Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Once again, Sunday Mass featured a visiting priest who evidently thinks it's All About Him. Today's narcissism took the form of constantly interrupting the Mass -- even the Canon -- in order to insert commentaries.  Can somebody point out where in the Missal it says to do that?  Must the priest's private views, which I did not come to church to hear, constantly intrude on the Mass, which I did come to hear?  Why can't we just have -- the Mass?  

The incessant attention-seeking from today's celebrant put me in mind of a religious sister I heard speaking once, a high-ranking official in the diocese at the time, who was publicly lamenting the fact that the Church contumaciously refuses to ordain women (read: her) as priests.  It pained her so much, she said, that she could only do so much before people had to turn away from her and seek out a priest.  In other words, she wanted to be a priestess because she wanted (a) power, and (b) to be the center of attention.  This distorted view of the priesthood is wholly foreign to the mindset of a man with a legitimate vocation, who understand himself to be called to a life of service and self-sacrifice.

Then I thought: after decades of attending Holy Mass under the guise of a fourth-rate vaudeville act, can the wymynpriest crowd really be blamed for thinking the priesthood is the key to satisfying their cravings for the spotlight?  Have not priests themselves fostered this gross misconception; and is this not due in large part to what has been done to the liturgy?  Turn the priest toward the congregation and hook him up to a microphone, and of course he will think he's supposed to play to the crowd, and begin acting accordingly.  Next thing you know, Holy Mass is transformed from the highest act of worship to a show that the priest feels the need constantly to try to steal.  And just to make sure of an adoring crowd, the people in the pews are strictly regimented, while he gets away with doing whatever he wants, whatever the Missal may say -- a phenomenon we have reflected on in this space before.  Was the women's ordination movement as noisy and pestiferous before the changes to the Mass and the ensuing abuses as it is now?

The abuses in the liturgy that are now so widespread are themselves a symptom of deeper problems in the Church; but they are the proximate cause of doctrinal derailments, which foster chaos and moral impotence that ripple out into the world at large.  No wonder it is said that to save the liturgy is to save the world.


  1. The cult of personality is a disease which needs to be erraticated. Pushing the altars against the wall, and evicting the chair to the side will help...but these in themselves aren't cure alls. The whole culture needs to be transformed.

  2. Contumaciously?? Had to look that one up and now can't wait to pop it into a conversation.

    I will say one thing for our retired pastor (also our next door neighbor.) He managed to be absolutely featureless during Mass.

  3. Beware the "VP" designation in the weekly bulletin!

    Unless, of course, you know the "VP" will be provide an orthodox, reverent Mass that adheres to the Missal --- strictly.

  4. I wonder if the rubrical options in the Novus Ordo isn't a big part of the
    problem. Readings may be omitted, in whole or in part. The Propers
    may be used, or (as happens 99.9% of the time) hymns may be substituted.
    A priest may vest in black for a requiem, or he may use white. Or violet.
    There are numerous legitimate Eucharistic Prayers from which to select, etc.
    In the end, with the Novus Ordo, the Mass on any given day may be said in
    thousands of different ways, depending on the options selected by the priest.

    If Father is used to calling the ball when it comes to the myriad of legitimate
    options in the rubrics, it's no wonder some priests begin to believe they can
    legitimately call the ball on even those rubrics they have no authority to alter.

    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. If the liturgical laws now in place create such
    a myriad of options in the rubrics, then the liturgy becomes free-form, and
    subject to the whims of individuals. It doesn't surprise me that people come to
    expect that the Church's laws, doctrines, even dogmas are just as malleable
    and free-form and optional as Her liturgical laws.

    If the liturgy is so now manifestly subject to whims, should we be surprised
    that many Catholics have come to believe that the Church's moral laws and
    dogmas are also a set of options?

  5. If an Army girl can weigh in: to see a military unit go helter-skelter & become unmanageable, just start going lax on drill and ceremonies and uniform standards. It all starts there. And, Soldiers won't reenlist in lax units with lax commanders who don't demand much of them, or show deference to their "rights" (you'd like the term we use for that, Anita: "barracks lawyers" - ha!) In such places, Soldiers leave at high rates when their enlistment is up (at least the good ones do), disappointed or w/ a chip on their shoulder. But if they're disciplined and sharpened by tough sergeants who uphold standards to the letter, Soldiers are proud to sign up for another 4 years -- they brag about being in the best outfit. They give their lives for it & for each other!

    We are the "Church Militant" -- I see so many parallels.