Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Flectamus

Most of us good Catholic boys and girls remember when, after the singing of the Agnus Dei ("Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world..."), we would kneel. When the reformed liturgy was promulgated, however, it was left to the territorial bodies of bishops to determine at what point the faithful would kneel -- except for the Consecration, where kneeling remains the universal gesture. Still, many of the faithful would kneel in preparation for Communion, and no one made much of it. Then one bishop, then another, and still another, decided he had to show who was the boss, albeit in the most inconsequential way possible. Making people stand after the Agnus Dei was the ticket. Those catechism-touting, rosary-slinging ninnies, they'll fall right into line like the good little sheep they are... right?

Things haven't always gone according to plan. Not in the little parish of St Mary's by the Sea, in Huntington Beach, California, in the Diocese of Orange, presided over by the Most Reverend Tod D Brown. His appointed lackey, Father Martin Tran, is attempting to force this point on a heretofore traditional parish, in the hopes of bringing them into the feelin'-groovy-spirit-of-Vatican-II era. How does he do this? By warning his spiritual charges that kneeling at the wrong time "is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin."

Whoa!

The local authorities have been such insensitive clods about the whole thing (among other things, for those who have followed developments there), that it is easy to forget that... they're right.

The current universal norm after the Agnus Dei is for the faithful to kneel, "unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise." Well, in Orange County, he has. So why not comply?

There is a saying that goes, when someone lies to you, the lie itself matters less, than that you no longer know whether to believe them. In this instance, if you jerk people around enough about how Vatican II says this and the Church says that, when it clearly is not so, you can just kiss your credibility goodbye -- not to mention any practical authority that goes along with it. Then one day, when you issue a directive, and give all sorts of rationale that clearly offends the pious sensibilities of those whom you serve... well, at some point people might just decide for themselves that they've been jerked around long enough.

And down by the sea, they have. Presumedly, the ranks of the pious are going straight into the Abyss for kneeling in the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord.

Maybe they'll be in good company.

[UPDATE 1: For the record, when I'm at a Mass where everybody stands at the Consecration, I kneel. Anybody tries anything funny, and they'll be on their own knees soon enough.]

[UPDATE 2: Jimmy Akin elaborates on the side of clarity.]

17 Comments:

At 5/30/2006 05:25:00 PM, Anonymous carrie said...

We have the same situation in my church. When a representative of the bishop is around, reluctantly the parish stands. Otherwise everyone kneels.

Since I've just finished reading the latest issue of Stephen Brady's AMDG which details some of the "spirituality" that came out of St. Sebastian's Angels, kneeling is one mortal sin that isn't going to keep me awake at night!

And as you have pointed out, once I've thumbed my nose at one mortal sin, doing so at another will be easier. The laity invariably lose when the bishop is a farse.

 
At 5/30/2006 06:10:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"When a representative of the bishop is around, reluctantly the parish stands."

That's more consideration than I would give.

 
At 5/31/2006 08:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please help me understand your point here.
First, aren't you saying that the autuhorities are "right"? Then aren't you saying that a sufficient reason to NOT comply is that one has been jerked around too much? Then aren't you saying that (even though you know that they are "right") you would not give the authorities "consideration" ?
Why is that?
Is it primarily that they are directing you to do something for the wrong reasons?

 
At 5/31/2006 12:40:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

1. First, aren't you saying that the autuhorities are "right"?

In a specific instance, yes.

2. Then aren't you saying that a sufficient reason to NOT comply is that one has been jerked around too much?

No, I said, "when someone lies to you, the lie itself matters less, than that you no longer know whether to believe them."

3. Then aren't you saying that (even though you know that they are "right") you would not give the authorities "consideration" ?

No. The "consideration" had to do with standing at the Consecration, which is contrary to the universal norm in the Latin church, thus outside the jurisdiction of local authority.

4. Why is that?

For the reasons stated in #3, a contrary directive by local authority would be illicit (unlawful).

5. Is it primarily that they are directing you to do something for the wrong reasons?

It is primarily an issue of trust. See original post.

 
At 5/31/2006 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Jack said...

How interesting. Here at my local parish in The Garden State, no one seems to know what to do after the Agnus Dei.

Personally, I kneel, as I have always done for time immemorial (a.k.a., my lifespan to date here on the 3rd rock from the sun). Other people look at me as they remain standing, but I remain in said position, humble and quite content.

 
At 5/31/2006 10:36:00 PM, Blogger bullschuck said...

I don't understand, you said standing at the Consecration, which is contrary to the universal norm in the Latin church, thus outside the jurisdiction of local authority. , but in your original post, you stated that The current universal norm after the Agnus Dei is for the faithful to kneel, "unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise."

