Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
KNEEL: NO BUTTS ABOUT IT
Beware the Sajdah
May 2008By Shannon M. Jones
Shannon M. Jones is Chief Executive Officer of www.CatechismClass.com, which provides solid, authentic Catholic educational content for the 4Marks Daily Catechism Program.
American humorist Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) tapped into a fundamental human foible when he observed: "God created man in his own image and man, being a gentleman, returned the favor." Mankind, it seems, can never leave what is, as is. As we see it, everything in God's good creation needs our creative input before it can be considered "good enough" for either God or man. Hence, there will never be a shortage of innovative solutions to problems that really don't exist.
The bulletin of a parish in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, recently advertised a special children's eucharistic Holy Hour that included a new mysterious new component. The ad stated that children should come to "partake in songs and prostrations." Having taken part in eucharistic adoration for many years with my young children, always emphasizing the proper etiquette — double knee genuflection, kneeling with back straight in the pews, sitting properly, praying the mysteries of the Rosary — I was annoyed by yet another scheme from the commissars of the New Liturgical Order, and somewhat curious as to what the new wrinkle was all about.
On the way into the church with four small children in tow, I passed a college professor friend who was leaving the church in a huff. He was furious that there were "kids laying all over the floor carrying on with their butts up in the air, with the parents apparently encouraging and approving of this cutesy but grossly inappropriate behavior." Continuing with his invective, he pronounced this children's Holy Hour as a "Muslim copycat fest." He warned me not to take my children inside. Convincing myself that it simply could not be as bad as he suggested, I entered the church. As it turns out, it really was that bad. I was dumbfounded by row upon row of children's derrières staring me in the face.
The children were instructed to crouch, bend over, raise their buttocks in the air, rest their foreheads on the floor, and repeat. Dozens of children were flopping up and down in this strange fashion in a pattern emblematic of the worship style practiced by Muslims. Little girls were making desperate attempts at modesty, pulling down their shirts or skirts and smoothing them over their derrières to prevent unwanted attention. Some of the little boys took advantage of this opportunity to express themselves by vocalizing gross bodily sounds, invoking laughter and carrying on in the group, all in the sanctuary of the church and during the public eucharistic adoration session.
None of the adults who were apparently in charge of this affair seemed to comprehend the significance of this perversion of Catholic etiquette. As an ordinarily easygoing mother, I'm reluctant to admit that I was shocked to witness this sacrilegious insult to the Faith and the faithful, but consoled myself with the thought that it had to be a mistake, a one-time accident, an experiment gone wrong that would never again be repeated. Imagine my surprise to find out that this new eucharistic adoration style is part of a liturgical innovation being perpetuated worldwide.
Legitimate prostration in the Catholic tradition, in which the practitioner lies prone at full length with his forehead resting on his hands, is peculiar to the ordained priesthood and is used at ordinations and on Good Friday, as well as in some religious communities. As a practice of personal piety, the laity may use the posture of prostration as an expression of humility in private.
Prostration, according to the Catholic sense of the word, has absolutely nothing to do with what was going on at the children's Holy Hour. The posture that the children were made to adopt en masse is called sajdah. It is the Muslim prayer practice of kneeling, slouching to the floor, and placing one's forehead on the ground. The Muslim sajdah and the Catholic prostration are two very different concepts. They should not — and cannot — be used interchangeably.
Catholics consistently call the action of putting one's hands together in prayer "folding," and consistently call the bending of knees on the ground "kneeling." Replacing sajdah (a foreign term) with the euphemistic "prostration" (a limited but acceptable Catholic concept) is a fraudulent attempt to convince well-meaning Catholics that an alien religious practice has disciplinary merit. The modern, un-catechized Catholic is predisposed not to question the substitution of one ecclesiastical-sounding word for another. While certainly no one would dispute the beauty and virtue of the private devotion of genuine Catholic prostration, one must question the motive for copying Muslim practices.
The purpose of putting the Blessed Sacrament on display for adoration is to provide a visual connection and a sentient encounter with the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. This ocular encounter with the consecrated Host is a test of our faith in the transubstantiated presence of Jesus Christ. Pope Clement VIII, in his apostolic constitution Graves et Diuturnae (1592), stated that eucharistic adoration offers the laity the unique chance to pray before God and that one's "prayer shall ascend without intermission before the face of the Lord." It seems to militate against reason to expose the Blessed Sacrament so that we can look upon the face of the Lord, only to plunk our foreheads on the ground in such a manner as to prevent our gazing upon His face. The sajdah position is counter-intuitive to Catholic adoration because it denies the meritorious nature of a face-to-face encounter with the Real Presence of the Lord while the Sacrament is exposed in the monstrance. Proper attitudes of awe, adoration, and mystery are essential to this encounter. The sajdah "devotion" seems to eliminate all of these.
The players in this liturgical innovation, oddly enough, are not the usual "progressive Catholics" from whom we would expect nonsensical liturgical novelties. If my experience is any indication, this sajdah position is being pushed by a new brand of otherwise conservative Catholics, including some homeschoolers, who may not even be aware of how incongruent this behavior is when juxtaposed to their usual conservative attitudes with most things Church. What prompted this particular group in Pennsylvania to embrace a post-Vatican II experiment in worship is unclear. The only common denominator among the crowd that I encountered is their near universal disdain for the Tridentine Latin Mass. It is interesting to note that the priest advisor to the members of this group has suggested that a desire to attend the Tridentine Latin Mass is "prideful" and the Tridentine Mass itself is "from the devil." Is this sajdah movement the ecclesiastical equivalent of Newton's Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? In laymen's terms, could the sajdah be this crowd's prideful "opposite reaction" to the restraint put on their self-expression in the Tridentine Mass?
Sadly, this new child-directed innovation is not an isolated incident but rather a movement threatening orthodox Catholicism. Fr. Antoine Thomas, the founder of Children of Hope, the primary peddler of this Muslim-mimicking positioning, essentially admits in his televised advertisements that the intention of performing these "prostrations" is to emulate Muslims. According to Fr. Antoine, both Christians and Muslims perform the sajdah ritual for the same reasons and to worship the same God, although the Muslims actually pray like this five times per day, (the implication being their superiority). Fr. Antoine suggests that the point of prostrating (sajdah-style) is to show that God is everything and I am nothing, "a grain of sand."
