Monday, April 05, 2004

Paenitet Me Pecasse

Alan Phipps of the Ad Altare Dei blog has taken issue with an article I recently recommended here.

His point respects the matter of the archbishop's legal correctness and his point is well taken. (And he's nicer than I am, avoiding the whiny sarcasm that I should have outgrown years ago but didn't.) I give you his comments:

I wanted to point out one issue of clarification about your post about
Mahony asking people to stand after the Agnus Dei. The article you quoted
in the Lay Catholic Mission is a little misleading. Kirk Kramer suggests

'Section 43 of the new General Instruction stipulates that the
congregation should kneel after the Agnus Dei, at the moment when the
priest holds up the Host and says, "This is the Lamb of God, Who takes
away the sins of the world." But in his October 24 letter in Tidings,
Cardinal Mahony wrote, "in this archdiocese, the faithful stand from the
Our Father until all have received Communion."'

But this is misleading because it isn't fully quoting Section 43 of the
General Instruction and implies that what Mahony is doing is somehow
contrary to the GIRM, when in fact, it isn't, regardless of our opinion of
it. Section 43 actually states:

"In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel
beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the
Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by
reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or
some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound
bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel
after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise."

The option to kneel after the Agnus Dei is an option that the diocesan
bishop has the authority to regulate. Kneeling at this particular point
is a valid variation within the US, yet it wasn't even mentioned in the
previous General Instruction.

Concerning the point about kneeling after Communion, Mahony has been much
more rigid, though he did inform the pastor of my home parish that
communicants may kneel immediately after receiving, but only briefly (I
cede that it's somewhat of a half-baked compromise). But I am still very
happy to kneel during the Consecration, which even the Cardinal asked us
to do at his own Cathedral mass.

Now, I knew that provision existed. (For those who would like to see it in its entirety it can be found as a link to a pdf file in about the middle of this page. Look for the "GIRM".) I read the article with that provision in mind and as it seemed to me the thrust of Kirk's article was other than the legality of the Archbishop's command I didn't notice that Kirk didn't mention it. It seemed to me that Kirk was discussing the wisdom of the command rather than the legality.

In any event, the long and the short of it is, Alan is correct in what he says.

Having gotten myself wound up about kneeling, I would like to make a couple of other points, for which, I hasten to add, Alan is in no way responsible. Nor Kirk either, for that matter.

It seems to me that there is a moral issue also. So far as I can tell that provision not only serves no good purpose, it also causes a sincere problem of conscience for many people. (If I, who don't get around all that much, know several who've expressed such a problem, surely there must be many more?) Trifling with the consciences of people for whom Christ died is not itself a trifle.

I have seen more than one article explaining the value of standing instead of kneeling. They impress me as mendacious. Calling it our real tradition because (according to the author) it is older is a misuse of language. Standing before the Blessed Sacrament is not our tradition. Whatever it may have been a thousand years ago, tradition is what was handed down to us; standing at such times was not handed down to us. Our tradition is kneeling. Anything else is an archaeologism, the sort of thing frowned upon by Mediator Dei.

That standing is a reverent posture is true. That standing is a posture more reverent than kneeling is untrue on the face of it. And yet some of its promoters claim this.* This seems to me not only mendacious but preposterous. If they were to tell some group with no knowledge of worship that standing was "the" reverent posture it would be an inconsequential statement. But to tell a kneeling people that standing is a more reverent posture deserves a horse-laugh.

The most astonishing aspect of the whole thing is that anyone takes these people seriously.

*As in several other posts in this blog, you'll have to take my word for it. I don't have a cite for you. I didn't know I was going to ride this particular hobby horse today and I don't even have any printed references. But I have read such things; surely you have too? That stuff is out there.