Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Play spot the liturgical abuse!" -- Answers

Who would have thought one itsy bitsy picture could cause such a ruckus? One little picture that gets picked up by the big guns. If you haven't yet read Diogenes' commentary, you should. Apparently, turning on the blog light has made liturgical cockroaches run under the fridge. (The image is no longer on the University of Rochester Newman Site.) Also, it has provoked charges of a lack of charity on the part of myself and Stephanos of St. Benedict. If this is a lack of charity, then guilty as charged. But is it really lack of charity to point out when a person is using the Sacred Liturgy as their personal or ideological plaything? It is not as if this is a photo of an elderly priest making an honest mistake, or of a young priest, who because of a horrid formation, actually believes this is what the Church wants, or a Third World congregation doing the best they can with what little they have. This is of a bishop who is well aware of liturgical norms. (He has been fighting them long enough.) That he is treating the Sacred Mysteries as thing to be jazzed up or relevantized is the lack of charity. Pretending they do not exist or making excuses for them, will not make abuses disappear.

Anyway, I spot five certain abuses:

1) The bishop and the priest to his left (the unfortunately named Fr. Cool) are not properly vested. From personal experience, I can tell you that it isn't that difficult to pack a chasuble and alb along with the other necessities when celebrating Mass outside of a church. In grave necessity, they can be dispensed with (in an area where the Church is under persecution or by a military chaplain in the field.) To be casual just doesn't cut it. (FYI concelebrating priest are only dispensed from wearing a chasuble if there are not enough to go around.)

2) The chalice is made of pottery. Even before the GIRM clarified the issue, the material for a chalice had to be solid, suitable, worthy, valuable, appropriate, and non-absorbent.

3) The altar cloth is violet. The altar cloth is to be white, though a colored under cloth may be used.

4) The candles are also violet. Altar candles are to be white.

5) The coffee table used as an altar. First, the GIRM specifically prohibits using meal tables as an altar. (I would bet many a lunch has been eaten on this table at this dorm.) Also, it is too low for the celebrant to stand at the proper times. How hard would it have been to bring a proper table?

Why all the concern? This is the Sacred Liturgy people. This is where Our Lord gives us His Body and His Blood to us. This is where Heaven touches Earth. It is worth, both for our love of and reverence for God, to do properly and well!

One final note: Antonia asked how to prepare a home properly for the celebration of Mass. First, ask if there is a genuine pastoral need for the Mass to be celebrated outside of the church or oratory? Examples of need are such things as for those who are home bound or to bless a place which has been touched by evil in a particular way. Second, prepare a surface not used for dining to be used as the ersatz altar. Ask yourself is it large enough, tall enough, and will it cause scandal. (I have heard of Mass being celebrated on top of a TV; not good.) Third, treat this Mass with as much reverence and prayerfulness as you would treat Mass at church. The rest is the priest's responsibility: proper vestments, linens, vessels, books, and matter for the Sacrament.
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