The Sacred Liturgy isn't just about what happens in Church, it should touch every aspect of our lives, it has always been so. Fasting and feasting are an important part of the liturgy, I feel quite smug that at the end of Lent my belt needs to be tightened an extra two notches, but now is the time of feasting!
Yesterday I had a splendid cote de beouf, with a delicious bottle of Chinon, with a seminarian and later shared a bottle of rather nice bottle of prosecco with a couple of the younger clergy of the diocese, in the evening there was a school governors meeting, just to get over, gently, the fact it was still Easter I took over some fizzy wine I had been given. The rest of the week seems to be about partying too.
Most of priestly conversation seems to touch on liturgy, I prefer that to diocesan gossip, we had all been to the Chrism Mass last Wednesday, it might just be my friends, but we were all a bit surprised by how retro the liturgy was this year; odd introductions, apparently from the States were still in the renewal of priestly promises, which are not in the Roman Rite. Music by people like Inwood, Dean, Ward and Haugen, which most parishes, I had assumed, had moved away from, where still there, hardly music that merited to continue in use for any length of time. All those superfluous Hosannas and needless repititions, and changes of texts! It was a bit of time warp, a move back twenty years. Even the congregation, seemed to be the same people who would have been there two decades ago but now are bit more stooped and greyer. Maybe that is because I am older and greyer.
It is very easy to for any priest to live in a little world of his own to assume that what is happening in his parish is happening elsewhere. A friend of mine was a little irked when his new head teacher expressed surprise that he didn't allow the staff at his school to pass the Body and Blood of Christ from one member of staff to another during Mass, "... but Bishop X always does that whenever he celebrates mass with teachers," she said. Most dioceses actually have autodidacts as their "expert" liturgists, possibly they picked up some diploma in pastoral liturgy at some American university twenty years ago, and have continued to demonstrate their liturgy is an excercise in nostalgia, not looking back to The Tradition, but to their own youths, 20/30 years ago, it is becoming increasingly off putting.
The problem most of us have is, what should be the liturgical norm?
Most priests pick up notions of liturgy from rather selective reading, from what they see other priests doing, peer pressure amongst priests is as powerful as it is amongst adolescents. There are pretty clear guidelines in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Ceremonies of Bishops, Sacramentum Caritatis and other documents, but who really bothers to to read them? Who apart from me, who uses a communion plate? (SC, says it should be retained), how many female feet were washed on Holy Thursday, how many three sin or less penitential services took place during Lent?
One of the good things is seeing what happens in Rome at Papal liturgies, through the net or EWTN we can see what the Pope is doing. I am pleased to say I know what happened in St Peter's on Good Friday in much more detail than I know what happened in our own Cathedral.