Friday, December 21, 2007

Rote Ritual

However, when groups start adding to the faith needed for salvation, then there is a problem, and this is what rote ritual leads to.

All Liturgical churches to Candy's mind probably are guilty of "rote ritual." That would include the Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans and of course her favorite whipping boy- the Catholics.

I would argue that the beauty of the rhyme and rhythm of the liturgical churches and the "liturgy" don't take away from faith or add unnecessary elements, but rather increase, strengthen grow and support faith in a beautiful and meaningful way.

Currently liturgical churches are in the season of Advent. It is time before Christmas and in many ways is like a mini Lent. It is a period of preparing for Jesus in our hearts, by making ready.

The Catholic Encylcopedia has a good explanation of what is done during Advent.

On every day of Advent the Office and Mass of the Sunday or Feria must be said, or at least a Commemoration must be made of them, no matter what grade of feast occurs. In the Divine Office the Te Deum, the joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving, is omitted; in the Mass the Gloria in excelsis is not said. The Alleluia, however, is retained. During this time the solemnization of matrimony (Nuptial Mass and Benediction) cannot take place; which prohibition binds to the feast of Epiphany inclusively. The celebrant and sacred ministers use violet vestments. The deacon and subdeacon at Mass, in place of the dalmatics commonly used, wear folded chasubles. The subdeacon removes his during the reading of the Epistle, and the deacon exchanges his for another, or for a wider stole, worn over the left shoulder during the time between the singing of the Gospel and the Communion. An exception is made for the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday), on which the vestments may be rose-coloured, or richer violet ones; the sacred ministers may on this Sunday wear dalmatics, which may also be used on the Vigil of the Nativity, even if it be the fourth Sunday of Advent. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) states that black was the colour to be used during Advent, but violet had already come into use for this season at the end of the thirteenth century. Binterim says that there was also a law that pictures should be covered during Advent. Flowers and relics of Saints are not to be placed on the altars during the Office and Masses of this time, except on the third Sunday; and the same prohibition and exception exist in regard to the use of the organ. The popular idea that the four weeks of Advent symbolize the four thousand years of darkness in which the world was enveloped before the coming of Christ finds no confirmation in the Liturgy.

In my little domestic church we do special things in Advent. We have an advent wreath, we keep a Jesse Tree. Both of these things are rooted deeply in scripture and especially in the old testament as we prepare for the Messiah.

We do these things every year. Yes even by rote. I do not see this as a bad thing. It becomes part of our lifestyle, part of our family tradition and it becomes something that the children look forward to. And as they mature they come to grow in their understanding and deepen their faith through these things.

Now Candy also probably has a problem with the liturgy, i.e. the mass itself too because to her mind it is "rote." I find it simply amazing that someone who is so seemingly regimented in the way she runs her household, to the point that she insists on keeping a manual about it, can't seen the benefit in the church having a structure to work off of!

Here is an outline
of the parts that make up the mass with their scriptural references.

and here is a tour.

I find that by understanding the mass and knowing the significance of each part I can more fully participate in the readings and lessons for that day. In that way it helps my faith and keeps me grounded and focused on Jesus.

So it's not a problem Candy. In fact it's a wonderful gift to be able to follow the liturgy with all of the feasting and fasting, the readings and the ritual. All of it just serves to bring us closer to Him.


Saved Sinner said...

I grew up in the Anglican church (liturgical) and am now a member of a (non liturgical) Presbyterian Church. There are advantages of liturgy such as that you can learn a lot (in the same way that you could learn a catechism) but there are disadvantages such as that people can just say the things without taking in the meaning (as I did for years before I was a Christian). Of course a liturgy based on heresy would be wrong but liturgy in and of itself is not wrong. I cannot speak on the Catholic liturgy but ours was mainly based on Scriptures and I find it helpful to know those things by heart.

Elena said...

Sinner, you were a Christian even when you were an Anglican. An Anglican church is a Christian church is it not? I think we "take in meaning" as we mature and grow. I see parts of prayers differently now in my late 40s than I did in my early 20s and certainly more than when I was 8 like my daughter and just learning the prayers!

Saved Sinner said...

Sorry, I mustn't have been as clear as I intended.

I became a Christian while I still went to an Anglican church. For the years before I became a Christian, all those things had no meaning but once I became a Christian, suddenly they did and I found them very helpful. The years I spent in Anglican churches after I became a Christian, I was able to mean the words when I said them and marvelled that I had not seen what was now so clear before.

Yes an Anglican church is a Christian church and I did not intend to imply otherwise.

I wouldn't count myself as either "Anglican" or "Presbyterian" but merely "Christian". (That may be a cultural thing though as when I visited MS everyone I met seemed to introduce themselves by denomination whereas in the UK people tend not to identify themselves by denomination.)

I agree about taking in more meaning as we grow and mature as Christians - I often read Bible passages which I know I've read before and yet it seems like I'm reading it for the first time.

Elena said...

Thanks for clarifying Sinner.

Tracy said...

Hello saved sinner, thanks for posting!

Faithful Catholic said...

How's this for "rote ritual?" My mother, 83 years old, bedridden and with dementia and aphasia (which means she cannot speak so anyone can understand her)was lying in bed this afternoon watching Mother Angelica and the nuns praying the Rosary. I heard my mother clamboring. Her voice gets louder and her tone gets a bit frantic sounding. So I went in to check on her and she was flailing her arms and hands. I went into her top dresser drawer and took out and handed her her rosary. She immediately calmed down, blessed herself and kissed the crucifix on her rosary. She held that rosary just exactly the same way she used to and started counting off beads as she said each prayer in her own new language. Now, she has not prayed the rosary, at least not that I know of, since her stroke over seven years ago. Am I glad she "memorized" it all those years ago? Am I glad it has become "rote" for her? You bet I am. Just because it comes as second nature, doesn't mean she's not aware of every word or doesn't mean every word or feel every word.

I don't care what anyone says about "rote ritual" or what our prayers might look like to them. It's what is in our hearts that matters when we pray. Nobody else can know what's in our hearts.