Tuesday, July 19, 2005

More Piety

OK, Snowflakes... So while some were here railing last night under the assumption that devotions make me seethe and that I'd be happiest to see them all exiled, where was your humble writer?

At a St. Anne Novena, of course. Moral of the story: Don't be so quick in your judgments. Ask for clarification.

I completely take as my own Papabile's quote from JP that: "Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted." That is beyond question, and I'd be insipid to believe otherwise. What gets me going is when this is taken to excess -- and I've seen it done so. It may not be your experience, but it's mine.

Of course, the definition of what constitutes "excess" is in the eye of the beholder. My definition is this: when silence, and therefore the freedom of the individual faithful to use time of private prayer in an extraliturgical setting as they see fit, is unduly inhibited. A public recitation of the Rosary, sung chaplet of Divine Mercy, or devotions to those who have an established local cult (e.g. St. Jude, Ss. John Neumann and Katherine Drexel in Philadelphia, and more recently in many places, St. Gianna Molla) do not unreasonably inhibit this and even enable it to flourish.

But to basically shoplift St. Jude Shop of its prayercards and enforce a ceaseless string of obscure litanies and prayers to be recited by everyone is not sound, nor genuine. It can be exclusionary, inhibitive to private prayer and plays to tendencies usually associated with experimentalist liberal liturgists (and are those really a healthy thing in parish life?). If it genuinely comes from the heart of the community, that's one thing. If it's just people who take overbearing ownership of others' private devotional time, that's another.

From my experience, I had to curtail my adoration time because of it. I wouldn't enforce my (private) Latin reading of the Office on others, but the over-reliance on para-liturgical elements inhibited my chosen devotions -- and the latter went way beyond the basics. That's not healthy.

Lastly, from my Southern Illinois connection comes this response. He's got it going on and hits the right note -- it's why he's a good shepherd and I'm not:
A pastor has two choices in regards to the devotional practices of his people:
Either he can be like the loving parent, who listens to the (sometimes constant) voices of all his children and, hearing them, helps them all, each one, along the path to the Lord...
Or he can be like the maiden aunt, used to her own ways and to her own quiet, who finds the (sometimes constant) noise of her nephews and nieces simply intolerable...
Pastors, I think are called to be much more the former than the latter -- loving fathers rather than old maid spinsters.
(And, too often, modern "liturgy committees" are staffed -- or stacked -- with the frantic, intolerant type...)



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