Calgary – The RC Bishop of Calgary, Most Rev. Paul O’Byrne, decreed in February of this year that from now on in his diocese all the faithful must stand during Mass from the time of the Offertory to that of Communion. Whether steps will be taken to physically prevent the congregation from kneeling remains to be seen.
Kneeling before God is thousands of years old and is to be found in all religions. In the Christian tradition, kneeling in Church as a common practice for the whole assembly goes as far back as the beginning of the fourth century when Christianity in the Roman Empire ceased to be persecuted and churches could be built openly. Today, some liturgists have developed the novelty that kneeling is unseemly and no longer appropriate for the modern churchgoer.
Such liturgists have been defined by one writer (Thomas Day, Why Catholics can’t sing, Crossroads, N.Y., 1990, 185 p.p.) as “social architects who start with the conviction that they can remake society and human nature through the architecture of the liturgy.” Their maxism is “to start from scratch; the past has nothing to offer.”
Three years ago, one year before his retirement, the RC Bishop of Nelson, B.C., Most Rev. Emmett Doyle, issued a similar decree as the Bishop of Calgary just did. The practice of standing is also quite common in the Archdiocese of Regina. There, as elsewhere, some Pastors have removed the kneelers, usually done by announcing that Church renovations must be carried out. When the church reopens, the kneelers are gone.
The General Instruction on the Roman Missal says that the faithful “should kneel down for the Consecration” unless they are “impeded by the lack of space, density of the crowd, or other reasonable cause” (n.21).
Prairies – Recently the Archbishop of Winnipeg, Most Rev. Adam Exner, was appointed to the Archdiocese of Vancouver, a vibrant and rapidly growing community of faithful almost three times the size of the Winnipeg diocese. It is marked by a notable tranquility in faith. Ordinary Catholics were pleased both for Vancouver and Archbishop Exner.
However, some can’t stand piety, devotion and adherence to the certainties of doctrine. Apparently the editor of the Catholic Weekly The Prairie Messenger, Fathem. Under the title “Exner moves to Vancouver,” he fired off the following opening sentence:
“In a church with fewer and fewer certainties, it still has a safe bet that not a single bishop in Canada wanted to “move up” to Vancouver. The archdiocese had isolated itself from the rest of the church in Western Canada and had become a world unto itself.”
Britz seems to know something the rest of us don’t.
Toronto – Anglican eclectic Tom Harpur, writing in his regular Sunday column in Canada’s most secular newspaper, the Toronto Star, (June 23), thinks the Anglican Church should “bless gay unions.” That is his contribution to the June issue of The Anglican, the Toronto diocesan monthly, which poses the question in a pro and con feature, asking for readers’ opinions.
Don’t call it wedding or marriage, Harpur says, because these should be kept for heterosexuals. The “blessing of the union” will do.
Harpur is certain that it should be done right away. “Recognition by the churches of the full humanity and of the spiritual and emotional needs of gay members through a solemnization of gay unions,” he states, “would go a long way towards bringing healing to gays and to homophobics alike.”
Earlier, on June 6, in a column entitled “Churches must clean up their own act,” Mr. Harpur advised the Catholic Church that if she ever hoped to be listened to she should do the following: incorporate women at all levels of ministry and decision-making, including ordination; drop mandatory celibacy for the priesthood; arrive at a theology of sexuality by consulting what people want rather than telling them what to do: allow theologians to say and teach whatever they believe ; and involve the people in the choice of bishops.
But, asked Toronto Star letter writer Richard Toporowski, outside England this is what Harpur’s church, the Anglican Church, already does. Who is listening to it? And, as much as it pains me to say it, who is even going to it?
Rome – Obedience to church teaching is a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, said Pope John Paul II during his weekly general audience on April 24, 1991.
The Holy Spirit, who is the “interior teacher” for followers of Christ, does not inspire “dissent, disobedience or even unjustified resistance to the pastors and teachers established by the Holy Spirit in the church,” the pope said.
“A sign of real contact with the Holy Spirit in discernment is and always will be adhesion to th erevealed truth as it is proposed by the church’s magisterium,” he said.
The Holy Spirit helps believers to discern truth, goodness and God’s will ‘not according to the criteria of human wisdom, which is foolishness before God,” but with divine wisdom, “which can seem foolish to huan eyes.”