My post, below, about possible changes in the Mass, drew an interesting comment from a parishioner. I found the comment thought-provoking and started writing a response; eventually, I decided it deserved a separate post.
I'm not putting this comment out here to criticize it; others may be more critical than I am, that's up to you. My own response will follow. I'm not "debating" or arguing with what "Anonymous" said--my comments aren't a "rebuttal"--but a "response," which allows for the very likely possibility that Anonymous may agree with, or at least find fruitful, what I say. Or not! S/he can speak for her/himself.
Here's the thing: a lot of folks likely see things as Anonymous does. And there are folks who genuinely advocate just plowing ahead, and folks like Anonymous will have to come around. I've been accused, rightly or wrongly (I think wrongly, but who knows, I could be wrong!), of favoring that approach. In any case, I'm more interested in trying to be reasonable, to discuss the matter, and maybe win folks over, at least somewhat. In any case, I liked this comment, even if I don't see things the same way, and I thought perhaps sharing it, and my response, might be edifying:
What goes around, comes around. I find I am now reacting as those who 40 some years ago reacted negatively to the then changes of the Mass. I found the changes of the past uplifting, freeing and a means to better worship Our Father, Son and Spirit in heaven.
Now, I find myself wanting to keep things as they have been since those changes. I am acting as the naysayers of the past have. I do not want to go back to Latin, to the priest facing away from us, or receiving communion on the tongue.
The most disheartening part of all this for me, is not that the changes are occurring, but that they are happening with a blame on the past changes as being done erroneously.
I believe the Holy Spirit was working in the church then as she is now. I feel for the priests who are stuck in the middle of doing what they are told, even if the parishoners don't agree.
I liked the idea that I was more a part of my church and it's worship, than a mere observer and found that my reverence at and for the Mass was intensified when those long ago changes were made. I am balking at the changes now, because that is something I don't want to lose.
Somewhere, there is a midpoint and that is where I have to believe the Spirit is leading us. Feelings are not wrong, they just are and can't or shouldn't be denied or explored. It is ok to feel the changes are not good for oneself or the church and to speak that opinion. Granted the church is not a democracy where we get a vote in how things should be, but it is not a dictatorship either - or at least I feel it shouldn't be.
God wants us to come to Him, but to come to Him with love, happiness and peace, not with a scorecard of following every directive that comes out of the parish office, the diocesan office, or even the Vatican without thinking. He gave us free will for a reason. He wants the love that we return to Him to come from that free will, not written directives and prohibitions.
The church is important in the formation of the free will, but it is not the only influence that we need to consider. The church has never been and will never be perfect. It is striving to be so, as am I. But, I do not feel I am less in my striving by disagreeing with whether or not I say the word Yahweh or not.
I know I have touched on a lot of sore subjects in our current day church, and I can see a lot of hairs rising on the backs of some necks, but I felt I needed to say them.
I realize that this is your blog, Father, but by putting it out there, you are asking for feedback, and this is all this is. Yes I am a member of your parish and one who proudly graduated the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program of our diocese, and I truly feel for how you have to put up with people like me. But, all I am asking is that you not throw those of us who are having a hard time with the changes under the bus. I do not feel that is your intent, and just ask for your patience as we cope with thigs that are being taken from us without our consent.
I am glad you posted, and I like what you said and the way you presented it; I don't know that we see 100% eye-to-eye, but I don't see that you expect that; I don't.
A few thoughts come to mind, in no particular order, but perhaps it will of interest. I don't offer them as if I'm rebutting you; for all I know, you may largely agree with much of what of this. It's just what came to mind, and I thought I'd share in response:
> My own thinking and response to a lot of these issues has changed quite a bit since I entered the seminary, and since ordination. And that isn't because the seminary persuaded me to see things just as I do; in some ways, my own views have developed in different directions from my seminary training.
That's not a criticism of the seminary; just a detail that may counter any notion that I'm "doing what they tell me" or rigid or unthoughtful about it. (None of which you said; but I know some do say that.)
> There is a certain amount of "conversion" that takes place, and I hope everyone involved is open to that. As I say, I've changed my own views; and--this may surprise you, but--I can't say I "prefer" offering Mass in Latin. There are things about the experience I find very meaningful; and yet it has been difficult. It felt very strange, indeed, the first few times. I had to get past that.
When I began offering a weekday Mass in Latin, it was after people came to me, asking for it. Yes, it was something I thought worth doing; but I waited until it was asked for--and at that point, I think it was justified for that reason alone: if it meets their needs, how can anyone reasonably say, no, refuse them? They didn't make an unreasonable request--I think they should be heard.
