I awoke this morning in time to get to morning Mass at John Cantius (it's about 20 minutes from Loyola where the chant workshop is going on), not too difficult since my body is still on "Eastern" time, but my clock is on "Central", so everything seems an hour later to me! I caught about the last 10 minutes of the Canons Regular (about 20 of them) saying morning prayer together with antiphonal psalmody. Nice!
It was difficult to not keep thinking of whether it would be possible to get a liturgical program like this going in parishes across the country, and if so, then how? While driving back to campus, I came up with a few thoughts on the subject that, while not the most optimistic, at least lays out the areas that I think need the most work.
To begin with, despite the elaborate and magnificent structure that is St. John Cantius, that's not what's responsible. There are magnificent Churches across the country, many of which do not present the liturgy well. And it is not necessarily that they have made the decision to make use of both Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the liturgy. That too is a part, but again, there are parishes across the country, and increasingly so, that make use of both forms.
No, it was while sitting in the church watching the Canons Regular recite Morning Prayer together that the real reason was made obvious. It begins with a decision by the Priests. Not a decision to try and do what the parishioners want, but to do what the Church requires. Not to try and shape the liturgy according to peoples lives and schedules, but to shape the peoples lives and schedules according to the liturgy.
From this, everything else comes... the beautiful art and architecture (what the Liturgy requires), the beautiful music (what the liturgy requires), the attention to daily prayer and devotions (what the liturgy requires)... it all begins with that decision to SUBMIT to the Church rather than trying to shape it to our convenience, to be like children and do as we are told.
This decision will be a long time coming in many parishes, and until it is made, those who try to bring beautiful art and architecture, beautiful music and adherence to tradions will be fighting the administration every step of the way. It's not really possible to compare one parish with another, or to criticize a parish for not having "gotten on the bandwagon" or "with the program"... in some places it really is not yet possible. That decision hasn't been made.
Pray for Our Priests...