Suggested Agenda for the CDW

Thomas Reese over at the National Catholic Reporter recently published an article titled “A suggested agenda for the new prefect for Congregation for Divine Worship.” It is well worth the read. Besides outlining what he sees to be the future direction of the CDW under Pope Francis, Reese gives some suggested agenda items for the new prefect of the CDW.

Reese sees “managing liturgical change in the church” as the “greatest challenge facing the new prefect.” In speaking to the confusion surrounding the liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council, Reese notes:

The Vatican response was to stop all change, crack down on experimentation, and force reluctant bishops to provide the Tridentine Mass to anyone who wanted it long after the vernacular language had firmly taken hold. It also pushed through literal translations of liturgical texts that were difficult to understand. This overreaction caused heartburn among liturgical scholars and, more importantly, pastoral problems in parishes.

Reese believes that “a more intelligent and pastoral approach to liturgical change” requires three things…

  • Centers for liturgical research and development – These centers would be places where scholars and artists could develop and test new liturgical practices.
  • Market testing – After a new liturgical practice has been “developed and accepted by church officials” it would then be “tested in a variety of pastoral settings.” This would ensure that a newly developed liturgical practice is worthy of being offered to the Church.
  • Enculturation – Reese sees enculturation as the most difficult challenge facing the Church today. No matter how difficult, developing enculturated liturgies is the key to successfully transmitting the Christian message. Even the early Church was aware of the need for enculturation.

Beyond managing liturgical change, Reese hopes the new prefect will review the current English translation of the Roman Missal. He sees the 1998 transition done by ICEL as a good point of departure for any review of the current translation.

Reese also thinks the new prefect should take another look at moving the sign of peace to the end of the Liturgy of the Word. He sees this as a possible chance to experiment with centers for liturgical research and development.

The development of new prefaces and Eucharistic prayers would also be beneficial according to Reese. However, any work on liturgical texts should be done with an eye to the common texts of other churches.

While liturgical changes should be on the prefect’s to do list, Reese also thinks the new prefect should review the whole structure of the congregation. It is time to replace many of the consultors and staff, and he recommends making the chairs of the bishops’ conferences’ liturgy committees members of the congregation.

Reese has some interesting agenda items and many of them are on my list as well. What are your thoughts? What should be added to the new prefect’s agenda?





64 responses to “Suggested Agenda for the CDW”

  1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    I have to say that, when I read this piece over at NCR, it struck me as a grab-bag of desiderata very sorely lacking in prioritization/triage. The kind of thing that can be produced by committee “consensus” by avoidance of hard choices.

    And all of these begs many other questions.

  2. John Mann Avatar
    John Mann

    More Eucharistic Prayers?! Soon enough we’ll need a separate “Eucharistary” with just the 57 options we’ll have.

    The only idea I can get on board with is moving the Sign of Peace.

  3. Phillip Hadley Avatar
    Phillip Hadley

    Enculturation or Inculturation? Learning the surrounding dominant culture, be that liturgy or the wider social mileu is laudable, but the dominant cultures of liturgy and White Western Male paradigmn that operate in liturgy need to be challenged. New liturgical practices need to be more than additional white washed sepulchres. Francis warns against the [liturgical] life of the Church turning into a museum piece. Enculturation holds the potential for the predominant to preserved and with new liturgies becoming experiments in fadism.

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      Phillip, I meant to respond to this earlier but I got distracted. Concerning enculturation vs. inculturation, I think Reese was not as accurate as he should have been here. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think he meant to refer to inculturation not enculturation. In my summary of his article I was merely parroting his words, but I should have said that I think he was really referring to inculturation in my post.

  4. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    I am not keen to buy another Missal so soon. I cannot put it down to expenses.
    May I make an observation about the new translation? In Sunday’s Collect it begins: O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption…”
    As far as I can tell the old collection systematically avoided the word adoption. I do not know why. I suspect that all those involved with adoption of children will be appreciative of this change.

  5. John Schuster-Craig Avatar
    John Schuster-Craig

    I’m not sure why moving the sign of peace to the beginning of the Eucharist qualifies as a “…chance to experiment.” Lutherans and Episcopalians have had it there ever since the 1970s; the Orthodox for a few centuries or so.

  6. Peter Kwasniewski Avatar
    Peter Kwasniewski

    It’s hard for me to take Reese’s piece seriously; it’s the kind of thing I’d see as a darkly comical satire on modern liturgical innovationism. Meanwhile, here’s what Cardinal Ratzinger has to say about experimentation:

    “They [the rites] are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of Tradition. … They elude control by any individual, local community, or regional Church. Un-spontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. That is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the ‘Divine Liturgy,’ expressing thereby the liturgy’s independence from human control.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp. 165-66)

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #6:

      The problem with Ratzinger’s view of liturgy is that he seems to think of it as an ontological entity in itself, handed down from on high for all to render obeisance to. Even the briefest look at the history of the liturgy shows that this is nonsense. The liturgy may ultimately be founded on divine revelation, but it is something that is fashioned by humans, that has grown, changed, developed, been added to, century after century, in countless different ways in countless different places.

      The problem for some is that they cannot get past the fact that liturgy was largely put into the deep freeze at the Reformation, only to be microwaved by Vatican II. That 400-year period of relative unchangeability (and even during that time there were in fact changes) was an artificial stasis introduced by Quo primum, and unfortunately it has given some the impression that the liturgy has always been some kind of unchanging monolith. Before the Reformation, this was far from being the case. 1500 years of growth, development, change, divergence into different branches suddenly stopped. Now it has restarted.

      All this applies just as much to those who think that we have now done all the postconciliar liturgical reforms and can now sit back and live happily ever after. Wrong! We’ve only just begun, and in fact need to make up time to compensate for those 400-odd years of artificial stagnation. That is not innovationism, but just a natural phenomenon.

      As long as the Church is a living, dynamic organism, composed of real living creatures, the liturgy will be a living, dynamic expression of that Church, growing and changing along with it. If the liturgy stagnates once more, the Church will eventually die.

      1. Stanislaus Kosala Avatar
        Stanislaus Kosala

        @Paul Inwood – comment #11:
        Have you ever actually read Ratzinger on the liturgy? He explicitly denies the view that you attribute to him.

