Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Righteous Anger -- Encouraging a Peaceful Response to Liturgical Abuse


I don't disagree with Catholic Answer Apologist Michelle Arnold's response to a question she received regarding feeling anger over liturgical abuse, she simply provides a partial answer. Michelle directs the questioner to pray, suggesting that this is how a saint would respond. Saints were not necessarily docile in response to abuse in the Church, but they worked from within to make the necessary changes; St. Catherine of Siena comes to mind as a good example, as well as the Benedictine Monks at Cluny.

We, the laity, must understand that faith without works is useless. (Cf. James 2:20) The advice of the lay faithful is to be sought out and respected according to the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, 37. We should and must expect good and proper liturgy. Oftentimes, that means we need the courage to speak out in charity against abuses.

So, I would recommend along with Michelle that we should pray, certainly, but also engage in peaceful and thoughtful conversations or write polite and respectful letters to our pastors and bishops about the abuses of which we are aware. (Remember it is always advisable to first point out the good that exists before offering the constructive criticism.) In this manner, we are more likely to effect appropriate change to more orthodox practices in compliance with the norms as are clearly outlined in the GIRM.--General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

Our job: pray, read and become familiar with the Vatican II documents -- they are very readable and illuminating -- and, also become familiar with the GIRM. When the laity start a conversation with the clergy from a well informed, respectful position, their concerns are more likely not just to be heard, but actually taken seriously.


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