Some Matters That Caught My Attention Recently

Friday, Feb. 08, 2019
By Msgr. M. Francis Mannion
Pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul Parish

• Liturgical Vernacular – Those who are attached to Latin in the liturgy (mostly in the context of the Tridentine Mass) would do well to attend to what is happening in the Greek Orthodox Church in America. A recent study by George Demacoupoulos of Fordham University proposed that the Greek Church should consider dropping the ancient Greek currently used in the liturgy and move toward English or modern Greek.

The principal impetus for this is the fact that congregations are dwindling at an alarming rate due in great part to their incomprehension of the current language of the liturgy. This is especially true of young people, who are unable to connect with the liturgy because of the language problem.

I bring this up because of the attachment of some Catholics to the Latin Mass. If they do not know what is going on in the liturgy (even with the use of a Latin/English missal), their attachment is apt to be merely aesthetic. Despite the myth of youthful attachment to Latin, I think the attachment will fade.

• Communion Pills – A Colorado businesswoman has hit upon a novel idea: to make and sell Communion hosts and wine in the form of pills. One is made up of matzo bread powder, the other of red wine extract. She thinks this will serve the need of frequent travelers or people in the military, who often don’t have access to a Church service.

I can’t think of a single reason why this is a good idea. Problems: the pills are not validly consecrated; the meal/banquet aspect is absent; the factor of breaking bread and sharing the common cup is missing; the Eucharist is a communal event, not a private one; and a solid theology of the Eucharist is absent.

This novelty fits perfectly in an era of liturgical shenanigans!

• New Organ at St. Peter’s – Recently St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome installed an electronic (digital) organ. This is a disappointment to those who recognize the pipe organ as vastly superior in every way. The installation of an electronic organ blesses the acceptability of that kind of instrument. Now many bishops and pastors will think it perfectly fine to buy such an organ – despite the place of honor and priority accorded the pipe organ in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II.

Due to their aversion to electronic instruments, the number of trained organists will decrease, and it will discourage young musicians from entering advanced organ training programs.

There is also the myth that electronic organs are much less expensive than pipe organs. That is true at the outset; but electronic instruments last only a couple of years, at which point a new one must be purchased, while a pipe organ lasts for centuries if properly maintained.

• Cemetery Jogging – At a recent burial in our local Catholic cemetery, I saw two joggers running past the grave site oblivious to the proceedings in progress. It has always irked me that people feel free to use cemeteries as sports facilities, and it demonstrates an absence of a sense of sacred place.

 Nowadays people think that they can do anything they want in public arenas, and that they have no obligation to follow traditional protocols of respect for others. For instance, people will talk loudly in elevators – even about personal matters – oblivious to the fact that there are other people in the elevator.

So, the moral is, don’t jog in cemeteries; they are the holy resting places of the bodies of the dead.

Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is pastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

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