Monday, September 03, 2007

What Should Our Priorities Be?

It is often said after a political party or candidate blows an election that they were not organized, that in principle they might have been the favorite if only they had not wandered around aimlessly in the time leading up to the election. It's often said, too, of vanquished sports teams that should easily have been victorious (How are our Michigan readers doing?), that they did not prepare, they were not ready, they assumed that everything would take care of itself.

Those of us who would like to carry out the Reform of the Reform and a Renaissance of tradition are at a crucial organizational stage as the implementation date of Summorum Pontificum nears. The organization which is needed is not so much of the political sort. Indeed, it seems that entirely too much effort has been spent on this, and not nearly enough effort on what is really needed: thorough preparation. In this respect, our situation is much more analogous to the sports team than it is to the political party.

What should our priorities be in this organization? Should outreach or education come first? That is to say, should we try to talk all of our friends and relatives into attending the Extraordinary Form, or should we first focus our efforts on making sure that those who are already interested have the resources and the skills that they need? My vote is for the latter. No one will be attracted to a sloppy Mass that suffers from poor praxis.

It also seems--and as an idealist, this is very rare for me to say--that we need to focus on practical matters. At this juncture, it is far more crucial that we focus on what can be done at the parochial level. It is much fun to daydream about what a 7th century liturgy in France would have been like, but it is of little use to those who are coming to us asking for nuts-and-bolts-type help. It is equally fascinating to read through Old Roman chant manuscripts, but it is far more important to be involved in forming scholas and teaching the faithful to sing according to modern chant praxis.

It is also worth noting that it is easy to assume that someone else will do the work. This perspective will condemn the Extraordinary Form to oblivion forever. Don't be afraid to take the initiative in your local parishes. Offer your time, your abilities, and even your money, if necessary. It is important that we go about our liturgical activities as servants and not as consumers.

Well, at any rate, the intention of this post is not to offer an all-encompassing thesis, but rather to get what I believe to be a very crucial conversation started. Perhaps it would be good if the kind readers of this blog listed below what they need in assistance with implementing Summorum Pontificum. Also, tell us what you think the priorities ought to be in terms of being organized and prepared.

Pope Benedict has given us a marvelous opportunity. We must roll up our sleeves and get to work and not allow ourselves to become distracted by arguments over vestment styles and other peripheral considerations. After all, in twenty years, we're going to feel really regretful if we look back and see that we squandered a crucial moment by being disorganized and distracted.

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