Liturgical catechesis and the faithful
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    From the Cantor Announcement thread-
    "The faithful are not idiots who don't know what is going on at mass."

    There's a supremely Bill Paxton line from the film "ALIENS" that bubbled up when I read this line. (Caution, I mean neither to discredit M.Jackson Osborn or to imply a contrary opinion to his.) In the first combat scene of that film between the Marines and the aliens, the Marines retreat to safety. In response to his captain's apparent befuddlement and inability to lead, Paxton's character cries out "I don't know if you've been keeping up with current events, but we just got our *sses kicked."
    To be fair, I feel that "the faithful" in the quote requires some sort of qualifier: the "faithful" where Mr. Osborn worships; the faithful who are evidently and apparently fully engaged in the rituals of liturgy universally, etc.
    In the real world that I observe daily and weekly, locally and elsewhere, the "faithful" certainly are not idiots, but they are severely and systematically malnourished in their intellectual comprehension of the practice of the faith, when you encounter massive dysfunction at both the group and individual levels at liturgy, or in personal encounters.
    How else can we explain the utterly demonstrable poll numbers that indicate only a minority of RC's confidence in the Real Presence over the last few decades? How else can you explain the laissez faire attitudes that even very churched RC's demonstrate regarding the Sunday Obligation? How else can we explain the other un-catholic social outcomes in modern culture, such as the overwhelming majority of RC presidential votes last November cast for Mr. Obama?
    I watched Archbishop Burke on "The World Over" this last episode lay it all out for all to see clearly. We've got hard data on which bishops in this nation have put forth missives to their flocks on various ecclesial concerns, and moreso, how many HAVE NOT.
    Father Z's first reflection, post ND graduation, was basically a reiteration of "save the Liturgy, save the world."
    But if and when we musicians wade into our RCIA and RE programs, you will find at the culmination of these one or two year "finishing" programs, many adults and adolescents who cannot articulate the basics of our catechism, articulate the sequence of ritual actions, much less theological understanding of our rituals, etc. You can find many 15-17 year olds who, a month before their "participation" in their own Confirmations, have never been to confession. And Lord help us all, are unable to formulate an answer of "why not?" to that reality.
    Rather than drag this post out as I'm wont to do- I simply chalk this up to a lack of oversight and accountability. Should a priest or a bishop complain after one of these culminating sacramental liturgies about this or that, do you think they hold up mirrors and look into their own eyes, or is more likely that fingers are pointed towards some scapegoat nebulae and words such as "Well, things could be worse." are muttered and then the whole affair forgotten until the next year comes 'round.
    I am not pointing my bony finger of indignation at anyone or group in particular. I do believe that we who are stewards of the faith in various capacities should not assume, presume, bloviate or denigrate the sensibilities and personhood of the "faithful." We should teach them the fullness of truth as we know it to be in our domains; and somehow "demand" the same of all the leadership, lay and clerical, to be so bold and thorough.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Excellent post. This forum is not specifically designed for broad theological discussion, or the failures of bishops and pastors to lead their flocks, but we who serve the Church through music must remember that the Ultimate Aim stands at the end of the roads we travel. I, for one, appreciate reminders like this one that we simply MUST be a part of catechesis if we expect our liturgical praxis to improve. I am sure that some particular congregations are smarter than the average bear, and do not need coddling and gesturing and announcements and all that (and what lucky musicians to work in such places! No place is paradise, of course, but most of us envy you guys cheerfully). On the other hand, the practice of the Catholic faith has been so watered down or even abandoned in so many places that several generations, in some locales, cannot understand any genuine difference between Gregorian chant and "Eagles Wings", or why a priest should/could face the altar instead of the nave, or when it is appropriate to bow/kneel/stand, or when to cover statues, or how long it takes to teach a group of children to really sing. This is all part of a larger cultural cancer, too, mostly beyond our control, but Charles writes well that we should do all in our power to help, teach and lead. In my humble little music teacher position, I just try to introduce chant at its most beautiful, and teach the children to appreciate their little voices as gifts from God, to be used well and beautifully.
  • 1. Liturgy: show and exemplify
    2. Catechesis: introduce and explain
    3. Keep these rigorously separate, especially keeping catechesis out of the liturgy.
    4. Don't catechize too thoroughly or too long before an actual liturgical experience. Understanding apart from the thing being understood is oxymoronic.
    5. Dont' fall into the trap of implying (or, God forbid, stating) that intelligibility leads inexorably to (or is the only source of) deep appreciation and prayerful understanding. This is the besetting flaw in the historiography, ecclesiology, and liturology of the Novus Ordo.
    6. Assume a capacity to learn rather than give in to passivity: imagine the concept of a 'highest common aspiration' as the opposite of the proverbial 'least common denominator'.
    7. Inspire rather than simply 'prove'.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Mr. Page,

    Would you e-mail me? dallasgambrell [at] hotmail [dot] com.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    Charles: "we who are stewards of the faith ... should teach them"

    So how many of us teach?

    What do we teach to the choir at rehearsals?
    What do we teach to the parishioners via the weekly bulletin?
    What do we teach to the Religious Ed students (of whatever age group)?
  • Charles in CenCA
    Posts: 2,416
    Dear eft94530,
    I'm a bit dense. Seriously.
    Were those rhetorical questions?
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Even if you have no idea what's going on at Mass... you can still pray, so long as the liturgy is beautiful, rather than distracting.

    I am a catechumen in the Orthodox church, and while I knew a lot of theology and such, it was the Orthodox liturgy that drew me in, and all the catechism came later on. Now, one's liturgy is the expression of one's faith--while good liturgy cannot be the only reason one joins a church (there are lots of beautiful liturgical churches with dead faith lives inside), that liturgy represents, symbolically, all their beliefs in a much more fundamental way than canons and catechisms. They're interrelated, faith and liturgy... I believe that the lack of faith in many churchgoing Catholics has contributed to whack liturgy, and whack liturgy has contributed to the lack of faith...

    How to fix it has to be twofold also then, both liturgically and catechetically, otherwise whatever is not attended to will already start wearing down what you're trying to build up.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 990
    Well, eft, in another part of my life I teach RCIA. So we have a LOT of things we cover regarding the wonderful Traditions of the church, including Liturgy. But it's mostly introductory and overview, it's not like we get into various forms of music.

    I've learned a lot from this Forum that I can bring into the RCIA class. It'll be interesting if we could talk about both OF and EF next year.....