Catholic Academy of Liturgy Meeting – UPDATED 1/10

The Catholic Academy of Liturgy met last week, as they always do before the January North American Academy of Liturgy meeting. (Check out the new CAL webpage, BTW.)

Topic this year: The Future of Liturgical Studies and the Mission of CAL. The panel had a nice variety of perspectives:

  • Report on the survey of CAL members by Mark Wedig, OP. The survey is still in progress, but preliminary results show some hopefulness in the group. A few tidbits: the largest cohort of respondents are in their 60s, and well over half the respondents see themselves continuing in their present profession for 10 years or less. Most respondents (about ¾) see their current position continuing after they retire. A minority, but a fairly sizable one, would not counsel young people to go into graduate studies in liturgy – I’ll wait for the final result before saying more. But the vast majority of respondents, more than 9 out of 10, would pursue grad studies in liturgy if they themselves had it to do over. Optimism that the quality of liturgical music will improve in most places, that preaching training will improve, that laity will increasingly claim their baptismal dignity and insist on active liturgical participation, that institutional support for academic liturgy will remain strong. But concern about training in presiding skills, about whether preaching will improve (despite the improved training they foresee??), about diocesan support for good liturgy, about future rates of Mass attendance, about bishops wanting liturgical experts in their diocese, about bishops’ commitment to multicultural issues (questions concerned Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans). Slight majority favors CAL becoming more institutionalized with dues and newsletter; many favor a more formal relationship with the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship at the national conference. Most don’t want to see CAL issuing position statements.
  • Preliminary results on the study of Roman Catholic liturgical faculties by Tim O’Malley (report read in his absence). I hope to say more about this soon. UPDATED 1-10: Tim O’Malley has been in conversation with 8 graduate and 15 undergraduate theology faculties. He identifies three trends: a decrease in the number of students applying for graduate programs in liturgical studies, a possible coming decrease in the number of liturgy professors, and a clash of generations in thoughts about liturgy. He has four recommendations: that liturgical studies not be narrowly specialized by enter into dialogue with other areas of theology (historical, systematic, biblical, philisophical); that more liturgical focus and education at the undergraduate level is needed, that liturgy needs to be a stronger part of already packed M.Div. programs, and that we get beyond the liberal-conservative divide and improve the culture of conversation.
  • Publisher’s perspective by Hans Christofferson of Liturgical Press.
  • Perspective of a young scholar by Annie McGowan, postdoc fellow at Notre Dame. She surveyed a good number of liturgy grad students and recent grads, most of whom are teaching or eventually hope to. A fair number are pessimistic that they will find a satisfying position in the next three to five years (19%) or in the next ten years (25%). Those who are in a position are almost unanimously “thrilled” or “satisfied” with their position – more of the former. Most – more than 7 out of 10 – would pursue liturgy grad studies if they had it to do over, with most of the rest unsure. But only 4 in 10 would advise others to go into liturgy studies, with most (43%) unsure.
  • Blogosphere by Anthony Ruff, OSB. I spoke of the amazing power and potential of internet, shortened attention spans, short news cycles, unrepresentative web presence by liturgical conservatives (or traditionalists or whatever), bad info and urban legends that flourish on the web (e.g., that most people didn’t like or accept the reformed liturgy after Vatican II), the challenge in fostering a constructive discussion, gender disparities (90% of comments at Pray Tell are from males), the difficulty of promoting ecumenical liturgical discussion when there is so much Catholic stuff to talk about, the sizeable number of people who comment or write to me privately about their hurt and disappointment at the direction of the Catholic Church leadership, and the challenge and call to rise above old polarities and work toward the development of new syntheses.

The afternoon business meeting had the usual reports from ICEL by Fr. Paul Turner and the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship by Msgr. Rick Hilgartner. Revised translations for Marriage and Confirmation are in process. Everyone looks forward to the leadership of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, just elected chair of the BCDW. There is to be a U.S. national scholarly symposium this coming fall on liturgy 50 years after Vatican II. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is to do research on effectiveness in catechumenate ministry. The newly approved USCCB document on preaching does not replace, but builds upon Fulfilled in Your Hearing.

Nearly 70 people were at the CAL meeting; NAAL had about 280 participants this year.


One comment

  1. I agree that more liturgy needs to be woven into undergraduate coursework. I would love to teach an undergraduate course on liturgy.

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