If my memory serves me well, Fr Adrian Fortescue said:
You have to incense an altar somehow. It doesn’t hurt to be told how.
It is the theory according to which the rule of the arbitrary is worse than the rule of law. This is one thing I often heard from my old canon law professor at Fribourg. Poor old Patricius got his head bitten off trying to comment on The New Liturgical Movement, which I admit seems to have lost some of its spice since its former moderator retired from it. He writes about this subject on Amateurs…
I remember old Fr Montgomery Wright telling me that he was fed up with the Roman Catholic Church in England in the 1940’s and came over to France just after the war to complete his training for the priesthood and be ordained for the Diocese of Bayeaux. Whether it was liturgical rubricism or moral casuistry, it must have been stifling!
In my book, it is important to learn to do things properly – get someone to teach you, read it in books, hold rehearsals until you get it right. Then one just gets on in life. When I say Mass, everything is done properly, because I took the trouble to learn the Sarum ceremonies as best as possible. Of course, I am always ready to accept criticism, just like when I perform a tack or a gybe when sailing or playing a fugue by Bach on the organ. It is the same with any acquired skill.
I sympathise with those who are burned out by constant criticism, but we do need to be on the watch to keep up high standards. As with many things, there needs to be a via media between the arbitrary and constant nit-picking.
It is rather like men who fuss over their hair all the time and worry about this or that shampoo or conditioner. I just look after mine reasonably and live with it. Just the same with my boat. I could restore it and bring it to a new-looking shine. I would be afraid to launch it. So, my boat is a bit untidy, but sails just fine. What more do you need? The liturgy is at a different level, the worship of the Church and Sacrament of Christ, but it needs to be a part of our spiritual life and like a rudder is to a boat.
I occasionally look at The New Liturgical Movement, but since I came across some quite nasty folk there, I stopped commenting long ago. I was never well accepted, because of being a vagante priest pariah. Shawn Tribe wrote to me a few times, and was always kind to me. I certainly don’t get angry if a blogger doesn’t want me commenting. It’s their blog and life is too short…
Keep calm and carry on!