Sunday, 31 August 2008

Lourdes' 1970's liturgy

One of the more negative aspects of this great shrine to the Immaculate Conception is that liturgically it is frozen in a time warp of the 1970's, as if Pope Benedict had never been elected and liturgical reform had been yesterday. Coming to the daily English mass in the chapel of St. Cosmas and Damian is a good example. The tabernacle is in a corner, often the celebrant does not wear a chasuble and the mass is more like an international 'gathering' where 'diversity' is celebrated.

In the Blessed Sacrament procession, some of the chants were about worshipping 'Christ in the gathering of the people of God' rather than in the Eucharistic presence: more about that in a later post. In the rosary procession in the evening many of the intercessions are packed with 'better world' and liberal social justice terminology, and barely a mention is made for the conversion of sinners and repentance: what Our Lady appeared for in the first place!

The liberal French bishops obviously have major a vested interest in Lourdes, as it is the most important shrine in France with a huge international following, and it is of great strategic importance for the liturgical establishment. Unsurprisingly the pilgrimage authorities have fought tooth and nail to prevent the Extraordinary form from establishing a presence. So much is their antipathy to it that when a bomb was planted in the underground basilica of St. Pius X by Basque separatists, the blame was at first pointed to the Pius X society!

Nevertheless, due to the massive pressure in the wake of Summorum Pontificem they have conceded a 1962 mass at 9.30am every Sunday in the Upper Basilica, which I gratefully attended. This is however barely advertised in the mass times, as merely a Latin mass.

The mass was a sung Gregorian mass with chant provided by French Benedictine monks on pilgrimage, and it was packed to the rafters. There was barely space for communion.

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