Friday, October 12, 2012

CALLING THE CHURCH TO HUMILITY AND RECOGNITION THAT WE CAN'T SAVE OURSELVES IN A HAPPY-CLAPPY WAY




Younger professionals in the Church formed in the worst of the "spirit" of Vatican II happy, clappy church and hand-holding informality as well as guitars, tambourines and liturgical dance are scandalized by the phenomenon of sin especially when they see it in their Church leaders, like deacons, priests and bishops.

Their Catholic formation also is based upon coloring book Catholicism, a happy, clappy family coming together for a nice meal and feel good theology.

Of course this is very vapid, misses the entire point of the Sacrifice of our Lord and His continuing redemptive work through the Church and the Church's pilgrimage on a ship buffeted by strong winds and the power of hell. A serious liturgy that focuses on personal sin, the drama of Satan, the excruciating pain of carrying the Cross, being nailed to it, taking on every other sin in the world, past, present and to come in a great cosmic event, suffering beyond comprehension and finally death is forgotten as the strumming guitarist and the happy clappy lyrics of pseudo-liturgical music anesthetizes the congregation of progressives who seem not to really grasp what the Sacred Mysteries are truly about.

And then scandal hits and the happy clappy theology crumbles and off and running are those formed in such vapid pseudo-Catholic ways. They don't get Adam and Eve, the fallen nature of the world, Satan, evil, and our participation in it that causes God to suffer beyond comprehension to reign His creation back toward Him. They just don't get it. They thought the Utopia of guitar strumming liturgy, hand holding euphoria and a theology of Mass turned into a child's happy meal would bring about perfection. What fools!

Last night the Holy Father spoke eloquently the truth of God, of humans and of the Church. Is the truth too much?

“Today, too, we carry joy in our hearts, but I would say a joy that is more sober, a humble joy: in these fifty years we have learned and experienced that original sin exists, and that it translates itself into personal sins, which can become structures of sin, given that even in the Lord’s field there are also weeds, that even in Peter’s net there are bad fish, that human weakness is present even in the Church, that the ship of the Church is sailing with a contrary wind, with opposing threats and sometimes we have thought that ‘the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.”

Fr. Z commenting on the above quote from the Holy Father muses, "One of the things that Pope Benedict is probably reacting to here, and this is consistent with his earliest commentaries on the Council, was an impression from documents such as Gaudium et spes that perhaps.. perhaps… salvation was a human achievement rather than a gift from the Lord. Certainly the optimistic focus on man and his accomplishments, and the openness to dialogue with modernity, lead many to forget about the perennial teaching of the Church about the fact that we are flawed and sinful and that we have constant threats from the world, the flesh and the Devil."

And thus this brings us back to an authentic Catholic Liturgy, a Mass that captures the reality of who we are, what we need and how God alone accomplishes for us what is in our best interest, He accomplishes that which we can never do for ourselves even in a happy-clappy Mass--He saves us, even when we think He is asleep or has forgotten us.

So, we need the modern Mass produced as though a new fabrication and after Vatican II and in the spirit of the delusion that we can manufacture for ourselves the salvation that only God can give us, a dumbed down liturgy that exalts humanity and forgets that it is not God who has forgotten us but rather we have forgotten that only God can save us not our manufactured unrealities.

So even if the manufactured Mass remains it needs to be brought into line with the Liturgy that acknowledges who we are, Who God is and that God alone can save the world and He does so at a great expense and the ultimate sacrifice.

The manufactured Mass needs the following to show more clearly what the pre-Vatican II Mass did marvelously:

1. We are sinners and participate in evil and thus need forgiveness.

2. Gregorian Chant and its humble counterparts need to be the music of the Mass especially in it wonderful sobriety.

3. The Liturgy of the Word needs to be offered to us from the one Table of the Lord and from each side of it, Epistle and Gospel. There are not two tables at Mass, but a single table from which we are fed by God, first in the Old Testament and Epistle on one of its sides, second from the Gospel, the very words of Jesus from the other side and then finally in the Most Holy Eucharistic sacrifice and our Lord's Body and Blood from the middle of the Table.

