Where is the church going with the debate over same sex blessings?
Should our understanding of liturgy, blessing and sacraments be radically rethought or is the problem that we understand blessing, sacraments and liturgy as things that are “done to us”?
Answering from a liturgical perspective Tom O’Loughlin says ‘liturgy is a human response to the divine, to each other and to human need’.
The church has a role of interceding for people and if we lose sight of this, we minister to the concept of marriage rather than two people who are giving themselves in marriage, one to the other: “Blessing is not a magical formula” says O’Loughlin.
James Alison considers that some Gay and Lesbian people are seeking the blessing of the church to celebrate a “fixed stage in their lives” and “to bear witness to something”.
Both they and their families wish “to give thanks to God” he says: “We bless God and God blesses us”. We enter into the blessing.
Michael Kelly SJ points out that in the traditiional Catholic theology of marriage “the couple administer the sacrament to each other”.
What makes it a sacrament is they are baptised,” he says.
Because marriage equality is so prevalent in Catholic countries, Joe Grayland pose whether Catholic theology more than Protestant theology is more open to same-sex blessings?
Is there a difference between catholic and protestant theology – more than evangelical protestant theology?
James Alison responds to these questions.
“Intrinsic to Catholic theology is the notion that grace builds on nature and so once we work out what ‘is’; a homosexual person, grace flows, people flourish says James Alison.
So ‘yes’ is the answer.”
Alison points out that in his experience most Catholics, are not particularly worried about what the bible says about Gay and Lesbian people because “most Catholics don’t derive their faith from the bible – the bible goes along with their faith”.
In countries that were previously identified as Catholic, Alison sees a changing face to Catholic theology as a result of the impact of evangelical Protestantism.
In noting the change Alison says the ‘ground music’ of ‘ordinary religious discourse’ is now Protestant.
He puts this down to the evangelical and protestant groups not being elitist, and not identified with the ruling hierarchies.
He notes the irony that the Catholic Church has to sort of reply to newfound circumstance with more charismatic type worship, and this is adding to their problem.
Join Joe Gayland, Tom O’Loughlin, James Siemens, Carmel Pilcher, Kevin McGinnell, Sophy Morley, Jo and Gerard Shepherd, Judith Courtney, Judy Foster and Jo Ayers in this edition of Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy as they talk through the COVID-19 experience and ask about the lessons various parishes and church communities may have learned.
They also hint at some of the practices that as people of faith the Church could embrace in this changing world.
This edition of Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy focuses on the Eucharist as something more than a ritual.
The discussion talks people through the COVID-19 experience and asks about the lessons we may have learned and hints at some of the practices that as people of faith we could embrace in this changing world.
Join Professor Thomas O’Loughlin as he talks with Dr Joseph Grayland to consider:
Join Dr Carmel Pilcher, Dr James Siemens and Jo Ayers and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin for a panel discussion hosted by Dr Joseph Grayland.
Under discussion is Eucharist as the Celebration of a people, a people attached to a greater body and the tensions that exist between individual expressions of thanksgiving and the expressions of thanks a community may offer.
Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy switches focus to the Eucharist as the Celebration of a people, a people attached to a greater body and the tensions that exist between individual expressions of thanksgiving and the expressions of thanks a community may offer.
Particular issues discussed include:
Culture and inculturation and responsibility for liturgical prayer
What does giving thanks look like? Are there opportunities for difference?
Are the elements of bread and wine merely cultural?
Theology of the presider, theology of the assembly.
Presiding at liturgy as a function of culture.
Individual authenticity; belonging to the community.
The Catholic Church is selling “the Eucharist” and people short and is making a mistake by turning Mass into a YouTube experience.
The comments are from Thomas O’Loughlin, emeritus professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham and Director of Studia Traditionis Theologiae.
“There are some things Zoom and YouTube just won’t do because real experiences are whole human experiences,” O’Loughlin said.
“Can you send an apple by email?” he asked.
He says he will accept doing Mass online when people give up going out to dine with others and when people dine alone at home with pre-packaged food and say it is as rich an experience as it is eating and drinking with friends.
People wanting to have Mass on their TV or computer at home and priests supplying it sounds a warning about the real nature of the community, he said.
“Eucharist makes little sense without a community.”
Challenging the meeting, O’Loughlin posed the question as to whether the Church had stopped being a real community and is being reduced to religious ideology.
He sounded a warning that we may be reducing the Eucharist to just getting communion, almost makes it a commodity!
O’Loughlin said the Church has a wealth of spirituality it can call on during COVID-19 lockdown and questioned why we opted for the “summit” experience.
He says he agrees that Mass is the summit of Christian prayer but suggested perhaps the Church has forgotten the hinterland.
O’Loughlin said that the Liturgy of the Hours, shared prayer, Lectio Divina, prayer together and scripture study we just some of the examples from the Church’s spiritual tradition that respects the characteristics of the liturgy and that are easily adapted to a virtual environment.
“Why did we pick on something so physical such as eating and drinking?” O’Loughlin asked.
Questioned on whether it was appropriate to use the readings of the day and make a “spiritual communion,” O’Loughlin sounded a stern warning.
He observed that spiritual communion came from the time when only priests received communion and was developed by the heretical Jansenists to a point were nuns were not seen as worthy of physically receiving communion.
Spiritual communion “is tied up with notions of unworthiness and impurity” and it is a part of a moral theology we left long ago, he said.
Flashes of Insight
O’Loughlin made the comments in an international conversation hosted by CathNews on Zoom and as part of its “Flashes of Insight” series produced in association with La-Croix International.
Host of the conversation, Dr Joseph Grayland, Director of Liturgy in the Palmerston North Diocese, New Zealand, says the idea for “Let’s Talk Liturgy” came about due to the disruption to worship brought about through the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Grayland says the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted laity and clergy alike.
“For many people, the online Mass, viewed from the living room was sufficient, they didn’t have to go out and it fulfilled the need for Sunday Mass.”
“The priests also liked doing this because it was readily identifiable as part of their mission”.
Labelling online video Mass as a form of clericalism, Grayland says there are real concerns around the passive, observer approach and the personal nature of the “priest’s Mass.”
Flashes of Insight – Let’s Talk Liturgy is, therefore, an opportunity for people to discuss and consider the nature of liturgy in an international context.
Over 80 people from the UK, Australia, the Pacific are involved in the conversation.
The second round of conversations continued last evening and at least one more round is planned.