Sunday, March 2, 2008

Liturgical Abuses at UD: Part 2

I seem to be receiving the same kind of comments in response to the note I published a few days ago. The argument seems to be that as long as the mass is not invalid, I should not complain about the status quo. There is also the question that my issues with the mass are simply style changes. In this note I will try to define what is an abuse and what is a stylistic change. Then, I will try to show how these things are very important to the maintaining the Catholic Character of UD and why we should care about them.

First: Defining a Abuses: Before getting into the specific abuses, it is important
to understand the rules for celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. These rules are officially called rubrics. These rubrics are contained in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), and many clarifications have been made in other documents such as Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (Inaestimabile Donum).

The most serious type of abuse makes the Mass "invalid." For a Mass to be invalid, the Consecration of the Eucharist does not occur. Going to an invalid Mass is like not attending Mass at all since Jesus is not physically present via the miracle of transubstantiation. This I believe is NOT occurring at UD.

The lesser abuse is called "illicit." These type of abuses are less serious and do not cause the failure of the Consecration of the Eucharist. There are a wide variety of these types of abuses which detract from the holiness and reverence in the Mass. However, an illicit Mass can still be a valid (as opposed to invalid) Mass. This does not mean that they should just be ignored.

Because I am sure that the mass is valid I will not discuss the Invalidating abuses. Instead I will dedicate the majority of this note to showing what these abuses are. Not all of them pertain to Father JD though many do.

First, let me say that the Church has already said experimentation in the liturgy is gravely wrong in Vatican II's Liturgicae Instauraciones:
"The effectiveness of liturgy does not lie in experimenting with rites and altering them over and over, nor in a continuous reductionism, but solely in entering more deeply into the word of God and the mystery being celebrated. It is the presence of these two that authenticates the Church's rites, not what some priest decides, indulging his own preferences."

"Keep in mind, then, that the private recasting of ritual introduced by an individual priest insults the dignity of the believer and lays the way open to individual and idiosyncratic forms in celebrations that are in fact the property of the whole Church."

Every time a priest commits some form of abuse, the believers are being insulted. What exactly falls under the category of illicit (NOT INVALID) abuses will be dealt with now.

  1. Changing the Prescribed Texts of the Mass; Ad Libbing; Inclusive Language
    All the texts of the Mass - prayers, responses, Epistles, Gospel - must be according to the norms approved by the Church. Under no circumstances can anything be changed outside of the rules laid down by the Church. This is clearly stated, even in Vatican II! Inclusivist language falls under this. Many times has the Church re affirmed its position that The first person of the holy Trinity is reffered to as the Father. Some texts from various documents:
    Sacrosanctum Concilium #22: (1) Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. (2) In virtue of power conceded by law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of bishops' conferences, legitimately established, with competence in given territories. (3) Therefore no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
    Inaestimabile Donum #5. "Only the Eucharistic Prayers included in the Roman Missal or those that the Apostolic See has by law admitted, in the manner and within the limits laid down by the Holy See, are to be used. To modify the Eucharistic Prayers approved by the Church or to adopt others privately composed is a most serious abuse."

  2. Armies of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist; "Eucharistic Ministers:
    The term "Eucharistic Minister" is actually not a valid definition within the Church. The official term is extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. Commonly practiced today is the excessive use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist when there is no need. Now while I know that I will lose this one because only the rector can decide what is and what is not appropriate for the mass, it is my personal opinion that 6-8 is too many and that it should be 2-4 max. Another Vatican Document:
    Inaestimabile Donum #10. "The faithful, whether religious or lay, who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can distribute Communion only when there is no priest, deacon or acolyte, when the priest is impeded by illness or advanced age, or when the number of the faithful going to Communion is so large as to make the celebration of Mass excessively long. [Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction "Immensae caritatis," no. 1.] Accordingly, a reprehensible attitude is shown by those priests who, though present at the celebration, refrain from distributing Communion and leave this task to the laity."

    Once again this is my personal opinion but frankly it will not be much of an issue I believe.

  3. Priest and Laity Mixing Roles
    This is a biggie. The mixing of roles between priests and laity has degraded so far that a specific document was promulgated to address this issue. It is titled Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest (Ecclesiae de Mysterio). Vatican II has always clearly defined the role of priest and laity.
    Sacrosanctum Concilium #28. "In liturgical celebrations each person, minister, or layman who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy."
    Canon 907: In the celebration of the Eucharist, deacons and lay persons are not permitted to say the prayers, especially the Eucharistic prayer, nor to perform the actions which are proper to the celebrating priest.

    Here at UD, an example of this would be a lay person returning the ciborium to the tabernacle if there are left over hosts. According to GIRM 163, the priest himself needs to do this.

This clearly demonstrates that there are illicit abuses here at UD. Abuses detract from the character of UD's catholicity. One should never simply look past an abuse, that opens the door for simply more abuses. This is my main issue here at UD. This is not being nitpicky. Nitpicky would be me commenting on the fact that the church is ugly, the stations are on the floor, the cross behind the altar is foul, the vestments worn by Fr. D are not all there, and that he does not wear a biretta, the music is not always very good or that the sanctuary is not set up in a very reverent manner (but my perception). Those are all things that deal with style and have no grounds for being abuse. Abuse is an insult to the believer, and they corrupt the true nature of the mass. As a good friend said: ignoring abuses opens the door to heresy. And that is the last thing a Catholic University wants.

Many responses have been something like, "pull the trunk out of your own eye before you pull the splinter out of your brother's". My response to this is thus: I recognize that I am not perfect. But i is in my right and it in fact is my duty for standing up for the truth, especially when I have at least some documentation to somewhat back my arguments up. I sincerely believe that improving the mass here at UD will improve my spiritual life.

I would also like to recognize and apologize for the phrase "violently repressed". It does is characterize what goes on here and I said it because I was not very happy at the time that I wrote it. I think i can rephrase it to "discouraged". At least for the Sunday morning masses and some daily masses this applies.

It is not my intention nor my desire for JD to retire from his duties as Chaplain as the University. What I seek is positive change. I seek a good, liturgically correct mass. I believe that this will reflect well on the University as a whole and will improve its Catholic character.

On my next note I will address the All saints day homily as well as the mass being simply a community meal. I will also address the role of community in the church and the lay person. Message me for specific questions and as usual, reply civilly.

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