Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

“It’s all about US!”: of Pastoral Plans and Eucharistic songs

Cardinal Pole has an interesting post on his blog analysing Bishop Ingham’s announcement of The Diocese of Wollongong’s Pastoral Planning process.

I am pretty “ho-hum” about these measures. “Pastoral Planning”, and all the energy that goes into it, often seems like a diversion from the real work of actually pastoral ministry. Whenever I hear someone say that “we need to pause, take stock and consider our journey ahead”, I wonder: Who’s got the time to pause? There’s too much work to be done! When you are in the business of evangelisation, you don’t have the luxury of being able to shut the shop doors for a stock-take.

That being said, the other thing that bugs me about “pastoral plans” is that they always seem to be full of pious waffle describing more or less what we are already doing – and thus they become moments of self-affirmation rather than a kairos of repentance and purification. This is, of course, where Cardinal Pole comes into the picture with this excellent comment:

Centred on the Eucharist

Where all should be welcomed, where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed, where we are nourished by Word and Sacrament, and where our mission is renewed.

[http://www.dow.org.au/pastoralplanning/key-documents/dow-pastoral-planning/pp-theological-principles]

One might see “Centred on the Eucharist” and think ‘ah, good—centred on the Eucharist means centred on God, which is as it should be’. But notice how, as they say, ‘it’s all about us’—about “our pain”, “our brokenness” (whatever that means; more on this shortly), “where we are nourished”? How Holy Mass is considered not as a Sacrifice of adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and impetration and therefore directed to and focused on God, but as a sort of group therapy whither we can all go for ‘affirmation’ (especially evident where it says “where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed”, so that we indulge ourselves in our own imagined victimhood, distracting us from the true Victim on Whom our entire attention should be focused at Mass)? So ‘Centred on the Eucharist’ is, bizarrely, nothing of the sort—it is centred on us.

Here’s a thought, your Eminence: How much of this sort of rhetoric around the Eucharist do you think might be a direct result of the songs that are so often sung at the Eucharist in our Catholic parishes? Just as dropping “men” from the Creed has led some to think that Jesus became incarnate only for us Christians, so constantly singing about “all being welcome”, about “healing our hurts”, about “acknowledging our pain” etc. has affected our Eucharistic theology.

So a quick glance at Gather Australia gives us:

No. 192 “For the bread and wine and blessing, for the friend around this table, for the peace and for the healing… When your love breaks through our darkness, when the broken come to wholeness…”
No. 200 “We come as your people, wecoe as your own, united with each other, love finds a home. We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor,…”
No. 201 “Take this bread, come as you will.”
No. 202 “Take up your burden now, walk till you find just what the journey means; walk while there’s time” (That one gets my award for the most meanlingless drivel ever put to music)

It isn’t hard to see where this is all coming from…

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An entertaining comment string on Weedon’s Blog

Dr Tighe sent me the link to this post on Weedon’s Blog: A Few Gems from Ratzinger on Liturgy. The Ratzinger quotes are indeed “gems”, but the real entertainment is in the comments string, starting right off with this comment from a WELS pastor:

I appreciate much of what you share on your blog, Fr. Weedon, but this one gives me great pause.

The demons were “bang on right” when they confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, too. But Jesus shut them up because he didn’t want that kind of publicity.

Do you really want to be quoting Antichrist as the author of “gems”?

What follows is simply hilarious. Or sad. Or both.

I am, however, in total agreement with Pastor Weedon that his selection of Ratzinger quotes on the liturgy are “gems”. They are precisely the sort of “gems” that led me into the Catholic Church. I was reflecting on what first prompted my transition the other day (due to the fact that this month is the 10th anniversary of the beginnings of my twinges of conscience regarding the Catholic Church) and realised that it was as much a question of the liturgy as anything that started me down that path. This time 10 years ago, I was travelling a little bit, and was dismayed to find that it was difficult to find a Lutheran Church that had the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and even more difficult to find one that did the Lutheran liturgy faithfully. The 1990’s were a decade of liturgical experimentation in the LCA, and, I guess, in Lutheranism in the States too, especially with the rise of Church Growth ideology and methodology. It was this frustration that led me to reflect on the Augsburg Confession’s definition of the “true Church”, namely the one where the Gospel is rightly preached an the sacraments rightly administered. I came to question what that would mean if the church I belonged to did not actually administer the sacrament every Lord’s day. It was only a start, but it got me thinking.

Travelling around a bit again this Christmas, and attending several Lutheran services, I am also amazed to find that a practice has crept into the local Australian Lutheran Church to the Eucharistic Liturgy even in the most conservative Lutheran congregations. I generally find that the Eucharistic liturgy looks like this:

1) Preface
2) Sanctus/Benedictus
3) Lord’s Prayer (SAID BY THE WHOLE CONGREGATION)
4) Words of Institution
5) Pax Domini (ending with “Amen” rather than “And also with you”)

Now, there is nothing really odd about this from a Lutheran point of view EXCEPT that point 3 “said by the whole Congregation”. Luther justified his cutting out of the Eucharistic Canon by saying that the Lord himself had given a better prayer for consecration, namely the “Our Father”, which he then used instead of the Canon. (There are examples in other early Lutheran service orders that have the “Our Father” after the Verba). But the “Our Father” was always said by the pastor, as it was understood to be a prayer of consecration. I seriously wonder what having the Lord’s Prayer said at this point by all the congregation means. I usually like to join in with the Lord’s Prayer with the rest of my family, but I do have some qualms of conscience at this point about praying what is effectively a prayer of “lay consecration”!

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“The Joyful Papist”: A thoughtful blog from across the Tasman

Thanks to a comment left on this blog a few days ago, I was led to this rather thoughtful Catholic blog from a New Zealander – the author seems to be concerned with many of the same issues that we are on SCE. You might want to check it out:

The Joyful Papist

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