Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vatican approval coming for Neo Cat liturgy?

Other blogs are carrying the comments of Sandro Magister who reports that the Holy Father is due to hold an audience with thousands of members of the Neocatechumenal Way on January 20th and that this could be the occasion for the approval of the rather strange liturgical practices observed during the Mass.

If Magister's analysis is correct, I think any approval of the manner in which "The Way" celebrates the Mass would be a serious set back for the work of liturgical reform. We would, in effect, have three approved forms of the Roman Rite: the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form and the Neocatechumenal Form. I can't see why The Way shouldn't conform to the universal norms of the Church.

Magister describes some of the peculiarities of the Mass celebrated by "The Way" ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko):
1. They are celebrated in small groups, corresponding to the different stages of advancement on the catechetical journey. If in a parish, for example, there are twelve Neocatechumenal communities, each at a different stage, there will be twelve Masses, celebrated in separate places more or less at the same time, preferably on Saturday evening.

2. The surroundings and furnishings trace out the image of a banquet: a table with the participants seated around it. Even when the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass not in a parish hall but in a church, they often ignore the altar. They put a table in the middle and sit around it in a circle.

3. Each of the biblical readings of the Mass is preceded by an extensive "monition" on the part of one or the other of the community and is followed, especially after the Gospel, by "resonances," or personal reflections by a substantial number of those present. The priest's homily is added to the "resonances" without being distinguished from them.

4. Communion also takes place in banquet form. The consecrated bread – a large unleavened loaf, two thirds white flour and one third whole wheat flour, prepared and baked according to detailed rules established by Kiko – is broken and distributed to those present, who remain in their places. After the distribution, it is eaten at the same time by all, including the priest. After this, the priest goes from one person to the next with the chalice of consecrated wine, which everyone drinks.

There are also other peculiarities, but these four are enough to understand how different in form and substance the Masses of the Neocatechumenals are from those celebrated according to the general liturgical rules. A difference that is certainly more pronounced than that between the Masses in the ancient Roman rite and in the modern rite.

The Vatican authorities have repeatedly sought to bring the Neocatechumenals back to greater fidelity to the "lex orandi" in effect in the Catholic Church. But with a weak pulse and almost no results.

The strongest reminder came with the promulgation of the definitive statutes of the Way, approved in 2008.

In them, at article 13, the Vatican authorities established that the Masses of the communities must be "open also to other faithful"; that communion must be received "standing"; that for the biblical readings, only "brief monitions" of introduction are permitted, apart from the homily.

There is no trace of the "resonances" (permitted in the previous, provisional statutes of 2002) in this same article 13 dedicated to the celebration of the Mass. It is mentioned only in article 11, which, however, concerns the weekday celebrations of the Word, which each community holds with its own catechists.

The fact is that there has been very little change between the way in which the Neocatechumenals celebrate the Mass today and the way in which they celebrated it until a few years ago, when, moreover, the cups of consecrated wine were passed festively from hand to hand.

It is only in theory that their group Masses have been opened to other faithful as well.

Standing or seated, their convivial way of distributing communion is still the same.

The personal "resonances" of those present continue to invade and overwhelm the first part of the Mass.
Anyway, read Magister ("Placet" or "Non placet"? The wager of Carmen and Kiko) for yourself and decide.

See also:
Catholic Culture: Vatican acceptance coming for Neocatechuman liturgy?
New Liturgical Movement: Magister on the Neocatechumenal Way Liturgy
Pertinacious Papist: Bugnini's Dream:  Will Pope approve Neocatechuman liturgy?
Rorate Coeli: Reform of the reform...


  1. I second Joe. I pray that this is the spin of a publicity machine which has no basis in truth.

  2. It's sort of obvious where they 'think' they were going, but also fairly obvious you've got some 65-75 year olds who championed this who never quite got enough hash in their hippy days. In their own way they are being exclusionary and pseudo elitist -- 'look at us, we call ourselves 'the way' just like in the bible' -- we don't really need format, we've got all day and evening listen to everyone blather 'profundities' and 'resonances' ohhhhhhmmmmm....'this matzo bread, if you squint just right, looks like my Uncle Melvin playing poker with Jesus, Melvin has a busted flush, so the end is nigh...' ohmmmmm...

    There's a good reason why only a priest is supposed to give a homily (you know, that nasty accountability jazz) and the early church gave up listening to people prophesy during the Mass. While quite true in the first few centuries a simple 'mensa' was brought in -- Mass really, as a rule of thumb is meant for all comers -- not 'me and my special little group of friends.' And sitting around a coffee table, no matter how nice, just doesn't really cut it. Pablum only goes so far...and this is pablum. Can you trust these people NOT to substitute raisin bread with sugar icing and Annie Greenspring's Boonesfarm Apple Wine (okay, I'm showing MY age) for the bread and wine to be consecrated? 'Well, it all breaks down into atoms....why worry?' - this bunch would say.

    And then there's the practical...each parish having say TWELVE divisions? And presumably each will have a priest to say Mass instead of a 'facilitator?' Uh, yeah, right. That's going to happen....

    On the plus side, however, rather than submit the earth to the carbon dioxide from normal parishes seeking to burn every last copy of 'Kumbaya' and 'Eagle's wings' they could send them to these - dare one say 'idiots?' With any luck they will eventually star on 'extreme hoarders' and the sanitation department will eventually clear them out as 'hopeless.'

    I bet they are in to creepy 'centering prayer' too. Anyway...don't want to think about it any longer -- I might get ticked off...I'm working so hard to contain myself.

    1. I think one needs to be somewhat positive in that "The Way" has certainly borne undeniable fruits in terms of catechesis and knowledge of the faith, and I doubt that they would commit any of the serious abuses concerning the matter of the Eucharist to which you refer. My simple point is: why must their liturgy be different? It seems verging on the sect-like, but that is as far as I would go.

  3. Well, precisely - I thought they are supposed to be brought into the mysteries of the Mass 'as is.' It's like having a driving student 'learn' to drive the car in reverse gear 100% of the time, and then being surprised that they are surprised that no one does that in 'real life.' They should get to know the MAss as they will experience it in the Church. I do not like at all blurring the line between clergy and people attending. Having other people ruminate during mass and things like the priest receiving at the same time does NOT help these people recognize this is not just another Christian sect where you vote by 'majority rules.' I suspect most of these people would come from Protestant background and this does not help. [If I were Orthodox and thinking of converting, something like this would put me off!] I think it borders way too much on the very real danger of 'worshiping each other' rather than the Lord. A coffee clatch is fine AFTER the MAss -- not during it. At least at the coffee clatch one is free to wander away from the amiable bore musing about seeing Jesus in a lava lamp -- you can't do that in 'the way.' Although if one did - best to do it in a spectacular way like lighting up a cigarette and stepping outside.

    The very word catholic as we know means 'universal.' This isn't remotely universal - but far too much naval gazing.

    Non placet. Very much so!

  4. :/

    This'd be a sad disaster. And I say this as someone whose confessor is a neon (but also a good religious and philosopher, who makes the neons do adoration with the tantum ergo).


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