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!?