Friday, October 01, 2010

Fr Z succinct

Father Zuhlsdorf splendidly explains the use of the maniple and crossing the priest stole (X) over the chest underneath the chasuble. Like the biretta, these things were no longer obligatory but neither were they proscribed or suppressed. Options are precisely that, things which may or may not be done or used at the discretion of the celebrant. Ad orientem is a major example. Rome has decreed that any priest may celebrate Mass either ad orientem or versus populum. The faithful have the option to receive Holy Communion on the tongue and to kneel while receiving just as they have the option of going to Confession annonymously. Yet, some imperious liturgy experts repudiate such legitimate exercise of freedom and unilaterally and illicitly decide to deny people their rights. As pastor, I did take a month (four weekends) to explain and prepare my parishioners for the monthly experience of ad orientem worship. We also incorporated kneelers (prie dieux) at Communion time for those who OPT to kneel. No one is forced to stand or kneel. My two churches only hold 125 comfortably and we could not locate the old altar rails, so I place two kneelers in front of the sanctuary at Communion time (just as one sees at Papal Masses celebrated by Pope B16)  During the month of preparation, I explained the use of six candles ON the altar with a Crucifix facing the priest (distinct from the wall Crucifix facing the people), the kneelers and the option of the celebrant to offer Mass ad orientem.  When the faithful are treated respectfully like intelligent adults, they respond as such. When you treat them like unsophisticated and unlearned children, you get another response.

I found that when priests and deacons take time to explain (catechize), people appreciate it immensely. This was NOT done after Vatican II in many parishes and dioceses. While the bishops were still in Rome attending Council sessions, liturgical nazis began weaving their web of deceit and invoking the infamous 'spirit of V2' to usher in any and all kinds of innovations, abberations and suppressions which the Bishops and Pope never intended. The people were treated like kindergarden students and told to 'be open.'

With the revised and improved English translation of the Roman Missal coming out next Advent (2011), it gives parish priests the opportunity to educate the faithful but in a mature, respectful and edified fashion. Many of our parishioners have college degrees and are well read in many disciplines. Thanks to EWTN, Catholic Answers Radio, Ignatius Press, and Catholic blogs and websites, we have a sophisticated laity which deserves better treatment than they have been given in the past. I do not find revolutionaries seeking to impose democracy on a hierarchical church, rather, I see educated faithful asking to be treated with due respect and consideration so their obedience will be intelligent as well as deliberate. People want to obey the Pope and Magisterium but can only do so when they are told precisely and ACCURATELY what it is they are to do. Dissidents will always try to sew seeds of discontent, but they are an extreme minority. The bulk of believers WANT to know the full deposit of faith and they deserve nothing less. Likewise, they want licit, valid and reverent Sacraments. They deserve nothing less. We clergy have an obligation to properly PREPARE our people for lex orandi just as we must for lex credendi.

No need to shock or surprise people in the pews. Using the bulletin and pulpit, pastors can and ought to take time and effort to inform God's People what and why we do what we do. I spend five minutes before every Baptism explaining all the symbols and rituals used before we begin so the family and friends can appreciate what is happening and not be clueless spectators. Likewise, at funerals, explaining the incense, funeral pall, holy water, Paschal candle, vestments, etc., help both Catholic and non-Catholic alike appreciate the beauty and elegance of a Catholic funeral. This can be easily and prudently incorporated into the homily before or after one expounds on Sacred Scripture and the Catholic belief on life after death, praying for the dead, et al.

Whenever we restore or return something which was abandoned in the past, it is important to tell the faithful WHY we are doing it. Even if it is mere personal choice, people like to know. If they know Father has a choice (not of what color to wear but what design, Roman or Gothic), what is wrong in letting them know I am exercising my prerogative just as they did in choosing what clothes to put on before coming to church?

Whether it is Ordinary or Extraordinary, Traditonal or Contemporary, Latin or English, the important thing for clergy is to educate our faithful as to what is necessary and what is optional; what constitutes validity and liceity. DE GUSTIBUS NON DISPUTANDUM EST. Hence, my choice of options may differ with my colleagues and/or some of my parishioners. Rather than confusing everyone, if I take the time and make the effort to EXPLAIN using charitable, intelligent and prudent language, you would be surprised the POSITIVE reaction and response you get.


Catholicity said...

Great post. I had one question...and perhaps it is just the wording. You said "they have the option of going to confession anonymously." My understanding is that this (anonymity) is the universal norm. In fact, the faithful have the option of confessing face to face, if this is their wish and the confessor allows it. It is also my understanding that no priest can be forced to hear confessions face to face. It is as much for the protection of the priest as the person going to confession. Am I on track?

Anonymous said...

How wonderful for your parishioners that you have taken the time to educate them and have allowed/encouraged/facilitated a reverent atmosphere at Mass. If only the pastors here on Long Island would take a page from your book. We're in a desperate situation over here. God bless you, Fr. Trigilio, for helping Catholics both within and beyond your parish walls.

Brian said...

This is a great post Father! Thank you.


Unknown said...

Yes, the norm is Communion on the tongue and Confession behind the screen. The Holy See granted permission for bishops to allow the option of Communion in the hand and Confession face-to-face. And yes, priests can insist on only hearing annonymously. My point was merely that here in the USA, the options which exist are sometimes distorted in such a way that the EXCEPTION rather than the NORM becomes mandatory, which violates the legal concept of an option. Before I was a pastor, as a Parochial Vicar I was TOLD I could not wear any color except white for funerals and could never wear black even for All Souls. The rubrics give no preference, simply that white, purple (violet) or black may be worn for funerals and Masses for the Dead. My option was denied and the pastor made his preference mandatory which the law did not grant him. Even now that SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM allows any priest to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, some bishops have denied them that rightful option. Likewise, celebrating AD ORIENTEM is the legitimate option of any celebrant.

PRUDENCE helps inform whether an option should be utilized but the LAW determines if the option is licit or not. If legal, then only the lawgiver can repeal such privileges. The pope is the supreme lawmaker and judge.

Pastoral senstivity depends on PRUDENT use of options and how they are implemented. That is why I suggested CATECHESIS.

But yes, you are right, the options are not equal in the sense that they originated as options. Some, did. Others were created as exceptions or indults or dispensations or permissions to move from the norm. Canon law and liturgical law, however, are clear on what is MANDATORY and OBLIGATORY and what is OPTIONAL or PERMITTED (always or under certain circumstances)

God bless

Anonymous said...

Fr. Trigilio,

You are awesome. I love your explanations. They are thorough yet concise.

I love this oh-so-true sentiment of yours: "When the faithful are treated respectfully like intelligent adults, they respond as such. When you treat them like unsophisticated and unlearned children, you get another response."

Would you consider developing a show for EWTN where you delve into more advanced dogmas/beliefs of our Faith? Too much out there is geared toward the "Will I see my dog in Heaven?" crowd. No offense to those with such concerns, but for the many of us who have moved beyond the most basic understandings of our religion, we need more!

I know you are so busy, but your intelligence and ability to speak the Truth plainly would make you the perfect host of a show that helps us all to understand the more esoteric aspects of Catholicism. I'm sure it would not only help lay people, but seminarians as well.

Thanks for everything you do and God bless you!


Excellent post! An informed laity is exactly what the Blessed John Henry Newman professed and was highlighted by our wonderful Pope Benedict XVI in his recent papal visit to Britain.

My Blog List

Blog Archive