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Wood And Trees

RulesThe recent appointment by Pope Francis of Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago is encouraging a re-look at Bishop Blase’s approach to liturgy.

Of the four most politically potent posts in the American hierarchy — the archbishops of Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington — Chicago was the first to come open since Francis’s election.”

Bishop Blase’s 2007 article on the 2000 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) has an approach that I resonate with strongly. He is often referred to as a “moderate”. But in this article ‘he is not “moderate” in the sense of adding two positions together to get a beige middle.’

In his article, he writes of reaction to the new GIRM:

One camp described the revised Instruction as a return to clericalism and rubricism. In their view, its implementation represented a rollback of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The other side praised the new document as a welcomed and necessary correction of abuses. This was the set of “new rules” they had hoped for and urged the bishops to enforce them.

After reading the document, I became convinced that both sides were making the same mistake and misreading the GIRM2000. If left unaddressed, their shared mistaken approach, which in effect involves a very limited reading of the document, could sidetrack the liturgical renewal envisioned by the document and the Council. Succinctly put, both sides were reading the Instruction too narrowly, approaching it simply as a list of rubrical changes to be introduced in the celebration of the Eucharist. The only difference between the two sides was whether or not they agreed with the new rubrics.

The whole article is obviously worth a read. The central point is clear – the reduction of liturgy to merely a keeping of rules and then arguing which rules are better, completely misses the point and undermines the very purpose of liturgy, of communal worship. I again agree with Bishop Blase’s solution:

give priority to educating priests and people about the doctrinal and pastoral principles of liturgical renewal outlined by the Council. Specifically, that means bringing people to an authentic understanding of the Christian notion of the assembly. It means stressing the importance of liturgical signs. It also involves clearly defining worship as liturgical action, as dialogue between God and his people, and as a celebration of the mystery of salvation.

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