May 16, 2010


Taken from the lovely site, Confessions of a Liturgy Queen, this is a passage with which I resonate completely. Please read the whole article here: On Ritual

When I first returned to the Catholic Church after a long absence, one of the chief reasons for doing so was to become connected with something much larger than myself, something more significant, more meaningful, more serene than my own emotional turmoil, my own misguided and failed aspirations. I now believe that it is, for me and for millions of Catholics, the ritual of the Mass that helps to make that connection. That ritual, in all its component elements—the entrance procession, accompanied by the opening hymn, with the crucifer, the acolytes, followed by the priest in his vestments and moving slowly up the centre aisle of the church, and ending in the genuflection before the altar; the consecration of the bread and wine and the elevation of the host and the chalice before the assembled congregation; the final blessing by the celebrant—transports me to a place of peace and joy that the HD broadcast of a gorgeous opera from the Met does not, that a thrilling concert of baroque music does not, that a brilliantly written and acted play or film does not.

The same author has written an insightful article on the Old Catholic Church for the website, Life as a Human:

Not far from where I live there is a pretty little blue and white church called St. Raphael’s Old Catholic Church. I didn’t really notice this lovely church until I read an article about it in the local newspaper a couple of years ago. Since reading that piece I have passed the little church many times, and as my relationship with Roman Catholicism began to take on a more disaffected tone, I thought more and more about attending Mass at St. Raphael’s.

From that newspaper story and from research online, I learned that the Old Catholic Church (OCC) was inclusive and non-judgmental, but still Catholic in its fundamental theology and in its liturgy. These qualities are certainly a draw for me. Yet I could not seem to make the move; in fact, I couldn’t even step through the door of the little church.

I am not sure about other denominations, but Roman Catholics are funny people when it comes to loyalty to their Church. I have been angry with my Church on so many occasions over its intransigent stance on issues like homosexuality, clerical celibacy, the ordination of women, and contraception.

I have been frustrated by rigid adherence to doctrine that simply does not make sense to the modern mind. But I could not turn my back on the Church of my baptism. I have spoken with and read about other Roman Catholics, more disaffected than I, who also could not see themselves crossing over to the OCC, even if they had stopped attending their own church. One blogger who had just written about his experience attending a beautiful Christmas Mass at an Old Catholic church in Prague told me that he would somehow rather be a “schism of one” than join the OCC (This is not 'Yours Truly' living in Prague, though I don't feel inclined to join either, but that's a gentle dis-inclination. Joining seems like a perfectly respectable option to me if you feel so called. I don't.)

Perhaps it was my writer’s curiosity that overcame my reluctance, but about a month ago I finally made myself attend the Wednesday 8:30 am Mass at St. Raphael’s. I have attended twice more since then.

Read the whole article here: The Old Catholic Church by Ross Lonergan

Just for the record, I did not find the liturgies of the OCC here in Prague to be in any remote way dissimilar to RCC ritual, except for the fact that the celebrants received communion last - after the congregation.