A Protestant Mass

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Steven Riddle has asked if anyone can comment on a post by Steve Bogner concerning inclusive language in the liturgy. I donít know if I can offer anything better than Steven has done, but as a former Presbyterian I feel the sudden urge to put in my two-cents worth.

Steve Bogner asks why not allow each parish to determine itís own liturgical style of worship, including the use of inclusive terms for God the Father.

I donít understand why it is so difficult these days for anyone to accept the idea that there is such a thing as obedience and that it is not always appropriate for us to have our own way. We want to be pleased, rather than please. We want to fashion God in our image instead of accepting that we are fashioned in Godís image. The fact that we are creatures, not the Creator, the fact that we owe God everything, imposes upon us certain obligations and responsibilities, gratitude and obedience to God, and to His Church, being foremost among them. Recognizing this truth, the documents of Vatican II are quite clear that the Church is hierarchical and that Catholics are called to accept and obey her teachings.

The Mass is not intended for our entertainment, nor is it intended to reinforce the current social trends in society. The Mass is a Sacrament of the Church, not a sacrament of self-esteem. When we attend Mass we offer ourselves on the altar, not to have God offer Himself to us to allow us to feel fulfilled. It seems that there are many folks who do not understand that the purpose of the Mass is to change us, not to change God.

The Catholic Church is not just another Protestant denomination. We are not free to change her teachings or her instructions at will, Presbyterians do that, Catholics donít. What kind of chaos would result if every parish were free to celebrate its own version of the liturgy? What would the members of that parish come to understand about the deepest truths of the Church? Would they end up with a valid Mass and receive the Blessed Sacrament, which by their presence they openly profess to believe? Would that parish, say one like the one Steve Bogner says he attends, even end up in real communion with the Church itself? How would they know?

There are reasons why Catholics do what they do. The Church is universal, "one, holy, catholic and apostolic," as such it is not subject to our every whim. The term that seems to be so popular these days Ė Progressive CatholicĒ is an oxymoron, to be ďprogressiveĒ is to be Protestant. Is that what we really want?

2 Comments

thank you for sharing these insights.
as a child, I did not understand why my Catholic friends could always find a Mass, but I could not find my anglican liturgy in most of the world (i was a military brat)

Ronald - I'm glad to have sort of rediscovered your blog and I look forward to reading it more in the future.

The Church allows for various 'styles' (for lack of a better word on my part) of Liturgy. Yes the Mass is universal, but Liturgy is adapted to the specific preferences of the parish, priest or bishop. For example, in my hometown parish they ring bells during the consecration. Here in Cincinnati they don't. Before the new GIRM clarifications, some parishes stood & others kneeled during the Eucharistic Prayer.

I'm not advocating that parishes get to decide what doctrine they accept vs reject. I'm saying that they should be allowed to choose the style of Liturgy they desire. This has been done informally for years - but it has been decided solely by the bishop or priest. For example, a large local parish recently changed priests, and the new priest promptly changed the style of the Liturgy to reflect his preferences. He didn't change it from incorrect to correct, he simply changed it to suit his style - and that in itself is not wrong.

I'm dismayed that the essence of my original post got lost - that 1) I like 'inclusive' language and that is my preference, 2) that's just my preference and not a statement of what is right vs wrong, and 3) parishes ought to be able to decide if they want to use inclusive language or not - selecting from whatever approved texts are provided by the Church.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on November 8, 2003 11:05 AM.

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