Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Both love of God and neighbour

I wrote a letter to the Herald, responding to a letter published last week. For those who are not from Malaysia, in the recent weeks, there have been many letters sent to the editor regarding the question of Latin in the liturgy and Gregorian chant. Many favour it but some have come out strongly against it even though Latin is still the language of the Roman Rite and is to be retained and Gregorian chant must be given pride of place as Vatican II had decreed.

Last week, LC wrote to say that all of this was petty and trivial and there were much more important matters such as using the national language, Malay, in the Mass.

Hi LC. Young people in West Malaysia hate, despise, loath using Bahasa in the Mass. For many of us who feel oppressed and discriminated against, it's tantamount to using the Black Speech to sing to Elbereth Githoniel. It may be misguided but that's how we feel. And using Allah in place of God, as in May Almighty Allah bless you? I think it's a stunt which some priests use to thumb their nose at the government which is trying to prohibit the Church from using Allah for God. I sincerely believe that this is their motive but I'm open to correction. I mean in East Malaysia or among those whose first language is Malay, go ahead, but these priests do it in an English Mass and that's just bullcrap.

Anyway, with that background in mind, here's my letter. It's a bit long, so I don't think it will be published in full, but here it is in it's entirety.

Dear Editor,

I'm writing in response to LC's letter.

According to Our Lord, the entire Law, the Prophets and all the commandments hang on these two greatest of them. Firstly, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul". After that, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself".

All the recent letters in this column which touch on the liturgy and the retention of use of the Latin language in the Roman Rite as was mandated by Vatican II all stem from adherence to the greatest of the commandments, the love of God. The Mass, the re-presentation of Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is the primary and highest form of worship in the Catholic Church. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian faith. Shouldn't we be more concerned? All the interest regarding how the liturgy is celebrated stem from a deep love of God. We wish to see the worship of God done properly by the priests who are supposed to be servants of the liturgy of the Church. When they monkey around with the Church's public worship of God, they act as masters of the liturgy rather than it's servants.

I am thrilled because people are being concerned and are starting to care about their worship of God. As one priest said recently, "No more you say and we do". The people want a say in their worship because for so long they have been thundered at from on high. Many who wanted more reverent worship or Gregorian chant or Latin were told, in effect, to 'balik China'. You accept what you are given. If you don't like it, leave. This is the way we do it in Malaysia. Don't these people of God have equal rights with those advocating less reverent worship and dancing girls during Mass? Why are no priests, many of whom are so concerned about injustice, advocating the rights of this very marginalized group within the Church? [ANDREW: Click on this link for a fuller description of this by the abusee or the link above for my account.]
[In all fairness, this slide has been removed some time ago, but at the time the original post I linked was blogged, this was displayed during the reception of Holy Communion and was projected for a long time, for years, if I'm not mistaken. And the conversations recorded are all true. Anyway, some clarification in case anyone gets confused that this slide is still up. It's not.]


LC seems to think that this is trivial. I cannot disagree more. Our worship, stemming from the love of God, should be our greatest concern from which our love of neighbour should properly flow. All the corporal works of mercy which we Christians do should be motivated by our love for our neighbour as God has commanded. If our motivation is misguided and we do not have a care for the salvation of souls, then our Christianity has been reduced to a social Gospel and Christians are merely glorified social workers, striving to save the body but letting the soul perish.

Fuzzy wuzzies (above) are ok, reverent worship of God (below), baaaaddddd



I believe that a false dichotomy is affecting many people in our Church. They like to contrast (their own?) interior and supposedly superior faith with a faith manifested by glorifying God exteriorly in the liturgy.

Does Pope Benedict XVI only care about the externals of the faith?


Those who love the liturgy of the Church are seen as somehow deficient in their love of neighbour, as being unconcerned about the 'bigger things' such as social justice and holding the hands of terminal AIDS and cancer patients, as being out of touch with current issues and squabbling over petty and frivolous things. Can't people who are concerned with the worship of God because they love God also be concerned about all the social issues because of their love of neighbour? Why must the practice of the 2 greatest of the commandments be separated?

