Thursday, September 26, 2013

Liturgical solemnity opposed to ministry to the poor?

This is from the conclusion of an essay I wrote a couple years ago for PrayTell Blog. Given some of the current confusion about how the priorities of Francis are somehow opposed to the reforms of Benedict, it seems apt to restate here.

Sometimes I worry that we all get a bit too wrapped up in these [liturgical] issues – issues which seem, from what I can read, to have been fairly unimportant to the Teacher from Nazareth. He cared about feeding the poor, clothing the naked, caring for orphans – not about translations or modes or altar placement or any of the rest of the things that liturgists and musicians are into. How can we, in good conscience, spend our time obsessing over these external elements?

I think a certain amount of obsession, by those who are called to it, is actually quite worthwhile. It is in the public liturgy of the Church that we come to understand the love of Christ which we are called to emulate. It is in the sacrifice of the Mass, dwelling in the sacrifice of Jesus, that we hear our calling to sacrifice ourselves. Recognizing Christ in the Eucharist, recognizing Christ in the assembled family of believers, gives us the eyes to recognize Christ in His “disturbing disguises” out in the world. We know how to clothe the naked because our God has clothed us in the garment of Baptism; we know how to feed the hungry because our God has fed us with his very body; we know how to comfort the dying because Our Lord has died in our midst; we know how to visit the imprisoned because God has visited us in the prison of our sin; we know how to care for orphans because our God has given us a spirit of adoption.