Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday of Holy Week

"The doom-sayers who complain that Roman Catholic worship has lost its mystery have forgotten, perhaps, that symbols are not tidy museum exhibits but messy transactions that involve the fundamental stuff of human exitence: earth, air, fire, water; eggs, seed, fluid and meat; marriage, sex, birth, death. The merit of our recent reforms lies precisely in a re-ordering of the relationship between ritual symbols and human life. By "shortening the distance" between liturgical rites and the ordinary rituals of daily living (through use of the vernacular, for example), a more powerful confrontation between the two can occur. In a word, the reforms move us closer to the raw nerve-center of Christian symbols. We are invited to inch our way toward the edge of the raft, without the benefit of comforting buffers provided by such things as a dead language (such languages are easy to control and manipulate), silent prayers (which are readily ignored or replaced by our own pieties), and cushiony "background" music. Shortening the distance between ourselves and our ritual symbols allows those symbols to sift, critique, shape and judge the quality of our lives. In the reformed rites we find fewer hiding places."

Nathan Mitchell, Ph.D.

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