Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Firm Hand at the Rudder

When I lived in Hobart, I was fortunate to have as parish priest Fr Geoffrey Jarrett, now Bishop of Lismore in northern N.S.W. I see from his diocese's website that he's announced a Review of his Diocese to take place in 2009, and am gladdened as always by his firm grasp of the issues at hand, and his faithful indication of the right direction to take - always towards greater fidelity to Christ and His Church.

While it is only a subsidiary point, from my perspective I would like to highlight his warm commendation of the Liturgy of the Hours as the prayer for all the Church:

We should also be promoting among all members of the Church the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, the liturgy of the whole Church prayed with the whole Church and [able to be] led by lay people whether Mass can be celebrated or not. It would be a wonderful thing and a fulfilment of the serious encouragement of the Church if, at a stated time every day in each parish, priest and people came together in the church to celebrate morning and evening prayer (Lauds and Vespers).


Mark said...

I would like to see the liturgy of the Hours celebrated publicly here too, but no-one seems to care!

Joshua said...

It is one of the saddest things in the Western Catholic church that the Office has almost completely fallen out of public use, and even the modern Divine Office hasn't come into much use aside from in religious houses.

Apparently, it was the granting of permission for evening Mass that was the deathknell for Vespers, the only part of the old Office customarily done in public, apart from Compline sometimes. In fact, evening Mass spelled the end of most evening devotions: now Catholics can scarce imagine holding any other sort of liturgical service, and if they can't/won't have Mass it will be some sort of paraliturgy based upon the Liturgy of the Word.

(Benediction is making a comeback, but against ideological opposition.)

I recall that in Melbourne, the most populous diocese of Oceania, there were only two places where I recall that Vespers were celebrated daily: at St Francis in the city, under the care of the Bl. Sacrament Fathers; and at St Dominic's, East Camberwell, the Dominican priory. I think from memory that besides these there were a few other places where Lauds was said, but only one of them was a diocesan parish church.

As the late great Louis Bouyer, C.O., pointed out, it was the genius of Cranmer, that archheretic alas!, to give the Anglicans a form of daily Mattins and Evensong that has remained popular and widespread in parish use even till today.

To be fair, for most priests - unlike our separated brethren the heretics and schismatics ;-) - Saturday night and Sunday are a round of Masses, and it's understandable why many wouldn't want to add to their timetable.

But I'm one of those who think that having Mass is the bare minimum, not the maximum to be expected.