Sunday, March 6, 2011
A Liturgical Alamo
For many a Texan, March 6th holds a very special place in our hearts as today marks the 175th Anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. For those who may not be familiar with Texas history, about 186 Texan defenders valiantly held off Mexican general (and dictator) Santa Anna and his troops until the pre-dawn hours of March 6, 1836. All of the Texan defenders died, giving rise to the battle cry "Remember the Alamo". In fact, the remains of three of the Alamo's most celebrated defenders, Col. William Barrett Travis, David Crockett and James Bowie, are housed in a marble sarcophagas in San Antonio's San Fernando Cathedral. Another interesting thing about the Alamo is that it used to be a mission, San Antonio de Valero. A quick walk through the actual chapel and one can see where the sanctuary, sacristy and nave were.
In liturgy, I think that at some point, we face our own Alamos. It is a very disheartening and discouraging feeling to be the only one trying to stand up for liturgical integrity when everyone else is apathetic, including the one person that you thought you could count on for support. What is worse is when your own friend tells you that you are myopic, unhealthy and not being pastoral enough. Like Travis and company, one feels very alone when trying to defend the liturgy in the face of an onslaught.
Yet, liturgical integrity is a battle worth waging. Now, it's not a question of straining at gnats (like whether or not the bells should be rung during the consecration or if we should have felt banners); rather, it's about using Mass settings that are word-for-word faithful to the official texts of the Roman Missal, defining who can preach, going over the rubrics for Lent and Holy Week and proper procedures for the distribution of Holy Communion.
It's just that sometimes, we suffer more from the Church than for the Church and the unkindest cuts of all come from the folks whom we trust the most. Maybe it's no accident that the battle of the Alamo was actually fought inside of a church.