What Fr. Antoine fails to recognize is that the God Muslims worship ("Allah") is neither triune nor hypostatically united in the person of Jesus Christ, and Catholics certainly do not view themselves as nothing, "like a grain of sand." Catholics see themselves as fashioned in the image and likeness of God with real human dignity and authentic divine value. We kneel in adoration before the Eucharist because of the incarnate presence of God the Son, a theological reality inimical to Islam. We go to adore Christ in the Eucharist because He is truly there in His body and blood, soul and divinity. We don't theatrically bang our heads off of the ground in pretend fear of a remote and monstrous tyrant, but rather we kneel and gaze at the Real Presence of a loving God. For Fr. Antoine to suggest that there are parallels, similarities, and common beliefs in posture and doctrine, with equal value one to another, between Islam and Catholicism is absurd. In charity we should acknowledge that it's possible that Fr. Antoine, formerly of Paris, has been unduly influenced by the burgeoning Muslim culture found in modern-day France. However, this desire to engage in faulty ecumenism at the expense of young minds, bodies, and souls, should not be tolerated.
According to Fr. Antoine's Children of Hope literature, the purpose of the Fatima event was to teach children to adopt the sajdah as the preferred prayer position. Specifically, this passage is cited:
"Don't be afraid. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." He then knelt on the ground, bending forward until his forehead touched it, and prayed: "My God, I believe, I adore, and I love You! I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!" He said this prayer three times. When he stood he then said to the children: "Pray thus. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications." Saying that, he vanished from sight. The children were overwhelmed and in a state of ecstasy. They repeated this prayer for a long time as the angel had done — on their knees.
The implication is that children should be praying in a manner similar to how the Angel is described as praying. While it is clear that the Angel of Peace was sent to prepare the children for the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, neither the Angel nor Mary herself endorsed or requested that the children physically assume that particular position. In fact, it is noted several times that the children remained "on their knees." Clearly, both the Angel of Peace and the Blessed Mother want men to pray as men, and not as diaphanous angelic figures.
The message of Fatima was explicit. It was in no way cryptic, obscure, or enigmatic. The Blessed Mother was precise in her predictions, directions, promises, instructions, and warnings. The children had a perfect understanding about her expectations; they knew where to be, and when and why. They knew to pray the Rosary and seek the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They understood that the Blessed Mother sought reparation for sins and sought to bring souls to her Son. There was no ambiguity regarding the message she brought or the requests she made. It is odd that almost a century after this approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mother a more enlightened and sophisticated generation should deduce a brand new message that was up until now unexpressed and unidentified.
Moreover, there is absolutely no credible support for the practice of the sajdah in any of the accepted writings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Critical examination of the Church's discipline yields not a single bit of evidence or writing to support, legitimize, or even recognize this foreign prayer posture, but does yield a wealth of writing in support of proper positioning. Upon consultation of the Scriptures, saints, scholastics, popes, bishops, and a whole stream of Vatican directives, we find a consistent teaching on the use of proper prayer postures, with a specific emphasis on kneeling.
A thorough analysis of Scripture indicates a constant respect for, and use of, kneeling as the approved and mandated posture. Christ Himself specifically knelt to pray. In the Garden of Gethsemane, and on His knees, Jesus prays: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done" (Lk. 22:42). In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that St. Peter "knelt down and prayed" (9:40), and that St. Paul "knelt down and prayed with them all" (20:36). The first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, fell to his knees and prayed that his enemies be forgiven (cf. 7:60), and we see how the whole Christian community, men and women and children, prayed on their knees (cf. 21:5). In St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, we are told that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2:10-11; italics added). Scripture is consistent in giving due respect to kneeling.
Scrutiny of the writings of saints, scholastics, and patristics suggests that kneeling is the proper posturing. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his hymn Adoro Te Devote, wrote, "O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee, Who truly art within forms before me; To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee." In the Nine Postures of St. Dominic, he proposes nine different ways of praying, each marked by a different bodily posture, including bowing the head, striking the breast, bowing at the waist, genuflecting, prostration (the legitimate Catholic form), kisses, and orans. This great saint, who is associated with initiating the Rosary, recognized that praying involves more than just the soul. None of St. Dominic's postures includes placing one's forehead on the floor and buttocks in the air, sajdah-style.
Contemporary theologians and popes reinforce the adoration of the Lord on one's knees. Pope Pius XII wrote, "It is, therefore, the keen desire of the Church that all of the faithful kneel at the feet of the Redeemer to tell him how much they venerate and love him" (Mediator Dei, 1947; italics added). Francis Cardinal Arinze stated, "People want to venerate our Eucharistic Lord on bended knee. To facilitate this, there should be kneelers in front of the Blessed Sacrament" (The Church Teaches Forum, 2003). Pope Benedict XVI's writings are consistent in that he continually describes the proper posture of the laity in prayer to be on one's knees. In The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000) he wrote, "The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God. Kneeling does not come from any culture — it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God."
