On Liturgy and Getting Over It
At a very devoutly celebrated Novus Ordo Mass yesterday (done by the Dominicans here in Berkeley), I reached the conclusion that the only reason I have been so obsessed with liturgy for so long is because I have expected for much of my life to do liturgy for a living. When you are a young man, at least in my case, the traditional Mass seemed cooler, more complicated, and much more involved. Who wants to stand behind a table and act as an MC for a friendly get-together? Perhaps I wanted to be a priest for all the wrong reasons. I (emphasis on "I") wanted to offer a sacrifice to God; I wanted it to be MY job. The Novus Ordo was just not any fun; it was banal and at its worst not very devout.
Now I stand in the congregation well aware that I will never be up at that altar to say Mass. It will never be MY turn. And I have pretty much gotten over it. And with this, my enthusiasm for liturgy is waning more and more.
Liturgy has been property of a select few. Pace Jungmann and Dix, this has probably always been the case. The fact that so many can fret about it now is the result of the same phenomenon that causes all of the ills in society and the Church. It is our modern society that allows us to pass three Catholic churches in the morning (and countless other non-Catholic churches) in order to find the Mass that most fits MY taste. I do this, so I am just as guilty as anyone else. That does not make it right, nor does it make it horribly wrong. But I would argue that it is abnormal. It is a symptom that Faith is no longer part of life, but just another item on the shelf of universal consumerism.
So liturgy, like the air we breath or the water we drink, is hardly a cause for celebration or malaise. It is not the primary manifestation of the Incarnation in the world. I am beginning to think more and more that it is the result of a vibrant Faith and not its source.