Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Liturgy is about Christ - It is a "service" to Him

Following my previous posts on matters liturgical I have been directed towards this excellent article by Denise E Bossert which appears on the diocese of Marquette's website.

Denise is a convert to the Catholic faith who evidently appreciates the beauty and mystery of Catholic liturgy.

She writes:
One would think that a person might have to sacrifice a lot to be Catholic. One might expect the Mass to be extremely boring – stripped of all the hype. One might wonder why there aren’t more Catholics seeking out mega-churches and claiming their own seats in the auditorium.

For that matter, why would those born and raised beyond the embrace of Mother Church – those who believe they are free to choose any place of worship without guilt – why would they ever deliberately walk away from the performance-style worship of other faith communities and be content with the Catholic Mass?

The answer is almost the same for every convert. In the Mass, heaven touches earth, and we receive the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
Denise writes a blog entitled Catholic by Grace. You can read her conversion story there.


  1. Father, have you come across people teaching (I am thinking of theologians here, texts or ideas that would be taught in seminary or that a priest might come across later) that mortal sin is necessary matter for confession? (In the sense that it is needed for the sacrament, not in the sense that it needs the sacrament.) A very good priest said more or less this in a reply to a question yesterday, and I'm wondering where he got the idea (before I say anything!). Many thanks for any help!

  2. Berenike: yes I have come across people who mistakenly teach that you should not go to confession if you are not conscious of mortal sin. Most of the saints would have made many many invalid confessions if that were the case. You say you heard this from a good priest. I'm sure you must have mis-heard him.

    What is necessary is sin, be it mortal or venial. We are bound to confess our mortal sins at least once a year:

    Catechism of the Catholic Church 1457:
    According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year." Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.

    As for venial sins and imperfections, CCC 1458:
    Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:

    Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made .... When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. the beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.

  3. Yes Father, excellent article. One of the worst innovations post Vat II has been the creation of parish ‘Liturgy Committees’. It has given the impression that ‘we’ choose the liturgy; that ‘we’ make the decisions about how Mass is celebrated or about who ‘actively’ participates and when, etc. etc. This has resulted in a Do-IT-Yourself liturgy with too many ‘experts’ having a voice in the decision-making.

    Pope Benedict has frequently pointed out that the liturgy is not ‘our’ doing, nor is it about us and what we want. It is about Him and it is His Church which determines how it is celebrated.

    It used to be that the worst a pastor had to deal with was an entrenched organist who insisted on doing things her way (it was usually a she…) as in: playing at breakneck speed or an octave higher than the majority of the congregation could manage. As to ‘Liturgy Committees’, well we had the Altar Society which took care of the adornment of the altar and the linens, and nothing more – which was enough.

    Let’s ban ‘Liturgy Committees’…!

  4. GOR: the comment is published without any implication of endorsing the stereotype of a female organist, or without necessarily agreeing with the banning of Liturgy Committees. Perhaps these committees are necessary but they need clear guidance, direction, formation. Liturgy should be anything but diy. Just my attempt at moderation.

  5. …and moderately done, Father! I do get “a bee in my bonnet” about some things – from personal experiences. But one should not generalize from the particular.

  6. I'm sorry not to have come back earlier - I have been away a great deal.

    No, he didn't say one shouldn't confess without having committed a mortal sin. That he didn't, is what made me scratch my head. And, after a quick poke through a couple of books for a possible explanation, write a question on your blog. If he'd just said "there's no point in going unless you have a mortal sin to confess", and if he didn't frequently talk about confession in his Sunday (and weekday) sermons, there would have been no puzzle!

    I remembered his words quite precisely, and that evening I found that what he said does in fact chime, word for word, with what Tanquerey's Brevior Dogmatica says, "[peccata] mortalia nondum accusata et absoluta sunt materia necessaria" - but of course Tanquerey doesn't mean that without mortal sin there is no sacrament, as the next part of the sentence makes clear "seu necessario subjicienda clavibus Ecclesiae". But PP is a canon lawyer - he can read. The only explanation that makes any sense is that PP was semi-punning to amuse himself while going through a tedious monthly ritual of drinking tea with Some Pious Women (and one Pious Bloke, with a shaved head and neck like a bull). The other possibility is that he doesn't think there's much point to confession if one has no mortal sin to confess, but thinks there's nothing to gain and a lot to lose by preaching this. That to start preaching about this would simply lead people away from the confessional who do have mortal sins, and would unnecessarily upset people used to making confessions of venial sins. The more I think about this the more plausible it seems, especially recalling an odd encounter with a young priest some years ago. There was a long queue, so I'd been to Mass and received Holy Communion while the queue went down. Went through my sorry list of feeble sins, and the priest began by asking why I was going to confession if I'd just been to Communion.

    I have been meaning to screw up my courage and go and talk to PP in the "chancery hour" for some time now, so I'll add this to the list of questions/suggestions. Funnily enough, the chief point on the list concerns an entrenched female organist :D

    Thank you again!


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