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August 06, 2010

"eye contact"

While I'm at it . . . .  Someone called Lisa Fullam, who (I am informed) teaches at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley (which is real estate I love, Berkeley that is) does quite a number here on (what I suspect was a valid celebration of) the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It begins with her report that, after leaving the big ethicists' conference in Trent, she "ducked into" Mass (though she doesn't use the noun) in another (and unnamed, no doubt to protect the innocent -- surely not the guilty) town.  She then begins by accusing the "presider" of leading the congregation (though that noun is not used) through an "expressionless Eucharistic prayer."  What would count as an adequate "expression?"  Never mind that the Eucharistic prayer was prayed inaudibly by the celebrant until five minutes ago.  Then comes the indictment that said presider never provided "eye contact."  Mirabile (non) visu!  Do Christians go to Mass for eye contact?  I can get that at the grocery store.  Further, she indicts, he "didn't even bother to preach -- that might have revealed engagement."  I am grateful to hope that Assoc. Prof. Fullam would have been docile in the presence of the requested preaching.  Further, at the Sign of Peace, her bill of particulars goes on, this pour presiding soul "didn't deign to greet."  "Offerte vobis pacem", though, isn't an imperative for a round of "greet[ing]."  Perhaps the celebrant was a man of good taste?  Sound theology?  Would Fullam credit these as  reasons from not having a meet-and-greet in mediam Missam?  I doubt it.   Fullam reaches her climax with the indictment that this bumbling fool "dispensed Eucharist mechanically."  One wonders what this apparently dutiful and devoted priest could possibly say in his own defense.   Perhaps he believes he was faithfully following the Novus Ordo.  Perhaps he doesn't think celebrating Mass is a demand to make "eye contact" for those who "duck[] in" or even crawl in for Holy Mass.  "No wonder so few bother to attend," Fullam winds up in her closing argument.  No wonder, indeed -- if you adopt Fullam's theology.  Her last judgment: "might as well deconsecrate the place." 

As a believer in ex opere operato (which, obviously, is only the beginning of what there is to say about liturgy), I remain more hopeful than Fullam appears to be.  Still, I think this bit from Evelyn Waugh, in his piece "Changes in the Church: Questions for the 'Progressives'" (Catholic Herald, 7 August 1964), which -- for the record --  I wouldn't quite wish to embrace in its entirety, is the beginning of a response to Fullam:  "Finally, a word about liturgy.  It is natural to the Germans to make a row.  The torchlit, vociferous assemblies of Hitler Youth expressed a national passion.  It is well that this should be canalized into the life of the Church.  But it is essentially un-English.  We seek no 'Seig Heils'.  We pray in silence.  'Participation' in the Mass does not mean hearing our own voices.  Only He knows who is 'participating' at Mass.  I believe, to compare small things with great, that I 'participate' in a work of art when I study it and love it silently.  No need to shout. . . .  'Diversity' is deemed by the progressives as one of their aims against the stifling Romanita.  May they allow it to English Catholics.  I am now old but I was young when I was received into the Church.  I was not at all attracted by the splendour of her great ceremonies -- which the Protestants could well counterfeit.  Of the extraneous attractions of the Church which most drew me was the spectacle of the priest and his server at low Mass, stumping up to the altar without a glance to discover how many or few he had in his congregation" . . . or even if someone called Fullam had "ducked in."

Pope Benedict has taught and demonstrated that there are many worthy forms of Catholic worship.  We can hope that the Fullams won't succeed in deconsecrating sacred plaes in which worthy worship is said not to take place because it doesn't deliver "eye contact" or other coveted phenomena obtainable elsewhere.



Posted by Patrick Brennan on August 6, 2010 at 11:31 PM in Brennan, Patrick | Permalink

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