Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Bishop with Backbone

Bishop Roger Joseph Foys of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky, is working actively to promote a reverent and abuse-free liturgy in his diocese. In a November 11th letter, he writes:
For the last year, we have been engaged in a major catechetical effort, organized through the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy, to introduce the Revised Roman Missal to the people of the Diocese of Covington and to emphasize that which the Church has always taught concerning Her Sacred Liturgy. Conferences for our priests, deacons, religious, school teachers, and various other parish leaders, as well as articles published in our diocesan newspaper, The Messenger, on the revised translation and other aspects of the Sacred Liturgy, have been provided to help catechize the faithful. I am grateful for the dedication and cooperation of so many who have assisted in these efforts, as well as to those who have been laboring in our parishes.
(Oh, if only we had had such an on-going program in the Diocese of Baker for the past year!)
Bishop Foys has issued a decree which mandates that:
·         The text of the Roman Missal be used exactly as written

·         The music in the liturgy be theologically sound and in keeping with the teaching of the Church on Sacred Music

·         Only three designated Mass settings be used for a particular period of time

·         GIRM guidelines must be followed with regard to the Responsorial Psalm (songs or hymns may not replace the psalm)

The decree also says:
Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only
the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the
lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in
the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the
extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.

Finally, he indicates that the choir should use the choir loft if there is one, and that the sanctuary is reserved for priests, deacons, and altar servers.

All in all, Bishop Foys is simply stating that the mandates of the GIRM should be followed. It is, after all, an Instruction, not a suggestion!

Bishop Vasa did this same thing, essentially, about 6 years ago, when he issued his pastoral letter Servant of the Sacred Liturgy. He simply re-stated what the GIRM already has to say about how the liturgy, and urged that the Mass be conducted in accordance with the rubrics. Bishop Vasa also brought up the point about “hand-holding” and outstretched arms at the Our Father. His directive was met with criticism, rude comments, and outright rebellion at the Cathedral.

The bottom line is that no bishop should have to issue a decree like Bishop Foys’, or write a pastoral letter like Bishop Vasa’s. The GIRM is there as a standard, as a directive. It’s not rocket science!

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