Sunday, May 17, 2020

Both Ends Against the Middle

Caríssimi: Estóte factóres verbi, et non auditóres tantum: falléntes vosmetípsos. Quia si quis audítor est verbi, et non factor, hic comparábitur viro consideránti vultum nativitátis suæ in spéculo: considerávit enim se, et ábiit, et statim oblítus est qualis fúerit.

My beloved: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.

These days online one reads no small amount of stuff about "conspiracy theories". On the other hand, here in Switzerland those seemingly with the upper hand condemn without reserve all those who dare to insist that the prohibition of public celebrations of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the other Sacraments be lifted with no further delay. The usual bargaining chip on the part of either supplicants or "demanders" is that at least as much discipline and sanitary control can be provided in church as in a grocery store, a barber shop or a tattoo salon... Is that Adrenalin which flows when a person is overwrought? 

Seeing pictures of Masses being celebrated publicly in Germany or reading about the detailed restrictions which will apply as of 18 May at Masses to be "celebrated" in reopened churches in Italy, I cannot help but think that the good priest in Minnesota who has been offering the Traditional Latin Mass in the church parking lot (come cold winds, snow, rain, sleet or hail, with parishioners in their cars listening over their phones). He and his faithful probably, when not certainly, have better succeeded than the poor Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, who can only manage 122 registered souls in that voluminous historic cathedral, distributing Holy Communion underneath a huge, makeshift Plexiglas screen, no words spoken and no singing (in Germany!).

The above Chapter Responsory Verse from Hora Tertia for this 5th Sunday After Easter, as with our daily readings in the office, is from the Letter of Saint James 1:22-24. I love that Letter anyway, especially for what it says about daring the opponent to give evidence of his faith without works. James is a pragmatist, a common sense man, if ever there was/were. In today's Office, the Church with him exhorts: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only!"

Do not get me wrong, I am not pushing for civil disobedience! I know from my walks and from "long distance" exchanges with people that anxiety, certainly, if not irrational, still panic driven, fear has people either moving to the opposite curb so as not to encounter you walking, or (not to me but to others I have seen) occasionally shouting the person off lest one get too close. With the lock-down, regardless of purported healthcare benefits, our "masters" have plunged society into a sort of paralysis, denying choice and discretion even in the most ordinary circumstances. Normalcy comes at a premium. I actually enjoyed taking the train to my sister's house yesterday, because the few souls onboard were at least as daring as I, if not oblivious to all around them (In two of the three train stations I passed through, face masks were the exception, and when then often rather elegant black fashion statements by well-dressed young men...)

Monty Python seems to hold the prize for having taken the wind out of the sails of those who would club us over the head with a caricature of the Spanish Inquisition. They would hold every decent Catholic in chains for something imagined, which St. Dominic or St. Peter Martyr would be surprised to find attributed to their machinations. Me thinks that similar "pre-MP" humorless mindsets are at work today on both sides of the aisle, and at close quarters, as people from opposite sides of the ideological divide batter each other with accusations of hysteria or worse relating to conspiracy theories. The same goes for reopening churches and relaunching Catholic sacramental life. To the extent that neo-modernists and neo-conservatives coalesce to form a united front against us tradition-minded folk and push home and to the absolute their agenda of restrictions against regular celebrations of Holy Mass and the Sacraments, they are nailing down the lid on their own coffin. They are trashing what is left of the Novus Ordo, which seems endemically prone to any manner of abuse, and as we see from examples of "take away" or anonymous "home delivery" Communion also to grave sacrilege. People need to face up to what all is suffocating the remains of faith in the Real Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist.

While corona, unlike Monty Python, is no laughing matter, perhaps we need to find a proper model for setting the Catholic Church free and having done with any and similar Enlightenment musters denying us our full identity as Catholics.

How? Laissez-faire!  Maybe, but I guess I really do not know. Listening to each other and showing much more respect for those who have embraced the Tradition might be a good start. If we don't find our way to each other now, then we may not be seeing the day when a younger generation, after years or decades of clandestine Masses, in homes, forests or parking lots, comes forth to the light of day, please God, with their clandestine priests and bishops to ask back our abandoned churches and monasteries for Divine Worship. Of one thing I am certain, the Mass which they bring back to the light of day with be the Mass of all ages, the same one which sustained the English and Irish recusant Catholics, as well as carrying and nourishing countless other folks in times of trial even when not absolutely pushed underground. It is a scandal and less than pointless to lord it over us. The Tradition deserves our respect, our friendship and support.


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