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Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: valid argument?

by Catherine Frakas 22 Jun 2002

valid argument? QUESTION from Gary on May 29, 2002 Regarding the prolonged holding of hands during Mass, which, as you have made clear in questions awnsered in this forum, is an illicit practice; could you please comment on the following two points, suggested to me by someone who used to teach liturgy at a major seminary. I should mention, since it has bearing on one of the points he makes, that I write from South Africa.
Firstly, he pointed out that all the bishops in this region encoarage and participate in this practice -- it happens whenever the bishops meet. [Many observers would consider our conferance of bishops as among the most liberal in the world, by the way]
His second point, by which he replied to m showing him the Holy See's statement prohibiting this practice, and which he said he used to have to stress to his students in the seminary: liturgical law can be divided between those which can never under any circimstance be changed, and those which are normative in the sense that they would ordinarily apply, UNLESS there were some compelling pastoral, historic or practical reason. As as exsample, he said, in Ireland the response to Let us proclaim the mystery of our Faith is simply My Lord and my God, since there is historical reasons for this practice. In South Africa, he said, where an ideology once prevailed which kept us divided and apart, out of touch, in fact, it is not surprising that this practice should have arisen to counter this mentality.
I have been conscientiously refarining from this practice, and will continue to do so, unless someone whom I would consider trustworthy and orthodox, ie. yourself sir, would confirm his argument as valid.
I am most grateful for your comments.
Thank you.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on June 5, 2002 Dear Gary,
The first argument is wrong. It is easy to show clearly:

1.) All things that bishops encourage and participate in become acceptable liturgical practice. 2.) Bishops encourage and participate in excessive handholding.
3.) Holding hands is an acceptable liturgical practice.

This argument is not true because the first premise is false. In order that something may become liturgically acceptable, it must be approved by ROME, NOT simply by participating bishops.
Now for his second point, basically he is saying in a lot of words that everyone has the authority to interpret some liturgical laws however they please. This of course is not true. There are SOME laws which ARE open to interpretation.. for example the Kiss of Peace among the people may be not used at Mass AT THE CHOICE OF THE PRIEST... but handholding is not permitted at all since Rome has explicitly said no.
I wish that I were more familiar with the Liturgy in Ireland. Yet I suspect that if changing Let us proclaim the mystery of Faith to my Lord and my God is an acceptable liturgical change then there is some official authorization. Maybe one of my readers knows for sure.
Mr. Slavek
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