WORSHIP COORDINATOR — Sisters IHM seeks qualified person to serve as Worship Coordinator for a congregation of women religious. Duties: direction and vision of liturgical and spiritual events in the Motherhouse through fidelity to the IHM community’s Constitution and Chapter Directions collaborating with others; coordinate Liturgical Committee; supervise staff and overall music program; and plan/coordinate members’ wakes and funerals. Qualifications: Bachelor degree; graduate degree in Liturgical Studies, Pastoral Ministry, or related field preferred; demonstrated liturgy experience including supervision of staff; experience in a Pastoral setting with older adults; Roman Catholic in good standing; ability to lead prayer; knowledge of the Liturgy Documents, Rites of the Church and current resources in worship and ritual practice; proficiency with Microsoft Office. Applicants submit cover letter and resume to: SSIHM Human Resources Manager, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162.
Now what I don’t understand about worship coordinators, a.k.a. liturgists is why are they even necessary in the first place. I am curious about the history of the modern liturgist, because as far as I can tell this is a something fairly new within the Church. What exact role do they fulfill? We have the GIRM and liturgical documents that guide the liturgy so what exactly needs to be directed. My parish has no such position and yet each week every Mass is reverent and faithful to liturgical documents. Though maybe that is because we don’t have a worship coordinator.
Somebody that coordinates wakes and funerals use to be called a parish secretary. It seems to me their purpose has been to subvert the liturgy and to ensure whatever is mandated is replaced with something else. That they see themselves as a director or producer who interprets the liturgy to their own preferences or the latest liturgical fad they learned about. The Mass becomes a performance piece to be tweaked to their hearts content. To justify their jobs they have to appear to do something. This is why we get things like sand or marbles in Holy Water fonts during Lent or prancing liturgical dancers. The sanctuary becomes a stage where the liturgical performance is carried out. To screw things up requires a liturgist, to really screw things up requires a liturgist with a degree. Though we can understand this since many people want to be entertained at Mass. Active participation (which should be active prayerful participation) means we imitate whatever the priest is doing or some other liturgical aerobics. One two, three, Orans posture. Breathe in, breath out now hold hands.
Now whether this rant pertains to the Sisters IHS or not is open to question. Though nuggets such as "feminist or ecological spiritualities" and their site in general strongly makes me suspect it does.
I also wonder what is the purpose of a liturgy committee? In the latest issue of First Things Fr. Neuhaus posts about a statement by the liturgy committee at Villanova "Postures During Eucharistic Liturgy."
The statement notes, "In general [the General Instruction of the Roman Missal] asks the faithful to kneel during the consecration –but then adds "unless prevented by lack of space, large number, or other reasonable causes." The statement then gives Villanova’s reasonable causes for preventing anyone from kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer. For instance, one of the prayers thanks God by counting us worth to "stand" before Him. (Those Augustinians are such literalists.) Moreover kneeling induces a "sense of passivity, interiority, and exaggerated unworthiness," Some might prefer the word "receptivity" to "passivity," but it is true that we sinful human beings are adverse to acknowledging our inferiority to God and do not take kindly to any exaggeration of our unworthiness. The statement ends on the note: "In all these decisions the Villanova community favors the spirit of community and mutual affirmation; any competitive and legalistic preference in the matter of liturgical practice tends to be divisive and is not considered helpful to communal celebration." In the spirit of mutual affirmation, unity, and our communal abhorrence of legalism: You will not kneel.
In the case of Villanova’s liturgical committee my suspicions are confirmed about liturgical committees. It seems to me that if you really want to foster community in the universal Church then having consistency among liturgical celebration would do just that. What they always mean is just the local community. Their instruction on kneeling makes me see Phillipians 2:10 in a whole new light. "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow to provide a sense of passivity, inferiority, and exaggerated unworthiness in heaven and on earth and under the earth." I think that if the Church really wants people to kneel during the consecration they should change the rubric in the GIRM to stand. Instantaneously liturgists and liturgical committees throughout the world will then find a reason that we should kneel during the consecration instead.
Now like most rants this is a very broad brush attack. We do need liturgical experts that can teach us to more greatly appreciate and mine the richness of the liturgy. What we don’t need are liturgical producers who make changes for change sake. Living in a culture where everything is "new and improved" we can understand this temptation. The Mass is Calvary and the sacrifice of Christ re-presented not reinterpreted. You can imagine the havoc a liturgist would have wrought at Calvary. Though maybe a budding liturgist was there. Who else would give Jesus wine mixed with gall?