Rorate Caeli

Archbishop of Dublin: "The liturgy is not a performance"

From the Feb. 5, 2011 homily of Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, at the 2011 Spring Seminar of the Dublin Diocesan Liturgical Resource Centre (emphases mine):
On the basis of annual head-counts in the Churches of the Archdiocese, it would appear that on any normal Sunday about 20% of the Catholic population of the Archdiocese of Dublin is present at Mass. That is significantly lower than in any other diocese in Ireland. In more than one parish the Sunday practice rate is about 3%. The very low level of practice is not primarily, as some have said, in the somewhat depopulated areas of the inner city but in poorer parishes on the outskirts of the city. Attendance is highest in middle class parishes.

Saying that does not mean that only 20% of Catholics practice regularly. Some may attend on one or more occasion each month. Some may wish to attend weekly but for various reasons do not manage to do so. Taken all in all, however, these statistics are to say the least a cause of great concern.

Even more alarming is the fact that these statistics take no account of the age profile of those who attend Mass regularly. The presence of young people is clearly much lower, despite the fact that family Masses account for a not insignificant proportion of Mass attendance in some parishes.

More and more we encounter people who say that they are Catholic but that going to Mass is not very high on their agenda. There is a feeling that going to Church is not a significant dimension of being a Christian.

***

You do not simply go to Mass. The liturgy is not a performance but an action in which God’s people actively participate. The liturgy is however in the first place the action of God. Active participation is not just about us saying and doing things. There is an active participation which is fostered through silence and reflection and interiorly identifying ourselves with what is taking place. In today’s world there is anyway a superabundance of words and a fear of silence. The liturgy must always lead people beyond the superficial and fleeting character of much of contemporary culture.

Where the liturgy becomes performance we can very easily end up with banalities and with what some have called the "disneyisation" of the liturgy. Such banality is often linked also with a sense of personal protagonism, at times by the priest or of a musical group or even of guest speakers. Our reading this morning reminds us that “we have nothing to boast about to God”. The liturgy is not our work.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about what should be the Archdiocese of Dublin's showcase Mass: the 11am Novus Ordo "Latin Mass" in the Pro Cathedral? It's really just a prop for the (very good) Palestrina Choir to have a good sing.

wheat4paradise said...

Bravo!

Alexander said...

"Active.."

Let us get away from this word.

It is correctly translated "active" from the council, however its Latin meaning is closer to "actual" or "vigorous."

"Active" makes it sound like you have to do some physical thing, it tends towards that "performance" attitude.

New Templar said...

Another manouvre in his effort to get back to Rome. He has no interest in the liturgy or Tradition and so his words ring very hollow indeed. A class A hierling in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

If we are to understand our role when we are present at Mass, we also need to comprehend the sacred role of the priest. The priest is Christ in persona, which is profound and miraculous!

The Mass is the highest form of prayer, whether we are present or not. Although it is important to know what goes on when we assist at Mass, it is just as important to know what happens even when we are not there.

One priest expressed that when he says Mass, it is actually very difficult and that he feels very alone at the Altar. He was not saying it in a complaining manner, but reiterating the awesome (in the true sense of the word) responsibility of his sacred duty. I can only imagine what it must be like to approach the Altar alone . . . and with such humility!

I feel it will be through the examples of holy priests that will help the laity understand how they should assist at Mass.

Sadie Vacantist said...

As recently as 1968 the art historian and Scottish protestant, Lord Clark, could claim that, "the great achievements of the Catholic Church lay in organising, harmonising, civilising the deepest impulses of ordinary, ignorant people".

What annoys me most about the remnant middle class is that they talk and act as if nothing has gone wrong.

shane said...

How things change!

The Church in Dublin: 1940-1965, Roland Burke Savage, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 54, No. 216 (Winter, 1965), pp. 296-346.

"To provide the extra priests necessary for his constantly growing diocese, the Archbishop (John Charles McQuaid) almost trebled the size of Clonliffe (then the major seminary of the Dublin archdiocese) and set up a team of diocesan priests to encourage vocations in the schools of the diocese. The number of students in Clonliffe this year is 151; in 1940 it was 99. The number of diocesan priests in the diocese to-day stands at 550; in 1940 the number was 370. [...] In the last twenty-five years the population of the archdiocese grew from 709,342 to 791,379; the Catholic population increased from 630,000 to 725,058 people. Shortly after the war ended in 1945, when building materials began to be again available, the Archbishop set himself the task of trying to plan for the new needs of the expanding city. Thanks to the generous co-operation of the planning and housing authorities of the Dublin Corporation sites were early ear-marked for churches and schools in the newly developing areas in the south-west, the west, and the north-west, not to mention the rapid growth of the Beaumont, Raheny and Coolock areas. To meet the needs of this growing population the Archbishop had thirty-four churches built and had formed twenty-six new parishes. Still looking to the future, he plans to build four churches in the immediate future and has thought out the siting of another seventeen churches to serve what he foresees as the future population development in his diocese [...] Only yesterday a university lecturer who had lived seven years or more outside Ireland remarked to me on the standard of ceremonial in Dublin suburban churches. Liturgy is much more than rubrics and ceremonial but that unsolicited salute to the careful training the young priests get in Clonliffe is worth putting on record. Anyone who has ever assisted Dr McQuaid in sacred functions knows the care with which he watches every detail [...] He has been freely criticized for dragging his feet in bringing in the new changes [...] We priests, perhaps, realize better than most, the puzzlement, the bewilderment, and the daze that the constantly changing rubrics in Mass and Office have caused most of us within the past seven years. Enthusiasts in Dublin for more active liturgical participation are disappointed at the slowness of the pace but the Archbishop's point of view is at the least very arguable: don't interfere too suddenly with the established pattern of things; novelty for novelty's sake is a nine day's wonder; habits that are slowly formed are more lasting [...] In his pastoral last year Dr McQuaid took the occasion to remind the faithful that neither active participation nor even increased Holy Communions should obscure the fact that the Mass was a sacrifice, and only secondarily a sacred banquet or sacrificial meal."

