Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Does worship matter?

News that Pope Benedict is encouraging bishops of the Roman Church to allow the old Tridentine Mass is of minor interest to Anglicans.
It is more than a return to the Prayer of 1662 would be for Anglicans.
But it is also a return to a view of liturgy and worship that is completely at odds with what has been promoted for the last forty years.
Although much worship is pedestrian, boring and irrelevant...which is largely and often due to lack of preparation, poor resources and yes..I must say it...priests who are just total buffoons. The ethos of the earlier liturgies is quite different.
Modern liturgy is principally and primarily a gathering of community with a priest presiding at gathering of equals.
The Tridentine liturgy is essentially the formula that has to be completed in order for worship to be carried out properly. The priest, often with back to the people, offers a sacrifice to God on behalf of the people.
Should anyone want to retreat to this view of worship, one would have to think they were retreating to something that has long gone?
Now I am not saying that observed worship cannot be a superb thing. But worship is not a concert, it is essentially participation. Yesterday as I listened to the Kyrie from Mozart's Great Mass I almost swooned, the words are transporting. BUT they are performance.
Perhaps, and we are always being told this, we need to strike a balance.
My tip:The Latin Mass will be popular in certain circles, but it is essentially a retreat to a time that has gone, and the church would be better advised to be thinking more carefully about the way it can continue to sanctify the world, rather than drag it back to a world view which, at its best, is wishful thinking; and at its worst is superstition.

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