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.

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