So, does the Diocesan Bishop have the right to determine otherwise or not? Even if there is a universal norm, the document specifically states that the compliance of a Diocese with that norm is up to the Bishop. If this is the case, then we must be faithful to the direction of the Magisterium in this manner.
If the Bishop does not have this right, then the document is in error, and the entirity of the document is to be disregarded, including the direction for a universal norm, and we might as well stand on our heads during the Agnus Dei.
If the document is correct, then we must comply with our Bishop's direction for proper worship in our Diocese. To disregard the expressed will of the Magisterium in documents, even though position during Mass is not a matter of dogma, is to disregard the authority of the Catholic Church. Remember, the first rubric is that the congregation be unified in posture. One person kneeling and the rest standing is not unity. Which one needs to change? Good question, one for the Bishop to answer.

One might make the argument that the tradition of the faithful trumps the liturgy document. Be careful to make this argument. This is democracy. A good government for a small group of people. A terrible thing for a Church loyal to the truth. Which traditions will you choose to observe? What about the tradition of obedience to a Bishop?

For the record, I think Bishops should all take a class in why kneeling during the Agnus Dei is the most appropriate liturgical posture, but if my Bishop asks me to do something, I will comply.

 
At 5/31/2006 11:14:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"So, does the Diocesan Bishop have the right to determine otherwise or not?"

We're talking about two different parts of the Mass; the Consecration, and Communion. At the Consecration, kneeling is universal, period. At Communion, specifically after the Agnus Dei, the normative posture is kneeling, unless the diocesan bishop decrees otherwise.

At no time did I challenge a bishop's authority. That was not my point, which would be evident upon a careful reading.

I could not be more clear.

 
At 5/31/2006 11:23:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

Hey, aren't you the guy named after a barnyard animal?

 
At 6/01/2006 01:13:00 PM, Blogger bullschuck said...

Hey, aren't you the guy named after a barnyard animal?

Yes. And I apologize if my comments were construed as sarcastic. I think you were clear in your discussion and I was not careful in my reading. I made a mistake in connecting your thoughts about the Consecration and the Agnus Dei. I did not feel flamed or misrepresented. You were also remarkably prompt in responding. Thanks again.

 
At 6/01/2006 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I linked you here: http://romancatholicblog.typepad.com/roman_catholic_blog/2006/06/straight_up_no_.html

 
At 6/01/2006 06:18:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

Thanks a bunch, Max. How about if people click here?

 
At 6/01/2006 07:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bullschuck,
your comment re the democracy-
Canon law - linked here -

http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/
(on the left, click Canon Law and then TITLE II : CUSTOMS (Laws 23-28)
says that immemorial custom 'trumps' everything! including a new 'law' (not just simply a 'norm' or an 'instruction' (GIRM).

So, it's not about democracy.

It's about a right given to us by the laws of Holy Mother Church that not even Holy Mother Church can take away (specifically NOT a local bishop or parish administrator)

 
At 6/01/2006 07:24:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"So, it's not about democracy."

It's not about the tyranny of an angry mob either.

First of all, it helps to read ALL that canon law says about custom, not just one point of it. Fortunately, the relevant canons are provided in the above link. Given the force of law of immemorial custom, such force cannot possibly be absolute, particularly in matters of discipline, or other matters outside of divine law. When Christ gave authority to His Apostles, he said: "Whatsoever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." The Twelve would have understood the authority "to bind [and] to loose" in the original context, to be a continuation of the rabbinical authority. That wouldn't mean much if every decision made by the lawgiver were to be "trumped" by any one of his predecessors. The above should be read with that in mind.

 
At 6/01/2006 07:24:00 PM, Blogger Jack said...

Whoa.

Looks like the fabled, oft desired, blog-coveted dialogue is inprogress here @ MWBH.

Proud to be a participant, DLA.

 
At 6/01/2006 07:28:00 PM, Blogger Jack said...

DLA: Several months ago, you initiated the word verification concept for those of us who leave comments here at MWBH.

Could you please share with us why you were forced to use the "Comment Moderation" initiative? And, if you've shared this with readers previously, I apologize for not catching it.

 
At 6/01/2006 09:48:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"Could you please share with us why you were forced to use the 'Comment Moderation' initiative?"

My explanation can be found here: Spring Cleaning

Also in a related story: Getting up on the wrong side of... the web!

 
At 6/02/2006 06:18:00 PM, Blogger Jack said...

Ah! Now I see/understand why you've employed the Comment Moderation functionality ohere at MWBH. Thanks for takin' the time to send me the pertinent links.

 

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