The Fuss Over the GIRM
I was at an event recently at which someone asked "What are the precepts of the Church?"... a Baltimore Catechism question to be sure. At least two people stumbled on the answer and, though instructed on the old catechism, I could not think of the right answer either. When I heard the answer my immediate thought was that I had done all of those things for decades. The fact that I was observing precepts that I could not even enumerate gave me pause for some meditation. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise was made... Gal 3:19
Why indeed? When I was learning those things I really had no idea why they were important. When I was a child I had to memorize much of the catechism to prepare for the sacraments but I remember being racked by guilt over missing mass. My parents did not attend so if I wanted to go I had to make my own way and some mornings it was just easier to sleep in. What purpose did the law serve in my life? Apparently the law exists to convict me of sin but observance of the law cannot give life. In other words the law could tell me I was in a mess but could not help one iota towards getting me out of the mess. Now that I have faith in Jesus Christ I have a very clear idea why these things are important and observe them as a matter of course. Yet I cannot even list the Precepts of the Church. St. Paul says "All things are lawful but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor," 1Cor10:23 My actions are not to be governed by the law but by love of my neighbor.
Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Gal 3:1-2
We are about to introduce a new English translation of the Roman Missal along with a General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). In my own parish it has been the subject of at least one seminar and some catechetical instruction before mass on at least two occasions. We have been singing the new musical settings for some weeks now so we are not going to hear the new Gloria cold on Christmas Eve. All in all the transition is being approached with some care in implementing what has been handed down. Whether the priests have any personal opinions on any of this, I am not aware of them. This is not because of lack of expertise as our associate pastor teaches liturgy at St. Peter's Seminary. Elsewhere I have heard rumblings of concern about certain aspects of the changes.
I have to wonder about the controversy surrounding the GIRM. It seems to me that Catholics would be stumbling over each other in their consideration for each other's scruples. The liberals would be going out of their way to ensure strict adherence to the GIRM so that their traditionalist brethren would not stumble. In a similar way the traditionalists would be zealously reaching out to their liberal brethren lest the new translations and the GIRM cause them to stumble. Apparently this is not happening. Instead we see the familiar polarization, people divided into opposing camps, accusations being hurled at one another. St. Paul saw this too in his ministry.
For you were called to freedom brethren, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. Gal 5:13-15