Monday, July 25, 2011

Liturgical Sins

Solomon's wisdom failed him in Chapter 11 of 1 Kings. His love for his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines turned his heart after other gods. Even from the beginning of his reign, he "sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places." (1 Kings 3:3)

A note in my Ignatius Bible asserts that Solomon's failing is a warning against sexual excess. It occurs to me, however, that his sin follows a pattern of liturgical aberration. After all, wasn't King Saul's first offence against God a liturgical violation in 1 Samuel 13, when he sacrificed burnt offerings on his own rather than waiting for Samuel? Even before that, in Numbers 16, the rebellion of Korah was essentially liturgical. The death of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6 was due to a liturgical over-step.

Many of the sins of the kings of Israel and Judah could be seen as liturgical in nature. It is not always the case that they turned completely away from the one true God to false gods. Sometimes it was that they tried to worship God in the wrong way, after the fashion of the local pagans. Even in the time of Christ, the problem with the Samaritans was not that they didn't worship God, but that they didn't do it the way He set up, but rather in the way that they thought best (see John 4).

So yes, I take it seriously when I see the liturgy abused, even in small ways. Only the Church, and not individual priests or "liturgists" has the authority to change the rites, and the rites of the Roman liturgy will indeed be changing after the end of this liturgical year. Meanwhile, I can only hope that the Creed, which has been strangely absent from the Sunday masses at my parish, finds it's way back to its proper place.

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