guide to the perplexed liturgist

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 27, 2006

Easing back into my normal work schedule after a short but welcome vacation (and thus a period of comparative silence, for which I apologize to my faithful readers), I spent some time cleaning up old files on my computer, and came across an agenda item that appeared in the May-July 1997 newsletter of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgy Commissions:

Limit discussion to perpetual adoration; dialogue with people who are advocates of various devotions; determine what is missing in our celebration of the Eucharist that leads people to want these devotions.
That was nearly a decade ago, and perhaps by now our hard-working diocesan liturgists have educed some explanation for the curious tendency of some Catholics to kneel for hours before the Blessed Sacrament-- when they could be using that time to learn the steps of the latest liturgical dances. But in case the explanation still eludes them, may we offer the following guide to perplexed liturgists?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church*, #1418:

Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1418

To visit the Blessed Sacrament is a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.
Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI, #66 (my emphasis)

Explanatory Notes:

- Catholic Church (founded circa AD 25): an association of believers in a single, transcendent and omnipotent supreme deity, who it claims was born as a man, slain, and lives on, continuing to speak to members through a human representative. Visit website at http:\\

- Adoration: an act of devotion in which awe, gratitude, fear and love are mingled, spontaneously offered by an inferior to a being regarded as ineffably superior.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 28, 2006 8:42 AM ET USA

    Yipee! Uncle Di is back! By the way, "Clorox" and "Moneo" really hit it nicely too!

  • Posted by: Clorox - Jul. 27, 2006 10:36 PM ET USA

    In the sacristy of my church, there is a sign that reads something like, "Don't tinker with the sound system. It is set the way it supposed to be set and you can't improve upon it. If there's a problem, contact Mr. X." The sign was dated 1992. The contact man has been dead for years. No matter. Nobody tinkers with the sound system. We need a similar sign for theologians, only the sign needs to be dated 90 A.D (assuming that's around the St. John died, the last of the Apostles).

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - Jul. 27, 2006 6:20 PM ET USA

    The real problem has been the shift of our focus in worship from God to "the community". God deserves our adoration; performers just crave a good flattering. And the congregation has been liturgically trained to indulge them. How many times would your average priest have heard someone confess this sin of flattery?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2006 4:29 PM ET USA

    The liturgist has lost track of what the Mass is all about. It is not some feel good social event. It is a soul reaching out for God and reliving the sacrifice that the the God made man made for our salvation as He reaches out for us. It is the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary reinacted and in a substantial way. This demands by its supernatural nature reverence, awe, and submission and surrender to the love of and for God. This act by Jesus was the redeeming act. Send the liturgists packing.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 27, 2006 3:11 PM ET USA

    They could save a lot of money (assuming all these "liturgists" are not volunteers) if they followed the rule, Just read the black parts and do what the red parts say. Of course, then somebody might mistake them for Roman Catholics and that would never do, would it? Also glad you're back from vacation.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2006 12:49 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di: Here is another one of those articles on liturgy that makes one seriously doubt the foundations of the Jesuits or the presidents of some "Catholic Universities".

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2006 12:03 PM ET USA

    Good idea Moneo. Perhaps Uncle Di could explain to us why a liturgical committee is required in the first place, whether at the Diocesan or Parish level.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2006 11:59 AM ET USA

    Been missing you also, Uncle Di. The sad commentary on all this is that we shall (probably) have to wait until God takes home those whose training was deficit or who chose to believe the lie (its not the real true Presence of the One who died for us). The best we can do is proclaim the truth "in season and out", and hope to become martyrs (either spiritual or physical) in the process along with those who have gone before us

  • Posted by: Moneo - Jul. 27, 2006 10:35 AM ET USA

    Welcome back, Uncle Di. To the liturgy commissions: what is missing in "your" celebrations of the Eucharist? I'll give you a hint. HE is. "Your" celebrations are all about YOU, and they bore me to tears. I've been overdosing on Star Trek DVDs on my days off, so here's some allegorical advice to the bishops. The ship is under attack. You need to cut power to all non-essential systems and route it to life support. Start by jettisoning the diocesan liturgical committees.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 27, 2006 10:27 AM ET USA

    Eagle, your parish must be in chaos! Catholics should attend Mass because they are spiritually hungry for Jesus in the Eucharist and to hear His Holy Word, not to fulfill some priest's social agenda. Our outreach in the areas of peace and social justice are not the reason we come to Mass, rather, they are the results of our attending Mass.

  • Posted by: Eagle - Jul. 27, 2006 9:43 AM ET USA

    The way in which the liturgy is celebrated discloses the faith of the celebrant. Since the mid 60's the emphasis in theological and liturgical training has been the "building of community". Priests, whether in parocial work or liturgical celebration, are religious social workers. The building of the Kingdom is the community on earth; the salvation of souls for the eternal kingdom becomes, at best, a unifying myth. The priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the sense of the sacred, is gone.