      2. Charles Culbreth Avatar
        Charles Culbreth

        @Paul Inwood – comment #11:
        We’ve only just begun, and in fact need to make up time to compensate for those 400-odd years of artificial stagnation. That is not innovationism, but just a natural phenomenon.
        This summary is amusing not only for the inadvertent irony of this declaration, but also for its ludicrous self-negating conclusion.

      3. Gerard Flynn Avatar
        Gerard Flynn

        @Paul Inwood – comment #11:
        Well said, Paul!

    2. Brian Palmer Avatar
      Brian Palmer

      @Peter Kwasniewski – comment #6:
      Actually, the rites don’t “elude control” by anyone. They are the work of the president of the assembly in the earliest stages of the development of a euchology, and only later frozen into place by synods and councils. These freely composed, on-the-spot liturgies are the very foundation of the rites which were to develop until such time as Rome and Constantinople started to suppress all variants e.g. Gallican and Mozarabic competing with the city usages.

  7. Paul Schlachter Avatar

    The new prefect can begin by devolving decisions over language and other local matters to the respective bishops’ conferences, via dissolving Vox Clara at the very least.

  8. Joseph Anderson Avatar
    Joseph Anderson

    I would suggest increasing the training for priests who are uncomfortable with using the new translation. It is surprising that so many are so open about their difficulties in enunciating a written text in a way that parishioners can follow and understand. I sometimes wonder if these men are teasing us with their claims of how hard it is, and I am the one who doesn’t realize that a joke is being made.

    Surely, given all the difficulties and challenges of life, and the many truly difficult aspects of ministering as a priest, having to recite a required text out loud cannot be among them. In the masses that I attend, those who struggle with the words: 1) go too fast, or 2) do not vary the speed, or 3) clearly have not prepared by reviewing the text beforehand. Those who pray it well have found a way to address all three.

    1. Todd Orbitz Avatar
      Todd Orbitz

      @Joseph Anderson – comment #8:
      I found it hard to believe that so many Priests found it so hard to proclaim. As an experiment, I had my 12 year old read a Mass (excepting the words of Institution), my 11 year old read one, my 9 year old read one, and my eight year old read one. Each used a different EP.

      Only my 8 year old had any problem whatsoever.

  9. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

    Too many people (and priests) think that the eucharistic prayer is the priest’s prayer. Priests say it quickly in a monotone, and people tune out. We need more eucharistic prayers that actually engage both the priests and the people.

    Are the people clamoring for more Prefaces and Eucharistic Prayers?

    If priests say any of the 7+ EPs quickly in monotone, who’s to say they won’t say 14+ EPs quickly in monotone? Or just choose the shortest of whichever new ones are drafted?

    And why not educate the priest and the people about the character of the EP so that we all understand, appreciate, and participate in it better?

  10. Todd Flowerday Avatar

    I’m not impressed by the list, either, except for deep-sixing the English MR3.

    Centers for studying the liturgy, though: that seems sound. Commissioning excellent composers to place music at the service of the Church. Teaching liturgy in a better way to seminarians and students for lay ecclesial ministry. And priests.

    In sum: keep the CDWDS out of it. They’ve done enough damage.

  11. Tony Phillips Avatar
    Tony Phillips

    I’m all for moving the sign of peace–like outside of the church, before Mass. Or afterwards, in the parish hall.

    Really Fr Reese’s piece could pass for satire, if he only knew it. The bit about ‘pro multis’ is hiliarious. Or the ‘reluctant bishops’.

    What’s not surprising is the elitist insistence of having things run by ‘liturgical scholars’ (the vast majority of whom aren’t exactly Oxbridge material, by the by). Heaven forbid that the people in the pew should have any say. Those that haven’t left, that is.

    Now market-testing…there’s an idea!! Imagine if the Vatican had thought of that before Paul VI forced his mass upon us…we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But that approach takes a certain humility which was clearly lacking.

  12. Matthew Hazell Avatar

    From Fr Reese’s article: Different Prefaces could be prepared for each Sunday of the three-year cycle, which would pick up on the Scripture readings for that Sunday.

    It strikes me that Fr Reese is after something that exists in the EF, namely, organic links between the lections and the propers, but his suggestion as to how to realise that in the OF is almost farcical. How is a different preface for every Sunday per annum in a three year cycle – which is nearly 100 prefaces – in keeping with “noble simplicity” (SC 34) or the austere character of the Roman Rite?

    It is difficult enough in the OF to preserve that stability needed for ritual and liturgy, a stability craved by the young in the West – Fr Reese’s proposed trip back to the textual chaos of the 1970s is not what is needed.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Matthew Hazell – comment #14:
      During Ordinary Time there is no link between the Lectionary and the Propers. Long stretches of ordinary time find the Psalms arranged in numerical order.

      If the Propers were to have a prayer of catching on, I would think there would need to be more attention to harmonization with the liturgy. While I couldn’t get on board with more Prefaces (I think the translation can be improved, though) I could back a wholesale revision of the Propers, including their expansion to poetic passages outside the Psalter. Truth be told, vernacular songs have a foothold now, and won’t be budged.

      I’m also a skeptic on the theory of anti-elitism. Most all bishops these days lack a real theological depth, and in some cases moral fortitude. Setting the bar higher for ministry strikes me as a good thing.

    2. Gerard Flynn Avatar
      Gerard Flynn

      @Matthew Hazell – comment #14:
      You propose weak arguments against having a separate preface for each Sunday of Ordinary Time. In my view, it would be an improvement. According to your logic, noble simplicity and what you term ‘stability’ would consist in having the same preface for every Mass. That’s clearly nonsensical. Perhaps you are influenced by the impoverished Tridentine practice of using only one Eucharistic Prayer for every Eucharist.

      1. Matthew Hazell Avatar

        @Gerard Flynn (#19): According to your logic, noble simplicity and what you term ‘stability’ would consist in having the same preface for every Mass.

        Only if you take a ridiculous all-or-nothing approach to what I said about noble simplicity and ritual stability. For what it’s worth, I would favour a middle position between the EF and OF in this regard.

        Perhaps you are influenced by the impoverished Tridentine practice of using only one Eucharistic Prayer for every Eucharist.

        What exactly is wrong or impoverished about the exclusive use of the Roman Canon? In my experience, pretty much what we have now in the OF is near-exclusive use of EP2, with occasional use of EP3. Given that, I’d rather priests just used the Roman Canon (and failing that, paid attention to GIRM 365).

        @Chuck Middendorf (#23): In the Ambrosian and Mozarabic sacramentaries, each Sunday has its own preface.

