Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Liturgy Committee Revisited

Those of you with long memories may recall that last year I joined the newly-formed Liturgy Committee at our parish. Since then I haven't posted much about it -- mostly because there's not much to say. We meet fairly sporadically. I'm the youngest on the team by fifteen years and all the other women know each other fairly well and are involved in various other church ministries and projects. They know all the church politics going back to who-knows-when. We're not really a committee dealing with the Liturgy, but with church decoration. We don't study Church documents on liturgy -- our text is an insipid book called To Crown the Year, which is full of helpful tips on making cornucopias of thanksgiving or putting out luminarias for the transfer of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday.

Frankly, I feel superfluous, and I wonder if the other women on the committee think it's cute that I'm interested in "getting involved!" As it turns out, there's nothing for me to "do" because all the actual work happens behind the scenes.

Then there's the politics of dealing with various factions in the parish -- liturgy committee vs. the ladies who own the placement of the altar flowers and become incredibly offended if someone moves their arrangements, even if they're violating guidelines or cutting off Father's access to the catechumens at the Easter Vigil. More and more I see the value of adhering to the rituals and rites and liturgical guidelines as a useful antidote to pride and vanity. This is not my mass or my church. These things belong to all Catholics: those who have preceded us and have established forms, those who currently benefit (or suffer!) from our work, those who in the future will feel the effects of the precedents we've set.

Perhaps I'm making some impact. As we surveyed the liturgies of Lent and the Triduum I was able to make some suggestions that were favorably received -- for next year, the inclusion of the first gospel on Palm Sunday; the necessity for the choirs to work together so that the whole work of the Triduum doesn't fall one one group; the accentuation of Divine Mercy Sunday. In response to a discussion of the bi-lingual Mass on Holy Thursday, I casually mentioned using Latin. One or two of the ladies coughed behind her hands, but Father wasn't dismissive. "There are some places that do that, you know," he to them. I doubt we'll see a Latin mass at our parish any time soon, but who knows? We're getting in a freshly-ordained priest in July; it will be interesting to see what his liturgical views are.


Fidei Defensor said...

Keep plugging away in the trenches Mrs. D! This whole notion of a bunch of old biddes running church affairs like their own social club strikes me as so darned Protestant (lucky thing there is no Pastors wife to lead the gossip or be gossiped about).

Anyway hearing a young woman suggest Latin ought to atleast make them think a little bit!

You ought to, slowly, one by one, start getting your friends on this committe, total coup de ta!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Just wait, the opportunity to do well will arise, and you will be there to help; alternately, you can be there to discourage nonsense.

About your incoming parochial vicar; I hope and suggest he keeps any views that significantly differ from the pastor to himself; and if he does that, you may not discover what his views are.

If he has something to suggest, that's different from the pastor, the place to do that is to the pastor himself. The pastor and vicar need to be on the same page.

mrsdarwin said...

Father, you're absolutely right, and I'd like to state for the record that there is nothing at all unorthodox or even objectionable about our priest's liturgical views. He has a very no-nonsense style, which I greatly appreciate, and hews very closely to liturgical guidelines. Our asthetic tastes differ slightly, but that is mostly immaterial. As you say, I see my main task on the committee as "discourag(ing) nonsense", and Father seems fully competent in that area.

I don't think it's the role of the liturgy committee to impose their own styles onto the Mass, and since my aesthetic preferences seem to differ from the ladies', I mostly make contrary suggestions only when I feel that their decorative ideas are crossing into territory that would distract from the sacrifice of the Mass.

I should also note that the liturgy committee is mainly an environment concern -- the music is entirely the domain by the individual choir directors. The quality greatly varies, which is why we always attend one particular Sunday mass out of five options.

Anonymous said...

Did I misunderstand, or is the entire liturgy committee made up of women?

mrsdarwin said...

You're correct, Tony -- ain't no one there but us chickens, and Father of course.