What About Our Holy Days?
SACRED MUSIC Volume 118, Number 2, Summer 1991
WHAT ABOUT OUR HOLY DAYS? Monsignor Richard J. Schuler
The ecclesiastical bureaucracy in Washington is busy again in its continuing effort to change (if not destroy) the Church in this country. Despite clear indications in the past that the majority of Catholics like and want the holydays, the liturgists are determined to remove them. Of course, they are at great pains to say that it is only the obligation of Mass attendance that they want to remove. The feasts will remain, but who will there be to celebrate them? Look only at the holydays of former times that are scattered throughout the pages of the missal, days that were once kept with Mass attendance but which today are hardly thought of, let alone celebrated.
The universal law of the Church lists twelve holydays. Provision is made for national hierarchies to reduce these, and the United States traditionally kept six of them. Those days emphasized basic Catholic truths: the birth of Jesus, His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, devotion to Mary through faith in her Immaculate Conception and Assumption, and finally our relationship with those who have gone before us, all the saints in heaven.
For the church musician these were special days when the liturgy abounded in texts and musical settings of those texts that were rich and beautiful. One thinks of the wonderful Marian literature, antiphons, hymns, motets to Our Blessed Lady. Then there were pieces for All Saints, Ascension Day and, of course, Christmas.
The bureaucrats have robbed us of so many Catholic things. Why are so many parishes being deprived of the posture of kneeling at prayer? Who has pushed communion in the hand and reception under both species almost to the exclusion of the former practices? How many Catholics know the basic prayers that were always the mark of a Catholic? Why have statues, communion rails and so much church furniture been torn out of our churches? Who invented the ugly vestments worn so widely? From where does the so- called turned-around-altar come from? We have lost the Catholic practice of fast and abstinence; the rosary and Marian devotions are rarely found anymore; the tabernacle in many churches is relegated to an obscure closet. The piano, the combo and the guitar have replaced the organ which the council gave so high a place. What is left?
We have a shortage of priestly ordinations. The religious orders of sisters are decaying and disappearing. Parishes are being closed and the churches demolished. Schools are combining and closing. Contraception and abortion daily become more widespread and accepted even by our Catholic people. The ignorance of Catholic children and even adults about the faith is appalling. Mass attendance has dropped dramatically. Support of the Holy Father and his teaching daily grows less even among the bishops. The growth of witchcraft, even in religious orders, and the practice of cultic rites among the young truly can be called scandal. Sexual violations and lawsuits directed against the Church are announced in the public press as enormous sums are paid in penalty. Is this the renewal we hear praised so highly?
Why don't we admit it? The implementation of the reforms of the II Vatican Council has beem an unmitigated disaster in this country. Why? Our bishops have never given the council a chance to be put into effect. Why? Because the Washington bureauacracy has dictated what was to be done and the bishops have allowed these programs of destruction to be adopted. And now, not content with what they have already accomplished, they have another nail to drive into the coffin. Take away the holydays!
What is left to take away? How about the Sunday obligation? That will be next. Then the total protestantizing of the Catholic Church will be nearly complete. The pope remains, but he will be eased out. In the fourth century, the world awoke to find that it had become Arian. If we don't awake, we will be protestants.
It is time to cry out "Basta! Basta cosi!"