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Descent To Ritualism

It must be said that the Team did not openly reject the idea of prayer or worship or even the possibility, when it suited them, of Mass as sacrifice. It simply relegated those things far below the importance of assembling people for ritualistic actions. And this too has deep significance, because it was ritualism that had gradually been divorced from true and substantial meaning that Christ condemned. It was a struggle between a ritualistic community and God Himself that brought about the crucifixion of Christ.

Yet empty ritualism was about the only response possible in the Spartan setting of a hall that had been established from the out­set as a temporary Mass-centre, rather than an interim House of God. It was, therefore, relatively simple for the Team to intro­duce the folksy “Good Morning Father — Thank You Father” Mass of the type captured in this hysterical but depressingly familiar description by Anne Roche Muggeridge:

The impression that the public worship of the Church now conveys is that the congregation is worshipping itself. There is a new air of complacency, self-congratulation, of self-sufficient communitarianism:

“Good morning, everyone … Good morning, Father Thank you for making such a great effort to celebrate with the worshipping community of St. Martin Luther King’s on this rainy (hot, snowy, beautiful) day … I hope you noticed the great new air-conditioning (carpet, windows, banners..) that the parish council (RENEW, building com­mittee, liturgy team) have provided… My name is … My colleagues are … The Eucharistic ministers are … I’d like to welcome Ms —, the new parish assistant. I’d like to wel­come visitors to the parish … What does this Gospel have to say to us in our own context (peace, strike, election)? … I would like to read the wonderful insights of the Grade IV class on the meaning of Thanksgiving (Christmas, Easter, peace, war, God, caring, sharing) … You will notice their wonderful interpretations of these themes on the walls be­hind the altar. They have so much to teach us all … Would anyone care to add their own petitions to the prayer of the faithful? … Any further petitions? … Would___ stand up on this occasion of their baptism (confirmation, wedding an­niversary, death) for a well-deserved round of applause? … Now we will all sing … Everyone try to sing this one … Well we didn’t do very well on that one. Let’s all try harder next time. Ms — will practice with you for a few moments before each song … Don’t be afraid to sing. God doesn’t mind if you don’t have a great voice . . . Surely we can all do better than that The collection today is for the struggle for justice and peace in El Salvador (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil). Sister — who has just returned from three days of living among the poor in Central America (Tanzania, the Philippines) will say a few words about it and show a short film … Here comes the Sunday school class … They will place their representations of today’s readings around the altar in the offertory procession … Now let us offer each other a sign of peace … Peace, Anne … John …George Joe … Nice to see you … The Peace of Christ … Hi . Hi..When you come to Holy Communion follow the usher’s directions so the lines to the various ministers will be equal … Body of Christ, Anne … Body of Christ, George … Oh, this must be the new baby … Please be seated for some further announcements … Leaders of RE­NEW will now speak on this week’s theme … Thank you for celebrating with us … Come again … Pick up a bul­letin (RENEW pledge, Development and Peace Report) at the back … Peace pledge at the back if anyone would care to sign … Coffee and doughnuts in the parish hall …

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