Of course, someone may say, but what about those who don't like Latin?
My response would be, that they get their way the vast majority of the time. Of six weekend Masses, three are supposed to "never" have Latin. I put "never" in quotes, because I think I'd be a bit rigid to "forbid" it; and yet in practice, you will almost never hear a word of Latin at 4 pm, 5 pm, and 7 am, some at 9 am, and a little at 10:30 or Noon. The only "Latin" Mass is once a month, on Wednesday morning. And all this sidesteps what Vatican II actually said about including Latin in the Mass--which I'll leave for another day. But Vatican II never sought it's exclusion.
> I hear what you're saying about "blame the past." If my own approach has come across that way, I appreciate the feedback; that's not really my aim.
Let me try this: folks ask, as I'm sure you know, why is this happening? May will say, "but what about Vatican II"--meaning, as I take it, that they are under the impression that these "new" things somehow are contrary to Vatican II.
Well then a clarification is necessary. They are quite right to be concerned if their pastor seems hostile to Vatican II; and insofar as that conclusion is based on incorrect information, then fairness both to the Council, and to me, requires clarification about just what the Council did--and did not--say and do.
Yes, there are those who will explain the implementation of the Council in terms of "blame": you'll hear people say that people with an agenda "hijacked" the Council and took it where they, not the Council, wanted to go.
Well, as a matter of history, that's a fair question to debate. And I understand why some people say that. It may be an uncomfortable topic, and people may approach it with too much heat--but it's a fair question to examine, to see what the facts really bear out.
But what "blame" is being applied, is to bishops, theologians, the pope, etc.--not to the faithful who, after all, were responding to message they heard from the bishops and priests.
When I discuss this with folks, I often realize a nerve is hit: folks who basically are saying, "it was you (the clergy) who told us this; now you're telling me something different!" People listened, people trusted and followed, and I don't blame them if they are puzzled or hurt.
All that said, wouldn't it be unreasonable to expect that the first attempt to carry out the Council should stand unchallenged forever? After all, no one then claimed they were going to do a perfect job of implementing the Council. It would be entirely unreasonable to expect them to get it 100% right, even with the very best of intentions.
So it is only to be expected that at some point, someone will come along and look at what they did, and take a fresh look, and, yes, suggest different things.
To me, that's what's happening now.
Pope Benedict, in his "Spirit of the Liturgy," (written before he was pope), in critiquing the actual carrying-out of the Council and calling for changes, still was very clear in supporting the Council and the need for change. He was there, and part of it; and he was not one of the bitter-enders, on the "losing" side.
Not that you, yourself, are saying this, but: would not be terribly unreasonable for someone to say, that subject is closed, no one can revisit this? I take your reflective comments to acknowledge that that would, indeed, be unreasonable.
In other words, somehow we all must be able to approach this and say, how we celebrate the Mass, in light of Vatican II, cannot be a frozen, closed topic--we have to be open to "new" insights, including those that come from our great Tradition. After all, if there is one thing Vatican II was definitely not about is devaluing or dismissing everything prior. So "old" truths are at least as valuable as "new" ones, I think.
> You asked that I be patient. I agree, and I am trying. I'm trying to go slow. But here's the wrinkle; if bigger changes are really coming down the pike, I'm not necessarily doing our parishes a favor by a holding pattern. On the contrary, if and when they come, they will seem even more shocking than they will seem, if I've prepared the way.
> By the way, I don't feel I'm "putting up" with you or folks like you. Since you're anonymous, I can only react to what you wrote here--which I liked, even if I have a different view. Your approach is encouraging, not frustrating. What has been frustrating, even "agonizing," as I said in my original post, is when there seems to be no compromise, no flexibility possible.
Example: I've had people who said I was wrong even to offer a weekday Mass in Latin, for those who requested it. One person was so angry as to be insulting to me about it. Puzzling! I've had people say, very angrily, that Latin must never, ever be used in Mass; and I'm told some left the parish over that.
That is agonizing, because I'm left wondering, what "middle ground" is possible? Those who react negatively to Latin--without finding fault, isn't it fair to ask, should they have a veto? Others like it and find it edifying; don't their wishes count too? And words like "demand" and "never" don't help, it seems to me.
Meanwhile, the larger question remains: the Church is trying to be faithful to the Mass, to our Tradition--and we believe the Holy Spirit has spoken through all that, the entire tradition, including Vatican II. So Pope Benedict and the bishops are looking, reflecting, and adjusting; and when it filters down to the parish, it shows up in the sorts of changes you refer to.
So what do we do?
Well, that's enough for now, I have to go lead the Bible Study! But you got me thinking, Anonymous, and I appreciate it!