Once is not enough
Joseph A. Komonchak March 28, 2013 - 10:15am
One of the norms for Vatican II's reform of the liturgy was that "the rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be clear in their brevity and should avoid useless repetitions" (SC 34). The Roman liturgy was often described as more "sober" than the liturgies of other rites, and perhaps this entered into the mindset of those who drafted this norm. But I wonder whether the norm was appropriate given all that was said about adaptations to meet other cultures, some of which, after all, don't mind and even expect long rituals. And when are repetitions "useless"? And who decides that they're useless? Could there be some cultural bias behind this norm?Here's a comment of Augustine:
For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping; the Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord has received my prayer (Ps 6:9-10). The repetition of the same sentence isnt really necessary, but it shows the emotion of the exultant Psalmist. Thats how joyful people usually speak; expressing their joy once is not enough. This is the fruit of his groaning toil, of the tears that washed his bed and watered his couch (see Ps 6:7). For those who sow in tears reap in joy (Ps 125: 5), and blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Mt 5:5). (Augustine, EnPs 6, 11; PL 36, 95-96).
About the Author
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.