in by the time you gave us the blessing, and it upset me to be so on edge during the
I sincerely hope you take this letter to heart. I am praying for you, and I ask that you pray for me as well. The Lord be with you.
 Redemptionis Sacramentum [RS], n. 12
 Ibid., n. 170
 Ibid., n. 173, cf. n. 153
 “During the liturgy of the eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful take their place in the Church outside the ‘presbyterium,’ which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrants and altar ministers.” (Notitiae 17 (1981) 61)
 Mediator Dei, nn. 91-99
 Ibid., n. 99; cf. Romans 12:1
 “Only those Eucharistic Prayers are to be used which are found in the Roman Missal or are legitimately approved by the Apostolic See, and according to the manner and the terms set forth by it. ‘It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers’ or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals.” (RS, n. 51)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
- Eucharistic Minister
- Special Minister of the Eucharist
- Special Minister of Holy Communion
- Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
Friday, November 23, 2007
ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY FOR THE
CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS LIVE (1h 30m)
From St. Peter's Square, Consistory with Pope Benedict XVI
as he elevates 23 prelates to the level of cardinal.
Sat, 11/24/07 4:30 AM Live / 2:00 PM Encore
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This is the same man who is now the head of the USCCB's Committee on the Liturgy (now the Committee on Divine Worship).
I will be writing the first article, and I have also written the introduction to the series:
Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary: Introduction to the series
As the year 2007 has been deemed a Marian Year here at Mount Carmel Catholic Bloggers, I thought it would be fitting to present a series on the writings of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary. Pope Leo -- born in 1810, elected to the papacy in 1878, died in 1903 -- wrote a series of encyclicals between the years 1883 and 1898: twelve on the Rosary itself, and one on devotion to St. Joseph to be fostered in conjunction with the standard October devotion to the Rosary:
- Supremi Apostolatus Officio (September 1, 1883) - The rosary and Litany of Loreto recited in churches "for the month of October of this year."
- Superiore anno (August 30, 1884) - The reception of the previous year's October devotions warranted their continuation.
- Quod auctoritate (December 22, 1885) - Exhortation to a greater spirit of penance and devotion to the rosary during the upcoming extraordinary jubilee year (the 50th anniversary of Pope Leo's ordination).
- Vi è ben noto (September 20, 1887) - On the Rosary and Public Life.
- Quamquam pluries (August 15, 1889) - On devotion to St. Joseph.
- Octobri mense (September 22, 1891) - The power of prayer and the efficacy of the rosary.
- Magnae Dei Matris (September 8, 1892) - The relation of the rosary to faith and morality.
- Laetitiae sanctae (September 8, 1893) - The social benefits of the rosary.
- Iucunda semper expectatione (September 8, 1984) - The rosary as witness to Mary's intercession.
- Adiutricem (September 5, 1895) - Mary's universal motherhood; the rosary as the way to unity.
- Fidentem piumque animum (September 20, 1896) - The rosary's influence on Christian faith and life.
- Augustissimae Virginis Mariae (September 12, 1897) - Mary's association with Christ; the rosary confraternities, and "living rosary."
- Diuturni temporis (September 5, 1898) - A summary of the pope's teaching on the rosary; notice of the constitution on the rosary sodalities.
Among the pleasant recollections of Our younger days are the Encyclicals which Pope Leo XIII used to write to the whole Catholic world as the month of October drew near, in order to urge the faithful to devout recitation of Mary's rosary during that month in particular. (Grata recordatio, n. 1 [September 26, 1959])In the series to come, there will be an article written about each of these encyclicals (and perhaps some of the other documents Pope Leo XIII wrote on the subject), starting with Supremi Apostolatus Officio (to be presented on December 1, 2008, the new liturgical year's eve). Before the series commences, though, I would like to provide a bit of background information so that the series can be understood in its context.
Although the Rosary is commonly considered a primarily Marian devotion, Pope Leo XIII continually framed it in its proper (and original) Christological setting: "meditation on the salvation obtained for Us by Him" (Supremi Apostolatus Officio, n. 8). He brings to mind St. Dominic's intention of composing the Rosary "to recall the mysteries of our salvation in succession ... interlaced with the Angelic salutation and with the prayer addressed to God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (ibid.)
