Thursday, January 08, 2004
Driving or Steering Peace, all. Depending on your own worship sensibility, Rome's forthcoming document on liturgy will be cheered or dreaded. Personally speaking, it could be as horrid as previous reports said it was, and it would remain largely irrelevant. I liken it to the action of a steering wheel in driving a car. Guidelines and crackdowns steer liturgy in a good direction. We hope. But the power and drive comes from human artistry. Good liturgy is a multi-media art form, combining music, preaching, architecture, poetry and prose, and other creative disciplines. Traditionalists can crow all they want on women giving homilies, on lay people distributing communion, or presiders making adaptations. But if the quality of worship is zilch to begin with, it would be like my daughter at the steering wheel of our parked car. You can play with the knobs and the wheel all you want, but it isn't going anywhere. Assuming that the common goal here is better liturgy -- and sometimes I wonder if the curia shares this goal -- there are concrete steps parishes and dioceses can take to kick things up a notch: - Parishes of any size should hire a qualified musician - Dioceses should sponsor annual summer institutes for church musicians, both volunteers and pros, and make it really worthwhile for people to attend. - Bishops should lead (or hire someone to lead) an annual preaching workshop for all priests. Most serious musicians I know practice a lot -- far more than clergy work on homiletic skills. I'm no schlep when it comes to music, but I gladly admit I need practice time to polish old skills and work on new ones. If only some preachers had the same attitude. I go to a good number of concerts. How many clergy listen to other preachers, eh? Certainly, I'm in a situation where I can "get by" with the same ol' same ol' when it comes to music. And I have done this at times. But I'm usually far more effective and creative when I have the stimulation of rehearsal, research, preparation, and the like. This liturgy document is apparently coming soon. Don't expect me to take it too seriously. It's not going to help the parked cars in the lot one whit.