So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Displays Down Under

A New Zealand cathedral parish has texts projected on large viewing screens during Mass "to enable people to participate more."

The folk at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit are currently revising the projection policy. By reducing dependence on projections on large screens, they are heading in the right direction.
Liturgy committee chairman Forrest Chambers said the committee would progressively remove text slides from the screen to enable people to concentrate more on the Mass.
The aim is to memorise it and internalise it (yes!) so it’s in there, rather than just read on Sunday and forget,” he said.
“What I sense when I visit the different parishes is that there’s just, in my view perhaps, an overuse of screens with all the responses, all the things that people already should know or do know,” he said, “and that they don’t need to have them up on the screen at all.” (Sooo,... why were the screens installed in the first place?)
Mr Chambers explained that in the past, people would be looking at missals and not really focusing on the liturgical action on the altar (What about people who are visually impaired, i.e., blind? Are they participating any less because they cannot see what's going on?). He said screen projections are in danger of replacing missals. (A book in hand can be set aside when not needed. An imposing screen constantly displaying changing images will be an ongoing source of distraction.)
He also pointed out people are becoming more reliant on screens in daily life. “But maybe Mass time is the time when we have no screens (Amen!). We focus on the people (Er,... Catholic worship is focussed on God) and the Word and the Eucharist,” he said.
They started by taking out the screen for Lamb of God. Mr Chambers said there are Mass responses people have already memorised.
He said the removal of some Mass texts from the screen started in August.
The committee is still gauging parishioners’ reaction. (Stand firm! Do what is liturgically right and just!)
Why is it that technology is so frequently used to clutter up sanctuaries while also robbing people of the opportunity to use their God-given brains and take responsibility for worshipping God? Whatever did people do before big screens, computers and smartphones? Large video screens are as necessary for Mass as felt banners and frumpy clay chalices. Do we really need to turn every parish church into a Las Vegas casino?

The whole "active participation" enterprise, defined as it is by hyperactivity and a glaring misinterpretation of the phrase participatio actuosa, is a fool's errand. God does not desire busybodies in the pews. He wants people to be still, and receptive to His transforming word. He wants pure hearts offered as temples in which He alone may reside, hearts which then turn to those in most need of His mercy, truth, goodness, salvation and love.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—St. Matthew 5:8
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, and its gates shall never be shut by day—and there shall be no night there; they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.—Revelation 21:22-27
And in his days things prospered in his hands, so that the heathens were taken away out of their country, and they also that were in the city of David in Jerusalem in the castle, out of which they issued forth, and profaned all places round about the sanctuary, and did much evil to its purity.—1 Maccabees 14:36
If the goal is to foster in people a strong sense of Catholic worship, which is to say authentic christian worship, then:
  1. Teach people about the real meaning of the Mass. Enact effective liturgical catechesis!
  2. Remind people to memorize the prayers so they are not distracted by sticking their noses in loose sheets, cumbersome booklets and wasteful disposable missalettes. Encourage people to purchase durable hand missals that will last a generation or longer.
  3. Restore liturgical silence so that the Holy Spirit can act in people's hearts. In addition to magnificent symphonies of praise, liturgies should be wellsprings of silence wherein people might find rest in God's Presence and adore the living God in the Most Holy Eucharist.
  4. Identify the choir as a liturgical entity that has its own role to play. Encourage the congregation to join in the acclamations and responses. They may join in an Entrance Hymn and Closing Hymn which, technically speaking, occur outside the Mass. Leave the rest, i.e., the proper and ordinary chants, to the choir. The assumption that the people must join in every chant or hymn or they are not participating is simply untenable. Imagine a liturgy without annoying invitations that interrupt Mass and demand that people sing. Other than the prescribed invitations that come from the priest or a deacon, the Roman Liturgy is not meant to be verbose or narrated. The relatively few times we are called to respond formally during the Mass are intended to punctuate the silence and wake us up to the Mystery being celebrated. Catholics have largely forgotten that Catholic worship is a corporate response to Jesus acting in the Sacred Liturgy. The Liturgy is called sacred not because of our actions but because Jesus Christ acts in the Mass.
  5. Install a communion rail and promote communion on the tongue to encourage reverent reception of the Holy Eucharist. Oh, and while you're at it: turn the altar around so the priest and people at worship are facing in the same direction. Ad orientem altars—now!
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