Although it is a prayer "particularly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin" (ibid., n. 5), the Holy Father puts this in the context of the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession for us before Jesus Christ, she who "has a favour and power with her Son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained". (ibid., n. 2) In this way, the Rosary works in multiple ways: as a meditation on the events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, it is a summary of the Gospel (summa evangelicae doctrinae) and a sure way to nourish the faith and protect it from error; and as a prayer of supplication to "obtain the favour of the great Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the guardian of our peace and the minister to us of heavenly grace" (ibid., n. 1), so that we might find refuge and help when "endangered by the violence of heresy spread abroad, or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies." (ibid., n. 3)
During his papacy, Pope Leo XIII made two additions to the Litany of Loreto: the title of "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary" (Regina sacratissimi rosarii) in December of 1883 (via Salutaris Ille) and the title of "Mother of good counsel" (Mater boni consilii) in April of 1903.
With that preface and background, the series is ready to begin. Look for the first installment around the hour of evening prayer on December 1st.
Information for this post was gathered from: the Vatican's collection of Pope Leo XIII's encyclicals, the University of Dayton's The Popes and the Rosary, the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on Pope Leo XIII, the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the Litany of Loreto, and EWTN's copy of the Litany of Loreto.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Anyway, I've decided to read the Proslogion. True to form, I've made a 89 K, 12-page booklet in MS Word if you'd like it.
Pope Pius XII presented an encyclical to the world, Mediator Dei (31 page booklet), 60 years ago today. It was addressed "to the Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and other Ordinaries in peace and communion with the Apostolic See". It concerned the Sacred Liturgy; His Holiness focused primarily on "the Latin liturgy ... not because We esteem less highly the venerable liturgies of the Eastern Church", but because of "a special situation prevailing in the Western Church, of sufficient importance, it would seem, to require this exercise of Our authority." (n. 11)
Yes, even 60 years ago, there was in the Western Church a "special situation" of "sufficient importance" to warrant the exercise of the Pope's universal authority over the whole Church. (Much like there has been a special situation of sufficient importance for the past few decades, which resulted in Pope Benedict XVI acknowledging the right of every priest to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of 1962, which is the Extraordinary Form of the one Roman Rite.)
Pope Pius XII wrote this encyclical in light of "a remarkably widespread revival of scholarly interest in the sacred liturgy took place towards the end of the last century and has continued through the early years of this one" (no. 4). Some good came out of it, indeed, but the Holy Father recognized that not all was well:
But while We derive no little satisfaction from the wholesome results of the movement just described, duty obliges Us to give serious attention to this "revival" as it is advocated in some quarters, and to take proper steps to preserve it at the outset from excess or outright perversion.The 210 paragraphs of the encyclical talk about the liturgical practices of the Church, most importantly the "august sacrifice of the altar". Of particular note is n. 20, which is a basis (I would surmise) for nn. 34-39 of Mysterium Fidei of Pope Paul VI in 1965, wherein the ways in which the Lord Jesus is present in the liturgy are described. The document defends the ministerial priesthood, the sense of the sacred in the liturgy, the use of Latin, and the sacrificial nature of the Mass. It argues against a sense of "antiquarianism", the false zeal for that which is ancient simply because it is ancient:
Indeed, though we are sorely grieved to note, on the one hand, that there are places where the spirit, understanding or practice of the sacred liturgy is defective, or all but inexistent, We observe with considerable anxiety and some misgiving, that elsewhere certain enthusiasts, over-eager in their search for novelty, are straying beyond the path of sound doctrine and prudence. Not seldom, in fact, they interlard their plans and hopes for a revival of the sacred liturgy with principles which compromise this holiest of causes in theory or practice, and sometimes even taint it with errors touching Catholic faith and ascetical doctrine. (nn. 7-8)
The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. ...It also presents a most satisfying picture of how the whole assembly of the faithful participates in the sacrifice of the Eucharist:
Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. ... But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See. ...