        I’m well aware of this, but the existence of one thing in any given rite is not a good enough reason to import that into any other rite. The Mozarabic liturgy in particular is far more extravagant and elaborate in its attitude than the Roman Rite. A preface for every Sunday is certainly in keeping with the spirit of certain liturgies, but not the Roman. (IMO, there are already too many prefaces in the OF.)

      2. Matthew Roth Avatar

        @Gerard Flynn – comment #19:
        No, but we could severely limit the number of prefaces or at the very least given guidance on the precedence given to each option. Also, even in the East with a history of multiple anaphoras, they don’t have the option to pick and choose like we do… and for the record, the Roman Canon predates Trent by over 1000 years.

      3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Gerard Flynn – comment #19:

        Perhaps you are influenced by the impoverished Tridentine practice of using only one Eucharistic Prayer for every Eucharist.

        The canon missae is a masterpiece of organic liturgical development. The Canon has a consistent and almost melodic prosody; this all the more amazing since it is not a unitary composition. The Canon is also a paragon of Latin literary parallelism and Latin literary style. Every word, every et and preposition, has a precise place within the literary and theological puzzle. When pronounced correctly, the Canon is also beautiful prose-song of Christ’s offering of himself to the Father. Perhaps for all these reasons the Canon has been thoroughly plumbed for its literary and theological content consistently over the last millennium. Perhaps this is also why those who have criticized Catholic theology have often criticized the Canon first.

        Would you, Gerald, label the liturgies of the Byzantine tradition, as impoverished? Each one of these liturgies has an invariable canon (and “preface”) as well. All these rites are quite old, stretching back at least to the early centuries of institutional Christianity.

        The issue with Western Christian liturgy today is not that it is conceived in a postmodern period. Rather, liturgy finds itself in the hands of persons who only know postmodernity. Since postmodern culture constructs and deconstructs itself through incessant revolution, novelty provides an ephemeral foundation for a personal identity within an assembly (see Fr. Reese’s liturgical research and development idea). Consistent experimentations ultimately fail to provide spiritual and cultural assurance. What is liturgy if today’s generations live to see multiple reformations of a single rite in a century? Who am I as a Catholic, then?

      4. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #37:

        Jordan, I think those responsible for the postconciliar reforms would not have seen the Roman Canon through quite such an idealistic lens, given that they started the process of providing alternatives for it. Clearly the Prayer has had a chequered history, lacking a proper epiclesis and with those vestigial acclamations whose originals have long since disappeared, to name but two “unsatisfactory” features. If the Canon had been as perfect and as adequate as you suggest, there might have been no need to think about alternative prayer texts at all. However, Vagaggini’s seminal book The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform shows that it was probably inevitable that the Roman Canon would eventually lose its status as the sole and unique expression of the Western Latin Rite. It was just a question of how quickly.

      5. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Paul Inwood – comment #40:

        My idealization of the Canon does not neglect its supposed deficiencies. Some theologians consider supplices te rogamus to be an ascending epiclesis. Granted, the Canon’s expression of epiclesis is rather inchoate, as the per manus sancti Angeli tui, “by the hands of your holy angel”, is not clearly the Holy Spirit.

        Yet, why does it matter that the Canon does not have a more explicit epiclesis similar to eastern anaphorae? supplices te rogamus could be considered a uniquely Roman expression of epiclesis. Even so, do not the prevailing winds of liturgical reform deprecate uniquely native Roman expressions of eucharistic theology in the Mass? Similarly, the interjections of per Christum dominum nostrum, while I agree are indicative of previous prayers or conclusions, nevertheless display an organicity in the very nature of incompletion that cannot be duplicated in eucharistic prayers composed to meet some ultimately unfeasible pan-apostolic Christian ideal.

        Recent history provides ample warning of the results of the hubris of persons who believe that society can be renovated in the span of decades. Were not Marx, Engels, and Lenin to bring us a utopia of sheltered employment and guaranteed shelter? This “paradise” carried the hefty price tag of barriers both physical and metaphorical: concrete walls and the rational paranoia of police state. The liturgical reformation in the Roman church is not much older than many of the Communist regimes before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Is this not the time to smash the metaphorical Berlin Wall of our mind’s eye and admit that aspects of the reformed liturgy are prefabricated for an idealized reflection of eucharistic theology in de novo prayers? Deprecation of the Roman Canon only reinforces this latter metaphor.


      6. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #41:
        Possibly it matters in the discussion of it being argued as the “only” option, to the exclusion of others. Other anaphoras have their own plusses and minuses. We can discuss merits and flaws without consigning any of these prayers to a dustbin.

        I fail to grasp the criticism of renovation. Most people think something in the world needs fixing. If it’s not economics, it must be sacramental practice, catechesis, international relations, computer security, or popular music. If Marx, Engels, and Lenin are your boogeymen, then perhaps Enron, WorldCom and AIG are someone else’s. Is this a case of your anti-heroes are badder than my anti-heroes?

        You say “prefabricated.” Someone else might say “composed.” What do you and other traditionalists mean by your word? Are you engaging an inaccurate label to insult opponents or fire up the traditionalist base? Or are you jealous because the Eucharistic Prayers for Children and Reconciliation are more popular than the Roman Canon? Might it not be useful to ponder why modern compositions have more resonance with the faithful?

      7. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:

        Is this a case of your anti-heroes are badder than my anti-heroes?

        Not at all, Todd. I have merely used Marxist-Leninist socialism as an example of how a prefabricated (in the sense of created without reference to human nature or daily existence) society will fail when ideology begins to divorce itself from the organic capacity of the people living under this ideology. The Comecon nations, e.g. East Germany, would successively issue plans (five-year plans, etc.) to catch-up with the perceived economic successes of Western Europe. And yet, a prefabricated, centrally-controlled economy could never match an elastic capitalist society. Is capitalism ideal? Certainly not! Yet, at least capitalism provides a level of internal organic direction not present in socialism.

        It follows then that there are two components of prefabrication. One is the composition of an ideology and ideologically-driven actions without regard to a living, incomplete society. The second component is the probability that what is created de novo will outlast previous elastic expressions, such as the Canon, of an organic “society” (i.e. the Roman Church as Body). The first prefabrication is without doubt: all the eucharistic prayers of the reformed missal save the (slightly modified) Canon have been written by a person or small committee of people in a relatively short period of time. These prayers have been written with certain ideals in mind, and especially conformity to certain metrics perceived to be characteristic of apostolic eucharistic prayer (e.g. an explicit epiclesis.) The Canon is not-prefabricated, so far as it has been composed over the course of a few centuries, is elastic (well, until Trent the rota of saints were not fixed, and perhaps the list of saints of the Canon should returned to dioceses and communities), and reflects a uniquely Roman and orthodox eucharistic theology.

