Faith & Life

Every sacristy has its own liturgy?

January 19, 2022

Enrico Finotti

How is it possible that there is no longer a uniform liturgy for all? Each priest makes changes to the liturgy in his own way. We understand the diversity of character, age, culture and health, but not that of the continuous mutation of signs and words. People now seem to say that in the end, the liturgy belongs to the priest on duty. But isn’t this a form of clericalism, however much deplorable? I say this with pain, but those who show themselves to be the most liberal are actually the most uncompromising. They don’t want comments and criticisms. They must always be given absolute credit, despite the inconveniences of somewhat perplexed conduct of the rite, which reflects their ideas, but certainly not the tradition of the Church.

A critical parishioner

It is necessary to distinguish the environments and activities in the area of ​​catechesis and pastoral care in general, there is great freedom of expression, albeit in a way that is always compatible with the dogma of the faith, the moral norms and disciplinary laws of the Church. Here it is accepted that the use of symbols and the composition of different languages ​​can truly extend over a vast and free-range of proposals. In the liturgy, on the other hand, the symbols, rites and precepts are precisely established by the Church as they become the intermediary of great mysteries and effectively transmit the grace that saves us. Just as the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God is closely linked to Sacred Scripture and does not admit any deviation from what the inspired Word is, so in sacred rites and prayers there must be fidelity to the symbols and texts established by the Church. Without this observance, the liturgy undergoes falsifications, reductions, omissions or additions that do not conform to faith and prayer which are proper to the Church.

Furthermore, the liturgy realizes the unity of the Church and all its internal components. Therefore, the common way of elevating holy worship must shine forth in the liturgy, and the various sensitivities must find in it the common ground, which generates and verifies them. When celebrating the liturgy, one must get out of particularism and enter the only voice that has no dissonance: the voice of Christ, our Head and of the Church as his bride. Changing the liturgy or some of its parts alters its identity and our feeble voice replaces the powerful voice of Christ, imposing precarious, subjective and often erroneous and banal paths on the people of God, which cannot give the Grace, which is connected only to an authentic and faithful liturgy.

Therefore, a sense of responsibility is needed for priests and for all liturgical operators, so that they do not present a ‘false’ to God and do not harm the rights of the Christian people to fully have the worship of the Church in order to make it their own and be sanctified.

Therefore, anyone should be careful not to remove, add or change anything in the liturgy (SC22) in order not to have to answer before God as forgeries of the cult established by him and detractors of the right of the Church, a holy people. 

(From La spada e la Parola. Il liturgista risponde, 2018©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)

(Photo: Sacristy of St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Pittsfield, Massachusetts)