Monday, September 01, 2008

Fit for Mission: Church

I`ve been away for a few days to catch some of the Edinburgh festival and to re-visit St Andrews where I was a student between 1978-82. I went with Fr Charles Briggs as mentioned in an earlier post. More of that later. However I got back to find that the bishop of Lancaster`s new document has been released. I`ve only dipped into it so far but it looks very good indeed. I think we`ve needed a bishop to talk like this for a very long time. What a pity he is so near to retirement.

Being me, I did a word search on `Summorum` to see if anything had been said about the Motu Proprio and this is what I found:

To those ‘stable groups of faithful’ within my diocese availing themselves of the extraordinary form I would make the following suggestions as your pastor in accordance with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum:
 Active participation in the life of your parish is
essential to being in full communion with the
Catholic Church. Therefore, it is my earnest hope
that you will not abandon participation in your
parish’s use of the ordinary form.

 Avoid habitual travelling around the diocese to participate in the extraordinary form if this
means you are no longer an active member of your local parish.

 Any attitude of superiority due to participation in the extraordinary form is to be avoided as a danger to the unity and well-being of the Church.

 Equally, there must be no lack of charity or hospitality towards those ‘stable groups of faithful’ who ‘continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms’ as this too damages the unity and well-being of our local Church in communion with the See of Rome.

Fair points I suppose. Sometimes supporters of the EF are accused of acting with an air of superiority. My reply has always been to say that the EF is really for those of us who are a bit weaker. If you can glimpse the mysterium tremendum et fascinans in a Mass celebrated on a coffee table in a sitting room with pottery vessels and a priest only using a stole then good luck to you but I found it difficult to do so.

On the other hand what is the actual provision of EF Masses in Lancaster? According to the LMS listings there are only two regular Masses a month and both at different locations. Nowhere has a weekly Sunday Mass. Is this the spirit of the Motu Proprio?

However I did enjoy this part of the document on Mass in general:

Over the years I have observed in some of our parishes an over-emphasis on the community dimension of Mass that has at times eclipsed reverence and adoration of the divine. Of course, the role of the community is essential, but at times there are diversions and distractions, such as:

Performances within the Mass; (I take this to include `liturgical dance`)

Noisy celebrations not conducive to prayer;

Concert pieces;

Extended signs of peace;

Endless commentaries and Prayers of the Faithful that become collects or mini-homilies.

Such distortions can reflect the common Christological error of emphasising the humanity of Jesus, to the exclusions of any meaningful sense of His divinity.

I am certain that for liturgy to enable us to participate in the life of the Holy Trinity we must maintain a sensitive balance between human participation and reverence of the divine.

It certainly makes an interesting read and I look forward to working through it in the next few days. There is something in it for everyone!


Anonymous said...

‘It is my earnest hope that you will not abandon participation in your parish’s use of the ordinary form.’ says the Bishop. In other words, if your parish does not have a Mass in the Extraordinary Form you should continue to attend the Novus Ordo. It suggests, certainly to me,(although I admit to not having read the entire document) that His Lordship does not regard the EF Mass as being of equal value to the NO, especially, as you point out, that there is no Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form in that diocese. One is surely justified in asking, more than a year after the issue of `Summorum`: ‘why not?’ Of course, one must welcome the remark: ‘Over the years I have observed in some of our parishes an over-emphasis on the community dimension of Mass that has at times eclipsed reverence and adoration of the divine.’ but does it not indicate that His Lordship has done little or nothing to curb abuses in the NO? Perhaps it is time for His Lordship to consider retirement!

Anonymous said...

'Pod', as he was affectionately known during his time as Administrator at Westminster Cathedral, has moved a long way (and I do not mean primarily in the geographical sense) since his translation to Lancaster.

Anonymous said...

Given that he's not actually due to retire until 2009, I wonder whether there might be a surprise appointment down south. Some of Pod's comments remind me of BXVI's pre-conclave speech.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Scepticalbeliever, there are Sunday Masses according to the LMS listing but only two or three a month and each location only has a monthly Mass so there is no real opportunity for an EF community to form and as we see it appears to be discouraged by this document. I`m not too optimistic about the Institue of Christ the King`s bid for St Walburge`s in Preston having seen this.