Monday, August 08, 2011

“If you are confused, check with the sun ...”

One thing I can say about myself; I'm an expert on bullies and bullying. From my experience as a child to the present, I can smell a bully across the room.

There are many ways to bully someone. There are the obvious physical forms of bullying, which have gotten a certain amount of press lately as public school students are taunted rather severely over issues of sexual proclivity. (Like it was never an issue before that, right?) But there are other ways to bully people that are more subtle, and no less insidious. One is to insult their ways of doing things as backward and unenlightened, without being outwardly mean about it. Say it with a smiley face, imply that this is what all the COOL kids are doing, and everyone goes along like lemmings over a cliff.

Such is apparently the case in the land north of Hadrian's Wall.

Scottish Catholics will soon be told to stand during parts of the Mass where they have traditionally knelt. The instruction from the Bishops of Scotland, which has not yet been publicly announced, will come into effect at the beginning of Advent this year.

“Make no doubt about it, theses changes in posture are the revenge of trendy liturgists for the introduction of a new, more traditional, translation of the Mass which they really dislike,” said one Scottish priest [who] asked to remain anonymous.

Some perspective is in order here.

For the bulk of Church history, the posture of the faithful in the Divine Liturgy, whether East or West, has not been set down by law, but rather dictated by custom. Even many traditional Catholics are surprised to learn this. When the funeral of the late President John Kennedy was televised in 1963, American Catholics were shocked to see public figures, such as the French General Charles de Gaulle, rise from his knees immediately after the consecration. With the official liturgical reform after Vatican II, the posture of the faithful was codified for the most part, albeit subject to adaptation by competent territorial bodies of bishops. In the States, the minimum requirement of kneeling during the Consecration itself was extended to the entire Canon (Eucharistic Prayer).

“Consuetudo est optima legum interpres.” (“Custom is the best interpreter of laws.”) This applies, of course, where the former does not attempt to override the latter. ("Experts" who give lectures in parishes on canon law will sometimes leave out certain little caveats, just so you've been warned.) The current situation makes it rather clear what is expected of the faithful. Still, many Catholics in the States have the experience of parish churches without kneelers, and of being admonished to stand throughout the holiest part of the Mass. After all, "we are a resurrection people," right? (We are obviously more than that, but I digress.) There have been occasions when I am at a funeral or a wedding and someone has to make a point of announcing, oh so nicely, that "you are asked to stand during the eucharistic prayer." I ignore them, and no one makes a fuss as I keep my nose in my missal. That wouldn't be very nice.

Neither am I when my intelligence is insulted.

The good news is, a new generation of priests has a different set of priorities, like the notion that Christ founded a Church, and that we do what She asks of us. As a result, the current phase of aging adolescent rebellion is on the wane, albeit not going quietly. Even in the Excruciatingly Orthodox Diocese of Arlington, there was a large parish with a very charismatic pastor, who had many of his people dissuaded from putting kneelers in the new and larger church they were planning to build. Perhaps it was the discovery of child pornography in Father's possession that curbed his devoted following.

Or perhaps his day was done, in more ways than one.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

God works in mysterious ways, fella.