Monday, 20 September 2010

Liturgical infantilism v. liturgical wisdom

Others have commented on the re-writing of the Litany of the Sacred Heart. I noticed something else.

The Litany was split up with different readers reading a few invocations each.

That struck me as indicative of one of the problems with liturgy in this country, which I call liturgical infantilism, and was in stark contrast to the Holy Father's approach.

When the Holy Father is engaged in a liturgical action, it is all about Christ: hence his insistence on a crucifix on the altar. He switches modes, very deliberately, from his interactions with the faithful, before and after Mass, when the focus is on relating to them, to focus on the serious business of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication... The person of the celebrant almost disappears; he becomes transparent, so we see Christ through him. It is not all about the front-man.

But liturgists in the UK don't seem to understand this, and the Litany was a glaring example of the problem. By splitting the Litany up - presumably so as to 'include' more people, and possibly with the intention of making something long 'less boring' they distract from the focus on the Sacred Heart and draw attention to the reader: who is it now? who is it next? How well was that read? wwhy did they choose him? and so on...

But what the Holy Father did brilliantly was to demonstrate by example that worthy and reverent liturgy is hugely attractive and intensely prayerful. Let us hope and pray that our bishops noticed: I look forward to their copying his example, not least in the manner of the distribution of Holy Communion...

5 comments:

Kate said...

Ben: your very interesting post has been picked up by Fr.Z WDTPRS- wait for your stats to zoom heavenward!

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks for the heads-up Kate.

What's been encouraging (apart from WDTPRS kudos, which I really must not allow to go to my head!) is the depth of the visits from the people who have dropped by: many are looking at several other pages, not just the one Fr Z quoted.

Now if they'd start leaving comments...

Patricius said...

"By splitting the Litany up - presumably so as to 'include' more people, and possibly with the intention of making something long 'less boring' they distract from the focus on the Sacred Heart...."

Absolutely. Spot on!

St said...

What an excellent analysis, both as to content and form! I love "liturgical infantilism" - what oft' was thought...

Coming to you from Fr Z., but in future shall be an independent visitor.

Mark Nel said...

Oh spot on. Forbid that we should leave anyone out at Mass. We all need our little moment in the spotlight, don't we. This is why the Tridentine Mass should be celebrated occasionally in all parishes. It may serve to remind us again what Mass is really about.