How to not “save the liturgy”

How to not “save the liturgy”

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I used to believe that I was nothing like the Pharisee in today’s parable—righteously smug as he measured his piety against the “rest of humanity”—until I realized I loved the liturgy more than I loved the people who celebrated it.

Fresh out of grad school, I had set off to “save the liturgy” from bad liturgical ministry and poor liturgical preparation. I measured the authenticity of a liturgy not by the people’s prayer but by how closely it followed the rubrics. I imposed my classically-trained bias for “good music” upon every liturgical composition and music minister I encountered.

Let us help one another remember that our care the liturgy must shape us into people who recognize our need for mercy from God and from one another. Click To Tweet

When a neighboring parish invited me to cantor at a liturgy they had prepared for months, and I forced them to change their script at the last minute to fit my standards, I realized I had earned a position right next to the shameless Pharisee. Ever since, I have been doing penance for my ignorance and arrogance.

There’s probably a liturgical Pharisee in each of us waiting to judge someone else for their song choice, liturgical environment, scriptural interpretation, musical instrumentation or arrangement, or some other criteria. Because of this, let us help one another remember that our care the liturgy must shape us into people who recognize our need for mercy from God and from one another.

This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”

Image credit: Jared Erondu, Unsplash, CC0.

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