Saturday, March 05, 2011

Liturgy the Source and Summit

I occassionally get accused of obscuranticism or rubricism, criticism is always useful, it aids self examination. Some people expressed surprise about our soup run, which I posted about yesterday. Some of my, politically right wing, parishioners loathe the fact that I have given over a floor of my house for the use of an organisation which helps asylum seekers, some of whom are here because they are homosexual or the wrong sort of Muslim, or have the wrong politics. Others criticise me for loving the ancient rites of the Church, or being exact in my celebration of the newer ones and being deeply offended at other priests abuses of the liturgy. They seem surprised that a priest not uncomfortable with wandering about his parish in a soutane, should also join the occassional public protest about war and injustices.

Here is a very beautiful quote from Mgr Nichola Bux's new book on NLM
He will touch the holy gifts with wonder and astonishment – the Eucharistic amazement about which John Paul II often talked – and with adoration, and the sacred vessels he will cleanse calmly and carefully, as so many fathers and saints call for. He will bow over the bread and the chalice in saying the consecrating words of Christ and while invoking the Holy Spirit at the supplication or epiclesis. He will elevate them separately fixing his gaze on them in adoration and then lowering it in meditation. He will genuflect twice in solemn adoration. He will continue with recollection and a tone of prayer the anaphora until the doxology, elevating the holy Gifts offering them to the Father. He will recite the Our Father with his hands raised and without holding others by the hand, because that is proper to the rite of peace. The priest will not leave the Sacrament on the altar to offer the sign of peace outside the sanctuary. Instead he will break the host solemnly and visibly, and then genuflect before the Eucharist and pray silently asking again to be freed from every unworthyness in order not to eat and drink his own condemnation and to be preserved for eternal life by the holy Body and precious Blood of Christ. Then he will present the Host to the faithful for communion, supplicating Domine non sum dignus, and bowed he will himself communicate first. Thus he will serve as an example to the faithful.
Our faith teaches us reverence, first and foremost for God and the things of God and next for our neighbour. It is always God first, then our neighbour, what Bux says about the priest at the Liturgy and his relationship with God is supposed to flow out beyond mere rubricism, it supposed to change the heart and mind.
The Liturgy, paricularly the Holy Eucharist, is not merely something "we do" but in the words of VII is the "source and summit" of the Life and Mission of the Church. It is the centre of everything.

Without a sense of the absolute and objective sacredness the Church loses its focus and becomes merely a horizantal institution, a club or bunch of do gooders. Even our "doing" good ends up by being relatavistic.

No wonder the Holy Father seems to be obsessed by continuous talk about the dangers of "relativism" especially in the areas of theology and morality,  as well as liturgical renewal. The two are not unconnected. Reform of the Liturgy goes hand in hand with reform of the Church's apostolic work. The concern voiced by some over the statements of the former CAFOD Head of Caritas International Lesley-Ann Knight hit at the heart of this. How we pray affects how we live and how we interact with the world. The Holy See's concern that Caritas International should be grounding its work in a properly and authentic Catholic identity is of vital importance. Deacon Nick Donnelly is right to be concerned about Ms Knight's ambiguous words, the Holy See and we have a right to insist that Catholic organisations have the same reverence for the things of God as a priest should have for the Liturgy.

The Church teaches us to have a vision of the Holy, it begins with things liturgical and then flows into the world, to concern for the poor and marginalised, for Life itself and for justice.


Anonymous said...

Just keep on doing what you know to be right Father - you wouldbe criticised whatever you did. God bless.

tim stanley said...

This is a wonderful piece, Father, and I'm going to post it around. Christ is neither left nor right, ancient nor contemporary. He is sacred and timeless. His revolutionary call, expressed in the literal sacrifice of the Mass, is to love others without hesitation or condition. Love doesn't stop short of giving, it can also involve warning and withholding. Because we understand love to be something other than therapy, orthodox Catholics can get a bad rap for being reactionary. But love is a multifaceted, complex thing measured in deeds, not fine words. And it is found at the heart of the Old Rite you serve, which places God above all of us and asks us - an equal community of sinners - to regard him with awe and to contemplate in silence those things we have done, and not done, unto others. trs

Ryan said...

Fair enough. Good to hear what happens outside your church and that the "bells and smells" are translated into action. Regards.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No Ryan! the liturgy is the source and summit of what we do.

georgem said...

Sometimes we make the mistake of trying to take ownership of "our" priest, forgetting that he is Christ's priest first.
We visit on him all our fears and prejudices and are upset when he doesn't conform to our rigid expectations.
All I can say is I wish Fr. Blake was my pp.

Catholic with Attitude said...

People are often surprised by the fact that I love and belief strongly that there is good reason for celebrating Mass facing east and that Latin should have its place in the Liturgy, but then at the same time being keen on ecumenical dialogue with the Eastern Church and inter-religious dialogue with the Jewish people.

Boo to stereotyping!

Fr Simon Henry said...

I have had a similar reaction in the past. Some years ago we had a parish campaign to keep a Ugandan family in this country. The husband had been murdered in prison, the wife could show me the scars of her torture, the children were devout and the boys served Mass (Latin and ad orientem) and took to rugby with gusto (my parish was in Wigan). While I was in the town centre (in my cassock) protesting with our school and parish and being threatened with ejection from council meetings in the town hall, the "diocese" - at the highest level - didn't feel they could get involved.

Isn't it great to TALK about social justice.

After many months the family were sadly sent back to Uganda (after dawn raids on the family home) where we raised money to support them in finding a home and sending the children to school.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

What a beautiful picture & post!

ServusMariaeN said...

Father Ray,

I have great respect for you. I've never met you but I know based on your writings that you love a great deal. You are an inspiration to me and i'm sure to very many. Keep fighting the good fight. It's worth it as I know you know.



Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thank you, Father Ray, for this uplifiting post.

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