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October 06, 2005

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Roberto

So, I guess Jesus was wrong in doing that miracle of loaves and fishes in front of so many people, uh?

Roberto

I didn't want ot be that snarky, so let me rephrase:

So, how should we view the massive crowds that were often present at Jesus' miracles and teachings? Or the large crowds at the baptism celebrations reported in the New Testament?

Is there anything in the Magisterium implying that large crowds detract from reverence and holiness?

Just asking...

Simon

Considering that one of the largest Masses at St. Peter's during JPII's pontificate was the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva, I seriously doubt the bishop is criticizing large Masses.

What the article suggests he mainly asked the synod to "rethink" is the practice of large scale concelebration at such Masses. That's a very different thing.

Keith

A question I don't know the answer to.

Can there be a mass without the distribution of communion to the faithful who are present? Would it be out of bounds to celebrate the mass yet not try to distrubute to the thousands on hand?

Anne-Marie

Hmmm. How many concelebrants are too many? How about the whole College of Cardinals?

Echevarria was clearly talking about more than just the number of concelebrants. The question of distribution of Communion to large numbers of people has nothing to do with the number of celebrants, only with the size of the congregation.

I agree that to have priests pushing through crowds, the Eucharist being jostled, would be terrible. But I seem to recall that at the funeral for John Paul II, alleys were created with ropes so the priests could bring Communion to the crowd and still maintain reverence.

To what extent are dignity and reverence a function of the size of the congregation, and to what extent are they the result of how the Mass is conducted--music, physical surroundings, dress, demeanor? We've all been to small masses that were far sloppier than JP2's funeral or B16's inaugural Mass. Large doesn't have to equal carnivalesque.

T. Chan

How much is too many? Ask the Eastern Christians--they can give you a good idea. Robert Taft, S.J. has written some articles on how the Eastern Christians understand concelebration. Having 20 or more priests concelebrate is not the norm in the East. S. Magister has written that Pope Benedict XVI does not like the huge Masses out in St. Peter's square.

As for the question about the miracle of fishes and loaves--how many people in the crowd were actually aware that a miracle had happened? Secondly, and more importantly,--it was a meal, not a liturgical service or prayer.

Kurt

"Can there be a mass without the distribution of communion to the faithful who are present? Would it be out of bounds to celebrate the mass yet not try to distrubute to the thousands on hand?"

Yes, of course.

I believe that when Pope Paul VI came to New York in 1965 and said Mass at Yankee (or was it Shea) Stadium, 100 people were selected for the honor of receiving communion from him. All the others present made a spiritual communion.

Kurt

I meant "Yes, of course, it would NOT be out of bounds." Sorry.

Neil

I never really know what to make of these discussions. Can anyone clearly define "reverence," "dignity of worship," or "sense of the sacred" for me?

It does seem to be the case that - at least to some extent - our definitions might really reflect our own cultural locations. As the exegete Stephen Chester recently pointed out, St Paul's worry that the Corinthians might be speaking in tongues, so that a visitor would think that they were "out of your minds" (1 Cor 14:23b), doesn't reflect our modern disdain. Instead, at the time, being "out of one's mind" reflected a contemporary if forgotten conception of reverence, whether Dionysian or following Plato's claim that “the greatest of blessings comes to us through madness, when it is sent as a gift of the gods” (Phaedrus).

So, then, what is "reverence"?

Thanks.

Neil

Matthew Mehan

Perhaps we should take a closer look at this article. Where and how is this information coming from? Notice the closing of the article? An off beat discussion about information from the Synod, which seems to state that this bit of news is less than properly covered. Doesn't seem to say that the play by play quotation of the prelate of Opus Dei could only be gotten by a leak? Or am I missing something--something crucial, I mean?

Larry

I can understand the Bishop's concern. A friend of mine who recently went to World Youth Day in Cologne, told me that during benediction there were people smoking dope and having sex in their tents.(He wasn't joking either)
It is something which really has to be looked into .

Charles A.

"Can there be a mass without the distribution of communion to the faithful who are present?"

Yes, of course. This was pretty much the normal practice at solemn Papal and pontifical masses between, oh say, AD600 and c. AD1970....

Charles A.

"A friend of mine who recently went to World Youth Day in Cologne, told me that during benediction there were people smoking dope and having sex in their tents.(He wasn't joking either)"

There are lots of horror stories like this circulating. Taking some of them with a grain of salt ... it is a valid question whether the "camp out/pep rally" mode of WYDs are really productive of anything. Considering the captive audience of catholic school and youth groups marshalled and bussed in to the event... Is it reality or is it hype?

Ray in MN

Perhaps if there were a requirement that communicants present evidence that they had gone to Confession within the last year, they could get the numbers down to a manageable size.

T. Chan

Charles--

Well, the next youth day is on the pope's schedule; if he continues this practice perhaps the next pope may not... then again if peak oil happens sooner rather than later the question of whether WYD should be held or not will not need to be asked.

If individual bishops had a youth day, how many would attend?

Fr. Totton

Ray,
As a young seminarian I often thought it would be a great idea to distribute tokens to penitents that they would then present in the Communion line! Obviously one could not require a token from each communicant (nor can one require each communicant to confess before each and every Communion) but the concept [not its strict implementation] might help people to reflect on the connection between these two sacraments!

