Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Reform of the Reform?

I was very struck by this post from Catholic Analysis: Liturgical Psychology 101. The last paragraph summarises the point being made:
So my counsel to the liturgical reformers is this: preach conversion first and the rest will follow. Truly converted people will have no problems showing reverence or belief in the Real Presence. Once there is authentic conversion, all licit liturgical forms of the Church perform beautifully. The key is not which licit form is used. The key is the kind of hearts engaging those licit liturgical forms. It's time to abandon the "James Theory of Liturgical Reform" and focus on conversion and evangelization first. Conversion will make the liturgical problems and abuses disappear, heart by heart.

However, I suspect that different readers will have different responses to the first paragraph:
Among Catholics, liturgical tinkering and reform are a great past time practiced both by liturgical liberals and liturgical traditionalists. One blogger even claims that saving the liturgy will save the world--a claim which implies, in my opinion, the Pelagian view that we can somehow save ourselves and reach to heaven by building a modern day Tower of Babel "brick by brick." I appreciate the great sincerity and earnestness behind many of these attempts at liturgical reform, but more needs to be said before the train leaves the station.

My own understanding of Summorum Pontificum and the accompanying documentation - reinforced by the letter Ecclesiae Unitatem with its emphasis on unity in the Church and its incorporation of the Ecclesia Dei commission into the Congregation for Doctrine - suggests that the carriages of a train that some people think is setting off from the station have not actually been formed up at all.

Now, thinking about conversion, I had better get myself off to confession soon...


Fr John Abberton said...

I recently purchased an old copy of "Liturgy and Personality" by Dietricht Von Hildebrand - which I recommend.

I fear Catholic Analysis does not fully understand the dynamic of Liturgy. Liturgy is "given" and forms us. When we celebrate the Liturgy as well as we can, giving ourselves to God through the Rite etc, we are gradulally formed into mature Christians. The Liturgy can encourage conversion - indeed it should, otherwise there is something wrong with it.

I have seen this in my own experience in parish life. Good liturgy does have a positive effect on people. Bad liturgy does not move them on. I don't want to be black and white about it. Preaching conversion and giving ourselves to deeper prayer will make us more aware of good liturgy, but on the whole I think the Liturgy must be reformed and celebrated well so that it becomes a part - a major part - of our growing into the likeness of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Zero says
I think you 've been there recently now the dentist....

FatherTF said...

"Save the Liturgy, Save the World" is indeed a Pelagian statement if you believe that the Sacred Liturgy is the work of man.