Recent Vatican documents and bishops' statements further emphasize the discipline of kneeling and highlight the dangers of creative posturing. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in its Vatican Directory on Popular Piety & the Liturgy (2001), wrote, "The faithful should be encouraged to read the Scriptures during these periods of adoration, since they afford an unrivalled source of prayer. Suitable hymns and canticles based on those of the Liturgy of the Hours and the liturgical seasons could also be encouraged, as well as periods of silent prayer and reflection. Gradually, the faithful should be encouraged not to do other devotional exercises during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament" (#165; italics added). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation" (1989), wrote, "To live out in one's prayer the full awareness of one's body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences. Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations" (#27-28; italics added). The desire to create new and innovative bodily styles promotes the cult of the body, whereby the practitioner is actually worshiping the posture rather than the Lord, and the focus is on the self rather than the Eucharist.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) makes it clear that the postures we exhibit in public prayer are not to be self-determined but done in conformity with the Church. The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship writes, "The Church sees in these common postures and gestures both a symbol of the unity of those who have come together to worship and a means of fostering that unity. We are not free to change these postures to suit our own individual piety, for the Church makes it clear that our unity of posture and gesture is an expression of our participation in the one Body formed by the baptized with Christ, our head. When we stand, kneel, sit, bow and sign ourselves in common action, we give an unambiguous witness that we are indeed the Body of Christ, united in heart, mind and spirit" ("Postures and Gestures at Mass," 2002). Novel and inventive prayer techniques may allow the purveyor to feel a superior sense of pietism, but in actuality are a disruption to the Body of Christ and a misalignment in the Church Militant.
The modern-day practical sacrilege is the excessive use of self-expression in the context of liturgical activity. Many of the problems generated by the Novus Ordo Mass have been traced back to an exaggerated preoccupation with the theatrical. Examining the entire history of Catholicism yields nothing to defend this most recent liturgical creation, while volumes suggest our taking a stand against it. Drawing from St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Arinze, Popes Pius XII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, as well as Vatican documents, it is clear that while private prostration (the Catholic version) can be appropriate and even meritorious during times when one is not on display, the public manipulation of children through forced sajdah is to be avoided. According to authorities throughout the history of the Church, it is at best highly inappropriate to be doing this very personal thing in public. It is even worse to use the Church's authority structure (priest, director of religious education, faith formation teacher) to impose it upon others, especially innocent children.
If the ultimate goal is to convince people to embrace the many varieties of liturgical offenses, the sajdah is the perfect place to start. After all, if it's tolerable to express oneself like a Muslim before the Blessed Sacrament, why not dance, hop, sway, roll, or crawl? There is no difference between adopting one posture that runs contrary to Catholic discipline over another.
Knowingly mimicking the prayer practice of heretics in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is sacrilegious and constitutes an act of desecration. The fruits of this practice so often yield a false sense of superiority and an exaggerated sense of religious piety. A carte blanche willingness to take liberties in a paraliturgical setting easily translates into shirking the established discipline within the liturgical venue as well, a tendency toward an individualistic free-for-all that effects and contributes to other rubrical dismissive behaviors, including the excessive lay use of the orans position; changing the wording, intonations, cadence, and flow of the established liturgical responses; and varying the postures during the Consecration to show greater piety than the others present. The prideful breaking of accepted Church practice by substituting the ritual of a religion that denies Christ, on the grounds that it is more pious than the approved Catholic practices, desecrates the Church, scandalizes the observers, and blasphemes the Lord.
As noted, Mark Twain humorously identified man's inclination to impose his creative input on God. We are naturally inclined to look for the latest and greatest, the newest and most innovative, the slickest and most exciting. Once we recognize that the Creator neither needs, wants, nor solicits our creative input, we may begin to simply enjoy the beautiful creation that He has fashioned. Six times the author of Genesis tells us God looked at His creation and said, "It is just fine, don't mess with it." It's time to take Him seriously.
Liturgy, Liturgical Rites & Devotions
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Catholics worship the One True Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That is not the god that Muslims worship via their sajdah!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I received this meditation taken from 'Unfolding the Mystery' by Dom Hugh Gilbert, Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, Gracewing 2007.
Acknowledgements to Fr Michael John Galbraith and Faith Community Newsletter.
'We have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.' (Mt 2:2) Every mystery of Christ has a power and a grace of its own, a gift of the Spirit, and every liturgical celebration of every mystery enables us to receive that and be changed by it, 'inwardly reshaped' as one of the Christmas prayers says.
What is the power and the grace of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the Lord? One answer is adoration.The Magi are the patron saints and pioneers of Christian adoration. 'And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him (adoraverunt eum).' (Mt 2:11) The Introits and other chants in the Roman Gradual for the first few weeks of the year keep coming back to this adoratio. With the Magi, specifically Christian worship begins. No wonder that this moment, like the moment of the Annunication, has inspired so much Christian art. We are all invited to adore in the wake of these wise men... And more: when we follow the Magi in adoring, we are also following all those who, throughout the Gospel of Matthew, do what the Magi did (the leper, a ruler, the disciples, the Canaanite woman, the mother of James and John, and climactically, after the Resurrection, the women at the tomb and the eleven disciples on the mountain in Galilee.) And finally: we are anticipating and sharing in the heavenly worship of God and the Lamb so central to the Apocalypse.What does 'to adore' mean? It ... denotes the highest degree of reverence, equivalent to the Greek proskunein, to prostrate. So there is something ulitmate to adoration. It is as far as we can go... If 'ultimacy' is one resonance of adoring, being bodily is another.
'And they fell down and worshipped.' Adoring and falling down, adoring and prostrating, adoring and hitting the ground: they go together. Proskenesis and adoratio were used for this physical showing of homage to emperors and kings and high officials. In the story of the Magi, it finds it true destination at last: Christ, the true King. Man is on his knees or on his face before the true Epiphany of the divine. The whole battle of the first three Christian centuries will turn on this: Whom do we adore? Who is worthy of worship? To whom do we bend the knee?...
To adore, says the Catechism, is 'to acknowledge,' to acknowledge God 'as God, as the Creator and Saviour, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love.' (2096) 'It is the homage of the spirit to the King of Glory, respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God.' (2628) It is entering the Temple. At the same time, it is acknowledging the 'nothingness of the creature,' humbling oneself like Mary. 'I am reduced to nothing' before the One who makes me and rescues me.