        I do not intend to anger anyone. I only ask a question: can eucharistic prayer prefabrication truly reflect the Roman nature of our worship?

      8. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #47:
        Ah yes, the terrors of prefabrication: Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the poetry of … say Emily Dickinson. It so impoverishes us.

        I don’t think you anger me. You disappoint.

      9. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #47:

        How do you think the Roman Canon came to be? Every word of it was put in place by someone, and that person was probably motivated by something similar to what has motivated the post VII reformers. Its elasticity was banished after Trent, when the canon came to be identified with the printed words rather than with the praying of them.

        Even if it was not “created without reference to human nature or daily existence” it has been used without “without reference to human nature or daily existence.” Starting with the common language of daily existence in Rome, it stayed the same while daily existence changed Latin into several different languages. This is an excellent example of becoming divorced from the organic capacity of the people living with it, something you see as a flaw of the prefabricated.

        Reconnecting with the organic capacity of the people was once called aggiornamento, a basic principle of VII. The people of Europe were looking at the collapse of the ideology of Empire and seeking something more living to guide them. The Church approached this by overhauling the liturgy, a very interesting response IMO. They dethroned the Roman Canon in favor of a greater organic elasticity that could adapt to every culture in the world. They fabricated 4, and more, EP rather than impose a single universal prayer in a single language. I doubt that they intended a prayer that would outlast its predecessor, but instead tried to reawaken people to pray together.

      10. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        @Paul Inwood – comment #40:
        What is the ultimate result of the Roman Canon lacking a proper epiclesis? Does it point to an impoverished pneumological character in the Canon, or is there a graver conclusion one can arrive at?

        Similarly, what is the ultimate result of the anaphora of Addai and Mari missing explicit words of institution? Or of the anaphora in the Didache missing an epiclesis (among other things)?

        (Bringing up the Didache reminds me of its admonition to “let no one eat or drink of your thanksgiving, but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord”, pertinent to the post on the ECLA.)

    3. Chuck Middendorf Avatar
      Chuck Middendorf

      @Matthew Hazell – comment #14:
      In the Ambrosian and Mozarabic sacramentaries, each Sunday has its own preface.

      Of course, if new prefaces would be just like the Collects (same for Cycles A,B,& C), and not related to the lectionary, then I really don’t care.

  13. Scott Pluff Avatar
    Scott Pluff

    If the CDW asked for my opinion, which they certainly have not, I’d say decentralize the oversight of rites/translations/music/etc to regional bishop’s conferences. Make it clear that they are empowered to keep things the same or make adaptations as they see fit, then leave the work to them. We would all do well to get over our “home office” mentality. Subsidiarity! Unity in essentials without forced uniformity.

  14. Charles Day Avatar
    Charles Day

    Stanislaus Kosala : @Paul Inwood – comment #11: Have you ever actually read Ratzinger on the liturgy? He explicitly denies the view that you attribute to him.

    Ah yes, but actions speak louder, and the actions tell a much different story than you suggest.

    The truth is that as a non-traddie type, I actually like a lot of the traditional. I am not all that excited about committees to explore options, and definitely not excited about decentralizing the liturgy to the various bishops (allowing for local custom is one thing, but without some central liturgy we run the risk of losing the catholic – i.e., universality).

    What I would like is to have a liturgy where I can be fully active and participate. One where I can leave at the dismissal and engage the world with my faith.

    I read this excerpt from St. John Chrysostom recently:
    For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me. What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.

    Let us learn, therefore to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Peter thought he was honoring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honor, quite the opposite! Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts. (emphasis added)

    That’s what I want. I don’t want goofily literal translations, or excessive ornamentation or…

  15. Scott Pluff Avatar
    Scott Pluff

    When I was in grad school and working in an academic department, I was fascinated by liturgical history and theology. Now three years into a full-time parish assignment, I have seen how many passionate arguments of the academy are out of touch with life in the parishes. What liturgical and musical practices are actually working to form disciples, preferably in large numbers? Small, focused, intentional communities of several dozen people are wonderful, but we also need thriving parishes to draw in people by the thousands. What kind of liturgy is going to draw people away from the golf course and shopping mall on Sunday morning? That’s a key question, and one that isn’t on the radar of many liturgists.

  16. Theresa Maccarone Avatar
    Theresa Maccarone

    I hope the new prefect will begin re-evaluating the prohibition against lay preaching during the Liturgy of the Word.

    1. Scott Pluff Avatar
      Scott Pluff

      @Theresa Maccarone – comment #26:
      +1. Lay preaching is a possible solution to a widespread problem that is actually of concern to the faithful. In survey after survey, parishioners complain that the preaching is weak and the liturgy has no connection or relevance to their lived experience. Allowing in gifted and well-formed lay preachers, especially in parishes whose pastor is not a gifted speaker, could go a long way to real liturgical renewal.

      I believe that the average Catholic would never notice or care whether we have 1 or 7 or 30 Eucharistic prayers or prefaces. But raising the bar on dynamic preaching, music, and ministries can grow attendance and lead people to deeper discipleship.

      I hope the CDW will take notice that 2/3 of self-identified Catholics in the U.S. and far more in Western Europe rarely or never attend Mass, and take that as the #1 issue to address.

      1. Elisabeth Ahn Avatar
        Elisabeth Ahn

        @Scott Pluff – comment #28:

        I hope the CDW will take notice that 2/3 of self-identified Catholics in the U.S. and far more in Western Europe rarely or never attend Mass, and take that as the #1 issue to address.

        And I hope the CDW will remember that neither the US nor Western Europe is at the center of the universal Church, and take that to heart if and when setting its new agenda.

        Which is also to say I agree with your earlier comment (#16) about subsidiarity.

