instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, December 04, 2009

History lesson

There's an excellent, month-old interview online at U.S. Catholic with the well-known (meaning I've heard of him (pretty sure I own one of his books)) historian of Church liturgy, Fr. Robert Taft, SJ.

Some bits of it:
When I was a kid, pastors did everything they could to get people to go to Communion on Sunday. They had Men's Sunday, Women's Sunday, Family Sunday, Knights of Columbus Sunday-whatever they could do to get people to go to Communion at least once a month.
I hadn't thought that those things were done to get people to receive Communion. Maybe that's one of the reasons they have so completely disappeared now that Catholics have learned to receive at every Mass.
As I've said more than once, I have never understood why people who have never manifested the slightest creativity in any other aspect of their human existence all of the sudden think they're Shakespeare or Mozart when it comes to the liturgy.
This sounds controversial:
The best thing about [the liturgical reform following Vatican II] is that people have come once again to pray the prayer of the church rather than praying during it, which is, without any doubt, the result of celebrating the liturgy in the vernacular.
I do think there's a selection bias at work when Latin advocates say you can follow right along in your missal. Surely the Church should consider not only what can be done, but also what will be done, to include what was done.

Other successes he identifies are the restoration of the Liturgy of the Hours and of RCIA in parishes (the latter, at least, sounds controversial too).

Some more bits, quoted without comment:
What you get out of the liturgy is the privilege of glorifying almighty God. If you think it's about you, stay at home. It's not about you. It is for you, but it's not about you.
Catholics need to stop tinkering with the liturgy. They need to take it the way it is and celebrate it as well as possible. If they do that, the problems will disappear.
The two places that the Church has left to our creativity, the homily and the prayers of intercession following the readings, are the two places where our liturgies are generally irredeemably awful. If you want to be creative, devote your creativity to the places where the liturgy allows it.
(Link via dotCommonweal, which features a comment quoting Fr. Taft's reaction to being called a liturgist: "Don't call me a liturgist -– a liturgist tells somebody when to start playing the guitars. I am a historian.")