Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Chicago Tribune looks at the changes in the liturgy

Last week priests received a letter advising the 378 parishes in the archdiocese to begin to prepare for the revisions to the Order of Mass, which has been in place since 1975.Homilies over the next five weeks could be devoted, the letter said, to raising "consciousness of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and individual believers."The revisions planned for November stem from "questions about the interpretation or clarification of the norms," and from "changes that the Holy See deemed necessary," the letter states.

"This is not a new way of saying mass," said Rev. Anthony Brankin, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 2825 W. 81st St."It's a fine-tuning for things that might have become inexact. I think their worry is that parishes are going too far afield."Brankin expects very little change at his church, which adheres to tradition, he said. Each Sunday, St. Thomas More's 10 a.m. mass in Latin draws hundreds attracted by the "very ceremonial, formal and elegant" old rite used in Catholic churches before 1962, he said.

But Rev. William Kenneally, pastor of St. Gertrude Catholic Church, 1401 W. Granville Ave., said the revisions "are only going to add to the very grave tension between conservatives and liberals" in the church."Maybe in another parish they would want these changes, and God bless them," said Kenneally, who adds that the new bowing "is clumsy" and an "external show.""They start out with a premise that if everybody is doing the same thing externally, we will be united internally. That premise is hogwash."People love the Eucharist," he said. "They have a great deal of respect for it. There are cultural differences among Catholics, and silence is not always a sign of respect. Sometimes gathering is a sign of respect."

Rev. Richard T. Simon of St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church, 4827 N. Kenmore Ave., said the revisions come in response to the "roll-your-own, smoke-your-own mass" that has become "a vehicle for self-expression" in some churches."If you're doing it by the book, there's not much change," Simon said as he greeted parishioners after an 11:15 a.m. service in Spanish, with guitar music. The church in Uptown also offers Sunday masses in Laotian, English, Vietnamese and Eritrean."The mass is nobody's private property," Simon said. "It's the property of the church universal."The changes will promote uniformity, he said, "so that I can go to mass in Beijing or Soweto and I will recognize it and be a part of it."