[U]nwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. (nn. 61-64)
The august sacrifice of the altar is, as it were, the supreme instrument whereby the merits won by the divine Redeemer upon the cross are distributed to the faithful... It is, therefore, desirable, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful should be aware that to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest, according to the Apostle, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." And together with Him and through Him let them make their oblation, and in union with Him let them offer up themselves. ...Pope Pius XII then goes on to mention the other ways in which people "take part ... more fruitfully in the Mass", such as responding "Amen" to the final doxology of the Canon, becoming familiar with the Roman Missal, when they "answer the priest in an orderly and fitting manner", etc. (nn. 104-105). But he also points out that such participation (a "dialogue" Mass) is not necessary for the action of the liturgy to be a "public act". (n. 106) By pointing out that some people are not able to use the Roman Missal (even when translated into the vernacular), he shows that it is not necessary for everyone to participate at the same level in order to benefit from its fruits: "On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them." (n. 108)
The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks. For there are today, Venerable Brethren, those who, approximating to errors long since condemned teach that in the New Testament by the word "priesthood" is meant only that priesthood which applies to all who have been baptized...
Moreover, the rites and prayers of the eucharistic sacrifice signify and show no less clearly that the oblation of the Victim is made by the priests in company with the people. For not only does the sacred minister, after the oblation of the bread and wine when he turns to the people, say the significant prayer: "Pray brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty;" but also the prayers by which the divine Victim is offered to God are generally expressed in the plural number...
[T]here is also a more profound reason why all Christians, especially those who are present at Mass, are said to offer the sacrifice. ... Now the faithful participate in the oblation, understood in this limited sense, after their own fashion and in a twofold manner, namely, because they not only offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest, but also, to a certain extent, in union with him. ... [T]he conclusion that the people offer the sacrifice with the priest himself is not based on the fact that, being members of the Church no less than the priest himself, they perform a visible liturgical rite; ... rather it is based on the fact that the people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. ...
In order that the oblation by which the faithful offer the divine Victim in this sacrifice to the heavenly Father may have its full effect, it is necessary that the people add something else, namely, the offering of themselves as a victim. ... But at that time especially when the faithful take part in the liturgical service with such piety and recollection that it can truly be said of them: "whose faith and devotion is known to Thee," it is then, with the High Priest and through Him they offer themselves as a spiritual sacrifice, that each one's faith ought to become more ready to work through charity, his piety more real and fervent, and each one should consecrate himself to the furthering of the divine glory, desiring to become as like as possible to Christ in His most grievous sufferings. (nn. 79-99)
Further on, he writes about the liturgical year and how, with its "suitable ways and methods in which [it] proposes the life of Jesus Christ for our meditation, the Church gives us examples to imitate, points out treasures of sancticty for us to make our own, since it is fitting that the mind believes what the lips sing, and that what the mind believes should be practiced in public and private life." (n. 153, cf. nn. 154-161)
Towards the end, he exhorts his Venerable Brethren that, "after errors and falsehoods have been removed, and anything contrary to the truth or moderation has been condemned, [to] promote a deeper knowledge among the people of the sacred liturgy so that they more readily and easily follow the sacred rites and take part in them with true Christian dispositions." (n. 186) The Pope also requests (as did his predecessor Pope Pius XI in Divini Cultus in 1928) that "Gregorian chant be restored to popular use in the parts proper to the people" so as to facilitate pious assistance of the congregation at the Mass. (n. 192)
This document sheds light on Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy penned at the Second Vatican Council. It gives us a better idea of the type of "actual participation" the Church desires of its congregation: not something manufactured, shallow, or ephemeral, but something organic, contemplative, and timeless. The encyclical commands of us a deep respect for the "august sacrifice of the altar", through which "the work of our redemption is continued, and ... its fruits ... imparted to us".
Friday, November 16, 2007
The NYT headline reads: "Catholic Bishops Offer Voting Guide, Allowing Some Flexibility on Issue of Abortion". The IHT headline reads: "Catholic bishops allow some flexibility on issue of abortion for U.S. voters". Find that sentiment in the article, if you can. Other news agencies painted a very different picture:
- USCCB approved amended guide (Baltimore Sun)
- Voters told to avoid cooperation with "assaults on human life" (Los Angeles Times)
- Bishops say souls are at stake (Chicago Tribune)
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
You know the game Jenga. You pull out a wooden brick from the tower and place it on the top, trying to prevent the tower from crashing (either during the removal or addition of the block).
