Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Taking action The point being, when something terribly wrong goes on at your parish, what can you do about it? I would agree that lay people should educate themselves on good liturgy. Reading from a wide variety of sources, not just comfortable pet positions, is essential. Joining a parish liturgy committee can be an effective way to reach influential people. In my parish, few (but not zero) parishioners accept the general invitation to assist in the planning of homilies, liturgical seasons, and setting "liturgy policy," the latter occurring through our worship ministry team. Committees can easily be an abject waste of time. But as inefficient as they can be, consider the extreme unlikelihood of an individual swaying a priest to an opposite viewpoint. Maybe committees are unworkable from where you sit. But it's less likely an active lay person will be the personal liturgical adviser for your parish. Nor would we want such a role. Another option is to gather like-minded parishioners and pray. Pray the rosary. Pray the Hours. Pray whatever devotion you would like to pray, applying good liturgical principles that perhaps the rest of your parish ignores. A crusader should have a set of reasonable expectations, otherwise frustration and anger will result when the world doesn't respond to your crusading insight. Beware: this point is not a cop-out, not unless you believe the only way into heaven is to make a martyr of yourself in your parish. A fruitful crusader must be able to pick and choose battles, hopefully ones that are doable, if not winnable. Your favorite "heretic" presider may well have abuses documented in the hundreds. Do you have a reasonable hope of changing them all? Look at it from his point of view. "Even when I change one or two things to suit the rubricists, there's always something more they want from me. What good does it do?" Ultimately, a person must make a choice when things grow intolerable. I've never left a parish because the church was carpeted. But I did leave a parish because the liturgy committee grew totally at odds with a reluctant staff. We quit en masse just after Holy Week. Of course I would have been leaving town anyway that year to begin full-time ministry, but it was unlikely I would be staying at this parish, given the proclivity to take matters out of the hands of a competent laity and do silly things (like two separate Easter Vigils: Spanish and English). The average parish dwells far, far from the land of heresy and invalidity. Such claims strike me as extreme, and while I have no doubt these things do exist, that they are repeated so often seems to be a retelling of the Boy Who Cried Wolf than a news expose.

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