  17. Mike Joncas Avatar
    Mike Joncas

    Re: Matthew Hazell’s comment at #14 and #24 and the various responses. I think this could serve as an illustration of how historical data may be interpreted in differing ways depending on the pre-suppositions one brings to interpreting that data. The earliest Roman Rite sacramentally (the so-called “Leonine” or “Verona” sacramentary [probably more accurately called the “Verona collection of libel missarum”]), while incomplete (it is organized according to months of the year and begins in mid-April, probably because the first 3 1/2 months were detached from the manuscript), provides a Preface for nearly every Mass formulary (267 Prefaces). The later “Old Gelasian” sacramentary had 54, while the “Hadrianum” form of the “Gregorian” sacramentary had 14. The so-called “VIIIth Century Gelasians,” represented by the Gellone and Angouleme sacramentaries have ca. 200, while the 10th C Sacramentary of Fulda had 320.

    I suspect Mr. Hazell finds the trajectory from Veronese through Old Gelasian to Hadrianum (and enshrined in the MR1570) to be an eminently pastoral decision by the Church, overwhelmed by so much variety in its euchology. I suspect that others would see that same trajectory as an impoverishment of Roman Rite euchology, partially remedied by the MR1970 and subsequent materials (consider the Collection of Masses of the BVM), but probably in need of further expansion. How, then, might one properly argue the merits of expanding or contracting the euchological corpus of Prefaces for the Roman Rite?

  18. Aaron Sanders Avatar
    Aaron Sanders

    Reminders of the decentralized historical development are all fine and good for providing *balance* in modern liturgical “strategic planning,” but it seems altogether too simplistic to assume that these historic traits must be *prescriptive* for the present. Centralization and “stagnation” were not just knee-jerk reactions to Protestant novelties but also, if again only in part, a push-back against local liturgy that had often grown well beyond the bounds of good order (i.e., not even having a common set of books within a diocese) or simple decorum (consider the list of indecencies compiled by Trent’s liturgical commission).

    The quest for uniformity, then, had much to do with the fact that there will always be only a select few wise men scattered among the mass of fools that is any human society, and while one might argue that the Church had/has managed to secure a better proportion of wise to foolish among those with power over liturgical change, the result of several centuries of decentralized development will always be some good growth alongside a wide variety of weeds that need to be uprooted.

    The upshot: liturgical development can be a very sharp two-edged sword. Yes, a traditionalist must admit that MR1570 was the fruit of this organic process, but he may also point out that it was a fruit only saved from an often scandalous overgrowth through papal/conciliar (i.e., centralized) intervention.

    The lesson is that decentralization only works when there are competent overseers at subsidiary levels. A decision to decentralize today hinges in large part upon whether we trust those overseers. I, for one, most certainly do not. To devolve this authority to American bishops would be placing liturgical development in the hands of a group that has overseen the demographic collapse of their parishes, presbyterates, and religious orders, widespread confusion regarding faith and morals, and the exploitation of the Church’s youth. Give that same sad lot freer rein over liturgy? Thanks, but no thanks.

    1. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      @Aaron Sanders – comment #30:
      What liturgical commission of the Council of Trent are you referring to, Aaron? Are you talking about the decree, De observandis et evitandis in celebrationae Missae, issued in the 22nd session of the Council?

      As far as I can see, this had little to do with “decentralisation” or “local liturgy”; it was more about an overall lack of discipline. Nor was it about “Protestant novelties” as much as devotions and customs — for instance, fixed numbers of candles at certain Masses — that the Council saw as superstitious.

      Maybe you are referring to another liturgical commission or council document. It can’t have been the commission that produced the 1570 liturgy documents, because their notes were never preserved.

      1. Aaron Sanders Avatar
        Aaron Sanders

        @Jonathan Day – comment #32:
        Not the conciliar decree but the memorandum that informed it, submitted by the seven prelates asked to look into the problem of abuses in the Mass (Concilium Tridentinum; Diarorum, Actorum, Epistolarum, Tractatuum nova collectio, tomus VIII). At any rate, we are agreed that the problems identified we largely “devotions and customs.” We differ in that you write these off as indiscipline – as if these were known to be illicit but employed regardless, as some of them were – whereas I see it precisely as one possible, and to my mind quite likely, outcome of allowing liturgical development to be driven by local customs, which is precisely what some of the abuses (like having the priest hold the chalice on his head as he genuflected) were. One of the popular and steady refrains on this web site is that more room must be given to adapt the liturgy according to local custom, but I believe we live in an era, like that of the early 1500s, when we stand in greater need of protection from proposed local customs than we do from any Roman thwarting of our liturgical genius. The churches of the late middle ages had, compared to our own day, a large degree of the decentralized freedom for which our modern commentators clamor. A few of those churches developed noble traditions that ought to have been preserved. Just as many if not more others developed inane or superstitious customs. We can’t play word games and make the good ones “local liturgy” while the bad ones are “lack of discipline.” They are all part of the same phenomenon, a phenomenon that I find far less promising than many of my interlocutors.

  19. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    #29 Elisabeth Ahn
    Your stats for US Mass attendance may fit the old centers of cultural Catholicism (i.e. Boston, New York, Chicago, etc), they are out of sync with many of the churches of the South and Southwest. Each week I see as many as half of those who could be considered parish members by some stretch of the imagination. The Liturgy is celebrated in an engaging and dynamic manner. The preaching seeks to link our praise and adoration with the ways we can glorify God by the lives we lead in our homes, schools, and workplaces. I don’t need any prodding or permission from CDF for this.

    1. Elisabeth Ahn Avatar
      Elisabeth Ahn

      @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #31:

      Hello Father,

      those are not my stats but Scott Pluff’s (@ comment #28); I was just quoting him.

      Otherwise, I agree with you when you said:

      “I don’t need any prodding or permission from CDF for this.”

      After all, what does CDF know about Liturgy anyway? 😉

  20. Jim Pauwels Avatar
    Jim Pauwels

    Does the CDF have to be essentially regulatory, decreeing what is permitted and what is forbidden? Can it have a more visionary charter? How does it contribute to a mission-oriented church? I’d be excited if the new Prefect finds these to be questions worth considering.

  21. Felipe Gasper Avatar
    Felipe Gasper

    The point about Byzantine liturgy is well-taken. Am I right in thinking that Eastern Christianity has generally avoided “experimentation”?

    The Copts (Egyptians) are perhaps an interesting “case study” in a relative absence of theological and ritual development since the Muslim conquest. They still, for example, do not acknowledge the baptism of any Chalcedonian Christian (e.g., Romans, Russian Orthodox, …), and they forbid women from taking communion while they’re menstruating. I suspect that part of why that happened is that they were concerned more for preserving their traditions against the “occupier” than about innovating.

