Monday, June 03, 2002

Orthodox Catholic liturgical police are fond of reminding us that the Mass is "Chirst's prayer to the Father." Therefore, any "innovations" such as modern music or inclusive language reveal stunning arrogance on the part of the innovator, since the innovator must think he or she can improve on what Jesus has given us. Putting oursleves ahead of Jesus is blasphemy, so all liturgical innovations must be stridently opposed.

Looking at the liturgy, it occurred to me that this is somewhat bogus. Lots of what we do at even the most orthodox liturgy was not done by Christ. Some examples:

  • The Penitential Rite: A sinless Christ would have nothing to be penitent for, so this is an invention of the Church, not Jesus.
  • The Liturgy of the Word: Obviously, the New Testament did not exist at the time of Christ, so at most half of our modern Liturgy of the Word does not echo the prayer of Jesus.
  • The Profession of Faith: Also given to us by the Church, not by Christ.
  • Memorial Acclamation Most versions refer to Christ in the third person, other pray directly to the second person of the Trinity ("Jesus, come in glory!") This would also not be part of Chirst's prayers.

My point isn't that it's OK to go all willy nilly in playing around with the liturgy. But the idea that saying "for us and our salvation" instead of "for us men and our salvation" driectly contradicts Jesus is not borne out by the facts.

Our liturgy has developed from the Church in council, where Catholics believe the Spirit is specially present, and thus it must be taken very seriously. And it's true that much of what we do in the liturgy echoes the acts of Jesus in prayer.

My objection is using this in an attempt to shut people up and end discussions. There are very good reasons why parts of ther liturgy are the way they are. Let's hear them, instead of shutting people up by falsely accusing them of blasphemy.
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