24Mar This article may help you understand how the Mass has changed

Thomas O’Loughlin has written an interesting article on Eucharist, and the unacknowledged “paradigm shift” in the liturgy since Vatican II (read it here.) He wrote this article (16 pages) in New Blackfriars in July 2010: “Eucharistic Celebrations: the Chasm between Idea and Action“.

In the article, he examines the effects of two changes:

  1. The New Rite;
  2. The move to the vernacular.

Sometimes these are seen simply as an evolutionary change. But they embody a shift from a liturgy that emphasised the event of the change in bread and wine into the presence of Christ, to a theology that focues on the action of the whole Christ in offering thanks to the Father. The implications are deep.

The article provides a very good analysis, and indications of matters which need to be addressed. A Holy Thursday theology perhaps?

11 Responses

  1. Pól Ó Duibhir

    An interesting and provocative article. Having read it I am not sure what its implications, if any, are for the traditional understanding of the “real presence”.

  2. Padraig McCarthy

    No implications for the “traditional understanding” of the Real Presence, except that this is put in the wider context of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the community, the “mystical” body of Christ”, and the celebrating community.

  3. Darlene Starrs

    Correct Padraig, but that is where people are going to find things about Eucharist as seen as a community event as confusing…..No, real presence is not absent, but how we understand it comes about, is different….I know, that it is a challenging point, because Cardinal Thomas Collins, then bishop of Edmonton, had this very confusion and challenged me about whether or not my understanding of Eucharist was orthodox…just a note!

  4. Nuala O'Driscoll

    This article has done more to confuse rather than to clarify the already very complex mystery of the Mass. I do not believe that Jesus simple supper with his disciples was meant to evolve into something as complicated and exclusive as it has become.

  5. Padair

    I have two hundred people, a fresh baked scone and mug of non alcoholic wine for the AM.

    If there’s as much as a drop of that Schloer spilled on the new polished flurr, then Mrs Ure promised the track of the back of her right fist across left side of your bake. Be warned.

    Just need a willing priest now to do the honours. 😉

    I jest.

    Interesting article and one I would like to query in parts to assist my understanding. I only imagined I was ‘liberal’ it seems.

    I do like the whole concept of community. Brothers and sisters. Feeding, sharing and the real caring about each other.

    I wonder where ‘Calvary’ comes into this. “No greater love than to lay down your life…… ‘

    I am sure it’s all here too.

    This language is not very familiar to me however – but desirous and willing to learn.

    In the ‘celebration’ – where and how do we offer up the meaningless of life that it might become, ‘through, with and in… Him’ – truly meaningful ?

    I like what Padraig said in his few lines about too. Real Presence (caps) of Jesus Christ in the community.

    If we can’t love what we do see not much liklihood we will love what we can’t see or understand when it comes to ‘real presence’.

    I am more familiar with the idea of ‘Mass’ – and I do hope it’s something I take part in rather than just attend.

    A communal experience of offering our selves, again, ‘through, with and in…. Him’ – Jesus, as ‘living sacrifices,’ that we too become as broken bread and good wine to ‘feed and water’ our brothers and sisters on the journey.

    Maybe that’s what the piece is talking about. Theology is a specialist area and I am reading and trying to learn the language.

    I am getting a sense of conservative versus traditionalist perhaps. Maybe it lies ‘in the middle’ as it were – balance there somewhere.

    I don’t know.

    I can see the ‘beauty’ on ‘both sides’ to be honest – the real value too. But it’s more a heart than a head perspective.

  6. T randals

    interesting article and explains a lot of why we get such emphasis on community meal now instead of holy sacrifice that the priest offers on behalf of the people. Table instead of altar, bread of life instead of body, blood, soul and divinity. Also explains the lack of reverence you see now, genuflecting seems to have disappeared, lots of people milling about the altar, sorry table, it’s important that laity is involved don’t you see ( see community celebration)

    From the other perspective of what the mass should be in terms of theology of sacrifice and reverence (a bit traditional for some here maybe?) here’s an interesting contrast”…….http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/03/i-am-thinking-about-those-red-shoes/

    ” …..The Catholic priest is simultaneously the victim offered on the altar.  All the older, traditional ceremonies of the Roman Rite underscore this foundational dimension of the Mass. If we don’t see that relationship of priest, altar, and victim in every Holy Mass, then the way Mass has been celebrated has failed.  If we don’t look for that relationship, then we are not really Catholic.  Mass is Calvary…..'”

  7. Rosaline

    Thank you, Padraig, for bringing this very interesting and thought-provoking article to our attention. I hope everyone avails of the opportunity to read it–it is the kind of piece that I love to see on this website because I feel the Eucharist and our way of celebrating it needs far more urgent attention than it gets at present. A very fitting title: The Chasm Between Idea and Action.

    Note section 437 where he discusses the centrality of sharing the Cup, something I have brought up several times on this site. The fact that I’m still waiting for ANY of (Eddie’s) 1000 priests to explain that major chasm makes me very sad and leads me to ask a more fundamental and troubling question: Why is there such a chasm in most priests’ own understanding of the symbolism and reality of the Cup of the Eucharist, which leads them to refuse to share it with me and thousands of lay people like me?

