when is it worth it?

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. (Chris) 

Thank you for the great comments on recent posts about the revised Roman Missal. The above response from Chris really got me thinking. When is an issue really worth your energy?

We don`t have to look far to find an issue to be passionate about. News stories abound each day that nudge opinions out of us. Sometimes the opinions are lukewarm, forgotten with the reading of the next head-line. If the story affects us personally, our opinions come easily. For example, our Conservative government is presently trying to block threatened strike action by Air Canada flight attendants. Is government intervention unfair to the union, or is it justified in this uncertain economic climate? I have an Air Canada ticket for a trip to Rome in a couple of weeks. I have my own, selfish opinions on the matter.

With some issues, opinions have time to fester and grow; especially if they are rooted in anger. Anger is not always wrong. I love the image of a pissed-off Jesus, overthrowing the money-changers` tables in the temple. He had cause to be angry, and he didn`t hold back. Righteous anger has helped to bring much needed justice and change in our world.

Is the new Roman Missal worth the energy and anger? I suppose it depends if we are scrapping over mere words, or what is perceived as the larger issue behind the process. How will it affect our personal experience with liturgy? Will it draw us closer, leave us lukewarm, or drive us away? Will the majority of folks in the pews even care? Time will tell.

Meanwhile life, with all its daily demands and surprises, goes on. This issue will keep simmering on the back-burner for me. But for now I`m going to follow the wisdom offered by Chris.

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!?

count-down to the missal launch

The first Sunday of Advent fast approaches, and so does the introduction of the New Roman Missal in English-speaking parishes around the world. Our diocesan public relations machine is in full gear. Workshops are being hastily prepared. Bulletin inserts are being distributed. During a time of limited resources, a lot of those resources are being expended to catechize, convince, and possible prevent a revolt from the pews.

It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. For some, the changes will come as a surprise on November 28. How will these folks react? Those who follow the news from the Vatican know the bumpy history of this latest revised Roman Missal. Many have followed its journey with amazement. How can such sweeping changes be imposed from the top-down with little or no room for dialogue? Where is the spirit of subsidiarity that allows national and regional episcopal conferences to adapt the liturgy to the diversity of local cultures and languages? Why, oh why, is all this energy and effort being wasted on obsessive words and gestures when the people of God have so many pressing needs?

Bishops, priests, and liturgists are patiently (and patronizingly?) telling us to make an effort to understand the reasoning behind the changes. Well, I have read the reasoning and understand the reasoning. And I still do not agree with it. Changing words to reflect a more literal translation from the Latin does not guarantee a `deeper meaning and splendour` in our prayer. Obsessing about when to kneel and when to stand does not guarantee that we will be one. The New Roman Missal is forcing parishes to focus, yet again, on what we are doing within the four walls of our church and not on what we are doing out in the world. Sigh…