What about Pope John Paul II?

Let true authentic Christianity, which professes and practices love of God and of neighbour replace the Socialianity many practice today.


Andrew Khoo
Penang

17 comments:

DonAaron said...

It's a disturbing issue that liturgy is being abused. Some things I could give a yes, coz being adapted in culture e.g. specific ways of bowing as long as it gives out the same meaning I'm ok with it, but of course for those who have bad knees or back ache (LOL) could do a simple act but of so as long as it does not show abuse....

Really irritating that some priest try to be creative in celebrating mass and sometimes it goes out of the parameters of the main celebration 'i.e. mass'. As Cardinal Arinze said during a trip to the States, some priests have been creative with the way they celebrate mass, even before Novus Ordo was established... Being creative is fine, but kena ingat sikit, some things have their limits also... You wouldn't want to spoil an ancient liturgy? (and I mean 1500 y.o.)... What's a use of a GIRM or even the rubrics in the Roman Missal if we treat it like our bibles? Unused, buat habuk LOL...

Andrew said...

Adaptation and inculturation, when done properly and with the correct spirit, is a good thing. For example, in China, people kowtow to the Emperor and kowtow when the Imperial edicts are read aloud to them. To touch the Emperor's person meant the greatest disrespect. In India, people do not touch holy things and touch their foreheads to the ground in front of the feet of their parents and elders to ask for blessings. In Thailand, the heads of the people must be lower than the head of the King, as 'the King and I' dramatized.

So, my question is, why do the Chinese not kowtow before the Blessed Sacrament and when the Gospel is being read? Why to the Tamils to bow their heads to the ground before the Blessed Sacrament exposed? Why don't the Thai Catholics show the same reverence before the Lord, their Heavenly King, as they do before their earthly King? Why don't they have true inculturation?

Why do they take parts of inculturation such as praying to the ancestors but break the Lenten fast? Why not take the part of Chinese culture which honours the Emperor and extend it to the Blessed Sacrament? Why is inculturation always a dilution of the sacred? Why are our priests jealous of the glory paid to God and try to forbid it but tolerate improper dressing in Church? Why is genuflection before receiving Holy Communion equated to a sin? Why? Why is inculturation only one way?

My parish priest, Fr. Marshall who is old and weak still genuflects during the Mass. But many of our younger priests don't do it preferring to bow instead. If you read the local adaptations of GIRM, the bishops claim that bowing conveys the same meaning in Asian culture. You're Asian. Does bowing convey the same meaning as genuflection in our culture? Does it really?

Why, if you could show more reverence to the Lord Really and Truly and Substantially Present in the Blessed Sacrament, why opt for the lesser gesture of bowing? Why deny God the glory? And mind you, these folks don't give a profound bow, as the rubrics demand, but merely a slight nod of the head. And forget about bowing during the mention of the Blessed Trinity or during the et incarnatus est and the striking of the breast during the Confiteor.

Of course, the old and infirm and those with bad backs are exempted, but I'm talking about those who can do it. Why deny glory to God, that's my question? Every knee shall bow. When the body bows, it's hard for the spirit to be proud.

Why?

PS
This is a rant =)

Anonymous said...

actually leh ...the bishops are to take most of the blame....

in the spirit of collegiality ...everything also they takut ....and in that process many souls would be led to hell ..

the devil is having a field time these days ...

DonAaron said...

It's not a form of distraction when one genuflects before receiving communion, it's even more crap if it = sin, what a laugh. The practice here is not that obvious, to my knowledge, but reviewing some of the past videos in Vatican archive, even when after communionn (if I was not mistaken Pope Benedict's T/G mass after he was elected before the Sunday installation mass)... after distributing communion to the faithful, His Holiness, returned his ciborium with the balance of hosts to the deacon, it caught my attention that the Holy Father himself genuflects before the sacred species before returning to his seat, it there anything wrong to it? When the pope himself does it? And come on.... on matter of genuflecting after consecration of each species, even the Pope does it... @ his age LOL... Honestly speaking, I would rather refer to the General GIRM than to follow the intercultural versions. LOL

Anonymous said...

