05 December 2007

Liturgical Language & Style

“The fact that we are called upon to be the guardians of tradition does not mean that we are committed to immobility.” ~ Cardinal Suenens

If you get the opportunity to attend a full-blown Latin Mass go for it. We have a beautiful old parish downtown Denver that does it for their early Sunday service. WOW!

That said, I was watching EWTN and saw a show about the Misionaries of the Poor down in Jamaica. The sermon was enthusiastic and the Mass was joyful with people clapping and playing tambourines, raising their hands in worship. Would the brothers be able to reach these people if they came out chanting in Latin?

This is what Vatican II had in mind. Giving local congregations the freedom to adapt the Mass to their culture and personality. Critics say that this ruined the Liturgy, and dumbed it down. Sure, there were some goofy experiments in the seventies like the Polka Mass. But now the dust has settled.

One thing that bugged me when I was Eastern Orthodox was how some churches tried to “out orthodox” each other. Some felt that the Liturgy had to be in Greek or Church Slavonic to please God. I prefer “Thee” and “Thou” when referring to God in prayer and song and found myself looking down on the Greeks and OCA who used “You” and “Your”. Maybe because it sounds more like “Theos” or “Dei”? Of course, one finds the same silliness among Evangelicals—I remember when a “prophecy” that wasn’t in Elizabethan English wasn’t considered as being from the Holy Spirit!

I love chant whether it be Gregorian, Sarum, Byzantine, Znammeny, or Ruthenian. I also love a good worship band. And let’s throw in a few 19th century hymns for good measure, especially John Mason Neale or Edward Caswall.

How wonderful that Mother Church embraces them all. One community here in Denver embodies what I’m talking about. The Community of the Beatitudes has Byzantine Vespers, Latin Vespers, a Charismatic prayer group, and Jewish folk dancing. Talk about the Universal Church!

The true worshippers do so in spirit and in truth. Wherever you are I hope you experience both—the Holy Spirit touching you as you worship and the Truth handed down the the Apostles through the Church in her Liturgy.

Thus I continue to declare myself a Charismatic Byzantine Anglo-Catholic!

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