Page 6, 23rd January 1942

23rd January 1942
Page 6
Page 6, 23rd January 1942 — Liturgy in the Small Church

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Organisations: Small Church
Locations: Liverpool, L.A.


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Liturgy in the Small Church

I FADS I fr must be borne in mind that in -a" most of our parishes we have to deal with simple, homely folk. It is a great pity, therefore, that the liturgical movement should have come to be associated with all sorts of artistic and antiquarian fads, quite meaningless to the majority. Thus there are liturgical enthusiasts who apparently want us all to go back to the Catacombs or to the customs of the early Roman basilicas. There ale others—even to-day, a century

after Pugin who think everything terrible that is not Gothic, or whet they imagine to


be " English." Others, again, scorning revivals, would have us make a fresh start by being ruthlessly modern and '' functional."

After all, there is nothing specially liturgical about an apse, a baldachin upori columns, mosaics ia the Byzantine nianner, mystic symbols from the Roman cemeteries. Nor is a chasuble of the primitive or medieval shape more liturgical (rather less so, if we consider authority) than an ordinary flat one. Nor is an altar with riddel-posts and damask curtains more convenient or appropriate for the liturgical rites than a Baroque structure with marble scrolls and cherubs, tall candlestioes and tinsel lace. Nor is there anything particularly consonant with the liturgy in the revolutionary " concrete, glass and chromium " art ot to-day.

Art-craft Mistakes

Whatever our ebreonal preferences may be in such matters (and it is those with a little learning who are roost apt to dogmatise), we have no right to inflict them upon puzzled congregations in the sacred name of liturgy.

The liturgical movement may indeed go hand-in-hand with a nruch-needed refinement in popular taste, but we shall not make congregations of simple folk liturgically-minded by converting our churches Into museums or exhibitions of arts and crafts.

A church may be huilcand furnished in the most approved rubrical manner; its vestments may be sumptuous and well-designed; its ceremonies and even its chant may be well nigh perfect, yet in spite of all this liturgical splendour its congregation—though perhaps " ritualist "—may be utterly lacking in the true spirit or the liturgy. On the other band, it is quite possible for the liturgical spirit to thrive in the most humble surroundings and with accessories that would make sense of our purists lift their hands in horror.

Beauty Looks After Herself

We must attend first of all to the essentials: the actual text and rubrics or the liturgical books. If we do this, an improvement in popular taste is bound to follow. Once the liturgy itself comes to be regarded as the normal and most perfect means of approach to God, our people will naturally put the requirements of the liturgy before all else, losing all desire for irrelevant vulgarities. Here as elsewhere " beauty look e after itself."

Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the realm of church music. The chant is indeed an integral pate or the saered rites, and its restoration (at least as the normal things) is a matter of positive obligation. Here, at any rate, the Church is by no means indifferent to style. I3ut until our people have imbibed something of the liturgical spirit thcy are not in the least likely to appreciate plainsong.

If ell they want is " nice music " with an emotibnal appeal and a kind of solemn rather Protestant " churchiness," they will certainly not prefer the ecclesiastical chant to the kind of thing they have been used

Nor shall we convert them by means of the Missa de Angelis, still less by compelling them to listen to interminable Graduals 1 It is only when they have acquired the real spirit of the Church's pi ayer that they will begin to see how perfectly that spirit is expressed its the pure and other-worldly melodies of the chant, and bow utterly discortiant with the liturgy is nine-tenths of the excellent music commonly .performed by Catholic choirs.

Starting Point Our starting point, then, should be the text and rubrics of the liturgical books. It is not always realised as it should be that the liturgical books in themselves furnish a complete scheme for Catholic worship, so that strictly speaking there is no need for anything else. This. of course, does not imply any condemnation of those devotional " extras " (hymn-singing. the Rosary and so on) which are permitted or even prescribed by authority. Such things arc only to be condemned when they usurp the place of the liturgy or interfere with its propel performance. But happy is'the pastor who can begin with the essentials, taking the liturgy as his starting point, unencumbered by bad parochial traditions, or by fear of transgreesing some contrary " English " custom. In many parishes, indeed, it would seem that little can be achieved without a drastic curtailment of non-essentials, perhaps a return to great simplicity of worship, in order that a new tradition may be built up on sound foundations. And it will very often be found that the best sort of Catholics are only too ready to welcome such a purge, . In every parish, of course, there are some who think more of a " nice musical service " than of the Mass itself', and who may be grievously offended if they are not allowed to display their vocal talents in the old way : but in most places, thank God, there is a good proportion of solid, praying (if unvocal) Catholics whose whole religion centres in Holy Mass: and it is with these that the liturgical movement. propelly understood, will bear most fruit.

