30 June 2003

The Letter, Part III

Feast of the Protomartyrs of the Roman Church.

Part III of The Letter:

Lastly, the great joy and solemnity of the Eucharist is conveyed most properly when attention is paid to the rubrics which the Church has set forth for its celebration. While I realize that ignoring many of the rubrics is commonplace in the United States, I had hoped that a pastor with such knowledge and such a strong and engaging personality as Fr. G-- might use those talents to gradually bring the people of St. -- to a greater understanding of the Church’s mind on the subject of liturgy. Holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer, I understand, has been discouraged by the American Bishops. The sign of unity at that point in the Mass is reserved for the sharing of the peace; holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer is considered to be a premature sign of unity, and takes away from the significance of the peace. I am disappointed that the priests of this parish not only don’t discourage this, but actually encourage it by doing it themselves. For another example, there is supposed to be a bow during the Creed, which I believe I once saw Fr. R-- observe, but which I have never seen anyone else in this parish do. The rubrics are meant to call attention to important things, such as those special words in the Creed at which we bow. Why have they been ignored? Some say that they are ignored because the people do not know the rubrics. Perhaps this is so. Is it not then the role of the pastor of the flock to feed our minds as well as our souls by teaching us? The homily at Mass is meant to be instructive, and not necessarily a reflection on the readings. The priests of the parish could teach the people from the pulpit—indeed, is it not meant to be that way?
Maybe I was not paying attention, but I did not hear the sequence said or sung at Mass on Pentecost Day. I know that there are sequences for many days which can be omitted, but the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, as promulgated by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, states that, “The sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Day, is sung before the Alleluia.” (pp 64, emphasis added)
The externals are important because of the two-fold nature of human beings: we are body and soul. The actions of our body should reflect as well as possible the actions of our soul. My soul at Mass is at prayer, the most beautiful and perfect of all prayers. What I see at St. --does not look to me like the most beautiful and perfect of all prayers. As much as I remind myself that it is, my senses do not agree with my intellect.
Though the St.-- community has been my spiritual home for most of my life, I have come to feel alienated by the focus on each other rather than on God, by the music which I find not conducive to worship, and by the lack of attention to the rubrics which also takes away from the unity of our dual nature as human. I am so distracted that I cannot focus on God at the Sunday Masses at St. -- as I should. I feel compelled to seek a spiritual home elsewhere.

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