Reflections on Liturgists from Maines and McCallion’s “Transforming Catholicism”

This is Part 2 of thoughts from David R. Maines and Michael J. McCallion’s Transforming Catholicism: Liturgical Change in the Vatican II Church (2007).

Liturgists. It’s kind of an older term. I don’t really hear it used so much in job titles anymore.  Yet, there’s still something to learn from Maines and McCallion’s study of characteristics of those employed as liturgists.

They write, “liturgists tend to be well intentioned troublemakers…they occupy legitimate authority positions within the church and fully embrace church theology and Canon Law, but their work entails oppositional change. A built-in tension thus exists in their work. Their goal, broadly speaking, is to change Catholic worship in accordance with Vatican II precepts, but to produce that change they use the legitimated resources internal to the church. The second reason is that in seeking to implement Vatican II liturgical practices, they invariably encounter resistance from those committed to traditional Catholic customs and procedures as well as from Vatican II adherents who might have different interpretations of proper worship practices” (p. 50)

Does this apply more broadly? Probably. 

I see similar tensions among many in ministry with regards to evangelization. It’s in Church teaching–but not enacted widely within parish life or in the pews. Thus, part of the minister’s vision is promoting change, real cultural change. How we purify our intentions and ensure proper motivation is focusing on the people. Real souls in need of the transformation, healing, and grace that only encounter with Jesus Christ can bring. My task in ministry isn’t to “change evangelization,” per se, but to cultivate the conditions where people can encounter Jesus Christ and His truly transforming touch.

The more we can keep that spirituality at the forefront of ministry, the less likely we are [I think/hope!] to fall into the “well intentioned troublemaker” mold Maines and McCallion highlight.



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