Saturday, May 16, 2009

Food for thought - how will we handle the changes in the Mass?

Just catching up after being gone a few days - and found this post in Jerry Galipeau's blog thought-provoking. He is looking at it from the perspective of a musician and composer, and as a result, the suggestions include things like having people immediately sing rather than say the new texts... not sure yet about that.

I am convinced, after watching how many parishes (my own included) did not make the last round of changes in posture, that nothing will happen or it will happen poorly until the priests step up to the challenge and lead. One of the most important groups to reach with catechesis about the whys and wherefores will be the pastors. If they can explain it, model it, and expect it, the people will catch on. If, on the other hand, they feel the changes are silly or cannot explain them well, people may well pick the path of least resistance and continue with the practices they have been familiar with for years.

So, who will instruct the clergy? Clearly it is the responsibility of the local bishop. It will be interesting to see how well this plays out across the country.


  1. Consider the recent history of bishops and their clergy: zero tolerance, more burdens, less support, and the consideration that in the cathedral parish, the rector or the music director will be on the hot seat five minutes before Mass on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. Not the bishop.

    Bishops convincing the clergy to do this well: this is the weak link in the whole plan. And if lay people keep saying the old responses or just cross their arms and say nothing at all? Who's going to stop the liturgy till it gets done "right?"

    South Africa should be a wake-up call. But it won't be.


  2. Hi, Todd - long time no speak!

    That's indeed my fear. The average Catholic will certainly resist change if it is not explained, expected and modeled well. Bishops may or may not be individually equipped or desire to make this happen well.

    My point is, the only way this transition will be successful is if there are good local plans for implementation that includes appropriate education for clergy... and, I would add, for parish liturgy committees and catechetical leaders as well. Ideally, I believe this should involve the diocesan liturgy office and the catechetical office.

    If that process is not effective, individual liturgy committees and parish musicians who are knowledgeable and actually give a hoot will bear the burden... or the changes will be, as you described, ignored.

    Again, I do think education for the clergy is a big factor in this - people simply don't read bulletin articles and inserts and then change what they have been doing at Mass for years. Catechesis will need to take place during Mass (when they are the captive audience)supported by good materials in the bulletins. The USCCB prepared decent online bulletin materials for the last round of changes - but locally they were never promoted and many parishes did not know of them or use them.

    It's time for bishops to step up to the challenge to catechize well. Otherwise, the changes will be mandated with little explanation... and received just as poorly as was the last round.