Actions and attitudes

Actions and attitudes

S. Chaston

I began to read the article "Archbishop Hickey: how to address the crisis of faith" (March AD2000) with respect and positive expectation, but in the end I felt disappointed.

Most Australian boys would know the laws of cricket by the time they left primary school. However not many of them would ever have seen, heard of, or wanted to read the book on the rules of cricket. They would have learned the rules from the attitudes and actions expressed by mature cricketers.

When, for example, a fielder in a test match takes a catch, he may hold the ball above his head with both hands to express his triumph, and perhaps also to express his respect for the hapless batsman who hit the catch. This is an example of the liturgy of cricket, which teaches every boy the rules of the game and the attitudes that he may adopt towards his opponents.

The Mass may be divided into the following two aspects: (i) the text, and (ii) the actions and attitudes expressed by priest and people.

The text is there to express what the Church teaches. The actions and attitudes in the liturgy, however, teach all of us more about our faith than does the text. Children especially get most of their primary education, including their religious education, not directly from texts, but from the actions and attitudes of their parents and teachers.

There are many important concepts in the text of the Mass, but two for example are expressed in the words "This is my Body" and the word "sacrifice". What does the liturgy of the Mass teach us about these two great concepts? The answer is "almost nothing", because some of the attitudes and actions in the liturgy of the Mass are actually antagonistic to these two teachings.

While the Mass is a success in bringing comfort and consolation to its followers, some of its liturgical elements, albeit subliminally, have weakened our perceptions of Church teachings.

Page, ACT

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