My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at and I have a Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Seeking Common Liturgical Ground

Dear Blog Visitors:

Due to the pressures and time-constraints of my secular job, and much of my other time being divided between family, ministry, routine errands, etc., I don’t spend as much time on the web as I would like. However, when I do get time to browse, I always make an attempt to feel the pulse of Catholicism in general.

One of the raging debates on Catholic blogs/websites concerns liturgical practices. This is certainly a topic that needs to be thoroughly discussed if there is to be a Vatican III council. For those like myself who are old enough to remember, the period immediately preceding Vatican II (late 1950s) was punctuated with discussions and movements that either advocated for strict adherence to the Latin Mass, or an entirely different direction, which would essentially evolve into the Mass in its present form.

Although I have occasionally been at odds with Catholic traditionalists, especially in the area of gender-based discussions, I nevertheless respect their love for the Latin Mass. I would therefore argue for the need to provide the Latin Mass in enough diocesan parishes to satisfy traditionalists who have a yearning for the type of celebration that brings them closer to their faith and the sacred mysteries that characterize the history of Roman Catholicism. On the other hand, Catholics who are drawn to a more contemporary form of celebration, whether it be the type most commonly celebrated the past fifty years, or an appropriate variation, the primary consideration always needs to be a question : “Is my faith enhanced as a result of attending this liturgy?”

On a few occasions when I have visited in-laws in Little Rock, Arkansas, I made it a point to attend liturgies at the city’s cathedral (pictured above). In each case, I was impressed with the varieties of worship styles that were evident in the weekend liturgies. On one particular Sunday, I arrived at the cathedral in-between Masses. For traditional Catholics, there was enough time allotted between the Masses for recitation of the Rosary and Benediction. The liturgies were arranged in such a way that those with a preference for sung Latin responses would feel totally comfortable in a Mass designated for that purpose. On the other hand, those who favored a more contemporary form of worship would feel comfortable in a Mass designed for them.

Although I am known primarily as a reformer, I purposely chose the more traditional form of worship for my visits to Little Rock. The music was beautiful and the Mass was celebrated with a high degree of reverence. My only criticism concerning two of my visits was the homily, whereby I had hoped the homilist would look at the people more than he did, as opposed to focusing his eyes on his text.

As conversations continue to evolve in cyberspace and in Catholic circles in general, it is my prayer that some common liturgical ground can be found. Despite all the politics in the church, it is the sacred liturgy that can bring forces of opposition together in their common beliefs. Obviously the challenge of bringing opposing sides together is a monumental task. Consequently, we see multiple conferences throughout the country designed either for reformers or traditionalists, but rarely an opportunity to bring the voices of opposition together. Yet, there is hope.

I am encouraged by the fact that an American Catholic Council is being planned for June, 2011. It is scheduled to take place in Detroit and both reformers and traditionalists will be welcome. It will be an opportunity for all to participate in discussions geared toward articulating problems/frictions within the Catholic Church, with an ultimate goal of identifying possible solutions. I plan to be there as a respectful listener, and I will perhaps offer some input.

As evidenced by recent events in the political world, the consensus seems to be that we as a society have lost the capacity for civil discourse. It is my prayer that when Roman Catholics debate the future of the church, civil discourse will become normative.

Peace to all,
Ray Grosswirth


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