If the tower doesn't fall, you've still got a problem. You've got a tower with bricks missing in the middle and extra bricks teetering precariously on the top; that would be an "illicit" building: it's still a tower, but you can tell something's not right about it. It would probably generate scandal (over the construction of such a tower), confusion (as to what is a tower), and uncertainty (over whether the tower can actually be lived in). If the tower falls, crashing down in a pile of confusion, you could say it was rendered "invalid": it would no longer be a tower, it would be a pile of rubble. It would not serve the purpose for which it was intended (because it has changed so drastically).
Well, now imagine that tower is the Liturgy of the Mass, and the individual wooden bricks are red... they're red-bricks, ruber-bricks, rubr-icks... rubrics!
Now imagine that a priest celebrates the Mass by seeing how many rubrics he can remove from the liturgy, and how many rubrics of his own invention he can add to the liturgy, without making the liturgy crumble apart into a pile of rubric-rubble. We could call that the "Jenga" Mass: how much can you abuse the liturgy, how far can you reconstruct the liturgy to your own liking, never overstepping the fine line between illicit and invalid?
Well, I attended one such Mass very recently. Before I go on, I'd like to state, for the record, that I do not attend any Mass expecting -- or, God forbid, hoping -- to find, nor looking for, liturgical abuses, but, because I have read the GIRM and other documents on the liturgy, I recognize abuses when I see them, because I pay attention to the Mass. What follows is my blunt account of what happened. I basically point out each of the changes to the proper liturgy that I recognized. Trust me, they weren't veiled or hidden, they were blunt. The priest didn't "forget", he did things deliberately in his way.
Has anyone here read "Why Catholics Can't Sing" by Thomas Day? Chapter 5 is entitled "Ego Renewal", and it talks (among other things) about the increase in priest-performers, who interject themselves and their whole personality into their "performance" of the Mass. Keep that in mind.Now, here is what Redemptionis Sacramentum (henceforth RS) has to say about abuses to the liturgy (emphases in bold red):
I attended Mass last night with a small group of young adults (Catholics in our mid-20's to early 30's). It took place at a chapel (dedicated to the Miraculous Medal) at a seminary, so one of the priests in residence said Mass for us. The chapel is old enough that the seating is antiphonal -- that is, the pews are arranged along the sides of the church facing each other. (Examples: here and here) There were only five of us (plus the priest), so we all (including the priest) sat in a group, in the pews up on the level of the sanctuary.
I was to read the First Reading (from Romans 14), and I was curious where I would read from -- there was a podium at the opposite end of the chapel, and I had suggested moving it up near the sanctuary. This wouldn't be necessary, I was told by "Bill" (name changed). Bill -- that is, Fr. Bill -- said I could read it from where I was. Bill had asked, before Mass, whether he should put on his vestments. Thankfully, he did. Before Mass, he told us that since we were such a small group, we should feel free to relax, and to interrupt him to ask questions at any point, and that he would probably be interjecting at times to explain what he was doing (I suppose as the "commentator" of GIRM 105b). Throughout the rest of this post, [bracketed text in bold red] are things I wanted to ask, but held back because of charity.
Mass began seated, not standing [GIRM 43, 124], in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. [Why don't we stand, Fr. Bill?] The altar was not kissed [GIRM 123] -- Bill hadn't approached it. [Why didn't you kiss the altar, Fr. Bill?] Bill told us about the readings we would hear (which is acceptable, since it's following GIRM 31). The Act of Penitence [GIRM 51, 125] was skipped (we went directly to the Kyrie, without doing A, B, or C of the Act of Penitence). Then the opening prayer. Then I read the First Reading, sitting in my chair (rather than (standing?) at the ambo [GIRM 58]). Then I passed the Lectionary behind me to the woman who read the Responsorial Psalm from her chair (not the ambo, nor would I consider where we were a "suitable place" [GIRM 61])... she wasn't very comfortable with the whole thing either, I might add.
