A PrayTell reader sends in this query and asks for your collective wisdom. – Ed.
In a conversation I recently had with a prominent liturgical theologian, I was told that Offices of Divine Worship, particularly on the diocesan level, are on their way out. Financial hardship and a changing of the guard were cited as the main reasons. This theologian’s pastoral and academic career is a testament to the hard won efforts of a generation of liturgist who inherited the Liturgical Movement after the likes of Robert Hovda and Aidan Kavanaugh, OSB. I trust that his predictions are made on some sound evidence, a life of experience. And yet I am wondering if his prognosis is prematurely bleak. The Reform of the Reform is certainly underway; some of its loudest complainants offer reasonable concerns. But will there be an end of the “pastoral liturgist,” the woman or man whose work it is to (1) teach everyday Catholics how to perform liturgical ministry well, (2) orchestrate special liturgical celebrations that are both deeply traditional and in some ways pastorally tailored to the needs of a particular local body of Catholic believers, (3) continue to develop the “liturgical” theology that has in many ways transformed the “sacramental” theology of the Church’s longstanding intellectual development? Will the Reformers of the Reform send us “back” to a day where such professionals and scholars could never make a living as full time liturgists?
I would love to know what other liturgists and liturgiologists believe about the future of their field and profession. I hope they can help me.