Monday, October 29, 2007

Am I a Pharisee?

This past Sunday's Gospel reading (Luke 18: 9-14) featured Jesus' parable of the two men praying in the temple: the Pharisee who was most proud of his being a stickler for rules and regulations as well as not being like the other man in the Temple, a tax collector.

I can so identify with the Pharisee. I spell anal-retentive with a hyphen. :-) I definitely err on the side of going by the book, which is good and bad. And if there's any area in which I've been checking things against the book, it's been in my recent practice of checking everything that occurs at a Mass to see whether it conforms to the rubrics, the GIRM, or canon law.

Here are the ten most common liturgical abuses, according to the apologetics magazine This Rock. Many of these are spread through ignorance of both the clergy and laity, especially in this post-Vatican II era. But . . . is it my job to point out these abuses everywhere I go? Writer Kevin Orlin Johnson says yes.

For example, LC and I no longer join hands during the Our Father, and as the above document says,

The official publication of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Notitiae (11 [1975] 226), states the practice "must be repudiated . . . it is a liturgical gesture introduced spontaneously but on a personal initiative; it is not in the rubrics." And anything not in the rubrics is unlawful, again because "no other person . . . may add . . . anything [to] the liturgy on his own authority" (ibid).

But let's be honest. Name me one pastor who will tell his flock not to hold hands during the Our Father, after it having been done all these years.

Still, if I have a problem with the way this is done . . . might it not be as much my problem as the pastor's? Is checking my "scorecard" bringing me closer to experiencing the transforming power of the Body and Blood of Christ? Or is it getting in the way?

And, as our pastor (whom I really like) pointed out to us the other day, are these hills we really want to die on? Is it worth it? Is it that big a deal, for example, that a priest in another parish comes off the altar for the Sign of Peace when the GIRM says he's not supposed to?

To be fair, I have never been to a Byzantine-rite Mass, nor a Traditional Latin Mass. I would love to experience either or both someday; I've only known the post V-II Novus Ordo (N.O). But should I throw out the N.O. with the holy water (which, of course, shouldn't be "thrown out") just because not every last thing conforms with what Johnson says above, or because the music is too laden with the usual GIA-OCP V-II tripe, or whatever? Thoughts from my Catholic friends?

Maybe I just need to be more like the tax collector in the Gospel who simply said, "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." I fail God's rules and regulations all. the. time. And I could stand to practice a little more mercy.


Anonymous said...

DB Sez:

I guess I've always assumed that the priests know what the rules are, so if they allow, nay encourage some action, it must be acceptable. Perhaps I should update myself on the rules. We have one semi-regular visiting priest who always paraphrases, nay embellishes the Gospel. It drives me up the wall. He also wanders the aisles during his homily, and tends to strip off his vestments and hand them to various children who join him during the recessional. Next time he comes in I think I'm going to call him on it.

But I don't think I have the nerve to mention the annual fund-raising homily, or the "Cardinals Lenten Appeal Slide Show" which are also, it seems, inappropriate.

And sorry, if they want us to kneel, they'll give us kneelers. We don't have them in the choir loft, I'm not wrecking my knees on the risers.

That being said though, there's something to be said for giving the people what they want. Is it more important to follow some perhaps antiquated rules, or to get more people in the pews? I'm of a split mind on this.

* DB sings a Michael Joncas song