What would liturgy do without experts?

What would liturgy do without experts?

A liturgist says to expect big changes in the future of the Liturgy. Fr. Richard Fragomeni, who teaches liturgy at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and is a priest from Albany, says that liturgy will “express the diversity of cultures in the Church.” Ick, just what we need if more “diversity.” We can look forward to more hula, clown, and African dance Masses. Why does it seem that cultural diversity always excludes Western European culture?

Today, Catholics are looking again at liturgy and the sacraments as “where people receive the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of God—and that leads to a sense of holiness.”

If people become holier, the priest added, “they’re more available to service, to the inclusivity of people, to dealing with any kind of bondage we might create as a people.”

Bondage? I’m not sure we want to include that in the Liturgy.

  • I’m still waiting for the cultural sensitivity toward Gen X, Irish/Lithuanian-American reverts in their mid thirties whose entire family left the church in the 70’s and 80s but who sill believes the RCC is Christ’s church.

    On a side note, there are foreign born priests here in Worcester too. They’re great! I’ve seen a Mass with Vietnamese and Central American priest. This diocese also has a pipeline to the Philippines (no vocations crisis there) due to some religious sisters in the area.

  • Dom …. thanks for this post!  I needed a good laugh. 

    This is nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of Fr. Fragomeni.  Like many of his counterparts here in the Albany Diocese, liturgical abuse … er … ‘innovation’, prevails.  Anything goes! 

    Heeding the advice of Mother Angelica, I left my Albany parish, when the abuses, quite subtle in nature, turned Sunday Mass into a total distraction.  I ‘dusted off’ my sandals, picked up my staff and headed off in search of a liturgically valid Mass. 

    After attending the Tridentine mass, and several Novus Ordo masses at different parishes, I spent last Sunday at a Maronite Catholic Mass.  The Eastern liturgy is one of the most beautiful in the Catholic Church.

    The Consecration is sung in Aramaic, the language of our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and the Apostles. It is the closest we come to the Lord’s actual words at the Last Supper.

    Holy Communion is given only by intinction; the priest dips the host into the Precious Blood and then places it on the communicant’s tongue. There is no Communion in the hand and there are no Eucharistic ministers. Only the bishop, the priest, the deacon or the subdeacon give communion. It is done with the words, “The servant of God … receives the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.”

    The sign of peace is also different from the Latin Rite. The priest kisses the altar, places his hands on the chalice, then passes God’s peace to the deacon, who then gives it to the acolyte, who passes it to the first person in each pew, who passes it to the next person, an so on.  No stretching across pews or arm pumping.  This is beautiful and dignified.

    In the middle of an arid desert, I have truly found an oasis.  I will be returning to this church tomorrow, to refresh my soul.

    “The Eastern Churches are the Treasures of the Catholic Church”—Pope John XXIII

  • Ian:  Yes, my first impression of St. Ann’s was that such a beautiful liturgy deserved an equally distinguished church.  The congregation seems quite small, and I have no idea as to their operating budget. 

    I do believe that if more devout catholics, who suffer through liturgical abuses in their own Albany parishes, knew about St. Ann’s, they would switch parishes – especially once they realized that their weekly donations go to the Eparchy of Brooklyn rather than funding Mary Jo White’s expense account.

    There are 5 Catholic churches across the river, in Watervliet.  It is expected that the bishop willl soon close several of these.  With time, St. Ann’s could pick and choose from any one of a number of Catholic churches in the Capital Region.  I don’t know to what extent they have tried to grow their congregation, do you? 

  • Yeah, who cares about worshipping God correctly, i.e. the way that gives Him glory and which emphasizes Him rather than us? Why should we let a few little details like validity and licitness worry us? It’s not as if little fudging of details leads to outright heresies, right? And we can’t possibly make a connection that many of the priest abusers in the Scandal were liturgists who fudged the Mass themselves.

  • Thank you, Ian, for clarifying that point.  Sadly, many catholics are not aware of the ‘rules’ that govern the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Bruce Sabalaskey, details the various levels of abuse, into a document entitled: ‘Is Your Mass Valid? Liturgical Abuse’, on his web site, OurLadysWarriors.  To quote:

    These rules are officially called rubrics. These rubrics are contained in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)[1], and many clarifications have been made in other documents such as Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (Inaestimabile Donum).

    The most serious type of abuse makes the Mass “invalid.” For a Mass to be invalid, the Consecration of the Eucharist does not occur. Going to an invalid Mass is like not attending Mass at all since Jesus is not physically present via the miracle of transubstantiation[9].

    The lesser abuse is called “illicit.” These type of abuses are less serious and do not cause the failure of the Consecration of the Eucharist. There are a wide variety of these types of abuses which detract from the holiness and reverence in the Mass. However, an illicit Mass can still be a valid (as opposed to invalid) Mass.

    unquote.  Using the resources provided by Sabalaskey, I was able to successfully prevent the introduction of a planned liturgical dance, at my parish.  Undaunted, the pastor then introduced minor abuses, so subtle in nature, as to be imperceptible to the congregation.  Having read Sabalaskey’s report and the corresponding Vatican Council II documents that he references, it became painfully obvious that it was time to move on.

    Dom, I hope it is okay to link to the Sabalaskey report. 


    I strongly urge everyone to read and compare the abuses listed, to the mass they attend each week.  At the bottom of his article, he provides guidelines on how to deal with these, at the parish level.  As Mr. Sabalaskey points out,  Inaestimabile Donum and Canon Law state:

    “The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. The Second Vatican Council’s admonition in this regard must be remembered: “No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.” [Sacrosanctum Concilium] And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: “Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense.”[Paul VI, address of August 22, 1973: “L’Osservatore Romano,” August 23, 1973.]

  • There are few dioceses in this country where abuse of the liturgy (and not a few nitpicking details, but stuff that borders on invalidity and is certainly illicit) isn’t happening. None of them are in Florida. It is not some promised land. I was in Tampa a couple years ago. I went to a Sunday parish at random, located behind the Bucanneers’ stadium.

    I was treated to a display by the priest of ridiculousness. Wearing the Bucs’ colors instead of the liturgical colors, a discussion of the football season rather than the readings of the Mass, and more. I was told this priest makes sure he’s not scheduled for any Masses that conflict with football games so he can be sure not to miss any.

    This was in the same diocese in which the bishop was forced to pay a settlement for sexual harassment to his male press secretary. Where the bishop has had questions raised about questionable construction contracts going to a close friend. Where the use of perpetual adoration has been proscribed. Are all these things disconnected? No.

    And this was only one diocese. There are plenty of other Florida dioceses and such things can be found in all of them.

    Jeanne, I think you and I must have gone to different schools.