Sunday, June 10, 2007

Today is Corpus Christi

Another Sunday that has become a feast day, I wish the Bishop's had bothered to read the Holy Father's book, Spirit of the Liturgy, in which he writes about the sanctification of time. In the Bible the sun and moon and stars are made to mark feasts, not the feast to fit in with calendar, it is a reminder that man is part of the cosmos. Their Lordships seem almost to want to make religion a one in seven, Sundays only experience. This is incredible damaging to the sense of religion breaking in to our ordinary time. I find it of interest that the statistics for weekday attendance at Mass are never officially recorded anywhere in the England and Wales.
I do regret the disconnection with Corpus Christi and Holy Thursday and therefore Thursday as being the day if the Eucharist, another act of desacralisation.

On a parish level it is sad that our school has another excuse to get on with the ordinary life of the school rather than come to Mass. I find it incredibly sad, as the majority of our children are never brought to Mass on Sundays, and now we have lost two opportunies of giving them the experience of Mass this term. It is noticeable that the less they come to Mass, the less well behaved they are in Church, it becomes, here at least, another step to the secularisation of our parish school.
...And yes, I have asked that they should come to Mass during the week.

I have wanted to organise a Corpus Christi procession, epecially in the light of the recent Roman documents, it is impossible on a Sunday, the streets are crowded with shoppers, the Polish community have Mass immediately after our main Mass. In the past we have had Exposition all day on Corpus Christi, again that has become much more difficult on a Sunday.

It is all a bit like champagne and caviar every Sunday now, I am a bit sick of it, it ceases to be special, three great feasts all in a row. I really am looking forward to a simple ordinary Sunday next week. The following week it is back to the champagne and caviar with First Communion Sunday, then in this diocese, more, on what should be the 12th Sunday it is the Dedication of the Cathedral.

I find it amazing that so little, possibly no consultation took place to change the calendar with these Holy Days, no catechetical material was issued, or any real explanation given, and yet when it comes to changing the words of consecration from "for all" to "for many", we have to be catechised, the same with the new Mass texts, but a few years ago with the change from "for all men" to "for all", nothing was said. Interesting?


Anonymous said...

In complete agreement with you, dear Father. It is all askew.

Anonymous said...

Father ~ did you read this old guff at the bottom of today's newsletter?
"The decision by the hierarchy of England and Wales, in conjunction with the Holy See, to move three Holy Days of Obligation (Epiphany, the Ascension and Corpus Christi) from a specific date, or relationship with Easter, to the nearest Sunday has caused great anguish to some of the faithful and been received with great joy by others. This combination of responses ensured that the hierarchy were in a no win’ situation. The reasoning behind the decision is understandable. Many of the clergy, together with the bishops, had recognised that the majority of the Catholic faithful, who go to Mass on Sunday, were not observing these Feasts of the Lord — high points in the liturgical cycle. With little hope of reversing this trend, the most pressing need was somehow to allow the majority of practising Catholics to savour once again the riches of these feasts. But, as Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor acknowledged in a pastoral letter, these changes did cause “a certain amount of upset for some Catholics” but went on to say that they should not be seen as an assault on Catholic tradition. In fact, Scotland, Ireland and many other parts of Catholic Europe have already made the change. Indeed, some years ago I remember celebrating Ascension Day three times - at the Vigil Mass and on the day itself in England and then again on the following Sunday in Florence, where the hierarchy of Italy had made the change years before. The change is made and is unlikely to be reversed. Let us rejoice that so many more of the faithful will now enjoy the fullness of the Church’s treasures."
Who and where are these ‘people’ who greeted the decision "great joy"?! And the poor, poor Bishops… what were they to do over such an agonising ‘no win’ dilemma? Obviously the Bishops have been getting some backlash and felt the need to do a little bit of propaganda to stop people asking for their Holydays back! It might just as well have said ‘shut up and put up with it ‘cause we ain’t gonna change our minds’. It certainly would have saved on ink. Reading this, I am personally blown away by the Paternal affection of our beloved Shepherds.

Fr Ray Blake said...

"Father ~ did you read this old guff at the bottom of today's newsletter?"

Not in our newsletter, THE newsletter, so whose?

I think that mqany natiional conferences of Bishops made a change 10/20 years ago, the thing is we have moved on and realised that changes made to people's religious life are generally detrimental. Where these changes have taken place, very rarely has any study taken place to assess their value.
However what does seem to have to taken place is that they just become another Sunday, with at best a change of hymns.
Very few Bishop's Congferences have tried to encourage the celebration of Holy Days with greater solemnity and festivity, if they did, they might see some effect.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Father ~ It's one of those newsletters that are pre-printed on one side. The newsletter in question is from the Catholic Printing Company of Farnworth. Obviously the writer of this particular section is a Priest, but his name is not given.

Physiocrat said...

Yes. This is an area which could have benefitted from ecumenical enterprise, to campaign for Britain to be brought into line with other EU countries (not just Catholic ones, incidentally), to make the feasts of the Epiphany and Ascension at least, public holidays. But it would not have done any harm to come into line with the Southern European ones and include all the others too.

That would have made them popular. Instead, it seems that the sprit of Vatican 2 is being ignored and we have the same old authoritarianism.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

I am writing from Canada where years ago the decision was made to reduce the number of holydays of obligation to only two: Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, i.e. the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. I believe that prior to the change the Feasts of the Epiphany, the Ascension and Corpus Christi used to be holydays of obligation but these are now commuted to the Sunday.

The results have been as follows:

1. Canadian Catholics now have a reinforced mindset that if they go to Mass once a week, they are doing their bit. So Sunday Mass attendance in Canada during the week following Christmas Day is considerably lower than normal – as people think they have “already been to Mass.”

2. This post-Christmas period of feeling “churched out” lasts at least until January 1st – so, in spite of the Feast of Mary the Mother of God being on a public holiday, and with 80% of Catholics being in striking distance of a church (OK, unless there has been a rare snow-dump), only a small minority of Catholics bother to observe the holyday of obligation as they should.

3. Canadian Catholics have effectively lost all sense of what a holyday of obligation is – thereby reinforcing the problem that for nearly all Catholics, Mass is a Christian hour in an agnostic week.

In England, you are now seeing the thin end of the wedge. Here in Canada, we are at the thick end of it. Be warned.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Where little is asked little is given.

Anonymous said...

...the thing is we have moved on and realised that changes made to people's religious life are generally detrimental.

This is a very incisive comment, Father. The problem after Vatican II was that a small group of people who thought they knew better than the majority of the Catholic Faithful felt justified in imposing change from top-down "in the name of the people".

Hence, the same group of liturgical experts who pushed through the myriad changes in the 1960's and 1970's were those same people who possesed an ill-disguised contempt for the actual religious life of the majority and looked down on such popular devotions as the Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration (these being "those terrible medieval accretions").

The problem is that I don't believe that this state of affairs has generally been recognised. In another generation from now certainly but not yet.

Please say hello to your parishoner who went on the monastic retreat at Pluscarden Abbey last week!

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