Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Iter leading To and From the Source and Summit

I am becoming ever more pensive (perhaps skeptical) about the defensive stance which many clergy and some lay people who claim to be "mainstream Catholic" are taking toward any innovation pointing in the direction of the tradition, be it in terms of liturgical restoration or faithfulness to doctrine, the Church's constant teaching. Perhaps this quote from a pious old Catholic novel from the 19th Century can help to explain:

"You think so now, Fabiola; but you know not the force of universal prejudice, the weight of falsehood daily repeated. How many noble minds, fine intellects, and loving hearts have they enslaved, and induced to believe us to be all that we are not, something even worse than the worst of others!" [Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick. Fabiola  Or, The Church of the Catacombs (1860) (Kindle Locations 5439-5441). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.]

Wiseman attributes these words to Saint Agnes, awaiting in prison her martyrdom, visited by her pagan cousin and friend Fabiola. The "mainstream" may not be pagan, but their hostility toward brothers and sisters in the faith seeking to embrace the historical Church in its continuity strikes me as a similar "universal prejudice"

My pensiveness stems from the conviction that many have traded the notion of a genuinely creative faithfulness to the Will of Christ for His Church and the salvation of the world for something, well, improvised, as can be documented by much of what goes on in your average parish liturgical setting. Let me quote an abstract from his upcoming book, How the Liturgical Reform and the Contemporary Ars Celebrandi Are Remote Contributors to the Crisis on Marriage and Family, © 2015 Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski:

"A musical repertoire that is people-oriented rather than God-oriented, turning us towards each other rather than to the Blessed Trinity and the mysteries of salvation, promotes the false impression that worship is something we do from and for ourselves, a communal self-help ritual that vaguely gestures towards the divine but in a way that validates our own assumptions. In expressing themes of togetherness, equality, and non-judging attitudes, the message of popular liturgical songs is too easily assimilated to or confused with secular ideas of equality between all humans and between men and women (on every level) and bars the way to making necessary judgments about states of objective human disorder or discordance from natural law and divine law.
In other words, the direction of popular liturgical music offers yet another instance of surrendering to the seemingly invincible forces of secularization, which delivers a message of its own contrary to that of divine revelation, as I have sketched above when speaking of social and sexual confusion. The music reflects and strengthens a worldview or mentality that is at odds with traditional Christian doctrine and devotion, thus playing into the hands of those who would see Church doctrine altered and devotions reconceived and reconfigured. If the liturgy and its centuries-old music can be changed at a whim, why cannot women be priests, or contraception be approved, or remarried divorcees be admitted to communion?
Such reasoning may be simplistic, but it cannot be denied that there are powerful forces at work in the Catholic community that suggest and support the inference, and pastors have done far too little to discern and counteract those forces."

"Them's fightin' words?" Only if you want them to be or if you ascribe to the "universal prejudice".

In my preaching and conversation, I try and point out that something went very wrong in the implementation of the Council teaching on Sunday Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the "source and summit of Christian existence". Whether by error or design, the post-conciliar implementation efforts stripped Sunday of all that leads to or flows from it, if you aren't on the parish liturgy committee or part of the music ministry. Daily prayer in the life of many of the baptized gets short shrift and the immediate preparation for Sunday, Saturday night Confession with the common recitation of the Holy Rosary during Adoration and Benediction or during Lent with communal Stations of the Cross, followed by quiet time for individual celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is rare in many places. The one hour fast before Holy Communion is none at all, as is evidenced by the tons of chewing gum scraped off the bottoms of pews.

The Council Fathers wanted renewal and so do I. I don't know how anyone can claim we got it, nohow.

During this centennial year of the Fatima Apparitions I hope and pray that the message entrusted by the Mother of God to little children might touch the hearts of both adults and children. If you think the notion of "restoration" sounds obscurantist, well, try vowing ourselves to picking up where our parents and grandparents left off. Here it comes! Not rupture, but continuity according to the mind of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have no time to spare.


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