    Do we face the same situation today? We are not “occupied” per se, at least not physically, but people who attend Mass regularly—and particularly who identify with certain controversial Church teachings—are in a distinct minority. I think Bill Donohue goes overboard, but I do think there remains palpable anti-Catholicism in our culture. Moreover, we face questions of identity that come to the fore with some regularity, e.g., when a lay leader is dismissed from a prominent leadership role because the hierarchy believes that his lifestyle contradicts Christ’s teachings. Or, when a Catholic publisher damages a text’s lyrical integrity for the sake of a dubious ideology or linguistic preference. Or when our rite’s distinctive liturgical language has become an agent of division rather than a unifying force. (Unlike us with Latin, Coptic clergy actually do learn Coptic, and laypeople expect to encounter it.)

    Personally, I wonder if the centralization that we have seen since the growth of mass communication could be the action of, to quote Alan Hommerding, “that wacky Paraclete”. The Episcopal Church is self-destructing after generations of being the “de facto” American Protestantism. Many other traditions are faring little better. Would we be in the same boat if we, like they, had a more decentralized governance model?

  22. Mike Joncas Avatar
    Mike Joncas

    Re: Nathan Chase at #38. I would be interested in learning what the present academic use of the terms “inculturation” and “enculturation” would be. Could you offer some definitions and clarify the distinction between the terms?

    1. Nathan Chase Avatar
      Nathan Chase

      I am about to board my plane to London on my way to Brussels, but I will do my best to respond to you by tomorrow.

      If anyone else wants to jump in feel free.

    2. Garrick Comeaux Avatar

      @Mike Joncas – comment #42:One of my favorite professors of Sacramental Theology at Sant’Anselmo was don Crispino Valenziano. His claim to have been the first to use the term inculturation in the context of the Council’s liturgical renewal may have been disputed by Anscar Chupungo, but in any case, the word Inculturation meant for both of them “adaptation of the liturgy to different cultures and traditions”. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz would describe culture as a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which human beings communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about, and their attitudes toward, life. Growing up in a culture in which we appropriate values held by parents and those who teach us our way in the world is however Enculturation. Mark Francis says that enculturation is the process of learning about our home culture; it is not automatic, genetic or inherited. He gives an example of a baby girl born to Chinese parents in Shanghai that is adopted as an infant by Irish Americans living in Boston. The girl will be culturally Irish American even though appear to be racially Asian. Culture and race are different human characteristics. One is learned and one is genetic. One more term, Acculturation, consists of the juxtaposition of two cultures. These cultures are not mutually integrated, but defined in terms of respect and tolerance. It is a necessary condition of inculturation. This hopefully answers the question posed by Mike Joncas (even though I know he knows this already) I am not certain how the term enculturation was intended in this blog.

  23. Jack Wayne Avatar
    Jack Wayne

    Are the EPs for children and reconciliation more popular? I think I heard a badly butcheted childrens EP once, but other than that I would say the Canon is far more regularly used. It is also the only one I have ever heard anyone refer fo as a ” favorite” because of its vivid imagery. Perhaps its different outside the midwest.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Jack Wayne – comment #45:
      I’ve been in three parishes with schools. Parents in all three often asked me why we couldn’t use the “good” prayers on Sunday. If they were asking me–the one who didn’t make the choice–I’m sure the clergy were getting more questions. The priests I worked with didn’t and don’t butcher the EP. If a guy can’t get through the EP’s for C, I can’t imagine it’s going to be any better with the MR3 morass.

      I find that the occasional use of the Reconciliation prayers and EP I probably add to their appeal. I think the Roman Canon, despite its flaws, works well on Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost–the big feasts. Every Sunday, the Roman Canon is too much. Besides, it needs more women saints.

  24. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    Jack Wayne : It [the Roman Canon] is also the only one I have ever heard anyone refer fo as a ” favorite” because of its vivid imagery.

    I’d identify EPIII as my “favorite.”

    That being said, I wish we used EPI more often. Some of its “defects” are simply signs of its antiquity. Its lack of a pneumatic epiclesis is no more of a defect that Paul’s non-use of the terminology of physis and hypostasis is a defect in his Christology. I don’t find it a defective prayer at all, and in some ways I think it is superior to the newer EPs–for example, in its use of imagery from the Old Testament, which is strangely absent from the newer EPs, apart from EPIV (which may get used even less frequently than EPI).

  25. Mike Joncas Avatar
    Mike Joncas

    I thank Garrick Comeaux at #50 for these distinctions. Part of the reason I posed the question is that I think those using the terms on this blog may have different understandings of them and clarifying our use of the terms may assist our conversation.

    I would like to ask a similar question of Jordan Zarembo at #47 with his use of “prefabricated.” When speaking of societies he says the term means “created without reference to human nature or daily existence.” I think he then uses the term analogously to speak of the composition of Roman Rite eucharistic prayers from Vatican II on.

    I confess that I don’t know what “created without reference to human nature or daily existence” means when applied to the texts appearing in the present OF MR, which seem quite comfortable in referencing a human nature transformed by grace through the actions of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They also seem to refer to the daily existence of those presently living members of the Church on earth. (EP II: “be in your presence and minister to you,” “may praise and glorify you.” EP III: “become one body, one spirit in Christ,” “advance the peace and salvation of all the world,” “confirm in faith and charity your pilgrim Church on earth,” “gather to yourself all our children scattered throughout the world.” EP IV: “You formed man in your own image so that in serving you, the Creator, he might have dominion over all creatures,” “he (Jesus) shared our human nature in all things but sin.”)

    Perhaps Mr. Zarembo uses the term to suggest that these EPs are an exercise in _bricolage_, using elements from previously existing EPs in their construction. One can discover elements from the EP found in the (reconstructed) _Apostolic Tradition_ in EP II, some from Gallican and Mozarabic EPs in EP III (although Enrico Mazza’s judgment is that “[d]espite some evident parallels [to the Gallican and Mozarabic texts, EP III] is characteristically Roman”), and elements of Eastern (Syro-Antiochene and Alexandrian) anaphoras…

  26. Mike Joncas Avatar
    Mike Joncas

    [cont. from #52] in EP IV.

    The 2 EPs for Masses of Reconciliation, the 3 EPs for Masses with Children, and the four variants of the single EP for Masses for Various Needs do not seem to draw on earlier texts in the same way, though all ultimately cite or allude to scriptural texts. (Thus these would not seem to be “prefabricated” in the same way as EPs II-IV.) From my study and praying of these texts, I would posit that they even more intensely than EPs I-IV make reference to “human nature and daily existence.”

