what if the people of God were silent?

Liturgical rules and rubrics continue to make head-lines in the Catholic news. The Phoenix diocese issued a statement Sept. 21 placing new restrictions on the reception of Holy Communion under both species. It claims that it is in keeping with new standards and will promote unity in the celebration of the Eucharist around the world.

Our diocesan materials on the implementation of the revised Roman Missal stress the importance of showing unity in our prayers and liturgical gestures. An acknowledgement is made that the changes might be difficult at first, but we should put our personal misgivings aside for the greater unity of the Church.

It all seems so petty, but the underlying message cannot be ignored. There is something troubling about this constant call to `unity` – with no questions asked, and no dialogue allowed. It`s the George W. Bush logic; if you`re not with us, you`re against us. In church terms, if you don`t give your whole-hearted consent to each and every teaching, writing, and declaration coming from our leaders, than you are weakening the unity of the Church. This is the classic either or false dilemma. There is no room for `cafeteria Catholics`, picking and choosing the teachings we want to follow. A good Catholic eats all that is put in front of her, without question. If you`re not with us, you`re against us.

This kind of black and white thinking does not allow for a dialogue to take place in that grey area of the in-between; a hallowed space where truth is often found.  And true unity is never achieved through blind or submissive obedience.

The people of God had no say in the latest revisions of the Roman Missal. We were not asked to share our thoughts on the present version. We were not asked if we wanted change, or what kind of change would inspire us. It was assumed that our faith and prayer life was lacking, and that it would be miraculously brought to life and uplifted through the use of words with `deeper theological meanings`.

We had no voice. As usual, our role during the process was to be silent. Our role now that the process is a fait accomplis, is again to be silent.

If we have no opportunity to speak out, perhaps we should embrace the silence that is already ours. Perhaps the best protest action is no action. What if, on the First Sunday of Advent, we responded to that first `The Lord be with you` with…..silence.

What if we just said…nothing!?

5 thoughts on “what if the people of God were silent?

  1. Very interesting to consider, indeed!

    I can’t get really excited about all this language furor. To me “tomAto” is yesterday’s “tomaato.” However, the egotism of it all and the unilateral way the changes have been implemented DO disturb me.

    Yet here is my moral dilemma: do I do more good by “flying under the radar” and offering meaningful spiritual alternatives to others who feel disenfranchised but don’t want to leave the Church, or do I speak my mind and start organizing protests?

    By simply ignoring the changes and doing my own thing, am I truly offering a service to the Church in my own way? Or am I just afraid to get our of my comfort zone? Or avoiding conflict? Or just being a “closet progressive?”

    I just don’t have the answers to this dilemma. I rode through the 60’s cheering on the protesters —but quietly, from the sidelines. I worked behind the scenes and lived in ways that I hoped modeled a world that was less racist and sexist. I spoke up, but quietly and in “safe” groups.

    I am proud of the cultural revolution that we started in the 60’s, and I feel like I was part of it. But I was not an organizer–and I usually am. So what does that say about me? Am I fooling myself by not being more visible in standing up to the arrogance I see in the current actions of the Church? I am just now trying to figure that out…

    • I think this is the moral dilemma for many of us, Marceta. You describe it perfectly. Thank you!
      I worry that acquiescence will be interpreted as support, or at least resigned acceptance. So what do we do? Like you, I do my protesting on the side-lines; thankful that I have a close circle of like-minded friends to share frustrations with. Should I/we do more? Still trying to figure it all out myself…

  2. Thanks, Marceta. Also behind all of this is the issue of a more accurate translation from Latin to modern English. Let’s start with a reality check: Latin is not “holier” than English.

    • A Ghanaian friend shared the back-ground to his name. They were told by English Christian missionaries that they could not go to heaven unless they had an English name. Apparently English was “holier” than their local language! Isn’t an insistence on Latin or one style of English just another form of colonialism? We all know the tragic results of “unifying” empires under one language and culture.

  3. At this point in time, I do not want to contribute any more energy to this issue. There are so many more things to DO and BE…to elevate those who need encouragement, compassion, love and to BE with them so joy can be an experience in their lives.

    Marceta, many of your statements are true reflections of my thoughts and feelings. I don’t think my silence would add anything of a positive nature, but when asked, I speak what is on my heart…and that is, the entire happening is ridiculous.

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