January 20, 2010

Some Thoughts About Liturgy

Father Zuhlsdorf asked, on his fine blog, some questions about liturgy preference: Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form-original or extra crispy! (kidding about the last)

My response is too long to comment and why give other bloggers my best stuff? Nothin’ but love, ya’ll! LOL!

For much of my life I barely bothered to attend Mass at all-unless “made to” by my parents or if I felt compelled to due to tragedy. You know how it is, things go bad and THEN you go to Church. Foul weather faith. When things are great, you barely know Him.

In the early 90’s I felt compelled to go to Mass again. Keep in mind the indifference deep down in my soul did not change. I’m not sure why I felt compelled. Maybe it was the death of my brother and the discovery that my Mom had cancer, maybe it was the ill-defined need of youth for “something more” than the aimless and meaningless existence that many of us feel that we have.I don’t know.
But, there I was. I was in a Catholic church with creative liturgy. Conformity with Rome were bad words. Any rubrics were gathering dust on a bookshelf somewhere.
Creative liturgy was what I needed then. I, also, needed undemanding faith. I needed it easy. I wanted to belong to something and feel like I was giving to God and this was it for me, then.

Time passed and I was content. I continued in many of the sins I’d always had and believed in the rightness of things (wrong as it was). As long as I was part of a community of believers who felt as I did, life proceeded a pace. I became heavily involved in the life of the parish. My erroneous beliefs were reinforced.

Nearly a decade later my presence on Catholic online forums led me to think that much of what I believed was Catholicism, really wasn’t. I began to read more authentic Catholic documents. I began to question what I’d been told and taught. I began to realize that much of what I’d been taught about the Faith was bunk.

My experience with liturgy was, perhaps, opposite of some. When my faith was weak, creative liturgy was what I craved.I think because my Catholicism was creative so why not the liturgy?. Once I realized the truths of our faith I began to crave authentic liturgy. I was tired of liturgy that did not fit the faith I professed.

Once you accept that liturgy is about God and not about you and your friends, many things begin to fall into place. There is other. Yes, much other, but that’s a start.

Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form? I don’t, honestly, prefer one over the other. I know and am comfortable with both. I just want liturgy that conforms to the appropriate rubric. I want honest and straightforward homilies that deepen my faith, and question my relationship to it-not question the faith. I have to admit that I prefer Masses ad orientem because having all of us, including the celebrant, oriented toward God makes perfect sense to me.

I’m well aware that I was blessed. I was fortunate to find truth and seek to learn more about it. I worry about those who are never exposed to anything but distortions and lies. We will never, as a Church, be one if we don’t have effective catechesis. Not only that, we need to expose everyone to it.


Blogger Tancred said...

The thing I like about being Catholic is that there are aesthetic questions which are not the subject of preference and there are those which aren't.

So beauty really is true, and not something that is determined by cultural norms. It's not just a game, but it's fun.

January 20, 2010 11:40 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

For a long time I tried to pretend my SSA lifestyle was compatible with the Catholic Church. I finally came to the realization that I must choose between the two. I chose God, and like you, I felt so blessed to return, but it was really God who chose us, not us choosing him. Welcome home and God bless my friend!

January 20, 2010 3:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I am a cradle Catholic, a St. Thomas grad, who feels like he is coming home again even though I never left the Church. For many years one could be a dissident and still stay in the organization, or at least I thought. I embraced the new changes in the 60's and 70's and became a very educated critic of the Church, even while in my heart loving it as it was. The "proof in the pudding" for me did not manifest itself until 5-6 years ago when I realized that my children, now grown, had almost nothing to hold on to in their faith life. In Catholic school and CCD they had learned the significance of rainbows and balloons and that God loved everyone just the way they were. Sin had disappeared. And so did the motivation to worship God or participate in a church community. It saddens me and my wife and we pray for them daily.

I have come to see that the liturgy is important, and the older form with its reverence, mystery and focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, is more dynamic, grace-filled and up-lifting,in contrast with the present liturgical focus on the celebrant first, then the congregants, and God last. I truly do not think that was the intention, but by default that is what has happened.

Thanks for writing for and encouraging the many dissidents who are finding their ways home.

January 22, 2010 4:08 PM  
Blogger nazareth priest said...

Stephen: A most beautiful testimony.
We can only pray, be good witnesses, and try to share our Faith, the faith of our fathers.
The Sacred Liturgy, properly celebrated with the mind of Holy Mother Church, in whatever form, is the "voice of Jesus"...He speaks to our hearts and forms us according to His Own Heart in this way.
We have to have the Sacred Liturgy in its authentic form. Otherwise, we are lead astray.
Blessing to you!

January 22, 2010 5:08 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Nearly a decade later my presence on Catholic online forums led me to think that much of what I believed was Catholicism, really wasn’t. I began to read more authentic Catholic documents. I began to question what I’d been told and taught. I began to realize that much of what I’d been taught about the Faith was bunk.

Christine is right. God chose us. (I reverted after 21 years but it took another ten years of self education before I was really back. And I still am a "work in progress.")

Best of all God chose those of who came back recently at a time when through the Internet it has become quite easy to do some research to separate the wheat sprouts from the tares of our faith and to make the necessary changes.

And more and more parishes are providing wonderful adult education programs, Perpetual Adoration, retreats, etc. to help us even more in the task of living holy lives.

I, too, was moved by Stephen's comments. I pray that he may share his faith with his children powerfully to enable them to find the that faith that they never learned.

January 23, 2010 7:17 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Thanks, Nazareth Priest, and Ray from MN. Your prayers, understanding and supportive comments do give me a lift. I really agree that the internet has been a blessing in that so many Catholics in need of recovery have found a voice and a place to aid them in their spiritual growth, in blogs like Cathy's.

PS. I would like to affirm Christine in her choices and her recovery as well. I'm sure it was not easy.

January 23, 2010 8:56 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Thanks Ray and Stephen :)

January 23, 2010 2:54 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Chris: I continue to admire your honest witness.

Stephen: God bless you. We probably moved in the same circles. The addition of children to ones life has brought many back to Christ as they self-assess and realize that something is missing and they don't want to give that to their kids.

January 23, 2010 4:22 PM  

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