    Perhaps Mr. Zarembo is objecting to the listing of the elements of an EP in art. 79 of the present edition of _General Instruction of the Roman Missal_ as somehow a set of criteria for a EP (and against which the Roman Canon can seem to be deficient). Is this what he might mean by “ideological”?

    I likewise wonder what Mr. Zarembo means by “the Roman nature of our worship.” I think the classic formulation of this would be found in Edmund Bishop’s “The Genius of the Roman Rite” which he identifies as “essentially soberness and sense,” found, for him, especially in the earliest version of the Gregorian Sacramentary. If these are the criteria by which one establishes “the Roman nature of our worship,” one would have to admit that a significant amount of the material in the MR1570 is not “Roman in nature,” but a fusion of Frankish and Roman elements. Is then the “nature of our Roman worship” to be its ability to assimilate various elements from multiple worldviews into a ritual program?

    I confess that I cannot respond to Mr. Zarembo’s question — “can eucharistic prayer prefabrication truly reflect the Roman nature of our worship?” — until I have a clearer understanding of what “prefabrication” and what “the Roman nature of our worship” means, but I would very much like to explore that question with the readers of Pray Tell.

  27. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    If I can pick up on “the Roman nature of our worship”, it is my understanding that modern scholarship has comprehensively debunked the notion of “the essential unity of the Roman Rite”. It therefore seems legitimate to question whether one can truly describe our worship as Roman in nature when, as Michael Joncas indicates, it has in fact succeeded in incorporating elements of other traditions within it (perhaps that in fact is its genius?).

    I think I may have quoted this on Pray Tell previously, but I always recall my mentor Joseph Gelineau saying that a liturgy which grew up in the Mediterranean basin could not possibly speak to and fulfil the expressions of diverse peoples around the world. I will not bore PT readers with very obvious examples supporting this axiom. For Gelineau, therefore, inculturation is a necessary part of worship, and the notion of a centralized “Roman” liturgy that all should subscribe to was simply untenable on an anthropological level as well as a historical one. To paraphrase his thought, you can’t celebrate “someone else’s” liturgy “in the abstract”; you have to celebrate “your own” liturgy in order for it to be truly authentic.

    I am quite sure that considerations such as these are a gazillion miles away from the mindset of some who work in the Congregation. Even getting inculturation onto their radar seems problematic. Documents such as Varietates Legiitimae show that they just don’t get it, and probably don’t want to.

    The key to inculturation undoubtedly lies in returning the authority to regulate liturgy to national episcopal conferences, as Sacrosanctum Concilium mandated and as succeeding generations of Vatican bureaucrats effectively stifled.

    But even without this, any diocesan bishop has the authority to set up “places of special experiment” which might fulfil some of the tasks of the centres for research and development that Reese advocates. In the past, some bishops have certainly designated small numbers of parishes as places where new practices can be tried out and, more importantly, evaluated. We need more of this, so that we can learn from experience and from making mistakes — and learning from mistakes is something that our Church is incredibly bad at doing. In the area of inculturation, already things have moved on significantly from the sometimes simplistic ideas that people held as little as 10 or 15 years ago.

  28. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    It seems that, in some American dioceses, at least in the past, experimentation was more permitted in oratories than in parishes, perhaps on the thought that oratories attract intentional congregations, but at least in some parishes, the people are more stuck and so should not be subjected to much experimentation.

    Which brings me to the perennial issue of how congregations get a voice in this. Pastoral councils and liturgical commissions have a strong tendency to have a certain groupthink or cognitive blindspot (other than for hearty gadflies whose contrariness tends to reinforce the groupthink), on a lag from turnovers in pastors or other powers that be. A considerable amount of experimentation can be rationalized on behalf of The People(TM) without the hard and long kind of consultation with the real people that a true consensus would require (as opposed to a Potemkin village of consensus). I am very sensitive to this because I’ve repeatedly witnessed otherwise sensible pastoral leaders and ministers make assumptions about the flocks to whom they minister that turn out to be rather unwarranted, and they (the leaders and ministers) don’t like being shown evidence of how unwarranted the assumption are, taking it as impugning their good intentions and generally being a Not Nice thing to do (and Being Nice is what Church People strain to seem to do). I am not speaking cynically here, but from a sense that individual real people rarely fit as neatly into the categories that people who think About People tend to craft for them.

  29. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    I think that Jordan is using prefabricated in an extended or metaphorical sense: “manufactured, ready-made; artificial, contrived” (OED); “To make up, construct, or develop in an artificial, unoriginal, or stereotypic manner” (The Free Dictionary, sv prefabricate).

    My problem with this is that it can be tough to decide, ex post, which innovations are “organic” and which “artificial”. As Aaron Sanders notes (above, comment 35), the 16th century was hardly free of interesting innovations. Some of them were approved by the revisers of the 1570 Missal, others were not. Was that an “organic” or a “prefabricated” process?

    1. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      @Jonathan Day – comment #57:

      Thank you Jonathan for making clear what I tried to define in an obtuse manner. My earlier metaphorical attempt to define “prefabricated” unsuccessfully used a political-secular metaphor to begin discussion of a liturgical and theological concept. This did not work out so well, but has produced a great number of excellent thoughts. I’d like to participate in the discussion of some of these thoughts soon.

      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #59:
        So, we have a language barrier political secular vs theological? It appears to me that we may have that, in part. Would you be more comfortable using the adjectives “composed” or “adapted from ancient sources” or “based on Scripture and tradition” instead of your own word choice?

        My first sense was that it was less “obtuse” and more “insulting.”

        I do observe that many traditionalists and conservative Catholics utilize political tactics in arguing for their viewpoints. Perhaps one view they consider a “settled” manner is not so settled after all: not every Catholic concedes that organic development is necessarily a positive or necessary virtue. The assumption that it is certainly seems to impinge on God’s abilities to think that a slow unfolding of change is more reliable as a carrier of grace than, say, the creativity of utilizing Patristic and Scriptural sources to create a new expression that has a hope of accomplishing the aim of liturgy.

