quod pro nobis traditum est

Monday, March 08, 2010

Beer and the Liturgy

In an opinion piece the author uses the following illustration to support the argument of his column:

"Schlitz was once a top national brew. But, in search of short-term gains, it began gradually reducing its quality in tiny increments to save money, substituting cheaper malt, fewer hops and "accelerated" brewing for its traditional approach.

Each incremental decline was imperceptible to consumers, but after a few years, people suddenly noticed that the beer was no good anymore. Sales collapsed, and a "Taste My Schlitz" campaign designed to lure beer drinkers back failed when the "improved" brew turned out not to be any better. A brand image that had been accumulated over decades was lost in a few years, and it has never recovered."

The columnist notes how seeking "short-term gains" hurt the quality of the beer in the long run and eventually led to its decline. Similar effects on the liturgy are seen when the liturgy is understood as a vehicle that seeks to communicate some message to consumers rather than as the divine means for bringing people into communion with God. Incremental decline in the liturgy is not always noticeable but then we wake up and find that we are no longer participating in worship but rather are being entertained in the house of prayer. In these cases, the liturgy is "no good" anymore". It is no liturgy. Unfortunately, a decline in the liturgy is a decline in the Church.

Neither the holy liturgy nor holy Church need a new brand. Use of the liturgy, without seeking short-term gains, retains its primary and timeless goal of leading people to communion with the Lord in the Eucharist, which is the God-chosen foretaste of the feast to come for His people.

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