So, finally, it is liberating - from idolatory of the world, from turning in upon oneself. I read the other day that of the two most widespread modern sins, 'narcissism' (self-contemplation, self-absorption) is the first. Adoration rescues us from that. It heals.So we can follow the Magi. 'We have come to adore him.' Adoration begins Matthew's Gospel, and completes it. 'And behold Jesus met them - Mary Magdalene and the other Mary - and said, "Rejoice!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.' (Mt 28:9) And a few verses later: 'Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.' (28:16-17)
by Fr John Boyle at 2:41 PM
5/1/08 4:58 PM
Dom Hugh Gilbert’s Ephiphany meditation, however moving, links Catholic “adoration” with the magi’s act of “prostration”, saying that the Greek proskunein means, literally, “to prostrate”. In light of Eucharistic Adoration programs promoted internationally today (such as Father Antoine Thomas’ childrenofhope.org), a few scholarly comments are in order. Put briefly, pious but glib & simplistic associations of emotion and posture are gaining popularity among some Catholic conservatives, as signs of their countercultural status, but also raise three “red flags” – on the lexical, theological, and pastoral levels.
Lexically, the Greek proskunein means “to throw a kiss” (derived from the terms kunein [to kiss] and pros [towards]. Although proskunein eventually became associated with the act of prostration, it denoted extending reverence to a king or a statue, believed to contain the presence of a god.
On the pastoral level, if the “something ultimate” in adoration is denoted by the bodily posture of prostration, why does canon law instead stipulate a double genuflection inflection before our Lord in the Eucharist? Especially in light of innovative, yet noncanonical Eucharistic Adoration programs promoted today which invent (postconciliar-style) postures, prayers, and gestures (such as found in Father Antoine Thomas’ Eucharistic Adoration program, “Children of Hope”), we should take care not to mislead the faithful into unstudied expressions of personal piety, such as public prostrations, of whatever sort – the full Dominican prostration found in the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic, or the patently Islamic partial prostration called sajdah, which is promoted by Father Antoine Thomas’ group.
On the level of theology, although there exist several Biblical references to adoration as prostration, Catholic liturgical theology has thankfully “moved on” from Babylonian emperor worship in assigning the fundamental aspect of adoration to the interior act of the mind and will, by which we are made in the “image of God”. Worshipping in “spirit and truth” demands the correspondence of gestures with abasement before the Infinite, but also demands obedience to canon law, and to what may be called a “theology of kneeling”, so apparent in our liturgical tradition (see Ratzinger’s Spirit in the Liturgy for this). Good theology, not misinformed piety, should dictate the norms of conduct in public liturgical settings. Otherwise, we should be being commanded to repeatedly fall down, walk (or crawl) backwards away from the Altar (as they did before kings), perhaps incur forehead lesions in our public acts of worship from repeated prostrations (which wounds are prestigious signs of piety in Islam), and, as Dom Gilbert says, be “hitting the ground” at Mass.
Surely our love of God is better expressed in acts of ordered obedience that flow from our status as bearers of the image of God, than in public exhibitionism and contests of self-immolating piety. And surely there is already enough liturgical disorder without these bizarre innovations.
8/1/08 2:29 PM
Fr John Boyle said...
Viator: I bow to your exegesis.
Canon Law does not direct a double genuflection to the exposed Sacrament. In fact, I think current liturgical law indicates a single genuflection.Yet the angel at Fatima touched his forehead to the ground before the Eucharistic species. We read in the book of Apocalypse: "all the angels ... fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God..." (Rev. 7:11)
Obviously one does not want to encourage sentimental practices, but the faithful - particularly the young - are clearly being moved to a deeper and renewed awareness that the Blessed Sacrament is the same Christ whom people fell before and worshipped while he was here on earth. These are not acts of exhibitionism but acts of faith and love.
8/1/08 2:55 PM
elena maria vidal said...
Hello, Fr. Boyle. I read your blog often and enjoy your beautiful and inspiring reflections. I have been following your posts on Fatima and Adoration with interest, since I have long been devoted to Our Lady of Fatima. Thank you for keeping her message alive. I also agree that Eucharistic Adoration is vital for our times, especially for our children.
In regard to the prostrations, at a parish where I live there has been an enormous controversy over this practice. Some parents want their small children to prostrate face down, like the children of Fatima with the angel.Other parents prefer that their children follow the rubrics of the Roman Church, genuflecting and kneeling, preferably in the pews. The parish priests are leaving it up to the parents, but since many, many parents object to the prostrations, the Children's Adoration is not as frequented as it should and could be.
I personally think that in this case, as a pastoral measure, it might be better for the children to simply genuflect as is the custom of the parish, rather than introduce a practice which is seen as being outlandish to many parishioners.Please pray for us.
If there were a great deal of devotion to Our Lady of Fatima at the parish in question, and if the prostrations were presented in the context of Fatima, then it might be different. Right now, it is just seen as being a private devotion which a handful of people are trying to impose on the rest.
8/1/08 4:20 PM
loyal catholic said...
Canon Law does not actually address the issue of single or double knee genuflection: "genuflection in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee" (General Instruction on Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, n. 84).
Humans are not called to worship in the same manner as angelic beings. In the account of the angelic apparitions at Fatima it was clear that the “children remained on their knees.” Neither the angel nor the Blessed Mother herself ever ordered the children to put their heads on the ground. Given that the instructions and messages of Fatima were very explicit, it seems odd to suddenly suggest almost a hundred years later that a new age priest has greater insight into what the Blessed Mother and angel demanded. Clearly both the Angel of Peace and the Blessed Mother wanted humans to pray as humans and not as diaphanous angelic figures.
I find it odd that this post V2 liturgical innovation is being forced particularly on young defenseless children. This appears to be another form of anti-intellectualism in the Church whereby rather than following what is actually recognized Catholic Discipline we engage in a feel-good theatrical display designed to draw attention to ourselves rather than the Lord. If we have to ignore rubrics to produce this “good feeling” and feigned “depth-filled” experience then one has to question whether the ends justify the means (flaunt the rules so we can pretend to be extra-holy?)
It is particularly important to recognize what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicated in the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation,1989:
“Understood in an inadequate and incorrect way, the symbolism can even become an idol and thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit to God. To live out in one's prayer the full awareness of one's body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences. Some physical exercises automatically produce a feeling of quiet and relaxation, pleasing sensations, perhaps even phenomena of light and of warmth, which resemble spiritual well-being. To take such feelings for the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit would be a totally erroneous way of conceiving the spiritual life. Giving them a symbolic significance typical of the mystical experience, when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience, would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.”
