Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Latin Mass: versus the sometimes painful weeniness of the new liturgy

Like the mass, the Liturgy of the Hours is part of the liturgical prayer of the church. It is both less important and less well known but it matters. A lot of people, including priests and those in the consecrated life, make a vow to say it every day. A lot of others, including me, simply choose to say it.
Like the mass, the Liturgy of the Hours (LOH) was substantially revised under Pope Paul VI. As with the mass, most of what was done is justifiable. I would argue even that the revisions were required and are an improvement, although I know a lot of people who disagree with me.

That said, however good the general sweep of the thing, the devil is in the details. And yesterday (Wednesday of week IV) had one of those details. There are intercessionary prayers included with morning and evening prayer. These were written by God-knows-who and, Deo Gratias, are optional. Yesterday evening featured this gem:
Remember, Lord, that you sent your Son into the world to be its savior, not its judge,
— let his glorious death bring us salvation.
I'm sure that can be finessed if we could somehow compel the editors to appear before some sort of tribunal. Perhaps, something along the lines of, "We meant the first time!" But you can see the problem I hope. If not, let me remind you of something that appears in both creeds. First the Nicene Creed:
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
Now the Apostle's Creed:
From there he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
Now, as I say, maybe this can all be finessed by saying that Jesus came to save the first time and will judge after his second coming. But it shouldn't have to be finessed. It's especially galling that the intercession begins by reminding God of his intentions. Yes, I know, the real point is to remind us and not God of his purposes but that just makes it worse for what could be more important than to remind us that Jesus will come again to judge. This weenie intention doesn't just forget to convey that crucial truth, it actively works to suppress it.

I read stuff like this and I wonder, do the people who make these things up really believe the creed? Do they, in fact, really believe anything at all?

A few weeks ago, I heard a homily following the gospel in which Jesus says that he who is trustworthy with small things will be trusted with great things. Do you know what Father gave as an example of a small thing we can do? That we should recycle instead of throwing things in the garbage, thereby, "showing our respect for Mother Earth". Again, if you had to, you could finesse the point but we shouldn't have to finesse the point. This is was a homily!

It's not the core of the new liturgy, which remains redeemable by good execution and some judicious pruning but it is a major problem. Contrary to what some reformers seem to believe, it is a blessing that we might have to explain things in the liturgy because they are obscure or because they are hard teachings. If, however, we have to stop and justify stuff that is just plain weenie, that is a giant problem.

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