Just wondering: has the Liturgical Movement has done more harm than good?
Valle Adurni has got me thinking, yet again, in a provocative post in which he suggests Celtic spirituality isn't "Liturgical", that the ancient Irish Churches were too tiny for the masses to attend Mass, even for monastic communities to attend Mass. He suggests St Anthony in his 20 year struggle with temptation lived without the sacraments or attending Mass. The legend of Mary Magdalen tells of her going off into the desert as a penitent and only before her death receiving Holy Communion from once only in her life.
The Ethiopian eunuch of course does not even seem to receive that, he is baptised by Philip and goes of home.
The obligation to receive communion annually arose because people weren't doing even that. The reason why Greek babes are communicated at baptism is presumably because that was also likely to be the last time they would communicate. The Greeks remembering the Lord's words, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will not have life in you".
Since the Vatican Council we have become obsessed with the Liturgy, to the point where the Church almost ceases to be without it. It seems to me that the pre-Concilliar or better the pre-Liturgical Movement Church was a much more complex structure. The church building was a more than a place for Mass, it was place as much for private prayer and devotions and para-liturgies as it was for the Mass. The altars or chapels of saints were often as significant as the altar where Mass was celebrated, in some cases more so. Often the altar or shrine was controlled by a lay confraternity rather than the clergy, sometimes the confraternities were more powerful, and wealthier too, than the clergy.
In Spain it is the still the Confraternities that organise the great street processions of Holy Week and whilst the Liturgy itself is often deserted.
The rituals surrounding devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, as well as funerals were essentially the preserve of laity, these were often the corporate expression of civic religion. In Malta where someone might choose to go to any number of Masses in town it is the festa that takes place in the streets that is the great expression of religion.
A friend of mine told me of attending Mass in Italy on Corpus Christi Thursday, though Sundays kept as the Holy Day. Mass was offered in the normal Italian half hearted way: polyester vestments, several tedious sermons, youth group with guitars, a small number of mainly elderly in the Church. Mass ended, then the organ began to thunder, a different set of altar servers appeared in cassocks and lace cottas, dozens of them, men and women in gowns, with other priests in baroque vestments, a huge high canopy with silver poles and ostrich feathers was brought. The bronze west door opened, trumpeters played fanfares, outside in the piazza bands were assembled, with the carrabiniere, the scouts, different banners were there to escort the Blessed Sacrament. The thing was this lay led, the clergy were there to carry the Blessed Sacrament, nothing more.
I just wonder whether the Liturgical Movement has done more harm than good, whether it has stripped the Church of its devotional riches and robbed the laity of taking an active part in Church's life, clericalising many aspects, including catechesis, that should properly be the domain of the laity.
I am just wondering - because something seems to be missing.