Saturday, June 06, 2009

Insipid liturgy

Some time ago, the Curt Jester derided the tendency to treat the mass as if it were little more than a late night talk show. I wrote a comment but must have forgotten to hit Post or something because it didn't show up and I had to try posting my comment again a day later, when people had pretty much moved on to more current blog entries from the Jester. Or maybe mine wasn't worth commenting on, but probably also almost everyone had moved on, either way. Since this is my blog, well...

On what I hope is a related topic, does anyone else feel this way about being prodded to stand during communion? I don't mean remaining standing for the whole prayer, but proceeding normally, kneeling for the centurion's prayer, and then getting right back on your feet until everyone has received as a sign of "standing with and showing your support for fellow parishoners."
Standing is a perfectly adequate posture and an ancient practice, I realize, but when I see a reminder in the bulletin or hear in before/during mass about a "longstanding tradition" I hardly saw in any church more than five or ten years ago, I picture some committee of aesthetically minded but modern and ignorant laymen going over the rubrics and muttering "stand together...yeah...or, or hang separately. That's good, that's good; let's get that in somewhere."
Anyway, this isn't like clapping for the choir or after the finance committee makes its report instead of having a homily, so I still follow the practice of whatever parish I'm in, but I'm always put off by this "moral support" verbiage. Maybe it's just me, but I'm distracted every time with the thought that I do or don't need an extra gesture of solidarity from people in other pews when I'm walking up to receive.

I mean, we're all the Body of Christ, and if we're in communion with Him, then we can be in no greater communion with each other. While this instance of the communion of saints is not false or a bad thing to meditate on, it seems like one more distraction from focusing on the Sacrament itself.

It's better than turning worship into a simple community-celebrating event with spiritual overtones, but the foremost thing in your mind when you receive should be "Jesus," followed by perhaps something like "How great a Savior who deigned to come to a pitiful creature like me!" If your primary attitude and posture are "Solidarity!" then you're putting the Eucharist behind a much smaller good.

Maybe there's a less modernistic rationale behind it, like a disjointed attempt to capture some of the reverence seen in Eastern liturgies, but no one's ever said anything to me except "solidarity!"

Yeah. It's all about us while we share in the life of God, right?

Put it to God first. Whatever we see or feel connecting us to one another is derivative. Not bad, just derivative.


RAnn said...

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Sleeping Beastly said...

What churches have you seen this in? Every Mass I've been to has had us all kneeling while others were receiving the Eucharist. We kneel, stand up to get in line, and then go back to our pews and kneel until everyone has taken Communion.

Ed Pie said...

That's how we used to do it when I was growing up, until our pastor had us remain standing for the entire Eucharistic prayer. I was more fond of kneeling, but again standing is perfectly legitimate and the only explanation he gave was that it showed a certain kind of respect. I was too young to think he may have been implying that kneeling seemed rude.

I've seen the mostly-standing-with-abridged-kneeling in the dioceses of Saginaw, Peoria, and Lafayette. It doesn't seem to be every church, but of the few churches I've attended in these places, the extended kneeling practice was less common than the kneel-for-one-prayer practice.