Bishop Olson: Liturgical fidelity fosters unity, discipleship

Fort Worth, Texas, Apr 2, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At the Chrism Mass celebrated during Holy Week, a Texas bishop offered reflections on the Church’s liturgical life, telling priests the straying from liturgical texts can be detrimental to the unity of Catholicism.

“The importance of Christ-centered and shared repetition in our collaborative mission as the Church requires that we avoid the addition of words or gestures that are alien to the rites and liturgical texts provided us by the Church,” said Bishop Michael Olson of Ft. Worth, Texas.

“Even though such liturgical abuses might at first glance appear to begin as good willed efforts to avoid redundancy and tedium for a people with attention spans made numb by contemporary modes of communication, such efforts remain destructive because they take us away from the repetition that bears fruit in Catholic unity,” he continued.

The bishop’s words came during the Chrism Mass celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ft. Worth, TX on March 27.

Olson described the difference between redundancy and repetition, saying “redundancy can enslave us; repetition can liberate us.”

Redundancy, Olson said, is the practice of doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome. On the other hand, he said that repetition fosters the formation of character and “develops our incorporation into the mystery of God.”

“Redundancy has to do with vicious circularity (doing the same thing again and again without making progress or accomplishing anything except narcissistic absorption);” he explained. “Repetition has to do with the spiral: there is always forward growth and momentum in a spiral even as it circles again and again over similar words, patterns, ideas, and themes.”

“The bitter fruits of redundancy are isolation, complacency, and entitlement; the sweet fruits of repetition are gratitude, humility, and joy,” Olson continued.

The practice of faithful repetition in the liturgy is crucial to the integrity of all Masses since it unifies the universal church, Olson said.

The Texas bishop also noted that straying from liturgical norms will produce “a greater sense of isolation and entitlement to our own individual preferences and opinions,” and will lead to the dangers of redundancy, causing “a sense of confusion of Catholic identity.”

“This can destructively differentiate our parish from other parishes to the point of exclusion by maintaining unique and aberrant liturgical practices,” Olson continued.

While fidelity to the liturgy may not always be received with “a favorable response” and may lead to rejection, Olson said that fidelity to the Church’s liturgical texts “grounds us effectively in Christ.”

Olson additionally encouraged growth in pastoral leadership, which he said involves the “protection of the sheep both from the cunning of the wolf and the complacency of the hired hand who complains about the perceived redundancy of his ministry.”

“Redundancy in the spiritual life of a priest leads him to functional minimalism; repetition in the spiritual life of a priest leads him into deeper waters of conversion and configuration with the life of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church,” Olson explained.

“The essential difference in the life of the baptized Catholic between redundancy and repetition is the centrality of Jesus Christ, true God and true man,” he added.

Liturgical repetition, he said, is an antidote to the danger of redundancy.
 
“If we are to remain faithful to the mission of Christ, the mission of redemption entrusted to us through our anointings, we must repeat together the prayers of the liturgy in solidarity with every Catholic liturgical assembly in the Diocese and throughout the world in order to be saved from the slavery of redundancy.”

 

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