It appears as though this new approach to Eucharistic Adoration (actually deprives the adorer of being face to face with God in this sentient encounter) is the new golden cow. Those engaged in this posturing are actually worshipping the position (the Muslim Sajdah) rather than the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It would be less offensive if the posture was one that actually exists somewhere in the Deposit of Faith, but to worship a posture stolen from those who reject the Hypostatic union of God to man through the person of Jesus Christ is ludicrous.
Theodore, in his Catechetical Homilies (XVI.27-28), instructed the congregants to adore the Eucharist by applying the host to their eyes before consuming it; while Cyril of Jerusalem was noted to recommend touching one’s eyes, forehead, lips, and any other senses, with any wine remaining near one’s lips (in his “Mystagogic Catecheses” V.21-22). The list of liturgical innovations is potentially endless, by which one could falsely express and foolishly catechize others to falsely express, one’s emotional feelings about faith and love.
Assuming this rationale that the posture itself is bringing children closer to the Lord - shouldn't we also encourage them to engage in Liturgical Dance and other innovative practices as well? If sajdah-ing is good, wouldn't self-mutilation be better?
8/1/08 4:44 PM
Fr John Boyle said...
I have never been called 'new age' before!
Look, I would suggest that in all things there should be moderation. When we are engaged in the Liturgy, we should all observe the liturgical norms. Certainly, nothing exaggerated should be forced upon anyone, least of all little children. I would much rather they be taught to genuflect properly and kneel down, and then sit after a little prayer. Certainly, we can gaze at the Lord in the Host. We should allow our sight to be filled with His Light. Perhaps there is a reaction to the loss of the restrained forms of adoration that are characteristic of the Roman Liturgy. If we genuflected, bowed, beat our breasts, made the signs of the Cross at the proper times and in the proper ways, we would be offering a very fitting act of worship. Sadly, bodily worship with appropriate postures/gestures has disappeared from many congregations.
Scott Hahn saw from the example of the apocalypse passages that our bodies are made for worship. I certainly agree with him.(And I think Franciso was found to be in profound adoration, prostrate, by Lucia and Jacinta.)
As for Fr Antoine, from the website it appears he is a brother of the Community of St John. This Community is attracting many, many vocations. I presume Fr Antoine is under the direction of his superiors and doing everything with due ecclesiastical approval although I find it odd that he should be the focus of this apostolate rather than the Community of St John itself. His style would not suit me at all. I prefer the sober gestures and postures of the Roman Rite tradition which prevent us from over-accentuating our personal feelings and from drawing attention to ourselves.
8/1/08 6:52 PM
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Excellent article by Ed Peters affirming parents rights vis a vis the education of the children in the Faith
by Edward Peters
The Code of Canon Law has taken great care to protect parental primacy in seeing to the education of children, whether that parental right and duty is legitimately entrusted to others, or whether it is directly exercised by those who will most immediately answer to God for the raising of their children.
What most impresses me as a Catholic parent and lawyer, however, is the level of ecclesiastical protection which the parental choice to home school enjoys under the laws of the Catholic Church.
Canon lawyers know that the 14 principal provisions of the 1983 Code concerning education (see Canons 793-806) were, for the most part, settled upon by the middle 1970s, that is, at a time when home schooling was hardly being discussed in Catholic circles. The Holy Spirit was already seeing to it that the 1983 Code would be, as Pope John Paul II put it, "a great effort to translate conciliar teaching into canonical language." The rich affirmations the Second Vatican Council gave to the primacy of parents in matters of their children's education (located chiefly in the Council's Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum educationis, did make it into both the letter and the spirit of the revised Code of Canon Law.
Lest anyone be tempted to write off [simingly]semantic changes as mere Roman word games, one has simply to read the whole of Canon 793, especially the phrase which declares the right of Catholic parents "to select those means and institutions through which they can provide more suitably for the Catholic education of their children ..." Such unambiguous language is, I suggest, the Holy Spirit's way of answering a question which had not even been posed yet: How far will the Church go in recognizing the right of Catholic parents to choose the options which they feel will best serve their children's education? Apparently, quite far.
For, having enunciated the natural and ecclesiastical right of parents over the choice of means and institutes for their children's education, the Code immediately grounds that right in the vocational duties of parents and spouses. "Because they have given life to their children, parents have a most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them; therefore Christian parents are especially to care for the Christian education of the children according to the teaching handed on by the Church." (Canon 226 2). In directly discussing the effects of marriage, Canon 1136 states, "Parents have the most serious duty and the primary right to do all in their power to see to the physical, social, cultural, moral and religious upbringing of the children."
A decade ago, not one person in a hundred had heard of the information superhighway. Today, not only is the Internet an active presence in millions of American homes, but we have witnessed a simultaneous explosion in the number and quality of self-guided computer learning systems, all sorts of multi-media educational broadcast avenues, creative learning board games, and so on. The end of all of this is nowhere in sight, and yet each step taken down the path makes only more feasible the basic goals of home-based education. All the more prophetically, it seems, does Canon 793 speak of parental freedom of choice over educational means as well as institutions.
Within the current situation of most parents utilizing, to some extent, a traditional school, canon law also encourages Catholic parents to make use of Catholic schools. Even here, however, the Code immediately stresses that what is of prior importance is the parental pursuit of a Catholic education for their children, by whatever means available (Canon 798).
When he promulgated the Code of Canon Law in 1983, Pope John Paul II wrote that "the Code is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, and charisms ... in the life of the Church. On the contrary, the purpose of the Code is to create such an order in the Church which ... renders their entire development easier, both for the ecclesial society and for the individual persons who belong to it." (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis). Catholic parents are specifically graced by Christ to exercise the charism of teaching their children in accord with the magisterium of the Church.
