Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Numchuck skills, liturgical skills..."

I have come to realize recently that while it is so enormously important to conform to proper liturgical rubrics, it is also very important that the execution of the rubrics be done with skill and grace. What good is it to have a choir chanting Gregorian chant if they cannot sing in key? Or a priest using the universal language of the Church if he stumbles over any Latin word with more than two syllables? How about sloppily dressed altar boys, priests with their albs on crooked and wristwatches showing while they are holding up the Sacred Host at the elevation? How about the choir rehearsing before Mass and interrupting people trying to pray? How about sound systems that continually malfunction causing the priest to have to dash away into the sacristy in the middle of the liturgy to try to fix the problem?

Fortunately, these things seldom happen at my parish, but I see them happen all of the time in other places. Even if we do get the liturgy right, let's make sure we do it good! It is not worth doing something unless you are going to set your mind to doing it with excellence and beauty. Of course, the Mass has an intrinsic value apart from how well it is executed. But from a pastoral standpoint (and everybody wants to be "pastoral" these days!), whether or not a liturgy is done with excellence is of tremendous importance. It is the beauty of the Tridentine rite that so many say they miss when comparing it with the Novus Ordo, and it is that same beauty that will attract people back to the traditional rite. As Dostoevsky once said, "Beauty will save the world." So, to all of us who may in one way or another be involved in liturgical matters, or may be offering the Holy Sacrifice, let's bone up on our liturgical skills and do this thing right if we are going to do it at all.

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