While many readers enjoyed my suggestions in A simpler program for Eucharistic revival, one friendly reader pointed out that something was missing from my list: an exhortation to parishioners “to keep encouraging their pastors.” Good point.
If your pastor shares your desire to increase reverence for the Eucharist, and has implemented one or more of the proposals that I offered (or some of his own—my list was neither original nor exhaustive), the chances are that he has heard complaints from some liberal parishioners. He will need encouragement, to balance off that negative feedback. So, rather than complain about the steps that he has not taken, thank him for what he has done. Then, after the encouragement, you might suggest another step.
This positive approach is not only more charitable. It is also more effective. Think of what Jeeves, in the novels of P. G. Wodehouse, refers to as “the psychology of the individual.” The pastor, when he sees you approaching, might think: “Oh, boy; here’s that guy who’s always telling me about the things I should do.” If so, he won’t be anxious to talk to you. On the other hand, he might say: “Oh, here comes that nice fellow who’s been supporting me.” In that case he has no reason to avoid you. Which means that you have his attention, and another opportunity to encourage him.
Think of it this way: Your pastor presumably falls into one of three possible categories:
He is mostly – or even completely—in agreement with you on the need for greater Eucharistic reverence. So you don’t need to convince him. He is your ally. He may hesitate to do what you would like, for reasons that you may or may not understand. (He may feel pressure from other parishioners, other pastors, or diocesan superiors.) If you trust him, and he trusts you, you can make common cause, and perhaps overcome the obstacles. If you criticize him, he’s not likely to include you in his circle of trust.
He has no strong feelings, one way or another, about the reforms you would like. He is, therefore, likely to take the path of least resistance. Your challenge, then, is to make it easier for him to enact the reforms—to persuade him that the reforms will have attractive consequences. If there are divisions within your parish (and most parishes do have divisions), make sure he thinks of you, and others who desire Eucharistic reverence, as “those nice people,” rather than “those people who are always complaining.” So if he takes one small step in the right direction, don’t complain that he hasn’t (yet) taken another larger step. If you do, he may be tempted to conclude: “Those people always complain anyway; why bother trying to satisfy them?”
He may actually disagree with you, and see no need for greater reverence at the Eucharistic liturgy. You can do your best to plant the seeds of ideas now and then, but you aren’t likely to convince him. Pray for him. And look for another parish.
From Phil Lawler in Catholic Culture.
Some of Lawler’s points:
1. Encourage the practice of receiving Communion kneeling. [Oh no, there is no altar rail!! What to do? Bring back the Prie Dieu!!]
2. Encourage the faithful to receive Communion from consecrated hands. [are there enough of them or shall we let the communion lines grow long?]
3. Encourage those present to remain for a few minutes after Mass in prayerful thanksgiving [yes, yes, yes! A disinclination to such thanksgiving is a bad sign]
4. Encourage regular Confession.
5. Encourage parishioners to realize that they must not receive the Eucharist if they are not in a state of grace. [4&5: the sense of sin is missing in our culture at large, and this affects Catholics, esp. Catholic politicians]
6. Encourage a spirit of recollection during the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Discourage haste. Encourage silence. [we are use to noise, noise noise]
7. Encourage priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, so that the focus of attention is on the altar rather than the celebrant. [ YES, YES, YES!!! ]
8.Encourage Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and Eucharistic Adoration. Start with just an hour of adoration each week, and watch the practice grow. [how I need this!!]
All of these suggestions have as their goal a more prayerful Mass with more prayerful people. Hard to argue with this, IMHO. My most earnest hope is to see #7, but for Francis, and also #1 available to parishioners who want to kneel.
You forgot Latin and chant. There’s another story on this website about those being in demand.