One could hardly have expected, therefore, the Code of Canon Law to place juridical obstacles in the way of parents exercising their vocational charisms. To the contrary, the Code of Canon Law has taken great care to protect parental primacy in seeing to the education of children, whether that parental right and duty is legitimately entrusted to others, or whether it is directly exercised by those who will most immediately answer to God for the raising of their children.
Edward Peters has doctoral degrees in canon and civil law. He serves as a canonical consultant to many ecclesiastical institutions and persons, and his writings have appeared in a wide variety of Catholic publications.
Article’s editor’s notes:
Put clearly in the language of the street, Canon Law states with precision that the inalienable rights of married parents to specifically choose both the means and institutions of religious education for their children trumps any pastor’s or chancery bureaucrats’ perceived obligations to implement general programs and policies grossly violating or even subtly impinging on those God given rights.
Home Schooling in Canon Law BENEDICT T. NGUYEN (Full Article)
Throughout 2003, the question of the legitimacy of home schooling by Catholic parents arose when three respected priests, Fathers Vincent Rogers, Peter M.J. Stravinskas, and Clarence Hettinger, attempted to defend the view that Catholic parents generally do not have the right to home school their children.
Not Catholic enough?
Many times, the decision by parents to see personally to the Catholic education of their children is misunderstood to be a determination that a parish or diocesan school is “not good enough” or “not Catholic enough.” In response to this perception, the objection is sometimes raised that Catholic parents do not have the right to decide whether a school is “Catholic” or not. This is only for the competent ecclesiastical authority to decide. However, this charge only confuses the issue. Whether or not a Catholic parent can formally determine the Catholicity of a school is not the issue. Only the competent authorities, referred to in Canon 803 §3, can determine this. I would submit, however, that this is not what is going on canonically. Home-schooling parents are not determining whether a school is Catholic (they do not have the canonical right to do so), but rather they are determining what is the best means by which they believe their children can attain a Catholic education. In other words, they are not making an official determination about the school per se, but rather they are discerning whether or not their children would best receive a Catholic education through the means of a particular school. The determination concerns what is best for the children, not for the school. Under Canon 793 §1, we see that it is not only the parents' right, but their duty to make that determination.
Just as parents do not have the power to designate what is a Catholic school and what is not, pastors do not have the canonical right to decide which particular means are the best means for a particular child to receive a Catholic education. The duty and the right to determine which schools are Catholic schools lie with the competent authority, usually the bishop. (cf. can. 802 §1 and 803 §1) The duty and the right to arrange everything so that the faithful can have a Catholic education belong to pastors of souls. (cf. can. 794 §2) But, the duty and the right to determine which means are the best means for a particular child to receive a Catholic education lie properly with the parents of that child. The idea that Catholic parents do not have the right to choose home schooling as a legitimate means for the Catholic education of their child seriously goes against the norms of Canons 793 §1 and 1136.
Of note also is the language of Canon 798. In the Latin (the only official language for the Code of Canon Law), it does not use the construction “parentes debent” — “parents must” — which would be the strongest obligatory language in canonical usage. Rather, it uses the subjunctive construction “parentes concredant” — “parents should entrust” — which carries a lighter shade of recommendation. Thus Canon 798 is an exhortation and not an absolute mandate.
It is important to note also that Canon 798, if it were interpreted as a mandate, would seriously limit the exercise of a parental right and thus must be subject to strict interpretation under the requirement of Canon 18. When one applies a strict interpretation to Canon 798, it is simply impossible to change an exhortation for parents to provide a Catholic education to their child into a mandate for parents to send their child to a Catholic school.
Any interpretation that sees Canon 798 as an absolute mandate would render Canon 793 §1, in particular, meaningless. Catholic parents — who are said in no uncertain terms to possess the duty and the right to determine the means of providing for the Catholic education of their child — would mysteriously lose this right. Why would the Church go to such great lengths continually to emphasize the right and duty of parents to determine the proper Christian education of their own children, only to legislate that the only way this can be done is through the neighborhood parish school? This would also put the Church in the hypocritical position of demanding from the state a true freedom for parents in the choice of means and schools, on the basis of natural-law argumentation, while absolutely denying this natural-law right when it comes to home schooling.
What Rome thinks
The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) first reiterates the norm found in Familiaris Consortio: that the right and duty of parents to educate their children is essential, original and primary, irreplaceable and inalienable. Quoting Canon 226 §2, the letter underscores the principle that since parents have given life to their children, parents have the most serious obligation and enjoy the right to educate them. Then, giving the proper interpretation of these rights, the Council cites the canons on Catholic education, stating:
It is in the light of these canons [226 §1; 774 §2 and 793 §1] that the rights and duties of ecclesiastical persons are to be interpreted. These persons are to assist the parents in fulfilling their sacred obligation and in executing their sacred right, not to take them over. (emphasis in original)
Far from stopping at theoretical principles, The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) goes on to apply the principles to the concrete question of home schooling. Nowhere does The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) state that the Church requires parents to send their children to Catholic schools, whether in Canon 798 or Gravissimum Educationis 8 or anywhere else. On the contrary, it strongly and clearly states:
The role of the pastor, therefore, is to give a service of assistance by providing the parents with the means to form their child. The parents, however are not obliged to accept this assistance if they prefer to exercise exclusively their obligation and right to educate their own children. This is a natural right, and is not altered by the right of the Church. E.g., cc. 793, 914. (emphasis added)
There is no doubt that The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) sees no canonical obligation for parents to make use of parish sacramental programs or even Catholic schools if, after a reasoned and prayerful consideration, parents decide to undertake the obligation of educating their children themselves. This right of parents is perfectly in line with canon law, and indeed is protected by canon law. Recall that Canon 796 §1 states that schools are the principal assistance to parents in fulfilling the function of education. As the Pontifical Council underscores, parents are under no obligation to accept this assistance.
The PCF leaves no ambiguity, directly addressing the relationship of this right and obligation of parents with regard to the Catholic school, and not just catechetical instruction:
In times past, parents were only too happy to be assisted by the Catholic school system in the formation of their children. Now, however, this is no longer the case in many a diocese where Catholic schools are permitted to use certain catechetical texts which, though bearing an imprimatur, are gravely deficient in following the magisterium.
