Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Online Edition - Vol. VIII, No. 9: December 2002 - January 2003
Two books by liturgist Gabe Huck were ordered withdrawn from the catalogue of Liturgy Training Publications. Huck, the former director of LTP, was relieved of his duties last year by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. The publishing firm is owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The books, The Communion Rite at Sunday Mass (1989) and Sunday Mass Five Years From Now (2001), were withdrawn as a result of a letter from Monsignor James Moroney , director of the secretariat of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy.
He wrote that "the continued distribution of these volumes can only confuse the clergy and faithful alike at a very important catechetical moment", reported in the National Catholic Reporter (December 13).
Monsignor Moroney told NCR that "there are a large number of problems in the liturgical materials of many publishers, and they must be updated in light of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal", but he did not mention any other books that may be under review.
Huck, an outspoken promoter of liturgical innovations, neutered English and "dynamic equivalency" translation, had been general editor of the "ICEL Psalter" published by LTP in 1994 with the imprimatur of the US bishops' conference president. This radically inclusivist rendition of the Psalms was ordered withdrawn from publication by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.
The Communion Rite at Sunday Mass contains a section of bulletin inserts for "catechesis" on Huck's proposals for the liturgy. Examples of questionable practices in this book include several by now commonplace innovations, such as emphasis on "large loaves" of bread (recipe given), standing throughout the entire distribution of Communion, breakable glass Communion vessels, and non-ordained "eucharistic ministers" receiving Communion after the congregation.
"Catechesis" on Liturgy varies widely in US dioceses
Cardinal Jorge A. Medina Estévez's letter of October 25, 2001 to the USCCB, commenting on proposed American Adaptations to the IGMR, said the following:
"In cases where the Conference of Bishops is to legislate, such legislation should be truly specific, and the law intends precisely that any particular episcopal legislation on these matters be enacted in common by the Bishops of the Conference rather than being left to be determined variously in different dioceses".
At present, different interpretations of liturgical rules from one diocese to another -- a "balkanization" of the Church in the US -- is causing very serious and very widespread confusion. It is a source of grief for Catholics in dioceses where draconian measures are taken to eliminate kneeling or other traditional gestures of reverence. People are especially distressed (and perplexed) at the harshness of the directives of some bishops, and find themselves torn between their wish to obey the bishop (some bishops are invoking obedience to enforce their directives) and their profound desire to express bodily their reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
As we have said elsewhere, this is a conflict no Catholic should be forced to encounter.
Below are a few samples from the past few months:
- In Arlington there has been a crisis at Christendom College, where it has been customary to kneel at the altar rail to receive Communion. Bishop Paul Loverde objects, and has ordered the practice to cease, as he states in an article in the November 14 Arlington Catholic Herald: "...Although no one would be denied communion if he or she knelt, the proper norm is standing and any other posture is really an act of disobedience to what the liturgical discipline is providing".
- Saint Cloud Bishop John F. Kinney wrote in June 2002 that people should stand during the Eucharistic Prayer ("a 'resurrection' posture"). He said "kneeling visibly expressed reverence in former ages and other places (for example, in the medieval courts of European monarchs). Now, in our culture, standing seems to more clearly express respect and honor".
- The diocese produced a set of liturgical directives, bound for reproduction as parish resources for "catechesis", mostly written by liturgist Father Dennis Smolarski, SJ, or "based on" materials on the BCL web site. These publications freely interpret liturgical rules. (In his book Liturgical Literacy, Father Smolarski defines "liturgy" as referring "to any official form of public worship" [p.140]).
- The priests of Wichita received a communique from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and the Office of Worship in June instructing all the faithful that they "must" kneel from the Sanctus to the Great Amen and they are "encouraged" to kneel after the Agnus Dei. There are many other good signs in the communique. Father Shawn McKnight, STD, is the Director of the Office of Worship and has put together and excellent overview of the principle changes in the new liturgical instructions.
- Monterey Bishop Sylvester Ryan, in "The Sign of Unity" - a two part letter published in March on the diocesan web site, invoked his episcopal authority (saying that the GIRM "designates and empowers the diocesan bishop" to regulate the Liturgy). In the letter he forbids people to kneel after the Agnus Dei, and orders people to assume the "orans" posture ("extend the hands in the same way that the celebrant does") for the Our Father, "the opening prayer, the prayer over the gifts and the prayer after Communion". The bishop also expressly forbids genuflecting or kneeling to receive Communion.
- Lafayette Bishop William Higi wrote in his columns in May that kneeling "dissents from the mind of the Church", and "rather than reverence, the emphasis will be refusal to embrace particular law approved by the Vatican for the United States".
He expressly forbids any gesture other than a bow of the head: "A person is not to genuflect before receiving nor are they to kneel to receive. Rather, standing before the Eucharistic Minister, they are to bow their head.... If a person chooses to kneel, Eucharistic Ministers of this Diocese will be instructed to say quietly to that individual: 'the proper posture is to stand, please'".
- Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz is more liberal. He issued a letter this summer permitting Catholics in the Lincoln diocese to either kneel or stand for Communion, and he does does not forbid genuflecting.
- The Archdiocese of Boston responded to an inquiry in May, saying that communicants are free to choose their posture for receiving Holy Communion.
- Archbishop Thomas Kelly, OP of Louisville issued a directive to parishes, "New Gesture of Reverence Before Receiving Holy Communion", effective the first Sunday in Advent 2002.
An accompanying flyer from a parish expands the "catechesis" on posture of the people during Mass:
"The posture for reception of Holy Communion is to be standing. There are some who prefer to kneel to receive Holy Communion. While no one will be denied Communion if they choose to kneel, for the sake of uniformity throughout the Archdiocese, all are called to 'humble obedience'.
"Remember that we are not 'pick and choose Catholics'. If some can choose to kneel to receive Holy Communion, then why can't others choose to stand for the Eucharistic Prayer?
"The 'gesture of reverence' is a simple bow of the head before receiving the Sacred Host, and also a simple bow of the head before receiving the Precious Blood from the chalice, if one chooses this option.
"There are some who prefer a more solemn sign of reverence, such as a profound bow or a genuflection. Again, for the sake of uniformity, all are called to 'humble obedience'. We are not 'pick and choose Catholics'.
"The communicant is reminded to respond 'Amen' to the words 'The Body of Christ ... the Blood of Christ'. No other response is appropriate, such as 'Thank you' or 'I believe"'.
The directive states that "The USCCB voted that the posture is to be standing and the gesture of reverence will be a bow of the head before receiving both the Body and the Blood of Christ. The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship approved this decision.
The Louisville directive states that during the 10th century "people became so focused on the awesome reality of the presence of Christ in the consecrated Body and Blood that they believed themselves to be unworthy to receive. Awe and reverence dominated over the actual reception of Holy Communion", and it links this with other liturgical issues. "The emphasis on confession before Communion, the fast from midnight, and the age when a child could receive Holy Communion (adolescence), were just a few of the practices that supported this decline of the faithful's reception of Holy Communion".
Not so today. No longer feeling "unworthy", Catholics now "receive the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ for the world", the directive says.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary announces a new CD release of Gregorian Chants for the Four Sundays of Advent, sung by the schola (choir) of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary under the direction of Gerald W. Holbrook. For more information contact Mr. Holbrook at 405-797-7700 X28, or write to OLGS, P.O. Box 147, Denton, NE 68339.
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