I'm constantly amazed that Daniel Mitsui isn't even out of his twenties yet.
Link: The Lion and the Cardinal (Daniel's blog)
12 July 2007
ABOUT THAT LECTIONARY....
I am not in the habit of commenting on current events, but there has been much discussion in the past few days about using the three year lectionary from the new Mass at the traditional Mass. I will not argue about the canonical allowance of this; merely say that I think it is a very bad idea. In too many discussions that I have read on the matter recently, the expanded lectionary is asserted to be superior, just because it has more of the good book in it, and this assertion often goes unchallenged.
I can understand protecting the temporal cycle from undue encroachment by votive Masses and sanctoral feasts, but that is an old problem, one which probably could be remedied without altering the traditional rhythms of the liturgical year. I also can understand adding a prophecy to the readings at Mass, provided that it be done while keeping the concord between the Breviary lessons and the Mass propers.
But a criticism of the old way is in not the same as a positive argument for the new way. The positive argument advanced in favor of the new way is that it provides more scriptural nourishment to the laymen; but who actually benefits from this? I would be surprised if most laymen attending the new Mass can remember what Gospel was read three weeks ago, much less three years - nobody save a mnemonic freak will sit in his pew and think: I don't need to pay attention. I just heard this last year. Can anyone who argues for the three year lectionary remember what he heard at Mass one liturgical year ago this day? If not, then a one year lectionary is every bit as fresh and enriching as a three year lectionary. If anything, more repetition is needed, to inculcate the wisdom of holy writ despite ordinary human forgetfulness.
Laymen will remember and intuit the liturgy the same way they always have, if allowed to do so: by developing popular devotions to commemorate liturgical events. People do not remember in three-year cycles; they remember according to the annual rhythms of God's blue heavens and God's green earth - aided by feasts and fasts, seasonal foods, patterns of weather and nature. Three year cycles are not only untraditional; they are unnatural. Man does not do things in three year cycles. God does not do things in three year cycles. Why should the Church?
The reformed lectionary was not developed from the immemorial liturgical tradition from which a spontaneous popular piety grew; it was imposed from the top down by curial fiat. The connection between worship and popular religious sentiment was rent, and the laymen have never been more ignorant for it.