Following the norm of Canon 226 §2, The Pontifical Commission for the Family (PCF) then reminds parents that should they elect to undertake their children’s education personally, it should be done following the teaching which is handed on by the Church.
In the end, the claim that canon law forbids the option of home schooling under normal circumstances does violence to canon law itself by misreading some canons, dismissing other canons or rendering them meaningless. Home-schooling parents must remember that they are to hold schools in high esteem (cf. 796 §1) and to support the Catholic schools in whatever ways they can, proper to their situation. They also must keep in mind that they indeed do belong to a larger community of the Church as manifested in the parish and the diocese. However, these obligations in no way preclude the right of Catholic parents to choose home schooling. Neither Vatican II nor canon law forbids the right of parents to undertake personally the Catholic education of their children. On the contrary, the canonical laws of the Church protect this right.
Benedict T. Nguyen. "Home Schooling in Canon Law." Catholic World Report (April, 2004): 52-57.
Benedict T. Nguyen is the chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he also serves as Defender of the Bond before the diocesan tribunal.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
A kind reader sent me a transcription of the guidelines for implementing Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown where His Excellency Most Reverend Joseph V. Adamec presides. We have seen this diocese’s work on the Motu Proprio before back on 5 August. The original statement was very guarded. Now we can see the actual guidelines.I did not make the transcription. I had to clean it up a bit. So, with that disclaimer…My emphases and comments.
GUIDELINESFor the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary FormDiocese of Altoona-Johnstown The Holy Spirit has prompted our Holy Father [This is a promising start!] to address the matter of the [so-called] Tridentine Mass. With his issuance of a Motu Proprio, taking effect on the 14th of September, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI has allowed priests [Well… okay. But we need to start moving away from the idea that this is a special permission. It is now merely part and parcel of the priests regular options.] of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal, without any further permission but under certain conditions. Since it is important to read the document carefully, I wish to issue the following guidelines for our Diocesan Church. This I do for the sake of liturgical unity and integrity, in accord with the Holy Father’s admonition to us bishops. In his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio, he wrote the following: "... I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese." [cough] The Holy Father acknowledges the fact that many priests may not demonstrate a rubrical or linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Eucharistic Liturgy. In that case, a priest may not celebrate that particular form of Mass nor is he obligated to learn to do so. [This is an odd way to put it, no?] Provided that a priest possesses the required rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass, the following come into play.
1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer [This is a very odd phrase. Lex orandi lex credendi isn’t really a juridical point. It is a theological concept. This statement seems to be mixing categories in a strange way.] of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. A priest celebrating Mass according to the extraordinary form may not do so exclusively; but, needs to celebrate also the Mass in the ordinary form as an expression of his not denying the validity of the Mass commonly used today. [This is strange. If a priest were in, say, a parish established by the bishop where only the older form is celebrated, then he would not be "required" there to say the newer Mass. But this language of "may not" and "needs" in order to prove he doesn’t "deny" something is odd. What jumped into my mind when I read this, and this is truly an exaggeration on my part, is the requirement during the era of persecutions in the early Church that Christians offer a sacrifice of incense to the genius of the Emperor. An exaggeration, of course. But in a weird way, I had this image of a priest being jumped in the dark, a hood put over his head, and being taken to a dark room where diocesan chancery personnel would then invite Father to celebrate the newer Mass in their presence as a sign of "unity".]
2. Any priest of the Latin Rite that [who] has the rubrical and linguistic ability may celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form without the Faithful (privately) at any time except during the Sacred Triduum. Christ’s Faithful who spontaneously request it, may join the priest. No permission is required.
3. Communities or Institutes of Consecrated Life or Societies of Apostolic Life of either pontifical or diocesan rite may use the extraordinary form of the Mass for their community celebrations in their own oratories by permission of their own major superior.
4. Should a pastor decide [And the provisions of Summorum Pontificum say that the "pastor…parochus" is the one to decide.] to celebrate or allow the celebration of one of the regularly scheduled Masses in a parish in accord with the extraordinary form (Missal of Blessed John X)(ffl), it must be in response to a request from a group (coetus/association) ["association"...hmmm… that makes coetus sound a bit more formal, or formalized, that is, less fluid, than it is.] within his particular parish (member parishioners) that has existed and has been attached to the previous liturgical tradition steadfastly (that is: for some time; stabiliter [NO! NO! NOT STABILITER! NO! The word is CONTINENTER!] existit) [This is very interesting. Whoever wrote this is trying to stick closely to what the Latin of Summorum Pontificum says. For that the writer is to be commended. However, if that is the case, there are problems. First, to say "existed and has been attached" suggests two verbs in the Latin. In the Latin the concept "attached" is expressed in an active participle going with the fidelium (genitive plural) who make up the coetus. This confusion of the verbal forms creates an problem down the line with the idea of "steadfastly", even if the writer of this document (and I can’t think the bishop would have misquoted the Motu Proprio), had actually quoted the M.P. accurately. The adverb continenter goes with exsistit and not with adhaerentium! What the diocesan statement suggests is that the attachment of the coetus fidelium has to have been steadfast. What the provision in Summorum Pontificum says is that the coetus has to be around steadfastly. It does not have to apply to the presence of a group in the past. It can also refer to the present and future. So, this statement is looking in the right direction, I think. It is sloppy, however.]. He may not do so as a result of his own personal preference. [Remember: the priest himself can be one of the faithful who make up of the coetus.] I ask that requests be presented to the pastor in writing, including names and addresses. These should be kept on file at the parish. [And then the pastor, or perhaps trusted parishioners wearing armbands, must stand at the entrance of the church and match the addresses on file with the id’s of those attempting to enter for Mass, saying: "Give me your PAPERS!" Once the id’s are confirmed, the attendees will be required to wear a yellow traditional looking cross on their clothing while on the premises.] In order to preserve unity within a parish, the Parish Pastoral Council is to be consulted in regard to any change. [A parish council does not have any authority in this matter, nor are parish councils mentioned by the Motu Proprio. The PASTOR is, however.] Groups composed of individuals belonging to various parishes are to approach the Diocesan Bishop. [So that they can be examined, their addresses confirmed. "No papers?! RAUS MIT EUCH!"]
