Principle 7: Less is generally more
The seventh principle, above, comes from Celebrating the Eucharist by Patrick Malloy (The first principle is here, the second principle is here, the third principle is here, the fourth is here, the fifth is here, the sixth is here).
A lot happens in the eucharistic liturgy. Those who do it every week may not realize just how much goes on. Visitors do. Even the core involves a great many words, objects, and gestures. The human mind can only attend to so much. At some point, known more by instinct than science, the mind can absorb no more. Not only does the brain (and, therefore, the heart and the soul) fail to take in what is added beyond the “breaking point,” it fails to grasp anything. The circuit, as it were, shorts. The liturgy feels like a jumble, even if each of its constituent parts is, in itself, a gem.
I was recently at a service which began with chorus after chorus of confusing words. The altar area was already a clutter of jumble-sale objects and overhead screens. Then there was a motley procession with banners to add to the clutter, and yet another cross, and robed and not robed added to the confusion. Non-robed people seemed to be leading the service which began with a lot of announcements and even a several-minute video. The robed person, comically hiding behind a burse-and-veil on the altar, suddenly emerged to absolve us…
A service, be it long, medium, or short, – or even really, really short – that noticeably uses or employs significantly and excessively way, way many more words, or phrases, or clauses, and/or adjectives, signs, symbols, gestures, etc. than are necessarily requisite to get the point of the aforementioned service – that is to say the crux, the focus, the meaning of the aforementioned service – across clearly, plainly, and/or distinctly, is a discursive, long-winded, and, dare I say, over-cluttered service!
Too many bits, however good each individual bit, choke each other. I hope you saw what I did in the previous paragraph.
Put your service on a diet! Get it running energetically!
If in doubt – leave it out.
“May”, in the rubrics, mostly means – leave it out.
If you haven’t watched this video, I encourage you to do so:
- Let the Main Thing be the Main Thing
- Our Cluttered Vestibule
- Actions are Prayer
- persons of the feminine sex
- Deacon at The Peace