There's a peculiar tendency among many Catholics of erecting a wall of separation between the liturgy and living the Gospel. On the contrary, the two are intimately linked - lex orandi, lex credendi. If the liturgy is weak, confused, and muddled then so too will the people be weak, confused, and muddled in their faith. Why must we choose between beautiful Masses and being good Catholics? Beauty is how we touch the hearts and stir the souls of those who aren't interested in high faluin' apologetics or theological niceties. Beauty within the Church affords everyone, most especially the poor, a glimpse of heaven. It's not a coincidence that Mass attendance is much greater at parishes where the liturgy is "tradded up" so to speak with all of the smells, bells, and chants that are our glorious patrimony. It's a bit ironic that Mark Shea dismisses the so-called liturgy wars as a form of clericalism and in the next sentence says that care of the liturgy is the exclusive province of the priest. He'll get no argument from me about the desperate need to get lay people out of the sanctuary, but then I'm a Trad and he isn't. If more priests took greater care to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a way befitting the traditional praxis of the Church, then we wouldn't have to take notice of it. Sloppy liturgy cripples the Church's witness and makes going to Mass a bitter trial for far too many Catholics still. We go to Mass to worship our Savior and we come home as theater critics.A reader comments:AMEN. A lot of our brethren need to spend less time worrying about what the bishops are doing/saying and more time speaking up publicly (while it’s still legal to do so). Our opponents are far less concerned with winning the debate than they are with silencing us and prevening our view from even being heard.This is partly why I have such a burning lack of interest in liturgy wars. I regard them as a form of clericalism. Laypeople wasting time minding the priest’s business about minutiae instead of doing what is properly lay. Our work is out in to the world bringing the gospel to the marketplace, not endlessly infighting about whether the priest’s stole was the correct shade of green in ordinary time.
I agree that lay people should fight for the Church in the public square regardless of what the bishops do or fail to do. But it's nonetheless a little discouraging when we're being undermined by the very people who are supposed to be our leaders. Why should we stick our necks out for men who aren't fully committed to the fight in the first place? Because we don't do it for them. We do it for Christ.