Thursday, August 20, 2009
Lions and Tigers and Liturgy, oh my!
This article says it all and says it well. Thank you Arlene Oost-Zinner and Jeffrey Tucker of Inside Catholic.
Boredom during the liturgy is something all Catholics have felt from time to time, and it's never justifiable. No matter how mundane the architecture, how dull the homily, or how bad the music, what's taking place on the altar is a miraculous sacrifice that gives us the grace for salvation. That reality should be enough to keep our attention.
And yet boredom is a reality that good liturgy can help fight. Many parishes try to do so by inventing every manner of new enticement: brighter and larger banners, forced attempts to create an upbeat environment of friendliness and community, big bowls of incense carried by special ministers, and Donahue-style homiletics.
The attempt to jazz up the liturgy usually takes the form of musical enhancements and nearly always means more instruments and rhythms drawn from popular music. The rationale isn't complicated. Liturgists are frustrated that people don't get as excited about religion as they do about the pop divas and music videos, and they conclude that they need ever more musical pyrotechnics to make the difference.
But these approaches often backfire since the argument for them is flawed at its root. Community feeling and fun are fine, but if the liturgy doesn't offer a setting conducive to prayer and the contemplation of eternal mysteries, it has failed its first aesthetic aim.