Next week: The Mass

Lay Apostolate


By NORMAN A. HAWES The Catholic Lay Apostolate, about which a correspondent of the Cantotic HERALD enquired some weeks ago, is an organisation approved by Cardinal Hinsley, designed to further the apostolate of the laity. Its objects are (a) the unification of lay apostles

to intensify the individual apostolate: (b) to recruit more men and women; (c) to make wider known the teaching of the Popes that the apostolate is an inherent duty oil Catholic life.

It is impossible in a short statement to give mole than an outline or the movement, but briefly the programme of the C.L.A. is spiritual formation, study, and ' planned action, secured by means of " cells " or groups of three or four rime and women, working on a parochial basis. The two distinctive features of the movement are: expansion from a single cell and the group system. By the system it avoals the clanger of nominal membership, and by working in group formation, it secures continuity of fervour and action and appeals to the shy or reticent would-he apostle.

ACTIONISTS WEEKLY TONIC Members (known as Actionists) undertake to say a daily prayer for the apostolate, to receive Holy Communion once a week, and to attend their Group Meeting. The work of the movement (as distinct from the persoaal apostolate of the member who is left free to pursue his own course in the way best suited to himself and his circumstances) is done chiefly at the meeting. It is the Actionises weekly tonic team which he draws strength and knowledge, and at which he plans group activity with his fellows. Three or the meetings in each month ate devoted to the study of doctrinal and social subjects since, after his own sanctification. the lay apostle's greatest need is sound training in Catholic belief and principles. Yet the meetings are not glorified study circles. They arc e means to an end • •a spiritual end—and for this reason they begin with prayer and end with the recital of the Holy Rosary. 'To develop Catholic le iendship and to take religion still more into the home, Group Meetings are held. where possible, in the house of each member in turn. Group action is determined by local needs and the wishes or the parish priest. At the present moment, Groups are engaged in the following important works among others: the formation and organisation of Catholic Libraries, youth clubs, clubs for the Forces, visiting the sick and poor, the development of the sale of the Catholic Press, etc.

MONTHLY BULLETIN Action being the end of the Catholic Lay Apostolate, every complexity in procedure and its the organisation of the movement has been avoided as far as possible, while Group action has been made general rather than specific in order to serve best the needs of the clergy.

The C.L.A. publishes a monthly Bulletin (3d. post free), and its new Handbook, which gives full information as to objects and methods, will he on sale before the end of the month at the price of Is.

There are many persons struggling to carry out the wish of the Church who would be helped by association with others engaged in the same work. There are many who would become apostles were they not held back by shyness or tack of knowledge. The Catholic Lay Apostolate provides the means or helping them.

U.S. Prelate Honoured

Mgr, George Joseph Waring. uncle of Er. George Veering, Port Chaplain at Liverpool and chief of the Apostleship of the Sea, that been appointed Pronotary Apostolic in the U.S.A.

Mgr. Waring, who is attached to the New York Archdiocese. was a great personal friend of the late Cardinal Hayes, and until his recent retirement was head chaplain to the U.S. aimed forces.

An outstanding public figure in the Church in the States, Mgr. Waring is also a scholar of considerable I epute. He holds the degrees of D.D., 1 .S.D., and M.A., and (to quote the crisp phrase of Fr. Waring) " seems to collect the things!"

Via Pads, Via Cr-t;e-isi, By -the Rev. W, O'Grady. (Laverty, 9d.) The parish priest of Pateley Bridge. Yorkshire. provides all Christians with a short, simple, inexpensive booklet or devotions and reading to remind them of their faith in, and love of, Jesus Christ, irt Whom atone is their hope of peace. In this book the reader may find points which. so far, have not been stressed in the various " Points Plans " for our future Christian civilisation.

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