  8. mjt

    I had the great good fortune to have lived through the tenure as Parish Priest of a rare priest in the diocese of Down and Connor, in a small rural parish. I say “rare” because this P.P. alone among his peers at the time actually tried to implement the liturgical changes inspired by Vatican 11 in a thorough-going way that embraced all aspects of Christian life and liturgy, in its tending towards a vision of Christ among us, Christ as Presence in the People of God.
    In his time this Parish Priest reordered one of his two parish churches. Though the church was built in the conventional rectangular way, centrally placed in the new arrangement was the Altar, with the Ambo, the Baptismal Font and the President`s Chair all in line in an arrangement that drew attention to the relative importance of each of the elements, accommodated the Faithful of the parish in close proximity to each, and so dramatically enhanced worship. The Baptismal Font was not hidden away off to the back somewhere, but was among the first significant features as one entered the church, affirming the centrality of Baptism in the life of the Christian. No greater thing ever happened to him, as Pope John Paul 2 said, than happened to him on the day of his baptism. The Reserved Sacrament was in a quiet area at the rear of the seating area.
    Seating in this rectangular space was organised so that everyone in the church was close to the altar. Parishioners when they entered reverenced the altar, the Table of the Lord, not the Reserved Sacrament. Lead by a choir, the whole congregation, after some initial resistance through unusedness, eventually were moved to sing the responses, hymns and psalms enthusiastically. The choir lead us, but did not dominate or exclude the rest of the congregation. Teams of Lectors, Ministers of the Word, Ministers of Welcome, and Acolytes (in civvies, not dressed as “truncated monks” as someone put it) developed as time went on to responsible, active participation. Lectors actually practised their readings, because they were lead to understand that it was important that the Word of God be heard by everyone in the church, so they took pains to enunciate clearly and at appropriate pace. Men and women in the parish came to realise that they were not to be “appointed by Father” to positions, but had responsibility to offer themselves for various kinds of Ministry suited to their strengths. From nothing at scratch, we had a Parish Pastoral Council and a Finance Committee, both meeting regularly. What had been called “Confession” became “The Sacrament of Reconciliation”. What`s in a name? In this case, a lot! In how many parishes in Ireland has it happened even yet? Will it ever happen?
    It was notable that the Priest himself was the first one, from his chair, to put his stipend into the weekly collection. It was notable that he did NOT thank people for their generosity to the collection, on the basis that it was their church-our church- and that we were responsible for it. To this church, people came in time for Mass. It became unusual for latecomers to breeze in five or ten minutes into the celebration. Conscious, active participation indeed. We were lead to appreciate the Faithful are not “Mass-goers” who are “attending or going to Mass”, that is, a congregation over whose heads something was being done. Instead, we were lead to see ourselves as “The People of God”, a far more demanding, energising, engaging and challenging role altogether. The actual experience of Eucharist in this church was quite different to what was happening in neighbouring parishes, as I found out when occasionally I attended funerals etc. in them.
    All this took effort on the part of the priest, courageous leadership, especially because his parish was surrounded by those in which a kind of cultural Catholicism flourished and things were allowed to go the same as they had always been, with passive congregations content to leave as much as possible to the priest.
    Alas, after the retirement of this inspired Parish Priest, the new appointee admitted from the first that he was not “comfortable” with the unconventional layout of the church and more importantly, with the vision of church that it embodied, so with the permission of the bishop immediately set about “restoration” (echoes of “the reform of the reform” here) to what it had been in the nineteenth century, except that he didn’t go so far as to reopen the walled-up door which had been used to admit women separately from men. Progress indeed!
    This was a rare church in which the vision of Vatican11 was implemented and realised so that visibly, even in its ordering, it facilitated the practice of the new liturgy and so the living out of a new vision of being a Christian in the Catholic tradition.
    I have no hope of seeing such a vision of church realised again, because it needs priests with that sort of vision to bring it into being. Questions need to be asked and then, more importantly, answered, about the formation of Irish priests in Ireland over the last twenty-thirty years, if so few of them have emerged without, apparently, understanding of, never mind commitment to such a vision.

  9. Bob Hayes

    Professor O’Loughlin’s article posed one really big question for me. What level of theology’s academic hierarchy does one have to reach in order to get away with presenting a largely-unreferenced polemic for publication? Aside from a handful of references to GIRM and his own writings this article is unreferenced. Is this what modern theology has come to? A personal rant…. If that is so can we all claim – in our own way – to be theologians? If we can, that surely opens the way to disaster – and damnation – as people will be tempted to ‘make’ God fir their agendas. We have already seen examples of this tendency to seek conformity to people’s individual wills, as commentators have used expressions such as ‘the right kind of pope’, ‘my sort of pope’.

  10. Padair

    I would agree and I am not an expert. Mass for me is primarily Calvary – where in the raising up – all is raised up – through, with and in Jesus, to the Father”. The Cross is reconciliation, redemption… rebirth, Resurrection – when the entire Creation groaning for the day of deliverance at the liberation of the sons of men. That all life with all its blessings, joys, traumas, pains and the rest is offered with us as we too become ‘living sacrifices’ acceptable to God and readied in grace for lives of greater Christian loving of our very self and our neighbour.

    I could not understand it not be available. It’s core to all my Catholic belief and understanding, which may well be faulty. But it’s a Universal,Cosmic idea – that indeed ALL Creation and humanity can be reconciled, redeemed, healed, made whole (holy) and lifted to new life through the Cross. And I know it was a one time event, but one I believe also spans all time as we know it in some way, that endless time meeting in and through the Cross.

    I like the other ideas too and would love to experience those as well. Truly. Could it be done ? Might all complement each other.

    But I believe that till there is fully reconciliation – restoration of the ‘fallen’ nature – there will be ‘Mass’ as such, as sin and death, though mastered, are still part of our realities and the realm of time – beginning to end till we too pass through the Cross.

    I like the Mass but would love to see it CELBRATED in other ways in that is possible, for sure.

  11. Brendan

    “How the Mass has changed” sums it up really, doesn’t it? Sad!


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