Yesterday I had to suffer one of the worst pieces of liturgical terrorism that I have had the misfortune to witness. It was the final Mass of the meeting of Delegates for the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. Rather than describe the scene in detail let me give it to you in bullet points:
- The Mass was celebrated in the room where we had, a few hours previously, had a buffet. The tables which were used as serving tables during the buffet were made into a long table down the centre of the room (making it look like it was prepared for another buffet). Chairs were arranged looking in on either side.
- Lay people were encouraged to sit where they liked - except for some of the front seat which were reserved for bishops. Priests were supposed to sit mingled with the people (in actual fact the herd mentality took over and we all sat together at one end).
- In the 'entrance procession', some women (I think they were religious though had nothing visible to show the fact) brought flowers and candles which they placed at strategic places along the long table.
- At the Offertory, these same women brought chalices and patens on serving trays and placed them upon the table at strategic places, and they themselves poured wine (no water) into the chalices. These were not placed on corporals at all.
- After the Eucharistic Prayer these same women approached the table beckoning (in an evidently pre-thought out manner) the bishops towards the table to partake of the Eucharist (ugh).
- The priests were given Holy Communion as though they were lay people.
The agenda of the liturgorists was evident. They wanted everyone to sit side by side - priests and people - because they have no faith in the sacred nature of the priesthood, and in the difference of nature and not just of grade of the ordained priesthood from the baptismal priesthood. The way they pushed these women forward to do the deacons role, and to 'facilitate' the bishops' celebration of the Eucharist (as if they'd never been to a Mass before) was saying that they believed that women should be ordained to the priesthood.
This was, of course, done under the nose of Cardinal Josef Tomko, the President of the Pontifical Council for the International Eucharistic Congress. And, while he seemed to play along at the time, I know from speaking to his secretary in the Pontifical Council, Fr Ferdinand Pratzner, today that all has been noted, and that a meeting to speak about the liturgy has been planned for Monday. Fr Pratzner was also very critical of the hymn for the Congress which, in its French version at least, seems to suggest that the bread and wine of the Eucharist only become sacramentally the body and blood of Christ by virtue of them being shared among us (step forward again Archbishop Cranmer).
My reaction is that this Congress has been seen (at least by Cardinal Ouellet, I think) as a remedy for the apparent disastrous decadence of the Church in French Canada during the last 40 years. Well it won't be a remedy unless this liturgical playing around, so characteristic of liberal North American liturgy, is jettisoned and the presciptions of Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacramentum Caritatis are adopted.