Friday, June 23, 2006
Finding Sacrifice on the "Platform"
Over the years, I've been exposed to much of what "KCKPriest" described in a comment on the "Lesson" thread below. I don't think his question is out-of-bounds:
How often is the Holy Mass used as a platform or background for something else, like a graduation or the nationalism of patriotic songs(?)But I would take more care around an underlying assumption that the liturgy is necessarily sullied by its association with a national expression, a graduation, or some non-sacramental (or even sacramental, perhaps, as in the case of a wedding or funeral) event. I would presume that one of our "modern accretions" such as a home Mass, or the co-scheduling of a commencement with the Eucharist more tightly weaves such "background" into the sacrifice of the liturgy. Vatican II (in Sacrosanctum Concilium 37) makes provision for such platforms:
"Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit."The question I have is a more grave one in regard to what the including of a graduation at Mass does to the graduation rather than to the Mass. Naturally, as a liturgist, I have great faith in the efficacy of the Eucharistic celebration. Over the years, I've come to see the Mass as far more durable than I did in the past. Some of this is due in part to the personal mistakes I've imparted here and there. The liturgy still works in spite of the human imperfections. I've come to recognize that any invocation of God's grace is bound to be more pervasive than we mortals could possibly imagine. The presider's invitation to "Lift up your hearts" implies that the offering of sacrifice extends beyond bread and wine. Casual Catholics might not think twice about "platforming" at Mass. But maybe they should. First, such "offerings" no longer are our personal ones. At its core, the Mass is a public and communal celebration (SC 26). The inclusion of a graduation, for example, implies that we no longer have a simple gaggle of Catholic graduates taking leave of an educational institution. By ritual, they have placed not only their own long struggle for achievement, but the future for which they hope, in sacrifice to the Father. Some people undoubtedly snatch their diplomas and futures back, if they ever let go of them at all. But for the willing cooperator with God's grace, we believe something will come of such sacrifice. Not only have the offerings become public, as well as a public expression, they have also been turned over to God. In my most recent experience of a home Mass, my friends "got it," in the sense that they truly knew that the act of consecrating their home involved a sacrifice to God. The "intention" of that Mass had great meaning. But such intentions are not solely dependent on the human action of "getting it." If we accept God's grace as omnipotent, pervasive, and even sneaky, we must also accept that our "platforms" are far more susceptible to "corruption" than the Mass itself. Rather than give us free license to make the liturgy a free-for-all, I'd say that on many occasions, we should be asking of our national songs, our marriages, our funerals, our special events: do we really want to do this?