When she finished, I turned around to receive the Lectionary back from her and hand it to Bill who was sitting next to me. Instead, he told her to give it to whomever she wished (such as the man sitting on the other side of Bill) to read the Gospel. [Why don't you read the Gospel, Fr. Bill?] So a layman [GIRM 58], sitting (as we all were) [GIRM 60, 131], read the Gospel. [Why don't we stand, Fr. Bill?] The Lectionary was not blessed with the sign of the cross [GIRM 134], it was not kissed [GIRM 134], and I highly doubt the layman (or Bill, for that matter) said the prescribed prayers before [GIRM 132, 175] and after [GIRM 134] reading it.
At this point, after the Gospel, I really wanted to turn to Bill and ask So who shall we choose to give the homily? But he gave it (or did he give in?). And when he was done, he asked for our input to add. Only one person offered. Then we prayed the general intercessions.
And then Bill invited us up to stand at the altar [Notitiae 17:61]. [Why are we standing at the altar, Fr. Bill?] He asked me to bring the paten with the bread to the altar, and I did; he then started talking about what would we would be doing, how Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and that we acting communally make him present. I'm not sure exactly what he said. I was bringing the chalice to the altar, and then I stood to the side with the water and wine. Bill said, "Oh, an altar boy", and told me I could leave them on the altar, because we were about to do something.
He explained he would pass the bread around to each one of us so we could pray quietly over it to ask God to let us partake of it and be part of it. [Why... just, why, Fr. Bill?] He handed me the paten, and I prayed privately "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world" three times (from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, for reparation for sins committed against the Most Blessed Sacrament), and passed the paten to the woman who read the Psalm. (She told me later that she didn't do anything, because she was so uncomfortable.) After Bill said (silently, which is fine) the prescribed prayers ("Blessed are you...") over the bread, he noticed there was no purificator. After one was finally found, he prayed over the wine, and then asked me to help him wash his hands, which I did.
When it came time for the Orate, fratres ("Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice..."), I seem to recall him changing the words slightly, and speaking the response with us. Now, I'm pretty sure the response is proper to the assembly, not to the priest (since we say "May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands..."); I know he said it, though, because he introduced inclusive language by replacing the word "His" with "God's". This leads me to think the change I noticed earlier to be something like "... to Almighty God", instead of the words "... to God, the Almighty Father".
So there we were, standing around the altar. After "Holy Holy Holy", I knelt. I grimaced when he said "Let us proclaim our faith" after the consecration of the wine -- changing the words of the liturgy is strictly forbidden, and I wonder if his failure to say "mystery" is the gravest abuse of all that happened at that Mass. [Why did you say it that way, Fr. Bill?] I stood up again for the "Our Father". He truncated the "Deliver us, Lord..." prayer. [Why didn't you say all of the Libera nos, Fr. Bill?] I was pleasantly surprised to see him looking down at the Host and Chalice when he prayed the "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your Apostles...". I knelt again after the "Lamb of God". Bill said his own preface at this point, instead of "This is the Lamb of God...", so of course (as is always the case when these words get changed), he had to let us know when he was done by "intoning" the response: "Lord..." after which we completed: "I am not worthy..." He communicated, then we did (with an EMHC for the Chalice). (I was very grateful he did not have us receive at the same time as he did, as concelebrants would. I would have absolutely lost it.) He waited until after Mass to purify the vessels, which is ok, but I really don't understand why priests wait (or why some priests have other people do it). [Why not purify the vessels now, Fr. Bill?] Then we all sat down again, and he said the closing prayer (seated, like us [GIRM 43]), the blessing, and dismissal. No one had interrupted him to ask him questions.
Then he said, "Oh, you know what we forgot?" I was thinking, "What else could he possibly have omitted?" He said, "We didn't have a collection! I'll need to check the books, to make sure this was still a valid Mass." [Why on earth would you wonder that, Fr. Bill?] I could not help but think that was directed at me. See, I was visibly anxious throughout the Mass; I'd been curious about where the readings would happen, I was formal with Fr. Bill (calling him "Father"), I had my hands folded, my head bowed most of the time, I was the only one who knelt at the Eucharistic Prayer, etc.
