Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Apologies

I really shouldn't have to apologize for expressing what is true and correct in Catholic liturgy, in Catholic life.  But, I will, just in case I offend someone with my orthodoxy.  (Is sarcasm a sin?)  I am sad and I terribly miss the work of the people enacted in my old parish of St. Margaret's, Oceanside.  I miss the reverence.  I miss the strict adherance to liturgical norms and GIRM rubrics.  I long for the five Propers instead of the 4-hymn sandwich.  What I wouldn't give to hear a little Gregorian chant, in Latin, at Mass.  How I wish to attend a liturgy where the Kyrie isn't skipped (because of accident or choice) and liturgical dancers are not permitted in the Sanctuary (I am NOT talking about Basque people here, who have a cultural connection between worship and dance, by the way).  How pleased I would be if I could go to a church where it seems there weren't more EMHCs than people attending or where the pastor thought the best way to engage children in liturgy was to have children lectors who really have no business reading out loud in worship (and, really, shouldn't readers be fully initiated?).  I want go ta Mass where there isn't this unnatural desire to go up to Communion simply because everyone else is doing it but rather because people go because of proper disposition, where parents don't insist that their young ones under the age of reason go receive a blessing in the Communion line so the kiddos don't feel left out,where my family and I aren't made to feel awkward because we don't hold hands during the Our Father.  I'd love to step into a sacred environment where the liturgical colors aren't messed with, where there is a preponderance of permanent sacred art that negates the need for temporary banners, where choir members sitting in the front for the whole congregation to see don't fall asleep with mouths gaping during the homily, where the altar servers know precisely what to do and when to do it, where norms are followed and liturgical innovations are regarded like the pariahs they are. 

I am not perfect.  I don't expect liturgy to be perfect.  It is messy especially since it is a "work of the people."  But, I can dream, can't I?

My rant is now done.  :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does it matter?

Does it matter that in my parish, the vestments and banners are so bluish purple during the season of Advent that most people think the color is navy blue?

The pastor says that he chose the more blue-purple to reflect the darkness of the wintery season, to more align the season of Advent to what we see in nature. On the other hand, the hoi poloi seem to think the color is blue to reflect the Marian nature of the advent season (I kid you not).  While this may seem like a matter of opinion, let's suppose for a moment that there is more to the symbolism than meets the eye.

The official, Vatican decreed color of the Advent season is violet. Granted, the hue values of violet vary greatly, depending on the "eye of the beholder" but suffice it to point out that when one thinks of violet, this is usually the color:                 or  maybe even              .  Not only does this color symbolize the penitential nature of the season of Advent, it also reflects the light we see in the sky, just before dawn.  In remembering John the Baptist's words, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), and that Christ is the Light of the world, we can see how, maybe violet rather than dark purple or navy bluish purple may be a better choice.  Think of the dawn again...what colors are there?  Dark midnight blue, cobalt blue, violet.  That which is closer to the horizon is the color violet, right?  So if Christ is the dawning and his Light is what flashes when He is born, like the sun at sunrise, that time just before His birth, Advent, would be best symbolized through color as violet, the color closest to the horizon, the color closest to the light of dawn.

Think about the seasons...what happens from summer to winter?  The days get shorter and nights longer....less and less light.  What happens after the winter solstice (which, not so coincidentally happens just about the same time as we celebrate the Nativity)?  That's right.  The days get longer.  The light increases.  "He increases but I must decrease."  The Church has used nature, the changing of days to explain this concept. If December 25th is after the shortest day of the year, it would stand to reason, then that the light is increasing at this point.  It is not at it's darkest.  If we use dark-purplish-blue or navy blue, how are we conveying this concept of increasing light, of Christ increasing?

What does the change in light have to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Furthermore, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops have declared that blue is illicit for liturgical use.

So, does it matter that in my parish, the vestments and banners are so bluish purple during the season of Advent that most people think the color is navy blue?  It absolutely does.  For one, it seems as though, by those in the know, who understand liturgically the difference between violet and dark, brooding purple, that the parish is snubbing the authority of the bishop.  Secondly, by not using a truer violet we are missing out on an opportunity to go deeper into the fullness of our liturgical faith, to catechize, to grow closer to Christ in one more way.

I may not be able to change any minds in this diocese but, I can properly educate my boys, in the hope that one day they will become liturgically astute priests and change the current culture, brick by violet brick.