Monday, March 28, 2011

What If We Just Said "Pray?" Indeed.

There's an interesting post over at our friend Fr. Anthony Ruff's PRAY TELL blog in which he gave notice to yet another petition concerning the ecclesial and liturgical scenarios swirling about St. Blog's with the coming promulgation of the Third Edition of the English Roman Missal. The usual suspects, myself included, have had quite the banter going. But as the combox count nudged to a buck twenty five, these consectutive comments tweaked my attention and the following response. What's your take?

Why does anybody think that a new translation is going to squelch liturgical innovation? I expect it to increase as priests try to cope with mangled syntax and tongue twister prayers. Lots of earlier accretions were added to fill the void of incomprehensible or unspoken prayer, like encouraging people to pray the rosary during the liturgy.

Not that I am opposed to innovation. I think the whole STBDTR idea is classicism gone wild. It may appeal to some people, but there is a lot of good jazz out there that complements the classical.
Jim McKay on March 28, 2011 - 9:44 am

Creative innovation is to be welcomed — though I agree with Mr Culberth (sic) that bad preaching is a key factor. I do not know what paradise he writes from — in the USA one third of Catholics have left and Garry Wills reports that the heart of the Catholic crisis lies in what is experienced in the sunday liturgy: Ireland is in far more sudden and widespread disarray as are Belgium and Austria. 
Joseph O'Leary on March 28, 2011 - 4:02 pm

“Creative innovation” has never been unwelcomed to be introduced into liturgy, even after the winnowing of Trent. But then, as now, there was a clear clarion that in its ars celebrandi, music being a principle example, that innovation without the disciplines cultivated organically within the ecclesial culture, would inexorably evolve towards an art for art’s sake in equal measure to its decadence and unsuitability at service as a worship art. It was true before Trent with the parody (both profane and benign cantus firmi versions) Masses and the excessive unintelligibility of works by certain composers, and after Trent when the classical Sunday Mass in Vienna was as much an entertainment as liturgy. (IMO, YMMV.) This, predictably, continued in concert with the Enlightenment through to its inevitable clash represented by Pius X’s motu proprio “Tra le sollecitudini.” We’re just in yet other cycle that we prefer to examine with contemporaneous eyes and spectacles. In whatever arena Jos. O’Leary wants to superimpose over the term “creative innovation,” it cannot adequately serve worship without an accompanying discipline to which it must, for worship’s own betterment adhere to.
I don’t worship or write from any liturgical paradise, Mssr. O’Leary. In fact, we are a bishop-less (R.I.P.) diocese in central California; but our parish (cluster) is endowed with sensible yet idiomatically unique celebrants who understand that the liturgy is not to be a trifle, whether merely mouthed from a pulp missalette, or a platform for the exhibition of the cult of personality on display before a “captive audience.” And they understand that the humility involved in cantillating their collects and orations not only compel an active response from the faithful, but will likely be an asset come November 28th.
As I’ve mentioned, I do appreciate (uncharacteristically to my RotR colleagues)  a certain amount of the critiques of Professor Wills. I can’t testify to this, but I would bet that Wills would concur that if Sunday Mass was truly the life-blood nexus of parish life, as advanced by the liturgical theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, that some of the post-conciliar “Catholic Crisis” so lamented by both traditionalists and modernists as ancillary ecclesial crises in vocations, reproductive and gender issues and clericalist authoritarianism, might have been postively mitigated, and perhaps would have benefited towards remedies by the sheer beauty and power of a fulfilled liturgy performed universally.
(Save the liturgy, save the world. *"G")
Perhaps that’s a bit pie-eyed.
But I’d also bet Professor Wills would prefer to be fully engaged in FACP and sing the Credo in a well mannered TLM or “DTRSTB” OF, than to bear the distractions of giant paper maché puppets of our Savior and saints parading about in sanctuaries.


What does "creative, liturgical innovation" really mean in our era?


*often misattributed to a famous cleric.