Please pray for Fr. Bill (God will know who you're talking about) and the other priests of his order (we'd already had one Mass with another... the tattered cuffs of his jeans peaking out beneath his alb and stole (sans chasuble), seated prayer, "communal" homily, etc.). Also pray for me, if you could, because my charity's at an all-time low right now.
Chapter VIII: REMEDIESIt also says I have certain rights, including these four (found in nos. 11-12):
[169.] Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy. St Thomas wrote, “the vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed”.
[170.] In order that a remedy may be applied to such abuses, “there is a pressing need for the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful”, so that the Church’s faith and discipline concerning the sacred Liturgy may be accurately presented and understood. Where abuses persist, however, proceedings should be undertaken for safeguarding the spiritual patrimony and rights of the Church in accordance with the law, employing all legitimate means.
[171.] Among the various abuses there are some which are objectively graviora delicta or otherwise constitute grave matters, as well as others which are nonetheless to be carefully avoided and corrected. Bearing in mind everything that is treated especially in Chapter I of this Instruction, attention should be paid to what follows.
1. Graviora delicta
[172.] Graviora delicta against the sanctity of the Most August Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist are to be handled in accordance with the ‘Norms concerning graviora delicta reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’, namely:
a) taking away or retaining the consecrated species for sacrilegious ends, or the throwing them away;
b) the attempted celebration of the liturgical action of the Eucharistic Sacrifice or the simulation of the same;
c) the forbidden concelebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice with ministers of Ecclesial Communities that do not have the apostolic succession nor acknowledge the sacramental dignity of priestly Ordination;
d) the consecration for sacrilegious ends of one matter without the other in the celebration of the Eucharist or even of both outside the celebration of the Eucharist.
2. Grave Matters
[173.] Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist: namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168. Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.
3. Other Abuses
[174.] Furthermore, those actions that are brought about which are contrary to the other matters treated elsewhere in this Instruction or in the norms established by law are not to be considered of little account, but are to be numbered among the other abuses to be carefully avoided and corrected.
[175.] The things set forth in this Instruction obviously do not encompass all the violations against the Church and its discipline that are defined in the canons, in the liturgical laws and in other norms of the Church for the sake of the teaching of the Magisterium or sound tradition. Where something wrong has been committed, it is to be corrected according to the norm of law.
4. The Diocesan Bishop
[176.] The diocesan Bishop, “since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, is to strive constantly so that Christ’s faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and that they may know and live the Paschal Mystery”. It is his responsibility, “within the limits of his competence, to issue norms on liturgical matters by which all are bound”.
[177.] “Since he must safeguard the unity of the universal Church, the Bishop is bound to promote the discipline common to the entire Church and therefore to insist upon the observance of all ecclesiastical laws. He is to be watchful lest abuses encroach upon ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the Word, the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the Saints”.
[178.] Hence whenever a local Ordinary or the Ordinary of a religious Institute or of a Society of apostolic life receives at least a plausible notice of a delict or abuse concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, let him carefully investigate, either personally or by means of another worthy cleric, concerning the facts and the circumstances as well as the imputability.
[179.] Delicts against the faith as well as graviora delicta committed in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments are to be referred without delay to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which “examines [them] and, if necessary, proceeds to the declaration or imposition of canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law”.
[180.] Otherwise the Ordinary should proceed according the norms of the sacred canons, imposing canonical penalties if necessary, and bearing in mind in particular that which is laid down by canon 1326. If the matter is serious, let him inform the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
5. The Apostolic See
[181.] Whenever the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments receives at least a plausible notice of a delict or an abuse concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, it informs the Ordinary so that he may investigate the matter. When the matter turns out to be serious, the Ordinary should send to the same Dicastery as quickly as possible a copy of the acts of the inquiry that has been undertaken, and where necessary, the penalty imposed.
[182.] In more difficult cases the Ordinary, for the sake of the good of the universal Church in the care for which he too has a part by virtue of his sacred Ordination, should not fail to handle the matter, having previously taken advice from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. For its part, this Congregation, on the strength of the faculties given to it by the Roman Pontiff, according to the nature of the case, will assist the Ordinary, granting him the necessary dispensations or giving him instructions or prescriptions, which he is to follow diligently.
