The first steps toward liturgical renewal

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 01, 2015

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, has emerged as a champion of the traditional liturgy. But you don’t need to be a traditionalist to appreciate his list of ten steps to liturgical renewal, presented during a recent talk in Washington, DC.

Personally, I would make his suggestion #2 my own #1, since in my view the top priority in liturgical renewal is to eliminate the impression that the priest-celebrant is the master of ceremonies, the focus of attention during the Eucharistic sacrifice. I would also give a higher priority to the call for appropriate sacred music—which would apply not only to hymns but also, ideally, to the chanting of at least some parts of the liturgy. You might have your own quibbles with Bishop Schneider’s list of suggestions. But his ten-step program, with or without a few friendly amendments, is a valuable blueprint for authentic liturgical renewal.

So why won’t it happen? Unfortunately, before we can have a more reverent liturgy, the Catholic world must want more reverence in liturgy. After years of banal liturgy, in a typical parish most worshippers no longer expect beauty and reverence. They will not acquire a taste for beautiful liturgy unless they are given a few samples. Someone—the bishop, the pastor, even the music director—must take the initiative, making the first steps toward renewal, whetting the people’s appetite for more.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Apr. 03, 2015 10:21 AM ET USA

    Bishop Schneider's list looks fine as is. It seems profane to me to place the tabernacle outside the sanctuary. In a church near my home the tabernacle has been removed to a separate building. After communion the women carry the sacred vessels to a hiding place, effectively removing God's physical presence from the people at Mass. When my FSSP community was looking for a building, one Catholic church had removed the tabernacle to a closet (about 8'x8' in size) near an obscure side door. Why?

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Apr. 03, 2015 9:04 AM ET USA

    I agree with you whole heartedly. The Tridentine Mass was stolen from me when I was overseas in the early 70s. When I came home I thought I was in the wrong church when I went to Mass. I want a more reverent Mass. We need a more reverent Mass and like most needs many are ignorant of that need. But let us all hold hands during the Our Father and be sure to walk three pews away during sign of peace to shake hands and stop to shake hands on way to communion. Lord help us!!!!!

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Apr. 01, 2015 12:34 PM ET USA

    Reminds me of your article a few years back on ad orientem worship. I tend to agree with you on this issue. http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=55976