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Liturgy: Means or End?

28 January, 2015 0 Comments

By Peter Kwasniewski, New Liturgical Movement, November 2014

Editor’s Comment: I received this some time ago (you’ll note it refers to events toward the end of 2014) and have been vacillating about whether to post it. (Happily the issues are not time-critical.) In the end I decided to, not because I believe the author sustains his thesis with absolute conviction – I have considerable sympathy with the commentators on the article, whom I strongly suggest you read – but because it raises some important points.

If you want my five cents’ worth, I think the problem lies in identifying liturgy as a means to a HUMAN end, such as creating unity among worshippers or bringing people into the Church. Worthy though these aims may be, they are not the point of liturgy.

The broader questions of whether the encounter with Christ Incarnate should best be seen as a means to the Glory of God, or whether the Sacrifice of Calvary, and hence that of the Mass, is primarily a means of securing our salvation, I am content to regard as above my pay grade.

Catholics today might sometimes be struck by the passionate conviction of the younger generation of Catholics who are fighting for the cause of the Sacred Liturgy. It is as if we are fighting for dear life, in a struggle to the bitter end, against our mortal enemies. The reason is simple: we are doing exactly that.

The Sacraments. Source: New Liturgical Movement

It is no exaggeration to say that there is a fundamentally false view out there, very popular nowadays, as captured in this paragraph from Whispers from the Loggia of November 24:

The office’s [i.e., Congregation for Divine Worship’s] new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis’ own liturgical approach—as one op summarized its principles: “Go by the book. Don’t make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy’s always a means to an end—not an end in itself.”

That’s the error in a nutshell: the liturgy is a means, not an end.

<read on>

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Looking to the East

10 January, 2015 0 Comments

By Lyle Dunne.

There has been extensive debate about which of the liturgical “reforms” was the most significant: that abandonment of Latin; new and multiple Eucharistic prayers; the abandonment of aids to focus on the significance of the Eucharist like altar rails, Communion on the tongue and kneeling; the new cycle of readings…

Personally I’ve always thought the idea of orientation was crucial: abandoning the symbolism of a congregation praying together, through the priest, to go, in favour of a symbolism of a closed conversation among the human participants.

Ad Orientem (Photo:

I’ve just received a link to the website of the Church of the Resurrection in Lansing, Michigan, wherein it is disclosed that they have decided to say the (Novus Ordo) Mass ad orientam. I’ve pinched a couple of paras from their website, because I have a feeling that it won’t be on the front page indefinitely:

Praying Ad Orientem

Why We Are Praying Toward The (Liturgical) East At Mass – Read more here

On the First Sunday of Advent 2014, the Church of the Resurrection began celebrating the (Novus Ordo) Mass ad orientem. What that means is that at times during the Mass, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest and the people face in the same direction, toward the “Liturgical East.” This change followed a period of catechesis and preparation that began two years earlier, when we reflected together on the powerful symbolism of praying toward the  East. Inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, we began using what is often called the “Benedictine Altar Arrangement.” We placed six candles on the altar, with a crucifix in the center, to help remind us by the very manner of our prayer that we are not praying to each other but rather to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The recent change to celebrating ad orientem is helping us accomplish this goal even more fully.


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The Teen Genius Who Set the Faith to Music

8 November, 2014 0 Comments

by R. J. Stove, reprinted by kind permission of the UK Catholic Herald.

Mendelssohn’s extraordinary Catholic-inspired works

O for a beaker-full of the warm South – John Keats

Even the freakishly well-read Felix Mendelssohn (he used the double-barrel appellation ‘Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’ with reluctance, when he used it at all) seems not to have known Keats’s poems. But Italy exercised over the composer, as over the poet, an irresistible magnetic pull. During 1830, the year he turned 21, he ceased his efforts at defying it. To his father Abraham, without whom the trip would have remained financially impossible, Felix wrote from Venice in October:

This is Italy! And now has begun what I have always thought… to be the supreme joy in life. And I am loving it. Today was so rich that now, in the evening, I must collect myself a little, and so I am writing to you to thank you, dear parents, for having given me all this happiness.

No stranger to foreign parts (he had already made that voyage to Scotland which moved him to compose The Hebrides overture), the young Mendelssohn prepared himself for Italian climes with typically self-punitive thoroughness. By the time he ventured from home, he had acquired a knowledge of Catholicism’s sacred music – Palestrina’s, above all – which, even then, put many an actual Catholic to the blush. Still more striking is the hold which Catholic culture had already begun to exercise upon his creative imagination when he had not yet left his teens. (more…)

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Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner – and Feel a Bit Ambivalent About the Synod

30 October, 2014 2 Comments

by Lyle Dunne

…it struck me that this proposal to wink at widespread sacrilegious communion could not have been made, let alone widely accepted, without fifty years of bad liturgy

So the Synod is over – for this year – and the forces of darkness have apparently been put to rout.

I have enough faith not to feel relief at avoiding the apparent dangers of the Church reversing its ancestral teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, or declaring homosexual acts to be not sinful after all. But I was relieved that we didn’t adopt “language” indicating that we didn’t really mean those teachings – or not as much as we used to.

For this, I believe, we have (from the human perspective) Cardinal Kasper to thank.

Mugged by Reality? (Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters)


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Mercy vs truth? a Response to Fr McGavin

2 October, 2014 1 Comment

By Lyle Dunne.

One could perhaps speak of a “marriage” having ended – but not a “marriage” in the main Catholic sense:  not the sacrament.

This is a companion piece to in The Family Synod and Practical Atheism, and contains a slightly more detailed response to the article by Father McGavin.

I may as well begin by nailing my colours to the mast.

When people say “You only believe this because you’re a Catholic”, I think the best response is something like this:

“You’re probably right. If I were like most people these days, I’d probably just work out what I wanted to do and retro-fit a rationale. But I belong to a tradition which teaches that the truth is knowable by reason, that moral truth is real and we have a duty to use our intellects to discover it.

“Catholics don’t spend their time arguing that the evidence of our senses can’t be trusted, or the rules of inference are arbitrary. We don’t hold that an all-powerful God can contradict Himself if he likes.

“As GK Chesterton might’ve said, Catholicism is more rational than rationalism.”


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