Elisabeth Scalia reports on attending a dumbed-down Palm Sunday liturgy.
One comment: If one assumes that the effectiveness of liturgy is to be measured in terms of ‘active participation’, and that ‘active participation’ is defined as vocal, physical and mental involvement in the liturgy, then – surprise! – it is possible to objectively measure ‘success’. When people are not praying, not singing, not moving, and not paying attention – YOU HAVE FAILED by YOUR OWN STANDARDS.
These standards are wrong, of course, but this wrongness is perhaps best illustrated by trying to apply them and seeing what happens. Ironically, the standards for good liturgy that were rejected – that, first and foremost, our communal prayer is meant to acknowledge, praise and thank God, and beg His mercy – are not objectively measurable by simple observation of the congregation. Yet the perpetrators of modern liturgy have continued the previous practice of not measuring, pretending that the (in)effectiveness of their efforts cannot be easily seen in the attitudes (and, often, the absence) of the people in the pews.
It’s the same argument used with the ugly LA Cathedral: we’ve got a theory why this is better, we’ve explained it, and so the resulting concrete physical reality is irrelevant. (This is the standard Progressive/Pragmatic view – but that’s another story.)