Friday, November 30, 2012

Liturgical Clarification

(A note: I had barely taken the first sip of my coffee this morning (French press, by the way) when I noticed a rather surprising admonition in my comment section from Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., asking that I remove the excerpt from her well-written article regarding Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. I am happy to oblige. I leave my other points to stand on their own, as they are perfectly clear without Caridi's observations. It is a pity, as I am sure that visitors to this site appreciated her professional take, and also since I was agreeing with her point. When we're fighting the same battles, and when the stakes are as high as they are, my attitude is, let's help each other out! I cited Caridi and linked directly to her piece.

I've written a good deal over the years and published here and there, whether working at the Vatican or in the states. My pieces have often been linked or cited on other sites and I would never have thought to send a terse copyright notice to any of those people, hard-working Catholics trying to make a difference, getting out the message. Quite the contrary, I was extremely grateful and humbled that others took an interest in what I had to say and highlighted it on their site. I was/am far more concerned about getting the message across, rather than scoring points or getting attention. As the saying goes, there's always the first time, right? Have a great weekend, Ms. Caridi. Come back and visit us soon. Feel free to cite any of my writings. You have my permission.)

One of the overarching themes that inform my view on Church life in America is the extent to which liturgical abuses, and things that were considered strictly verboten for centuries and centuries, have become normative, to the extent that most Catholics simply don't even know that such things are liturgical anomalies. Much of our liturgical culture has been transformed.

One of Archbishop Jerome Listecki's frequent sign-offs when writing an article or appearing on an archdiocesan video is "See you at Mass!" That's great. Catholics should, of course, go to Mass. But in the back of my mind, I'm also thinking, "We've gotta start educating Catholics about what Mass is! What does it mean to be in the state of grace to properly receive Communion? What is the Real Presence? Why is the reception of Communion on the tongue still, according to the Church, the preferred way to receive? What is Confession? How do you make a good Confession? What is an examination of conscience?" Those who shrug their shoulders, scoff and say "Big deal!" about these issues prove my point.

As a friend in Saint Louis, a saintly septuagenarian, once lamented to me, "We've lost our Catholic vocabulary in the United States!" And the implications for losing that go beyond just an abbreviated list of words from which to choose. It cuts to the core of our identity as Catholics! We have to go all the way back to square one, and can no longer assume that Catholics know the fundamentals of the faith.

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