Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Musings

This is the first installment of what will be a weekly feature.

A few random thoughts and musings to start the week…

I just finished reading a book entitled The Reform of the Reform by Fr. Thomas M. Kocik (Ignatius Press), which assesses the liturgical situation within the Church after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Fr. Kocik presents a fictional debate between a “traditionalist” (who would like to see a return to the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass) and a “reformist” (a tradition-minded Catholic who accepts the changes instituted by the Council but recognizes the need for improvement within a workable framework). Also included are a few essays from various thinkers within the current reform movement who mull over ideas for effective liturgical reform, and a point-by-point comparison between the old and new rite of Mass.

This book was published in 2003 – before Benedict XVI was installed as pope. What is amazing, besides the spot-on analysis of our current liturgical troubles, is the direct correlation between what the reformists suggest (ten years ago) and what has actually happened under the current pontificate of Benedict XVI. For example, the author wrote that he believed more freedom should be given to individual priests to celebrate unhindered the Tridentine Latin Mass (though he doubts this would ever happen)…yet, here we are under Pope Benedict, with full freedom to celebrate the Latin without special permission from the local bishop. Also it is mentioned that a new English translation of the Mass, one that is more faithful to the Latin, would be a tremendous help…and again, here we are preparing for just that.

This makes one wonder what else that is mentioned in this book might be in store for the Church with regard to liturgical renewal. The book also suggests encouraging priests to face in the same direction as the people (to the “liturgical East” – that is, with his back to the people), an increased use of Latin chant, and a renewed emphasis on symbolic gestures. Is Pope Benedict moving the Church toward a more traditional style of liturgical worship? It certainly seems so…and I pray it continues.

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Along with summer comes summer vacations. And as Catholics we are obliged to attend Mass every Sunday, even if we are on the road. Why not turn this religious duty into an integral part of your vacation by treating it as a mini "pilgrimage." Find an important church (maybe a basilica or a shrine) that is near where you plan to spend your vacation, or perhaps along the route to or from your vacation spot. Spend a few hours visiting and praying there and then attend Mass. It takes some planning, but it can be very rewarding and it becomes a highlight of the trip instead of just an afterthought. Such a pilgrimage is part of our plan this summer. I’ll post more about this later.

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Today is the Fourth of July, so I’ll end with a quote from one of the Founding Fathers appropriate for this occasion…

“…We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” - (John Adams, Message to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798)

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