Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Letters to the Editor

(From the October 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Regarding Letters to the Editor

The Inland Register welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be no longer than 500 words. Letters must be signed, with address and phone number for contact, but names will be withheld upon request. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Remember to be charitable.

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    Rubricism and resources


    I agree with Father Jan Larson that something is wrong if attention to rubrics blinds someone “to the deeper … meaning of the liturgical rites” (“Liturgy Reflections: Rubricism,” IR 6/19/14) but two odd things make me wonder if that happens.

    Since liturgy is the public work and worship of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1069-71), it is not any individual’s private possession. Thus, as “a scrupulous regard for following the directives,” rubricism logically arises primarily when those instructions are not being followed; it is a response to individuals in charge replacing the public rite with forms of their own preference outside the legitimate options officially set by the Church as a body. Rubricism is not provoked by single, accidental lapses, but by repeated and obstinate disregard of the laity’s right to the integral liturgy of the Church (a right protected by canon law and one bishops are obliged to uphold –canons 214, 392). Such disregard is blatant clericalism and abuse of power, withholding from the Church her own heritage for an individual’s advantage (that of preference). Such clericalism undermines liturgy itself, since in that public work, each person is called to become part of something greater than himself – and so greater also than any other individual.

    If priests concerned about rubricism would follow the rubrics, their rubricist problem would die down over time for lack of material. After all, when Vatican II (quoted by Bishop Sklba and Father Larson) says that “more is required than the mere observance of the laws governing valid and licit celebrations,” the “more” does not take away the fact that the observance of those laws is also required.

    The congregation, for its part, needs to be well-informed about what actually is required and what is optional, as well as respectful, to the point, and fraternal in approach – and all those things again if bringing legitimate concerns to higher authorities.

    So the first odd thing is that those concerned about rubricism are, in effect, concerned that people in the congregation know and care enough about the liturgy – and participate in it fully, consciously, and actively enough – to notice when things do not go as they ought. The second odd thing is that they seemed distressed that people want them to go as they ought. Far from missing the mystery, the majority of so-called rubricists are concerned about the rubrics because they know and care about the mystery.

    Finally, a word in support of the Baltimore Catechism: those of my parents’ generation who used it know their faith well, while too few of my generation and younger do, so obviously it did some things right, and better, than later materials. Here, however, are two newer recommended resources: The 3-Minute Catechism presents short, humorous, and theologically rich cartoons for teens and adults on very affordable DVDs (See samples at Thomas Joseph White writes helpfully on one hot-button topic for the on-going Synods of Bishops; google his “Difficult Marriage in a Modern Age” and “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried.”

    Dr. Lyra Pitstick, Spokane

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