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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Thursday, February 13, 2003 Quashing traditional devotions: A liturgist's how-to
Rev. James Field is the former director of the Boston Archdiocese's Office of Worship. As such he once explained to me how sanctus bells were an anachronism not needed by an assembly actively participating in the liturgy. And his authority was cited by a chapel prefect in summarily nixing a request for a Tridentine Mass on campus. ("Not letting that camel get its nose under the tent," the prefect declared.)
A report he once issued on perpetual adoration was a marvel of obstructionism. Note the undisguised glee in confounding the aspirations of the pious:
"These requests are referred to the Office for Worship directly by Cardinal Law. In most cases, when the requirements for Perpetual Adoration are explored, the request is withdrawn by the pastor. In one case, the parish moved ahead with the request.
"In order for them to begin on an experimental basis, they had to tend to the primary form of Eucharistic activity. They were required to celebrate Sunday liturgy with attention to ministry, to engagement of the assembly, and to music at every Mass. They had to institute communion from the cup, and have a full corps of [communion] ministers to serve in the hospitals, nursing homes, and in the homes of the sick. They also had to build a secure place for adoration apart from the main body of the church and provide a sufficient number of volunteers to fulfill the requirements of the devotion. After these matters were attended to, the parish returned to the Archdiocese for permission, which Cardinal Law granted.
"Occasionally a parish moves ahead with a request for Perpetual Adoration. I usually begin by sending them to St. Patrick's in Natick to see the scope of liturgical change required before a request can be heard. You can imagine what the promoters do when they realize that a request for Perpetual Adoration activates Archdiocesan policies on communion under both species, not to mention singing at Mass."
I post Fr. Field's primer again as an example of a certain mindset common to the liturgy-clericalists – and as an explanation of why I see red flags when discretionary rules on sung responsorial psalms or the chaperoning of singing lessons are suddenly imposed on an orthodox schola cantorum.