Friday, January 09, 2009

(Arch)Bishop Vigneron on Liturgy

I'm coming to the party a bit late, but I am very excited and happy that Bishop Allen Vigneron, late of Oakland, California, has been named as the next Archbishop of Detroit.

I know Bishop Vigneron from his days as rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, where I had the good fortune to complete my studies for the priesthood from 1998-2001. He is an outstanding teacher and pastor. He is loyal to the Church and her Magisterium, and patient and generous as well.

Bishop Vigneron is deeply concerned with the state of the liturgical life in the church in the country, and as rector of the seminary tried to inculcate in us seminarians a sense of reverence and a respect for the liturgy as something given. Toward that end he implemented significant reforms of the seminary's liturgical practice, most notably introducing and establishing as normative the use of the Proper antiphons at seminary Masses, and moving away from the use of hymnody. He brought the late Calvert Shenk to Sacred Heart, and one of his specific charges to Cal was to restore the Propers to their rightful place in the liturgy. This move was not at all popular in some quarters of the seminary faculty (though it was quite well received by the overwhelming majority of seminarians), and provoked a storm of criticism and outright attack from certain elements of the Archdiocesan establishment. But Bishop Vigneron persevered and continued these reforms in spite of the opposition.

I am confident that we will see good things happen in the Archdiocese of Detroit, and eventually beyond, as a result of Bishop Vigneron's accession to the see. This is good news for all who want to see the liturgy celebrated according to the authentic vision and mind of the Church, and good news for all who value fidelity to the Church's teaching and discipline.

Back in 2000, while I was still a seminarian, I wrote an article for Adoremus based on an interview I had with Bishop Vigneron. The article, titled "Liturgy as Ecology" discusses the liturgical formation and training offered by the seminary. However, it provides insight not only into Bishop Vigneron's approach to the liturgical life of the seminary, but into his broader liturgical vision as well:
The single greatest problem is the tendency to turn the Liturgy into a focus on the self, rather than on God. Bishop Vigneron believes these tendencies are misguided, because they "obscure the Christological and Trinitarian focus inherent in liturgy."

"Liturgy", he says, "is not entertainment, it is not self-validated. Liturgy is the experience of heaven, not something that happens to me in some sort of emotional-personal state."

Bishop Vigneron has a great deal more of importance to say in this article, please read the whole thing here.

Pray for him, and for the Archdiocese of Detroit! Ad multos gloriosque annos!