Recently I wrote an article that lamented the liturgical carnage that has been happening in our Catholic parishes since the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council. Catholic identity has always been associated with the high quality of our liturgical celebrations, and the restoration of the pre-Vatican II liturgy is a welcome attempt to restore our long disguarded Catholic dignity. With the changes of Vatican II, the use of Latin in the liturgy was deposed, quite incorrectly as the language of the Catholic Church. Vatican II permitted the proper use of the vernacular in sacraments and celebrations in order to gain a new integration of local cultures and customs into the Roman liturgy. What most critics and observers do not stress is that the Council never abolished the use of Latin as the language of the liturgy; it simply gave permission for the inclusion of local languages to be used.

Additionally, other things always are blamed on Vatican II. The demise of Gregorian chant and the use of popular musical instruments additionally were blamed on the Fathers of Vatican II. Quite honestly, the Fathers of Vatican II never got rid of Gregorian chant, unplugged the organs in churches world wide, or advocated the destruction of Saint Gregory Hymnals. Liturgical experimentation and creativity was the danger that crept into the Catholic liturgy and the results have been with us ever since. If anyone wants to parse and examine the liturgical directives of the Catholic Church, one only needs to examine the General Instructions of the Roman Missal for authoritative direction in all of these matters.

The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the highest expression of our Catholic faith that we can offer to God, our Almighty Father. When we celebrate our Catholic Eucharist, we should utilize the highest expressions of artistic quality that is available for our sacred prayer. This includes attempting to restore a sense of solemnity and prayerful holiness to our Catholic celebrations and Churches.

The migration of Catholics in the United States has resulted in an ecclesiastical “rust belt” in some areas of the Catholic Church. Beautiful examples of Catholic art and architecture have been pillaged for the sake of modernism and renovation. As a result, we can see our Catholic heritage on E-Bay, and architectural salvage companies. This author understands the needs that motivate the closures and consolidations of Catholic facilities. However, before everything we have goes off to auction and refurbishing houses we need to step back and examine exactly what we are doing with our history and heritage.

With the restoration of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII some parishes are forced to “buy back” religious articles in order to properly celebrate the Sacred Liturgy. In the past 4 decades, Catholic religious articles have found their ways into all sorts of locations that are not associated with their original purposes. During the same period, countless new articles have been purchased to replace and modernize our sanctuaries. In a lot of cases the replacements were quite honestly…junk made of inferior materials and design that has kept the vicious circle of poor liturgical buying …growing and growing. Perhaps this is reflective of our secular and consumerist society…where new is best, different is better and everyone wants the latest and greatest styles and designs.

Unfortunately, this consumptionism has spread to the world of liturgical vestments, accessories and design. Parishes carelessly are engaged in ripping out, redesigning and redoing our Catholic liturgical places without any thoughts or cares about historical, liturgical and cultural heritages. Our clergy as well as our parish communities need to become better stewards of the materials that have been entrusted to our Catholic Church. The donations and the prayers of two hundred years of Catholic faithful donations and dreams are ending up on the websites and shelves of resellers throughout the world.

Every day, E-Bay is listing relics of Catholic saints for “sale”. We need to stop the reselling of Catholic liturgical materials, and we need to start at the highest level of all, our Bishops.
Each diocese needs to set up and maintain a central place where liturgical artifacts and materials are restored, refurbished and recycled for continued parish use. In the days when the United States was the benefactor of missionary countries…we sent our gently used articles…to the missions. Well, the Church in the United States after tumultuous scandals, religious migration, modernistic vandalism and secular consumerism IS the Mission Church. Collectively the Catholic Church can set a great example towards preservation of our liturgical heritage and our commitment to the global environment by carefully recycling our sacred materials and articles in this county.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic topics and issues. He writes daily at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com , http://catholicsacredarts.blogspot.com, http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com.

Starting Monday, he will author a new column at Catholic News Agency, the column is called, “Nothing Left Unsaid!”

Comments are always welcome at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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