Over at the Chant Café they have the text of the address by Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, Executive Secretary of ICEL, at the meeting of the Church Music Association of America. There are a number of interesting features (not least of which is the quotation from Pope Benedict, which I read as a pretty ringing endorsement of the official reform of the Consilium), but I wanted to focus on the list he gives after quoting Pope Benedict’s comment, ”it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.” I think this is a pretty standard list of criticisms in some quarters and are worth commenting on.
A sense of the communion of the Church has become limited to local communities that are in many ways self-selecting – many Catholics have a poor understanding of what it means to belong to the Universal Church but a highly developed understanding of what it means to belong to a self-selecting parish community of people like themselves.
- At least in the US, homogeneous parishes are hardly a post-conciliar phenomenon. We have long had ethnic parishes, which could be as insular as as anything today, and were often as much a matter of Irish or Italian or German identity as they were about being a part of the wider Church.
- Has Summorum Pontificum added a new layer to the phenomenon of “identity liturgy” (the ecclesiastical equivalent of identity politics)? Would Msgr. Wadsworth agree that the “stable groups” who request the 1962 Missal, not to mention those parishes and religious orders dedicated exclusively to that liturgy, are at risk of becoming “a self-selecting parish community of people like themselves”?
Any notion of the shape of the Liturgical year has been greatly lessened by an ironing-out of those features which characterized the distinctive seasons of the year.
The universal tendency to ignore sung propers and to substitute non-liturgical alternatives.
The transference of Solemnities which are holydays of obligation to Sundays destroys the internal dynamics of the liturgical cycle e.g. The Epiphany and The Ascension.
The frequent tendency to gloss or paraphrase the liturgical texts, supplying continuous commentary, has contributed to an improvised or spontaneous character in much liturgical celebration.
The multiplication of liturgical ‘ministries’ has led to considerable confusion and error concerning the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the baptized.
The liturgy often seems to have the quality of a performance with the priest and liturgical ministers cast in the roles of performers and behaving accordingly. Consequently, congregations are often expecting to be ‘entertained’ rather as spectators might be at a theatre.
The manner of the distribution and reception of Holy Communion (including the appropriateness of one’s reception of Communion at a particular Mass) has led to a casual disregard for this great Sacrament.
A proliferation of Communion Services presided over by lay people has resulted in a lessening of the sense of the importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The appalling banality of much liturgical music and the lack of any true liturgical spirit in the use of music in the liturgy has been a primary generating force in anti-liturgical culture.