17 March 2010

A Preview of Purgatory

In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) the Second Vatican Council teaches that

"In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle." (SC, 8)

Sadly, in all too many parishes, the sacred liturgy is a preview of purgatory rather than a foretaste of heaven, and in the months ahead, I will explore in these pages many of the reasons for the sorry state of our liturgical life. For now, I will draw attention to only one:

Too many priests are unfaithful to the promise they made at their presbyteral ordination to celebrate the sacred liturgy according to the mind of the Church rather than their own whims or the ignorant enthusiasms of the local liturgy committee. The ordaining bishop asks each candidate for priestly ordination:

"Do you resolve to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and  the sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people?"

And only after answering "I do," can the candidate proceed to ordination.

Read the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, read Sacrosanctum Concilium, read Redemptionis Sacramentum, and then ask yourself this:

Are the priests of my parish celebrating the sacred liturgy "faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition"? If not, then you might gently remind them of the promise they made on the day of their ordination to (in Father Z's fine phrase) Say the Black, and Do the Red!