So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pistol Packing Parishioners Promote Pulchritude

Poetry is in the details.

The idea that the Liturgy must accommodate the low-information Catholic or potential convert says more about the limited thinking at work among "liturgists" than it does about the ability of potential converts or reverts to the Faith to comprehend the signs, symbols and sacraments of the Church. Too often in the past—and there is a mountain of data available around the internet testifying to the fact that—misguided priests and misinformed liturgy committees appropriated the Liturgy and dumbed the Liturgy down in an effort to make it more "understandable". Understandable?—to whom? What is there to understand if there is little substance and precious little meaning left to appreciate? If experience has taught this blogger anything, it's precisely the careful attention to liturgical detail that invites the imagination and aids, for example, in the recruitment of souls as servers who, thirsting after depth and the divine, thrill to the discovery of meaning in the ritual gestures that have guided countless Catholics into a deeper communion with Christ, the Christ Who reveals Himself in the Sacred Liturgy. These same servers are dedicated, enthusiastic and pious and are fine examples of charity and joy to their peers.

Pope-Emeritus Benedict taught us that the recovery of the truth of beauty is the way forward, a way around the sterile utilitarianism that has ensnared souls for decades. Pope Francis is teaching us about the beauty of mercy. The most merciful thing we can do for the souls of our fellow human beings is to reintroduce into the world beauty and goodness.

Beauty requires a defence. Shouldn't beauty attract and, therefore, isn't beauty its own defence? Emaciated models prancing down a Paris runway or the airbrushed caricatures of men and women in trendy magazines are not defences of beauty, they are examples of victims whose beauty has been corrupted. Beauty requires a defence from those who would misuse power, exploit the innocent and/or corrupt beauty to serve commercial interests.

The beauty of the Liturgy requires a charitable defence against those who wrongly imagine that by ignoring attention to detail and promoting "accessibility" others may participate more fully in the Liturgy. The quest for accessibility is a slippery slope. Accessibility to foster active participation deprives the imagination of the opportunity to discover, on one's own terms guided by the Holy Spirit, the ineffable, the transcendentals of truth, beauty and goodness. The souls of modern men and women crave meaning. The catechumenate, that process wherein converts awaken to reality in the Sacraments, is a preparation, a revelation and gradual entrance into the mysteries (sacraments) Christ gave to His Church. The concept that seekers must be initiated into the Mysteries, i.e., the Sacraments, prior to receiving the Sacraments is lost on a modern crowd that fears mystery as much as it does commitment. Certainly, the Liturgy was given to us by the Lord for our salvation. The Lord left us the design for the Mass and the Holy Spirit has been shaping the Mass for nearly twenty centuries, and shaping us, too. We are shaped by the Liturgy; we do not shape the Liturgy. The Liturgy is received; we do not invent the Liturgy any more than we invent the One to Whom we pray, adore, praise and offering thanks.

The Ordinary Form of the Mass (Pauline Missal) is routinely badly beaten, so much so that it is difficult not to agree with the TLM-only crowd that the Novus Ordo liturgy should simply be abandoned for the Johannine (John XXIII) Missal of 1962. A recent and ongoing reading of Volume One of the original Missale Romanum (Missal of Paul VI) in Latin—albeit a very slow process for me since I am not fluent in Latin—has restored my confidence that there is great beauty to be found in and through the Pauline Missal. Found, that is, if the Mass is celebrated without reduction or avoidance of the liturgical norms contained within the Missal. Those in the tradition-minded camp hardly need reminding that the Novus Ordo is not being celebrated as intended. We have allowed the Liturgy to be hijacked by anarchists, to put it bluntly.

So then, how do we deal with hijackers? In a few words—we should not negotiate with liturgical terrorists. We are, however, still on that hijacked plane which is circling above the runway. We could mount a rebellion that would likely result in the plane going down (—a parish in turmoil). We could be patient and wait for the hijackers to have their demands met (—capitulation surrenders truth to falsehood). We could look for a moment to open the doors and toss out the terrorists who have been occupying the plane. The last option has a certain appeal. A better option is to arm the passengers with weapons, i.e., knowledge: knowledge of history; knowledge of sacraments and the sacred. Faced with the prospect of a planeload of well armed parishioners, the liturgical terrorists typically sense the futility of their campaign and jump off the plane. And, frankly, who cares if they do not have parachutes? If they don't, they would be wise to surrender and take a pew.

It only takes one saint to turn around a parish. Saints, by-the-way, are typically convinced and convincing, indomitable and unfailingly charitable.

Msgr. Charles Pope "arms" the passengers well in an excellent article on the nature of the Catholic worship HERE entitled The Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the Evangelization of the Culture.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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