6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
- The right "to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline"
- The right "that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms"
- The right "that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium", and
- The right "that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church"
I know the priest used a different Eucharistic Prayer, although I believe it is "legitimately approved by the Apostolic see" (RS 51), but because I believe it to be approved, I cannot believe its translation of mysterium fidei is "let us proclaim our faith", which is what the priest said. (I am really unsure about the validity of the Mass because of his failure to say the approved translation of mysterium fidei, although I understand they are not technically words of consecration. I'm not a big fan of "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" either, but that's what the Rome-approved translation from the ICEL says.)
He considering saying Mass without vestments on (RS 126)... but decided against it, thank God.
He placed a layman (or two, if you count the comments by a layman after the homily) in a difficult situation by having him read the Gospel, which I believe constitutes "assum[ing] the role ... of a Priest" (RS 153) since the Gospel and homily are to be proclaimed and given by a Priest or Deacon only, never a layperson (excluding the reading of the Passion of Our Lord).
I bring these three items up because they fall into the category of "grave abuses" mentioned above (RS 173). The first (RS 51) might simply be relegated to RS 59, which reads (emphasis mine): "The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy." The second (RS 126) was avoided, but considered (seriously, as far as I can tell). The third (RS 153), if I have interpreted it correctly, certainly occurred; although no priestly vestments were worn by anyone apart from the priest, one or two laymen fulfilled roles designated for the priest.
I will certainly figure out the most charitable way to handle the reporting of these abuses; I will not be hasty or vindictive, but I want to make sure that no one is put in such a position again.
One last note... before Mass, the priest asked the five of us that were at the Mass what our jobs were. This was after I had already come across (I think) as a liturgically-minded person. I wonder, should I have said: "Why, I'm an intern at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments!"
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Hopefully, a document better than Music in Catholic Worship (from 1972) will come out of their efforts; the USCCB is meeting to discuss the drafting of a new document. Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement also blogged on this last week.
Update: And they did nothing, thanks to His Excellency Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman (Bishop of Erie, PA), the outgoing president of the Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy. Under the leadership of His Excellency Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli (Bishop of Paterson, NJ), the committee will be renamed the Committee on Divine Worship, and, given Bishop Serratelli's track record, the CDW should really have a positive effect on fixing and strengthening the quality of the liturgy in the United States.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Here is a homily from Fr. Paul Ward (which I found through Dave Armstrong) on the importance of gravitas in the Church today, especially in our homilist deacons, priests, and bishops.
The Problem of Silly Priests
In ancient Rome, there was an esteem for a quality of character which the Romans called, in their language, gravitas. The word literally meant "weight," which any inert thing could have. Yet it was applied to a person’s character, if he was serious, reflexive, dignified or earnest. Such persons were not given to levity, and were impressive and majestic in their speech or in their actions. Cicero, Suetonius, Tacitus, and even the never-serious Ovid all use this word in this way.
It is significant that in English today we don’t have an exactly corresponding word. We are a superficial society, a flippant civilization, and we have enslaved ourselves to entertainment. We call knowledge of rock stars and television programs "culture." We spend gobs of money and time on being spectators of sports. And anyone who thinks about things is, well, a bit of a rare bird.
This has all affected the model of the priesthood of the 21st century. The quality to end all qualities, sought for in a seminarian and deserving highest praise in a priest, is neither faith nor hope nor charity nor any virtue nor science nor good example. It is the sense of humor. A sense of humor is a good quality, but it varies in individuals according to one’s temperament and background. It does not make one holy or wise, for endless numbers of comedians in our day perpetrate many verbal sins of impurity and slander to make crowds bend over with laughter. Yet used well it can alleviate some of the burden of life, personal or social difficulties, and even put things in perspective.