5. The entire schedule of Masses in a parish may not be in accord [What does that mean?] with the extraordinary form, as this would make it a "personal parish" for which the diocesan bishop’s permission is required.
6. Whenever Mass is celebrated according to the extraordinary form, all rubrics for that form of Mass must be observed; including prayers, language, vestments, Holy Communion under one form on the tongue, only boy altar servers, and postures (both of the celebrant and the faithful if present [Okay… this seems to say that people may not stand (even if they are crippled) nor may they receive Communion in the hand, even if they prefer. Got it.] ). The Roman Canon is always used. [Does the writer not know that this is the only possibility in the older book?] 7. In order to assure that a priest has the rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, acknowledgement of such is to be obtained from our Diocesan Office of Liturgy. ["Guten Abend, Pater. Dein Ausweis, bitte!"] This is only logical. [Nooo… this is only a double standard. Will priests saying the newer Mass be required to obtain a special "license", or should I say Ausweis, from some chancery mandarin whose Latin and rubrical knowledge should be a matter of scrutiny? Let’s say there is a priest from Nigeria celebrating the newer form of Mass in that diocese. Will he be examined to determine if every person in the congregation can understand him at the altar and ambo? Say there is a home-boy of the diocese who is to say Mass in Spanish. Will there be a test? Will the chancery also test priests to see if they understand the readings at Mass? What of the ordinary prayers? What do they really mean? Will they test their knowledge of the GIRM? THAT would be only "logical" given this "guideline".] Many of our priests have never celebrated Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. [And I wonder if we can say also, "Many of our priests have never adhered to all the rubrics of the Novus Ordo."] Others, who have, have not done so for some time. Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled ["Your PAPERS! AUSWEIS SCHNELL!] on a diocesan basis. The Holy Father asks for charity and pastoral prudence in any consideration of celebrating the Mass in accord with the extraordinary form (according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII). That same charity and pastoral prudence need to be exercised within our own Diocesan Church. The guidelines delineated above are intended in such a spirit of charity and prudence. [cough I take this opportunity to encourage the appropriate reverence and harmony in celebrating the Mass according to either form, ensuring the unity of which it is to be a sign. [This is a very good statement.] The Eucharistic Liturgy of the Church is a treasure currently entrusted to us to preserve and pass on to future generations of the Faithful. (Most Rev.) Joseph V. AdamecBishop of Altoona-Johnstown August 20, 2007Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania
What would the modern day ecclesiastical equilvalent of the Horst Wessel Song be,... perhaps Gather Us In? I’m just musing, of course. Just a non sequitur.
Fr. Z. fisks the latest episcopal response to the Holy Father's M.P. This time we have Bishop Joseph V. Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown creating faux regs out of thin air. There must be some sort of Q-document out there floating around that our M.P.-resistant shepherds are lip-syncing to. The groove in the vinyl is getting deeper and deeper. Several innovations keep popping up in diocesan letters to clergy. The Fifty Person Rule seems popular. As does the translation/interpretation given to “stable group.” (NB. The overall implications of the Latin here is something like “a group that is continuously present” or “a group of the faithful with a steadfastly presence.” As Fr. Z. points out, M.P.-resistant bishops are translating the Latin so that the adverb “steadfastly” or “continuously” modifies the faith of the group requesting the E.F., thus making it sound as though the only ones eligible to request the E.F. are those who have “steadfastly adhered to the faith of the older form.” In fact, our Holy Father is saying that the E.F. may be requested by any “group of the faithful with a steadfast presence”).
There are other lip-synced lines from the anti-M.P. Q-document. For example, from the good bishop’s letter:
“In order to assure that a priest has the rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, acknowledgement of such is to be obtained from our Diocesan Office of Liturgy. This is only logical. Many of our priests have never celebrated Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. Others, who have, have not done so for some time. Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled on a diocesan basis.”
Now, no one will dispute that a priest must have the “rubrical and linguistic ability to celebrate” the sacraments of the Church. In fact, knowing the language that one is using is pretty darned important. It is also extremely important that the priest know and follow the rubrics of the rite. So, given all this, here’s my question: why is the bishop requiring priests who want to exercise their option to use Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to get a license from his diocesan liturgical office (an office staffed, no doubt, by good, hard-working people who know absolutely nothing about the 1962 Missal, Latin, or anything else liturgical prior to 1983)? Priests who want to opt for the Ordinary Form are not being tested for rubrical and linguistic competence. Nor, apparently, are they even being required to demonstrate the minimal competency that our Holy Father is requiring of those who want to use the E.F. Why the double standard? I’m certainly delighted that some of our bishops have suddenly developed an intense interest in how liturgies are being celebrated in their dioceses. However, one must wonder where this interest was when Fr. Hollywood was warbling his homily on a Mr. Microphone while wearing a faux diamond-studded stole; when Fr. Oprah spent thirty minutes during the penitential rite berating his congregation for voting Republican; when Fr. Hippie jammed Sisters Polly and Ester into spandex leotards and paid them good money to “dance the consecration prayer”?
Episcopal concern for the integrity of the E.F. now would be a lot more credible if it had been preceded by an equally vigorous concern for how the O.F. was celebrated. I'm not sure what we are supposed to do with the bishop's own attempt to deflect charges of a double-standard. He writes: "Our seminaries assure bishops that those leaving to function as priests have the necessary knowledge and facility to celebrate Mass in the current form. Perhaps, in the future, they will also do the same in regard to the extraordinary form. In the interim, the matter will be handled on a diocesan basis.” I will take this as a good sign and wait for the anti-M.P. bishops to require their seminarians to take courses in the celebration of the E.F. How many out there will hold their breath with me while we wait on this novel requirement?
Posted by Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP at 11:20 PM