Crouchback said...

We were in Dublin not so long ago, mass in the Cathedral said by a type of bureaucrat priest, we are used to the Traditional Mass, whenever we stumble upon a Novus Ordo mass it always comes across as a performance.....usually a bad performance.....Dublin was no exception...!!!

mundabor said...

I found it ironic that he would complain that young people don't go to mass **nothwithstanding** the family masses.
Wrong as it is, I can imagine people being put off from mass attendance from the very same family mass or, more frequently, losing the sense of sacredness because of the kindergarten character of the exercise.

M. A. said...

On a tangent, I predict that in preparing the laity for implementation of the new translation of the Roman missal, conservatives or "wannabe's" are going to be doing so while attacking the TLM.

I think we are going to be seeing more and more of such "conservatives" who will be shifting with the wind, this to make a show of being docile and obedient to the pontiff in implementing his R of R,but these will be no friends of Tradition! They are those would rather endure a 'Benediction altar' than the return of the real thing!

One can already see this. For example, I was told that priests will no longer be permitted to leave the sanctuary for the
"'sign of peace", but the explanation being given is merely a swipe at a hierarchical ordering as evinced in the TLM.

Anonymous said...

If these guys are "the future" of the Church in Ireland, God help us all... AGAIN, PREPARE TO BE SHOCKED!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIMEYJ8eXM4&feature=related

Tom the Milkman said...

"What annoys me most about the remnant middle class is that they talk and act as if nothing has gone wrong."

Annoying, yes, but hardly surprising. In America, the remnant middle class acts in the same way toward the cultural morass they swim in daily.

wheat4paradise said...

I fail to understand the overwhelming negative reaction to the Archbishop's statement. Do his words really mean nothing? Do you think that he doesn't mean what he says?

Active participation is not just about us saying and doing things. There is an active participation which is fostered through silence and reflection and interiorly identifying ourselves with what is taking place. In today’s world there is anyway a superabundance of words and a fear of silence. The liturgy must always lead people beyond the superficial and fleeting character of much of contemporary culture.
Where the liturgy becomes performance we can very easily end up with banalities and with what some have called the "disneyisation" of the liturgy. Such banality is often linked also with a sense of personal protagonism, at times by the priest or of a musical group or even of guest speakers. Our reading this morning reminds us that “we have nothing to boast about to God”. The liturgy is not our work.


Are we not allowed to see in these words a silver lining around the dark clouds in Ireland?

Raphael Del Val said...

He should read Mediator Dei. It was spelled out very clearly by Pope Pius XII. No need to go through the modernist filter.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 20:11

Shocked, yes; surprised, no!

--William

Anonymous said...

William, check out these two youtube clips of "liturgies" organised by the Irish Redemptorists. S-H-O-C-K-I-N-G!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vJLZuaWn9s

AND

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hVh1MQGLZA&feature=channel

The Archbishop has a battle on his hands! Fair play to him though - God loves a trier...

thomas tucker said...

wheat4paradise- you must not read the comments on this blog very often. Negativity about anything other than the EF is par for the course. The blog posts are great. However, the comments section attracts the usual more-Catholic-than-the Pope types.

Anonymous said...

Another example of the fruits of Vatican II

M. A. said...

"However, the comments section attracts the usual more-Catholic-than-the Pope types."
_____________________

I would disagree, Mr. Tucker. I find that for the most part, the commentary here displays knowledge and intelligence, and above all there is evident the refusal to believe that the Church is in her springtime or into what is called the dawning of a "civilization of LUV".

By the way, to which pope do you refer when you accuse participants of being "more-Catholic-than-the Pope types"?

thomas tucker said...

MA- any and/or all of them. You know well what I mean so no point in playing games. Many of the commentors here remind me of Spiro Agnew's old phrase about the "nattering nabobs of negativism." Not attractive.
I'll say no more, so feel free to blast away.