Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sacraments and the Liturgy

I've just wrapped up an ecclesiology/church history course for the deacon formation program, just after having started a course on the sacraments. I have another tripple header coming up—seminar, followed by paper, followed by RCIA presentation. After that, I should be able to focus solely on the theology class.

On of the course texts is Johanes H. Emminghaus' book, The Eucharist: Essence, Form and Celebration (originally, The Mass: Nature, Form, and Celebration). I tend to read the forewards and introductions, although they sometimes digress from the point a bit. However, I did run across some quotable material. While Emminghaus seems positive about the reform of the liturgy, he seemed to be rather skeptical about all of the innovation going on, and he said something I think the Holy Father and others have reiterated before and perhaps should be emblazoned above the door of every vestry:

Whims of the person presiding over the service, going beyond the variable norms of the liturgucal books, represent bad forms of clericalism: the result is that the community is subjected to the favorite ideas and private notions of the presider. (xx)

Clericalism has many forms. One is the insistence of the presider to do his own thing. What frequently happens is that the congregation gets lost and doesn't know when or how to respond to it. Are we truly supposed to listen and hang upon every minute signal to know what a priest's new formula means so that we can decipher what we are to say? How can their be active participation this way?

The book is excellent and starts by describing the structure of the Passover and its relationship to the Eucharistic celebration. It's a bit more on the technical side thn, say, The Lamb's Supper, but I don't think it's so much so to put off the average reader.

UPDATE: Just to make clear, I'm not talking about any particular clergy here and certainly not about our own rector and parochial vicar (and our bishop), who are exemplary in their adherence to the rubrics.
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