Father Z often refers to progress in the liturgical renewal as “brick by brick.” It is rather nice to watch this as it happens. When I first became Catholic the number of parishes I could attend without seeing a liturgical abuse I could count on one finger. Since then and especially after our new bishop got here it is much rarer to see an actual abuse – though the quality of liturgical music still has a long way to go.
One parish I sometimes attend use to have a rather liberal priest who had no sense of decorum when saying the Mass. During the homily he would wander about the pews as he twirled the ends of his rope belt. His replacement is of a totally different liturgical mindset, one in keeping with the Holy Father. In the last year the piano has has been banished along with the all too common OCP/GIA hymn list that is oh so common. The Mass is prayed in a fitting way so much more conductive in prayer. The most amazing thing is that he has even managed to train the parishioners to sing all of the verses of the closing hymn before leaving. The first time I witnessed this I thought it was an aberration. I was so much more use to people sticking around to at most only one verse and usually beating the priest on their way out of the Church in some improvised foot race.
Tonight we attended this parish and they had a priest that was there for the Lenten mission. I always love when the priest chants the parts of the Mass as he did, but the homily was really a special treat. He spoke on the liturgy and the Second Vatican Council and what is truly meant by “active participation” and that the participation is primarily interior. He also talked about the changes in the Mass that had no connection with Sacrosanctum Concilium and the subsequent slow reform of the reform as headed by Pope Benedict XVI. He spoke on the example the Pope is giving to the whole Church in liturgical discipline. He did it in a very respective manner that was in no way a rant, but a history of what has happened and then our responsibilities towards worships. Plenty of red meat for us liturgical geeks. He told one funny anecdote from the late Cardinal John Joseph Wright who was the Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy who said that when Jesus comes again the Angels won’t be singing Kumbaya, but Santus, Santus, Santus.
I almost thought I had died and gone to heaven when for Communion he announced that we would have Communion by Intinction where the Body of Christ is dipped in the Precious Blood before being placed on the communicants tongue. He explained this and Communion went smoothly despite the fact that for many people it might have been the first time they had ever received on the tongue. The Pastor was also there and of course with Intinction no Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist are required.
So while brick by brick might seem to be a slow proces, something is being built. There are now three parishes I can go to where I can more easily worship without being distracted by banal music.
All in all it’s just another brick by brick for the wall.
Hey Liturgists leave them kids alone.
Update: Via the comments I learned that the priest was Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas – a name I am well aware of in regards to writing on the liturgy. That was certainly a bonus.