I am utterly humbled by the power and glory of God.
As much as I would like to uproot my family from a parish that is wonderful in every way but one (if you've been reading, you know that "one" I'm referring to is poor liturgy), I am seeing hope, flickering like a candle flame, amidst the faithful people I have met and the small changes that have occurred in people who don't know the Mass in a studied or scholarly way, but yet, by the grace of God, understand what authentic liturgy brings to the world. I am also coming to see that perhaps our Lord has brought us to this particular parish not necessarily to be fed as we were at our former parish but to feed and be a catalyst for liturgical change (change, you know, from the "spirit of Vatican II" variety).
One family in particular whom we've met through chance (or more likely by divine providence) has shown us such support and in fact, says that we have given them the courage and knowledge they need to stand liturgically correct, that I'm beginning to see that we are meant to be at this parish, as much as it frustrates us. We had this family over for dinner this past summer and formed quite a bond from our love of authentic worship and our dismay over a pastor who has an apparent disdain for the Magisterium and rubrics. It was at this dinner that we started to commiserate over the liturgical abuses and the subject of holding hands at the Our Father came up. It was here that I was able to catechize (though I didn't know I was teaching at the time) about proper gestures at Mass. I had no idea that God was using me to influence this family. Fast forward to last Sunday, after pretty much deciding that I couldn't take the liturgical abuse any more and that we had to leave, and here I am sitting with this family and I come to find out that they've decided not to hold hands during the Our Father but instead pray it individually hands clasped in prayer position (orans is OK, too, by the way, but does confuse people around you because they think you are extending your hands out for them to grasp). They said they had the opportunity to reflect upon what I had told them about the "our" in "Our Father" being between us and Jesus, a vertical prayer, and not between "us and us" horizontally and came to the same conclusion as us about what the proper posture should be during that prayer. They sit near us at Mass so that they are not alone in this gesture. A thought occurred to me...If, as I believe the organic development of holding hands with others in a church during the 70's caught on one by one, then perhaps the gestures at Mass can be reformed to what Vatican II intended, and nothing more, one family at a time. Brick by brick.
I am coming to know that many other families can sense that there is something not quite right with our liturgical practices at the parish but because they lack information, they ignore the uncomfortableness, thinking instead that there must be something wrong with them. Enter the Sarrazolla's...we have the knowledge to instruct them (and have...at parties, at pancake breakfasts, at teen Bible studies, etc.). Others have told me that they have started to do their own research about what I have opined and have come to the same conclusion after reading what the church teaches (I love Google!).
And, I believe that God has used us as the catalyst for the recent change from an illicit practice to the right one...I'm talking here about the Christological trope problem during the Agnus Dei. I firmly believe that this parish would not have contacted the bishop for a correction if it weren't for the fact that I sent a memo issued by the USCCB telling the episcopate that they were to cease and desist the use of non-Lamb of God tropes to our parish music director. Why do I think this? Well, the USCCB sent out a memo back in August that the practice was to be abolished. However, our bishop here did nothing (which is why our parish still was singing "Lamb of God...Bread of Life...Cup of Hope...etc."). Enter in the Sarrazolla's once again. I found the memo last month, thanks to Fr. Z's blog, and immediately forwarded it to my music director with the hope that we would be changing our practice from then on. She went to the pastor who said we wouldn't change until he heard from the bishop (his typical motis operandi, for I believe this priest doesn't believe our bishop will actually change anything and so he would be able to continue his practices as he [arrogantly] sees fit). So, our music director, begrudgingly ("why the big fuss, it's only words" as she says) contacted the bishop's office, who, in turn, did an investigation. And, lo and behold, gee, the Sarrazolla's have been right all along about this and we must change. A memo from our bishop's office went out to parishes earlier this week (it's about darned time, if you ask me) delineating the proper practice and we will now be singing only "Lamb of God" and none of the other Christological tropes. Amen! Thank you God for using us as an instrument for liturgical correction!
So, I'm thinking, of all the parishes we could have gotten involved in (and one in particular I wanted to become a member before we even moved because it more closely aligned itself with the great liturgical practices called for by Mother Church), we were sent to our current parish as missionaries. Ok, God. We finally see our purpose. We will stay, at least for another couple of years. Perhaps you can reward us with a better bishop and pastor for our faithful service? Maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud...I may need to go to confession.
Next problem to tackle...getting Father to stop changing the institution narrative and say "for many." This one may require a letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship...and perhaps a couple of YouTube video postings. Stay tuned...