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).

Monday, June 13, 2016

The New Evangelization: call to the transcendentals.

The transcendentals are the true, the good and the beautiful. To quote Sister Yi, whose comments are enshrined on a wall (page) at this site,...
We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.
That need for "meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world" is satisfied in meeting the Person of Jesus Christ Who dwells in His Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus lives among us through the Sacraments. We meet Him most profoundly in the Holy Eucharist which is, as the Church has repeatedly said, "the source and summit of the Christian life". If the Eucharist is the source and summit, and indeed it is, should we not give our full and respectful attention to what the Mass always and everywhere has been? That is, the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary made present on the altar. A Mass made banal by politics and liturgical and historical know-nothings will inevitably be abandoned by those who tire of the fact the Liturgy more resembles them, i.e., human beings, more than it remains true to the Lord Jesus Christ Who established the Mass.

While people look for sociological, political, psychological and economical reasons why Catholics have drifted and continue to drift away, the solution in drawing people to their spiritual home is the same in every age. We require a renaissance not of cheap flash-in-the-pan nifty entertainments. The human soul craves real beauty, authentic goodness and absolute Truth to satisfy the hunger which everyone knows so well is missing from their lives until they reach out to Jesus and invite Him to be Lord of their lives. If people are to really discover faith in Jesus, they must encounter His true doctrine, not the exemptions proposed by various groups which water down the Gospel by "blessing" adultery (divorce and remarriage), promoting contraception and advocating abortion, among other offences against the integrity of the Holy Gospel. The non-Catholic sects may have some or even many redeeming qualities, but any of the diversions from Tradition which they promote are the same elements by which they may be identified as false churches that are not of God.

What are the ways, then, in which we must proceed to be effective witnesses to Jesus Christ to lead people to Him and His One True Church?

Full Renewal of the Mass
  • Ad orientem worship, which orients us away from our selfish preoccupations to the Holy Trinity Who should be the focus of man's worship.
  • Restoration of the Offertory prayers that remind so much better than the current prayers that the Mass is a true sacrifice, the one Sacrifice of Calvary re-presented, made present, on the altar.
  • Restoration of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar which are the prayers of the spiritual warrior. When praying those prayers, there is little doubt that the witness of Catholics is one of a warrior doing battle with the powers of darkness so that souls may be saved.
  • Restoration of Communion on the Tongue while kneeling at the Communion Rail preserves the dignity of the Sacrament and thus preserves the dignity of the communicant.
  • Restoration of the Propers and sacred chant (English and Latin). The chanted propers are the music of the Mass. They are the flesh of the character of each Mass.
  • Revision of the calendar: restoration of the season of Epiphany and the season of Pentecost. The use of Ordinary Time, which is a poor translation of the Latin Tempus Per Annum, as a label for what should be two distinct seasons (Epiphany and Pentecost) confirms man's loss of the sense of sacred seasons in the liturgical cycle.
  • Authentic ars celebrandi fully modelled on the Extraordinary Form. The art of the Mass is lost in most Ordinary Form parishes. Thus, most parishioners are artless. Deprived of the art of prayer, they wander into strange practices or simply wander away from the Church.
  • Revision of the Liturgy of the Word: three readings instead of four—Epistle, Psalm and Gospel. More is not always better. It is one thing to be saturated in Scripture. People benefit, however, more from thematic unity than from a mere multiplication of readings. How many remember the First Reading by the time the Liturgy reaches the proclamation of the Holy Gospel?
Supernaturalism and Beautiful Ritual

Closely allied to liturgical renewal is a renewal in appreciating the supernatural. The language of the supernatural, in temporal terms, is ritual. Ritual invites, it does not do the work for you. It calls to you to use your mind, your imagination. Bland ritual is not really ritual. Ritual is glued to the action of Christ in the Mass. We must be very sensitive to what the Mass always has been as designed by the Lord, otherwise we impose bizarre understandings that only serve to elevate man's strange thoughts about the Mass above the action of Christ Who is the principal actor in the Mass. Deviations from the rubrics amount to another Gospel, as in, the kind condemned in Scripture.

True ritual is the language of the Holy Spirit. Ritual is the Gospel in action, seen and impacting the imagination. Ritual speaks to the imagination which sees truth, just as the Scripture proclaimed is the truth that is listened to and acted upon. Catholic liturgy engage the senses through ritual. If the Liturgy of the Word is the Liturgy of (or for) the Ears, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is, or should be, the Liturgy of (or for) the Eyes. Of course, those statements are too simplistic to capture the richness of the Mass. The Mass is for the soul, and through the ears and eyes Word and Sacrament enter into the soul. The Mass culminates in the Holy Eucharist entering our bodies—now the intellect and will are engaged through touch and taste. The mind and heart are even engaged through the sense of smell. Incense relieves the mind of obstacles to grace by infiltrating the olfactory sense and teasing us into submission to the sweet fragrance of the Holy Spirit.
  • supernaturalism, a restoration of the sense of the sacred goes together with beautiful ritual that is intrinsic to liturgical worship
  • ritual is the silent communication of the Divine in symbols, actions or gestures and movement.
  • theological precision and orthodoxy are essential to form the heart and mind in the ways of the Holy Spirit. True doctrine disposes the mind to Truth. If the mind is exposed to a diet of heterodoxy, it becomes accustomed to dissent and rebellion and then falls into darkness away from the Light.
The proclamation of the Catholic Faith in authentic architectural forms.

People want beautiful homes and gardens and clothes and jwelry and cars and boats and... so forth. Yet, when it comes to building churches they decry beautiful architecture as a waste of resources that could be better spent on the poor, and so on. That false argument merely exposes people's lack of faith. They do not possess the joy of faith which thrills to creating beautiful expressions of the Faith which lead others to the love of God. As Sister Gabriella reminds us:
St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.
People need authentic beauty, otherwise they fall for cheap imitations such as
... pornography.
... manipulations of their physical body to feel good about themselves but only succeed in robbing themselves of their dignity.
... drugs which give temporary relief from the depression brought on by a life bereft of authentic beauty.

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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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