Sunday, September 30, 2012

you may not make the sign of the cross

Today I noticed a rather humorous inconsistency in Lutheran Service Book, the liturgical resource currently favored by LC-MS officialdom.  This takes a bit of set up, so let me explain.

All five of the Mass "settings" in LSB have a rather poorly worded rubric encouraging all to make the sign of the cross at the beginning of the liturgy when they hear the trinitarian invocation.  (The point of the present argument is not to hold forth on why I do not like the statement in question, but if you are interested, it reads as follows:  The sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism.)  The rite of baptism (p. 268) begins likewise with the invocation, but does not have this word reminding everyone that they are permitted to make the sign of the cross.  While I encourage, support, and promote the use of the sign of the cross by those who believe and are baptized, let me say again that I am not a fan of this lamely worded rubric.  Nevertheless, it is there, at the top of the preparatory rite of every eucharist.  In fact, we even had it printed out in the bulletin today, along with pretty much the whole liturgy (today and tomorrow "Setting Five" is the version of the week). 

Yet right above that rubric in the printed bulletin, in all-caps, is this: MONDAY ONLY.  That is because this morning we had a baptism instead of the preparatory rite.  So we go to page 268 for the baptism, where we have the invocation without any reference to whether or not the people may make the sign of the cross. 

Think about it.  This means that it would be rather easy for someone to infer that for the first of the two liturgies, the one with the baptism, he may not make the sign of the cross.  After all, the rubric The sign of the cross may be made by all etc, is prefaced in this case with the warning, MONDAY ONLY. 

I don't blame the poor pastor who has to make these things intelligible to the people week in and week out.  Rather, this problem is one of the results of producing a liturgical book by means of committees and subcommittees.  The democratization of liturgical planning is bad enough; what we now have is something worse, the synodocorporatization of the liturgy.  The life of such a creature means, among other things, the martyrdom of consistency of message.


The Rev. BT Ball said...

Dear Deacon-
you mean those people who put one order of holy communion in a book in 1941 where really onto something? We know so much more now, don't you know?

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Indeed, Fr. Ball. The joke of it, albeit a sad one, is that there are good Lutheran pastors who go along with the idea that there is something wise, something admirable, something pastorally brilliant, or synodically unifying, or something, about making a point of using a wide array of the "settings" of LSB and yet think themselves opposed to "diverse worship." I don't blame them. I blame the culture of today's church, along with seminary formation, along with what students see in their school chapels (& what they don't see) in the CUS system (and in high school) before they even get to seminary.