As this is Holy Week, I have not been writing as frequently as I sometimes do, and so I do not have any new posts prepared for this week. However, among the blogs I frequent, I stumbled across a piece posted at Roma locuta est on "formality" in the liturgy, which fits nicely with the reflections I have been posting on certain aspects of the Mass. Here's an excerpt:
"...At the heart of liturgy is the concept of ritual. Instead of fitting the Liturgy into our lives, it is in the liturgy that we are taken up into something much bigger, the cosmic worship of God. The liturgy is a great drama that is being played out on a cosmic scale, and simply by being there, we are taken up into this drama. This is exactly why having specific rituals in the liturgy is so important. When there are 'lines' that need recited, 'actions' or 'stage directions' that need followed, the structure of the liturgy itself teaches that the liturgy is bigger than us; we are taught that it is not something that we can create, but something that must be received. This is all a very complicated way of saying that the liturgy is an objective reality.
"In contrast, when the liturgy becomes the result of the creative efforts of a 'liturgy committee,' the congregation is given the impression that the main focus of the action is not on God but on the people, that we are the creators, not God. How the liturgy is presented and the way in which it includes us affects how we come to think of the essence of the liturgy and of ourselves as human agents. This is the basic principle of sacramentality in its most general form. The principle states that “we are how we act.” In other words, the way in which we act forms the views we hold and even the type of person we become. If the Mass is presented as a ritual, people are given the correct impression that it is something bigger than themselves, a sacred action into which they are taken up. They then come to realize that they are not the center of reality. If it is presented as self-created, then people come to see themselves as self-creators.
"Without a concept of ritual, the faithful are not equipped to enter into the liturgy. But the concept of ritual is intimately related to the question of formality..."
The post is titled Save Formality, Save the Liturgy and can be found here.