Another clergyman out of touch

Did you see Fr. Kiley’s piece in the Providence Visitor this week? (If you didn’t its attached at the end of this posting.) Another example of an out of touch member of the clergy…

Perhaps before Vatican Council II, Fr. Kiley could have found, “a choir of cloistered nuns was chanting God’s praises while a priest filled the sanctuary with the aroma of incense”, but in 2005 (outside of Lefevrite communities and Domino Pizza funded churches) such a place does not exist. Perhaps if more clergy were as interested in equal liturgical rights for religious women as well as lay men and women, there might be.

Kiley also criticizes the use of tambourines, yet a quick search of the Bible shows that there are at least twelve references to the use of tambourines in celebration, including Isaiah 30v32, Exodus 15v20, 1 Samuel 18v6, Judges, 11v34, 1 Chronicles 13v8, Psalms 68v25, Psalms81v2, Psalms149v3, Psalms 150v4, Jeremiah 31v4, Exodusv20, and Judges 11v34. There are no references to organ music in the Bible. The same day as Fr. Kiley’s essay was in the Providence Visitor, the lead editorial headline was that “More Catholics need to be reading the Bible.” Perhaps Fr. Kiley should read the history of music, especially tambourines, in liturgical celebration.

Kiley also criticizes the location of the tabernacles, yet of course a cry-room that has been converted to a chapel would have a tabernacle. Any liturgist would rightfully complain if a chapel did not have a tabernacle. To the critique of the main tabernacle, any reading of the authoritative Order of the Mass shows that the altar should be in the prime spot, lectionary in the secondary spot and music albo or baptismal font in the third. The main tabernacle is not suppose to be in a spot of prime importance, at least not since Vatican Council II -forty something years ago.

An increasing number of neo-reactionaries have been drum-rolling a complaint against community-building at Mass. How sad that people view Mass to be a solitary affair between a person and a celebrant, instead of between a community, a presider, and a living God.

Fr. Kiley laments that kitchenware replaced the “precious metals” on the altar –I wonder which had a better chance of being at the first Mass, or Last Supper, the “kitchenware” of a simple carpenter or gold chalices?

Bells? Any student of liturgical history knows that the bells were introduces into the Mass at a time when the Mass was not in vernacular and so people’s attention strayed…the bells were a call to pay attention. The parish on the “far-out coast” does not sound as if it needs artificial reminders to pay attention; it seems to me that the congregation must have been very attentive to know when to “join with the priest in reciting the final solemn words of the Canon: ‘through Him, with Him, and in Him.’

How sad it is to read a member of the clergy write with such disdain for a community that obviously has embraced the joy of Christ, embraced the Christ in all of us. How sad it is to read a member of the clergy write with such distain for the laity who serve a Eucharistic Ministers. Christ says that everything that you do unto each other you do to me, yet Fr. Kiley says “Hands reached out toward one another in community; they were never once folded in a gesture of adoration.” Its seems to me that any hands reached out in community ARE a gesture of adoration.

Fr. Kiley concludes his litany of complaints about saints with the sigh… “Clergy and laity co-chaired the whole exercise; the priest’s unique action in the person of Christ took a back seat.” And yet, how great that a community could come together and the presider could set his ego aside and preside instead of be the center of everything. How lucky this parish is to have such a strong, holy man to be their pastor. “And the saddest aspect of this [Fr. Kiley’s] liturgical” rant? “The people loved it”, yet he couldn’t see the beauty of it.

Kiley’s Quiet Corner: (i.e., the rant)
My vacation took me to the far west or maybe I should write the far-out west. Perhaps somewhere on the Pacific coast, a choir of cloistered nuns was chanting God’s praises while a priest filled the sanctuary with the aroma of incense. It was my ill fortune to encounter congregations celebrating life with a piano-guitar-tambourine back-up. First of all, in the churches I attended, I had to ask the location of the tabernacle. One tabernacle was placed in the wall of a former cry-room, now used as a daily Mass chapel. Another tabernacle, a magnificent wooden structure maybe seven feet tall, was solitary in a darkened room. Ironically, huge baptismal fonts were typically visible at the church door. One parish even had the Book of the Gospels displayed in the tabernacle’s former locale! The “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys” that used to be on the lips of Catholics as they recollected themselves before Mass have sadly disappeared. A merry hubbub was enjoyed by parishioners arriving for Mass and inquiring over the pews: “How’s the new job?”; “Who’s the kid’s new teacher?”; “Is Mary out of the hospital?” Building community has eliminated the former focus on the Divine Presence. The celebrant entered, attired in alb and stole. A chasuble would have been too clerical. The Mass began with an invitation for everyone to turn to the neighbor and offer a friendly greeting. The Penance rite was replaced by a brief consideration on how grateful the assembly should be for God’s gifts. The Service of the Word with a folksy but decent homily passed without incident. The innovative Creed was actually a modified renewal of Baptismal vows. The congregation dutifully answered “We do” when asked if they believed in God the Creator, God the Redeemer and God the Sanctifier. In lieu of the general intercessions, persons celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other memorable occasions were invited to come and stand at the altar and receive the community’s recognition. Kitchenware replaced precious metals as the altar was prepared for the memorial meal. As one might have guessed, the entire congregation stood during the Eucharistic Prayer. (The deliberate lack of kneelers ensured this.) Of course, there were no bells. The assembly joined with the priest in reciting the final solemn words of the Canon: “through Him, with Him, and in Him,” and then redundantly sang “Amen” to reaffirm what they had just declared. During the Lord’s Prayer, small children were invited to the altar to form a circle of hands with the celebrant. It was so cute. The remainder of the congregation held hands across pews and across aisles in a “hands across America” gesture that has become the hallmark of the caring and sharing generation. The “deliver us, Lord” was skipped so the whole assembly could raise their held hands high and conclude the “Our Father” in Protestant fashion: “for the kingdom, the power and the glory.” The Sign of Peace is better imagined than described. Filene’s Basement on the day after Christmas could not be more hectic. Needless to say, about a dozen extraordinary ministers of Communion approached the altar during the Lamb of God, formed a semi-circle behind the priest, a la concelebration, and then received Communion simultaneously with the priest. The congregation continued to stand until a lay person (of course) returned the residual hosts to the quarantined tabernacle. The celebrant concluded the Mass by not concluding the Mass. The Mass does not end, we were reminded. It continues in our daily lives. When Christ instituted the Eucharist, he commissioned his disciples: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Very little of the liturgical action out west evoked the memory of Jesus Christ. The entire liturgy was an exercise in self-promotion. Persons greeted one another in neighborly concern but there was no hush acknowledgment of the Divine Presence. Persons stood erect in affirmation of their own dignity; they never once knelt in recognition of God’s transcendence. Glass and ceramic vessels spoke of their workaday world; gold and silver would have connoted something much too otherworldly. Hands reached out toward one another in community; they were never once folded in a gesture of adoration. Clergy and laity co-chaired the whole exercise; the priest’s unique action in the person of Christ took a back seat. And the saddest aspect of this liturgical embarrassment? The people loved it.

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