Gravitas, which for this article I will translate as seriousness, is therefore regularly perceived as a vice. It can be an impediment for a seminarian who wants to be a priest; no faculty member of a seminary would ever admit that, but sadly true it is. Flippant priests slander and hate serious priests, because the flippant ones are shamed by the example of the serious priests' lives. Flippant priests work every day to be liked, even to the point of sacrificing their principles. They find excuses to omit prayer, to omit the daily Mass, to omit the rosary. They are imprudent in their dealings with women. They neither know nor understand nor observe the norms of the Church in anything, much less the liturgy. Silliness is a shield protecting them from those conversations about the things that matter; after all, they see it better to be silly than "divisive." They cannot live in silence, and surround themselves with televisions, worldly music, digital toys, alcohol and leisure. In a word, they are superficial.
It is easier to be superficial than to be serious. A serious priest examines his life, disciplines his time, rises early, studies regularly, prays much, offers spiritual direction, hears confessions, obeys the liturgy, recites the breviary, works with method, enjoys silence, fasts, does penance, and engages in spiritual conversation. A superficial priest does not know himself, is a slave to countless vices and passions, sleeps too much, hates prayer, disobeys liturgical norms, never studies, omits his breviary and Mass, surrounds himself with noise and music and television, devotes his time to pleasing himself, and converses about worldly and often scandalous things. But yet Bishops and seminary formators label the serious seminarian "rigid," following the ever pathetic psychological philosophy of Carl Rogers, and dismiss him from the ranks; and defend and promote the superficial man. (It’s easier for a vicious man to control a superficial man, after all.)
Both in English and in Latin, and we should also say in contemporary America and ancient Rome, gravitas had a pejorative use. In today’s America, someone who is "serious," as a defect, takes the wrong things too seriously. He has his hierarchy of values either in chaos or completely upside down. To call someone serious is to say he cannot enjoy a good laugh. But in yesterday’s Rome, Gravitas was applied to persons negatively if they were formidable, oppressive or obnoxious. Someone who was flippant, even whose sense of humor got him laughing about things that should be taken seriously, would be called grave. Yes, an excessive sense of humor was something to be ashamed of in ancient Rome. The Romans loved humor and celebrations of all sorts, as literature and history testify. A serious, a gravis Roman enjoyed such things. He just wasn’t obnoxious with his superficiality. Most priests I have ever met, and plenty a bishop, I have found to be obnoxious for their incapacity to converse seriously or spiritually.
A virtuous person has depth. Gravitasis a combination of several virtues. Prudence keeps the serious person reflexive; justice refrains them from disordered speech or action with others; fortitude serves as a solid foundation against all floundering; and temperance moderates the things the serious man enjoys.
If a priest wants to be virtuous, therefore, he has to put an end to the "good mornings" at Mass, the homilies about his latest golf game, the five televisions on all at the same time in his rectory, the layman’s clothing, the endless parties, the stockpiles of alcohol, the lewd language and the endless hugging. If a priest wants to be virtuous, let him rise early, keep his rectory in silence from sunrise to sunset, both pray and study an hour every day, pray the office and Mass daily, converse with the faithful about the virtues and the saints or about the important questions of modern times and society. Let his Mass be austere and divine, and let his advice at the confessions he hears be deep and efficacious. Let him not spend so much energy and concern with pleasing the crowd, and being a slave to certain minorities' loud opinions.
With greater depth, the Church will be more interested, in these very troubled times for the world and for the Church, in teaching the Ten Commandments given to Moses, rather than the Ten Commandments about driving a car.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
One reason why Protestants reject the deuterocanonical books is because they say the books were not in the Jewish canon; they also deny that there are any references to their content in the New Testament. I would like to offer the possibility that 1st century Jews -- at least some of them -- knew of the book of Tobit and held it to be inspired Scripture. In the book of Tobit, Sarah (daughter of Raguel) had been married to seven husbands (cf. Tobit 3:7-8); a demon which possessed her had slain each husband on their wedding night. While the book does not say these men were brothers, the claim could still be brought up: to whom will she be married at the resurrection?
The Sadducees ask Jesus about a woman married to seven brothers in succession, each of which died before the woman conceived a child. In the resurrection, whose will she be, since she was given in marriage to each of the seven? I think that in doing so, the Sadducees were attempting to disprove the canonical status of Tobit and bolster their theory in the Torah alone as Scripture. Does this sound logical to anyone else?
Also take a look at "Christ and the Canon of the Old Testament" at Viva Catholic.