“The liturgy by grace changes lives,” writes Father George Rutler in today’s second “On the Square” offering, The Liturgical Experts’ Long Tassels, commenting on the recent final approval of the new translation of the Catholic liturgy. But there are limits to what the liturgy by itself can do, he writes, speaking as a working pastor.
Neglect of the aesthetics of worship is not remedied by the worship of aesthetics. A pastor will sometimes observe an over-reaction to the corruption of the Liturgy, so that ritual becomes theatre and Andrei Rubleyev yields to Aubrey Beardsley. Any group or religious community that is too deliberate about external form sows in itself the seeds of decadence.
What else can and should be done, he goes on to suggest, drawing upon his own experience and the wisdom of the soon to be beatified John Henry Newman.