From time to time you see some Catholic bloggers ask about a location of a good parish in a city they will be visiting or talk about finding one good parish in their area. This is a sad indictment about the state of liturgy in a universal church. Many liturgists always talk about community to justify their fiddling with the liturgy at a local church, yet this very act reduces the liturgy to the local community. I doubt that progressive Catholic bloggers experience the same problem from their point of view. It seems that that majority of liturgies have gone down that same path of Masses with some local improvisation or quirk added to them. I know that in my own experience of about six churches in my area that only one of them is one hundred percent faithful to the GIRM and it also happens to be the only one that has music that doesn’t give me flashbacks of being in an elevator. There is really just no reason that the rubrics of the liturgy should be different from diocese to diocese within the same rite of the Church. Now there will always be variances in liturgies to some extent. Some priests are more gifted homilists than others and some choirs are more talented than others.
By the way speaking about gifted homilists have you ever noticed that many Protestant Church’s the name of the pastor is prominently displayed on a sign in front, whereas in my limited experience I have never seen this associated with a Catholic Church. I think this is because in the Catholic Church the emphasis is on the Mass and not just the homily. Of course in non-liturgical churches it follows that all the attention is paid towards the pastor.
I was fairly impressed with the document Instrumentum laboris and the issues that it brought up in the celebration of the Eucharist. This document is the working copy produced for the Bishop’s synod that deals with "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." Obviously from the submissions made for this document many other bishops see some of the same problems in the Church’s liturgical life. It will be interesting to see the final document produced, but more importantly whether any of the suggestions made will be instituted by the Church. I am too much of a cynic to believe that most Vatican documents have much effect on local liturgies. Though I have seen some corrections made to certain liturgical abuses that were addressed in Redemptionis Sacramentum in some local churches. Bishops and priests who are willing to ignore and downplay some of the Church’s teaching are not going to be worried about following liturgical laws. The document addresses such topics as to whether moving the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary to less prominent places has deemphasized the role of the Eucharist and other church architecture related topics. Gregorian chant was also addressed and the suitability of some musical instruments for sacred music and also the uses of a Church for purposes other than the liturgy (note to Cardinal Mahony). The document has a good grasp as to the problems, but mostly does not address what to do about them so we will need to see how this will translate into something more easily understood at the local level. It also address some of the more positive movements in the Church such as the increase of Eucharistic adoration. As much as I might gripe about the liturgy – God stills brings people towards himself despite our flaws.