STR,-No educated Catholic can have any doubt now as to the primary aim and immediate objective of the liturgical reform movement.
Pope Pius Xll's encyclical Mediator Dei in 1947, the recent pastoral liturgical Congress at Assisi and the new Holy Week rite make it perfectly clear that liturgical reform is meant to influence the attitude of mind and behaviour of the congregations at any public service in church. The " people of God" are to be taught and trained to resume the office which they have by right. viz. " to join with the priest in offering to Almighty God the worship which is His due."
Obviously parish priests are the only people in a position to have this desire of the Holy Sec carried out effectively. Legislation, conferences, remote control and lectures cannot of themselves achieve reform of anything, least of all of public worship. Genuine religious revival is possible only if the cells of the Mystical Body pulsate with inner life and selfcontained energy.
It is hardly fair, however, to blame the clergy for the snail's pace at which liturgical reform moves. Most of them see the need for some kind of change: few are satisfied with the behaviour of congregations at an ordinary Sunday Mass: some are becoming alarmed at the growing indifference of youth at the " summit or centre of
the Christian religion."
But it should be remembered that the parish priest is not entitled to institute a radical departure from the established form of worship in his church: that power is strictly reserved to his Ordinary.
Besides. the average priest does not feel himself competent to decide which of the various
methods of communal participation in the Mass now put forward is the best for the people. He would welcome sound advice and guidance from experts. As a rule he is conscious of the fact that the liturgical equipment given to him In the seminary is out of date and wholly inadequate. He knows that the liturgy is at a stage of transition, adaptation and slow hut steady evolution. But a busy priest cannot be expected to keep au courant with the latest developments in scholarship.
Let a plan be produced that has won the full approval of the priest and his school teachers, and liturgical prayer and practice will Maori become a normal feature of public worship. There is more than a suspicion that schools especially those of higher grade and select memhershipare failing to prepare youth for simple communal worship and Christian social enterprise in adult parish life.