Our local inculturation is full of crap ...

soon we would be doing the pooja in church ...ooops I think it is already happening...

DonAaron said...

LOL

lilian said...

Andrew, May I point out that the OHP for the Holy Communion, photo number 2 is no longer in use in my church. I am from CHS and from the multi-media ministry. Fr. Fabian has changed that. Now, in place of this slide, we just have a 'blank' cross slide. I will not elaborate further but just wish to clarify as what is put on the net may 'confuse' others.

M@rK said...

Something really shocking happened to me on Wednesday in the lift of the hospital. My muslim friend and I entered the lift together with 2 men who were bearing the tags 'minister of the eucharist'. They were on their rounds to give communion to the sick. The really shocking thing is that they offered us communion in the lift. When my friend ask what it was, they explained that it was 'communion' and ANYONE could receive it ( he slightly corrected himself by saying 'of course maybe not muslims and the like' without realising that my friend was muslim). I was utterly shocked!!! I asked him again 'ANYONE??' and he said yes!!!! God bless his soul.

Anonymous said...

that is the problems ..lah ..the communion the body of christ is treated like oreos these days ...

andy,

I look forward to your canon bull ...kekeke..excommunicate them ..

Andrew said...

Lilian, thank you for your comment. I have updated the post to reflect this. Hopefully no confusion will ensue.

Mark, I would really really like to say that I'm shocked. But I'm not. What did shock me, however, was that the minister said "Well, maybe not Muslims". How insensitive of them. I'm sure the ACLU will hear about this infringement of Muslim rights =)

Anonymous said...

no aclu in malaysia ...do not worry ..just the jabatan islam thats all ...

both the eucharistic waiters could be caught under ISa

DonAaron said...

Ok... that's a real sensitive thing... On communion, a EMC cannot just open the sacred species anywhere and give out communion like that. The rites have to be performed and of course, tangan kena cuci.

Another ignorant thing is that, when an EMC receives a pyx from a church or where mass was celebrated, they should maintain the vow of silence until they distribute to the sick, meaning go directly to the sick who needs Jesus, not taking a pit stop and chit chattin away before going to the destination (of course if one passes by another, and if they greet one another it's ok don't laa be snooby LOL). I don't know whether it is practiced throughout the dioceses but in Guadalupe here, my parish priest, insist to all his EMC's when they deliver communion to the homebound, they go str8 to the destination and administer it. After that ok... want to dance, talk away ok... LOL

On communion given to the non-Catholics, there's a special rule/dispensation given before they receive it...Other than that NO WAY... these ministers really hafta go back and refer to their GIRM

There's NO meaning of receiving communion if Jesus is exploited in this way 'sigh'

Anonymous said...

the eucharistic waiters are hogwashs ...there is one in my church who doesnt even know that divorce couples cannot receive communion ....

DonAaron said...

LOL... this one even a kid going to receive 1st holy communion knows the answer

Rita said...

Another point about Bahasa surely is that it is a somewhat primitive language. I know of several who bemoan the fact that Malaysian Law is now all written in Bahasa rather than English. It lacks subtlety and can be very cumbersome, even simple things can take an age to get across (especially when there are plurals involved). Surely, similar problems exist in translations of the sacred liturgy? English is far from perfect but Bahasa is a step in the wrong direction.

Are not moves to have more Masses in Bahasa fueled by some who have almost Mugabe-like zeal for anti-colonialism?

Andrew said...

Rita, what a politically incorrect (but really really true) thing to say! LOL!

Miguel José Ernst-Sandoval said...

That Communion sign seems to be missing something...