The Scottish posture

The Bishops of Scotland are considering having congregations stand in places that they once knelt. I have no comment on the propriety of the change, but I do have one observation about its timing:

“If the Scottish bishops go ahead with this proposal, it would make sense for any changes to congregations’ participation in the Mass to be introduced in Scotland simultaneously with the new English translation of the Roman Missal,” said Liz Leydon, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, to EWTN News.

To the contrary, I think that’s a very bad idea. If postconciliar history teaches us anything, it is that when a lot of changes happen at the same time, even if they are discrete and come from distinct sources, they tend to get bundled together. This helped the hijackers of Vatican II in creating the myth that a number of changes rammed through in the 1960s are untouchable because they are part of “Vatican II” (I’ve previously referred to this process as the substitution of an ersatz council for the historical Vatican II; see, e.g., SF: Who’s Defending What? (Feb. 28, 2011); MP: Two quick links (June 6, 2011)). Think about it this way: Why is it that one cannot criticize the wanton destruction of altars and altar rails, or the comprehensive vernacularization of the liturgy, or communion in the hand, or any number of changes wrought in the 1960s, about which the council said nothing, without being accused of trying to roll back Vatican II? Because it’s easy to see (or cause to be seen) simultaneous changes as being related.

So with this in mind, my fear is that simultaneous liturgical changes that have nothing to do with the new translation will become associated with the latter, and we will have another “change moment” where a number of unrelated changes become bundled together in people’s minds. Parishioners who really dislike the posture changes—or one can suppose any number of other changes that could be carried out: Introduction or withdrawal of altar girls; musical changes; etc.—will naturally be disposed to associate the change with the new translation. Moreover, this kind of bundling amplifies the change’s bow shock, increasing (for no good reason) the disorientation and amount of things to relearn.

All in all, bundling has a certain intuitive appeal, but I don’t think it holds up to scrutiny.

Post facto

MP: Communion under both kinds (Oct. 18, 2011)