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

Friday, June 02, 2006

The First Liturgy Committee Meeting

The first meeting of the St. Elizabeth's Liturgy Committee was Wednesday night, and I showed up, baby in tow. As it happened, baby and I were the youngest ones there, but there were no pantsuit-wearing women named Gerty (so there, Rick!). I was the only person there who was not already involved in some other aspect of parish ministry or maintenance, and the six other people there all seemed to know each other like family.

(A week or two ago I mentioned to the leader of one of the choirs that I was joining the new Liturgy Committee. "What committee?" he asked. The one Father talked about in his bulletin announcement, I said -- didn't you see that? "Oh, I never read the bulletin," he replied.)

To forestall any questions: Father seems to have his heart in the right place. He talked about why he decided to start a liturgy committee -- because people seemed to think that they could place flowers and furnishings wherever they pleased in the sanctuary. Father wanted to put a stop to this (and have a committee to deflect the inevitable criticism of the oldsters who situated the flowers in the first place) and to have the church more accurately reflect the liturgical seasons while conforming to current guidelines.

"You aren't looking for any strange innovations such as dancing girls on the altar, Father, are you?" I asked tentatively.
"Oh, no, no," he quickly answered. "No, that's not allowed."
"We had liturgical dancers once," one of the ladies said.
"Well," said Father, "that's not allowed. And the children getting involved -- like that Christmas pageant. That can't happen during the liturgy."
"Really?" squawked the surprised chorus. "I never knew that." "What about the parents?" "I think there needs to be more communication about this."
"Well," Father explained patiently, "that's why I'm forming this committee."

So it doesn't look like I'll have to wage a war for orthodox liturgy (which I didn't think would be the case anyway). It looks like my role will be to fight for beauty as well as truth. Father pulled over the whiteboard and started making an outline.
"There are three aspects of preparing a church for the liturgy," he said, and began to tick them off.
A. Environment
B. Music
Ah, I though, the next one is Art.
C. Banners

And so we all trooped over to a table on which was laid out a banner for Pentecost (being slightly reworked from its role as Confirmation decor). It was a long strip of red cloth with a dove and seven flames glued to it -- not high art, but inoffensive. However, the phrase COME HOLY SPIRIT in block letters had not been attached yet, and Father wanted to work on the arrangement -- not too straight, not too much empty space. After much wrangling, COME was curved over the dove, and HOLY SPIRIT straggled down diagonally under the flames. (I pointed out that since the dove and flames were the most important parts of the banner visually, it might be better not to put the letters over top the flames.) The letters were crooked.
"We are not drunk," I murmured. "It is not yet nine in the morning!"
"Yes," agreed Father enthusiastically. "Drunk with the Spirit! That's what this should convey."
So everyone debated the best angle for the letters to be placed. In the end it looked kind of like something my four-year-old might have pasted together, and I think that the congregation will not be moved to reflect on drunkenness of Spirit, but just plain drunkenness.

However, everyone's heart is in the right place -- it's just a manner of getting their heads there as well.


Rick Lugari said...

Well Gerty, at least Father is concerned about "the rules". Though it's really unfortunate that he's into tacky felt banners created by drunks...

Maybe you should suggest the CCD kids create the banners in the future, but in the mean time make sure you bring your hot glue gun, pinking shears, and 'Jesus fish' template. After all, nothing say solemnity like felt banners.

David L Alexander said...

I'd look through the relevant official documentation on the liturgy, to be sure that the standards are met for the creation of banners. (Hint: You won't find any.)

Or the pastor could stick a crowbar in the parish budget and search a reputable catalog for a set of banners professionally created (therefore, hopefully, appropriate for a Catholic house of worship), and of sufficient variety for the occasions of the liturgical year.

I'm available for consultation in this department, especially since my taste is impeccable.

Todd said...

If you have a crowbar handy anyway, why not just hire an artist to produce a batik, or a tapestry, or even an icon?

Trust me: progressive liturgists let go of banner a long, long, long, long time ago. Look at our magazines (if you dare). You won't find them.

Bernard Brandt said...

Banners. The horror. The horror.

Praying Twice said...

"It is not yet nine in the morning!"

Such poetic prose for the early hour!

David L Alexander said...

"Trust me: progressive liturgists let go of banner a long, long, long, long time ago..."

Oh, I trust you. I let go of them sometime before that, or you wouldn't have had to tell me.

Personally I can't imagine what some pastors are thinking about when they assemble "liturgy committees." Putting the procurement of expensive works of art in the hands of people who know next to nothing on the subject is a dangerous proposition -- for the persons assembled, and for those who have to live with it.

I believe such assemblies should consist mainly of the music director, the persons in charge of acolytes, lectors, and ushers, possibly an artist-in-residence to do commissioned works or to procure the services of those who do, and at least one or two persons genuinely familiar with liturgical matters combined with some common sense.

Oh, and a rep from the Rosary Altar Society.

Now, you, dear Mrs Darwin, would most likely qualify as the "common sense" lady. They sound like they need one, so I'd start brushing up on the GIRM.

Anything I can do to help.