T. Chan,

Actually, the concept of WYD actually suggests that during the alternate years (or off-years as things have gotten these days) the youth day SHOULD be celebrated in the individual dioceses (or perhaps on a provincial level) Though I have not seen this done in any sustained manner.

Kevin Miller

Matthew: It's no leak. This is from the Vatican Information Service's own bulletin this morning:

==begin quote==

BISHOP JAVIER ECHEVARRIA RODRIGUEZ, PRELATE OF THE PERSONAL PRELATURE OF OPUS DEI. "Paragraph 34 of the 'Instrumentum Laboris' highlights the importance of a sense of the sacred in celebrating the Eucharist. We should study practical ways to help the faithful to a clearer understanding of the sacredness of Eucharistic sacrifice. ... It would therefore be useful, on the basis of the Instruction 'Redemptionis sacramentum,' to try to remove abuses that harm the sacred nature of Eucharistic celebrations, and to rethink certain regulations which may be interpreted and applied in an abusive fashion. For example, I suggest reviewing the appropriateness of Eucharistic ceremonies in which there is such an excessive number of concelebrants as to make the dignified celebration of the liturgy impossible; and re-evaluating whether communion should actually be given to all participants in a Mass where great numbers of believers are present, when such general distribution may harm the dignity of worship."

==end quote==

And I for my part don't buy the argument.

I've seen Masses with fairly large numbers of concelebrants. I have never seen that, per se, get in the way of dignified celebration. Ditto large numbers of communicants. And I realize that in the past, there were large Masses at which communion was only offered to a select few. But I think that was a mistake. I think that one could say that all other aspects of "participation" in the Mass revolve, so to speak, around the reception of communion.

David Kubiak

What a pleasure to post this comment, tangentially related to the thread, after Mr. Miller's predictable and typical defense of the wrecked liturgical status quo.

It has been observed that Pope Benedict does not invite people to his private morning Mass, in contrast to the practice of his predecessor. A rumor is traveling in trad. circles that the reason he wants privacy is that he is celebrating daily in the old rite.

David Kubiak

And by the way, Roberto, who makes the first remark about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, might do better to think about how many people were present at the Last Supper.

Liam

I think there will be subtle procedural enchancements but no ban on the developing practice as such.

The reason is that pilgrims to these events often attend precisely to receive Communion at liturgy where the Holy Father is principal celebrant. And that has proved to be a powerful tool for evangelisation. Cut that link, and you would likely cut that power. And I don't think Rome is insensitive to that relationship.

Eileen R

Charles A:
it is a valid question whether the "camp out/pep rally" mode of WYDs are really productive of anything.

They are. I wondered if people were exagerrating, and what *really* would come out of WYD - even though I was eager to attend - but it had enormous consequences for me. I know of several vocations that began at WYD.

That said, yeah, there are problems. World Youth Day Toronto had a very reverent Mass from my perspective, but the night before at Vespers the group beside us from Quebec was running in and out of their tent they'd constructed with candles chasing each other. They finally lit the tent on fire, to the grim amusement of everyone who wanted some quiet.

But I would take these horror stories with a grain of salt. I've just been googling to see how WYD Cologne ended up and came on the most bizarre account of WYD Toronto. In fact, I didn't think it was about Toronto for the first few paragraphs, it was so different from what it was actually like. I was thinking, "Was it really this bad at Cologne? My goodness, he's talking about Toronto!"

Dina Swift

"pilgrims to these events often attend precisely to receive Communion at liturgy where the Holy Father is principal celebrant. And that has proved to be a powerful tool for evangelisation."

Has it, really?
I'd bee interested to see anything about this.
We might expect it to be, and hope so, but has there been any lasting value in, say, the immediate vicinity after World Youth Days? After all, the largest group of attendees are usually from the host country, and from nearby states or provinces, at that, so it ought to be, in some way, measurable, through Mass attendance, adult confirmations, SOMEthing, no?
Is there any proof that after the first flush of excitement there was any positive effect on devotion, of greater practice of the faith, of conversions?

Dina Swift

"pilgrims to these events often attend precisely to receive Communion at liturgy where the Holy Father is principal celebrant. And that has proved to be a powerful tool for evangelisation."

Has it, really?
I'd bee interested to see anything about this.
We might expect it to be, and hope so, but has there been any lasting value in, say, the immediate vicinity after World Youth Days? After all, the largest group of attendees are usually from the host country, and from nearby states or provinces, at that, so it ought to be, in some way, measurable, through Mass attendance, adult confirmations, SOMEthing, no?
Is there any proof that after the first flush of excitement there was any positive effect on devotion, of greater practice of the faith, of conversions?

Anne-Marie

Neil,

Without attempting a strict definition, I'd say that reverence is the focusing of our attention on God and our relationship to him; in a liturgical (Mass or other) context, we'd want to focus especially on the aspects of God and our relationship with him that are highlighted in the liturgical action. So anything that distracts us from what the liturgy should be telling us, or anything that acts counter to the liturgy, leads to irreverence.

Does that make sense? I realize that in many cases it would be hard to decide whether individual actions are irreverent, as questions of context, personal taste, local custom, enter into such judgements. But twilight doesn't mean there's no night and day.

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