      2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #60:

        I will not deny that the new eucharistic prayers are influenced by historic eucharistic prayers. The new eucharistic prayers are scriptural and theologically orthodox (the latter I write with conviction, and not to keep my standing in the Church.) I am comfortable with “composed”. I will stop using inflammatory terms such as “prefabricated” and an association of the eucharistic prayers of the reformed liturgy with failed states.

        not every Catholic concedes that organic development is necessarily a positive or necessary virtue.

        Your point is almost impossible for me to understand. In my (intuitive, visceral) view, traditio, the “handing down”, is almost as important as the liturgical or theological meaning of the prayer. The Roman Canon was said by almost innumerable saints. When I attend the EF, or hear the Canon said aloud in the OF in Latin especially, I am reminded that this is the expression of eucharistic prayer which has sustained the Church for more than a millennium. Why have we practically discarded this chain of history, of sanctity?

        The assumption that it is certainly seems to impinge on God’s abilities to think that a slow unfolding of change is more reliable as a carrier of grace than, say, the creativity of utilizing Patristic and Scriptural sources” […] (my ellipsis)

        If am orthodox Catholic, I must accept your statement. However, I am still at the stage where I require personal rationalizations to accept your statement. Jim McKay (#51) writes “They [the Church] dethroned the Roman Canon in favor of a greater organic elasticity that could adapt to every culture in the world. They fabricated 4, and more, EP rather than impose a single universal prayer in a single language.” Here, Jim has used “fabrication” in a positive manner: the reformations flowing out of Vatican II are elastic for our age and for a Church which is for all cultures. His definition helps me to understand your statement better.

      3. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #62:

        When I attend the EF, or hear the Canon said aloud in the OF in Latin especially, I am reminded that this is the expression of eucharistic prayer which has sustained the Church for more than a millennium. Why have we practically discarded this chain of history, of sanctity?

        I think the answer is because it was never true, any more than the oft-repeated cry “This is the Mass our martyrs died for”. Historically, the Church has been sustained not by a single expression but by a multitude of expressions which constitute a great richness. Even the Roman Canon itself, though remaining essentially the same from the 7th century onwards, was still subject to detailed changes throughout its history.

  30. Sean Whelan Avatar
    Sean Whelan

    Maybe where you worship, but it’s not the norm in my experience. I could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve heard EPI used since the translation change – and I’m at 9 Masses a week. EP 2 has become the “new canon” with EP3 in second place. We hear quite often the Reconciliation prayers here as well as the VNO prayer. EP 4 gets brought out a few times a year.

    Funny thing is, that while I’m fairly middle-of-the-road liturgically, I LOVE the 1970 Roman Canon. I used to be able to recite it from memory. The priests would frequently use it, almost always when there was a special “In union with” insert. I had cards made up with all the other special inserts (RCIA, Confirmation, PC of the Sick etc…) The translators did a beautiful job of breathing new life into a venerable text. Thanks to LA, purity of Latin is more important than comprehension, and so for the VAST majority of the US, the RC has been shelved. Frankly, I find it awful to listen to, let alone pray along with, and will be happy if I never hear it again. But hey, it’s more accurate now!

    Jack Wayne : Are the EPs for children and reconciliation more popular? I think I heard a badly butcheted childrens EP once, but other than that I would say the Canon is far more regularly used. It is also the only one I have ever heard anyone refer fo as a ” favorite” because of its vivid imagery. Perhaps its different outside the midwest.

  31. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    These discussions are never easy. Part of the legacy of writers like Chesterton, Belloc and CS Lewis – not to mention Tertullian and St Irenaeus – is a nasty strain of polemic and adversarial sarcasm, better suited to a courtroom or a barroom brawl than a discussion of liturgy or theology. It crops up on both the conservative and the progressive sides. I have indulged in it often enough. It rarely moves the debate forward.

    The people at Catholic Common Ground tried to introduce “principles of dialogue” that might help discussions within the Catholic community work better. I don’t know whether they have had much impact. You can read the entire set of principles at the link above; I’ve excerpted them below:

    We should recognize that no single group or viewpoint in the church has a complete monopoly on the truth. …

    We should not envision ourselves or any one part of the church a saving remnant. …

    We should test all proposals for their pastoral realism and potential impact on individuals as well as for their theological truth. …

    We should presume that those with whom we differ are acting in good faith. They deserve civility, charity, and a good-faith effort to understand their concerns. We should not substitute labels, abstractions, or blanketing terms–“radical feminism,” “the hierarchy,” “the Vatican”–for living, complicated realities.

    We should put the best possible construction on differing positions, addressing their strongest points rather than seizing upon the most vulnerable aspects …

    We should be cautious in ascribing motives. …

    We should bring the church to engage the realities of contemporary culture … both our culture’s valid achievements and real dangers.

    Would discussions like the one in this topic be more productive if we followed these principles?

  32. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    I would also add that many of the faithful, over those many years, never heard most of the Roman Canon, either because parts of it were done silently or because they were sitting or standing or kneeling far from the altar, perhaps behind a thick rood screen, or saying their rosaries.

    Where bits of Latin from the Vulgate, from classical authors or from Latin hymns like the tantum ergo have made it into the general educated lexicon, not much of the Roman Canon has dibe. Perhaps the words of institution (hoc est enim … hic est enim) and the expression mea culpa, mea culpa are exceptions.

    Contrast this with the Anglican Prayer Book, where large chunks of the liturgy have become literary tropes: “the whole state of Christ’s Church militant”, “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest”, “we do not presume to come to this thy table”, etc.

    It was different for the clergy, of course; and for perhaps the last century, the Catholic laity, as the liturgical movement opened the treasure of the Mass to more people.

    NONE of this is to show disrespect for the Roman Canon – the new translators and Vox Clara have done enough of that – but simply to suggest that it was a small minority of the faithful who were directly sustained by these texts.

    Jordan uses the metaphor of architecture, and I think this is worth further exploration. Is Brutalist architecture (*) necessarily bad, inorganic, socially dysfunctional? Some of it certainly was. Some – I think of the Barbican complex in London – has worked very well indeed. A blanket and sarcastic critique, in the style of Prince Charles, does little more than inflame emotions on both sides. I think what is needed is a deeper analysis, in architecture and in the Missal, of the changes that have resonated with the whole body of the Church and those that have not.

    The explicit epicleses of the other Eucharistic prayers seem a positive to me; not that the Roman Canon is ‘deficient’ but that we are enriched by their inclusion.

    (*) Note that the name did not come from a supposed “brutality” of the style, but from béton brut, the concrete used in its construction.

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