Ramblings on the Liturgy (I)

[author’s note: to be read only by depressed liturgists (sorry for the redundancy)]


OK, let’s go over some rules of liturgy they don’t teach you in the seminary. Unfortunately you may have to unlearn some of the wonderful hints of holiness seminary liturgists are so fond of, for instance “never leave the sanctuary during Mass except where noted in the rubrics.” There are at least three circumstances that allow, even necessitate the exit from the Holy of Holies; all have to do with the control of bodily orifices. Without mixing too much profane with the sacred, there are bodily functions that can overrule rubrics, especially as we grow older. Do your people and yourself a favor, pay attention to your body and leave the altar if it’s about to stage a revolt.

The next rule of liturgy seems simple: do and say what the ritual book tells you to do and say (read the black and do the red). You will rightly object, “But Revered Rambling Father, my liturgy professor told me to do that!” Perhaps, but then what happened? Yes, he began to tell you how to embellish the actions and spice up the words. Liturgists need love too, and a job; if said professor told you the simple truth about following the ritual, he would be out of work in a week. To justify their exorbitant salaries (anything over minimum wage is excessive for a liturgist) and their existence the professor of liturgy must devise stratagems to lengthen, interpret and clarify the clearly written liturgical words and actions found in the clearly written Church rituals. An ancillary rule of “do and say what the ritual book tells you to do and say” deals with accretions.

Accretions are add-ons to the liturgy. Dear fellow Fathers following the faith of our fathers in felicitous fraternity, please admit that we have all used add-ons in our liturgies on occasion, or consistently. As an outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, there was a period of experimentation with the Sacred Liturgy. For some of our priests, this period of creativity should never have begun, for others it has never stopped. Suffice it to say that the experiments are over and, as far as the rituals are concerned, we have the Ordinary Rite and the Extraordinary Rite. So why is there a need, almost a moral imperative, to add anything to the liturgy? The only reason for using an accretion with the liturgy is to mess over the priest that follows you in the parish. “But Fr. Smith always had people wash each other’s ears at the Holy Thursday Mass as a sign of service!” “No Father, you’re new here; we don’t use a cross for adoration on Good Friday. We use an electric chair since it is more contemporary. Fr. Last Pastor really knew liturgy!”

to be continued…

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