4. The direction of prayer is not to humans and an enclosed circle but to God and thus ad orientem must be recovered.

5. We are raised up in Jesus especially when we humbly acknowledge His great Sacrifice and our humble acceptance of Him and His Sacrifice as we kneel to receive Holy Communion rather than receive Him in uppity arrogance standing and on the run.

9 comments:

Gene said...

I must say that the most difficult doctrine of Calvinism for me to re-think in light of Catholic teaching was that of "Total Depravity." Although Calvin is ultimately wrong in light of the first chapter of Romans and other Scriptures, I do think a renewed emphasis upon St. Augustine's understanding of sin and salvation would be refreshing. Calvin's theology grew, in part, from his understanding of Augustine, who has a much greater appreciation for the pervasiveness of sin and our inherent bondage to it. Pelagianism has always been a popular heresy within the Church; it was one of the tendencies Luther decried in his war against the abuse of indulgences. Just because the Reformers were theologically mistaken does not mean we cannot still learn from them in certain areas. I rather like Karl Barth's (reformed theologian) statement: "Humanistic theology is the notion of getting from man to God...without God."

Lewis said...

If it is an abuse to manufacture liturgy, specifically Most Holy Mass, why perpetuate the NO? Applying EF tendencies seems to be the same as treating symptoms rather than curing the disease. Following the letter of VII documents does not lead us to the NO, rather to a deeper appreciation via evangelization of the EF. What have we to offer if we debase our own treasure?

Marc said...

3. The Liturgy of the Word needs to be offered to us from the one Table of the Lord and from each side of it, Epistle and Gospel. There are not two tables at Mass, but a single table from which we are fed by God, first in the Old Testament and Epistle on one of its sides, second from the Gospel, the very words of Jesus from the other side and then finally in the Most Holy Eucharistic sacrifice and our Lord's Body and Blood from the middle of the Table.

This is a very post-VII statement. In fact, there are no "tables" at the Mass. There is the one altar of Sacrifice. From that altar, the readings are proclaimed, not for didactic purposes, but as the Sacrifice of the Mass of the Catechumens. So, contrary to Fr. McDonald's assertion in the quoted section, the Readings are not "offered to us". They are offered to God and then we are "fed by them" in the homily, if you will. Likewise, on the same altar, the August Sacrifice of the Cross is re-presented. Then, we are fed in Holy Communion. Note the commonality that neither the homily nor the people's Communion is necessary for the Mass to be complete. Yet, the readings must be offered and the priest must communicate for validity.

It was certainly in vogue amongst the reformers of the Liturgy to equate the presence of Christ in "the word" with the Real Presence in the Eucharist as that downplays the Eucharistic Presence. I hope with hindsight we can all now see the confusion caused by that suggestion.

Again, all typos due to being forced to comment via iPhone.

Henry Edwards said...

Indeed, the readings if the Mass are not offered "to us" or for our instruction, but to God as praise of Him in His own words.

If one participates daily in (preferably!) a quiet low Mass with no music and (preferably!) no sermon, one is profoundly cognizant with the intricate construction of the TLM missal, in which each days readings fit of a single piece and theme with the antiphons and propers of that day's liturgical theme.

Which brings to mind the old canards about lectionaries. In the past 6 or 8 months of daily low Mass, both studying in advance and following during Mass each day's readings, I've sensed no repetition beyond salutary reinforcement. Despite the usual uninformed comments about lack of a daily cycle of TLM readings, precisely twice in all these months have I seen a ferial repetition of the previous Sunday's Mass. Whereas in the OF the proper prayers and antiphons of the Sunday Mass in ordinary time are typically repeated daily during the following week, and the readings have no apparent liturgical purpose.

Gene said...

Marc, Exactly! As I have said many times, preaching the Word is the primary Sacrament for Protestants. It is in proclaiming and hearing that Christ is most present in Protestant theology.

In traditional Catholic theology, as I have always understood it, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the inner circle of a series of concentric circles around it. These other circles may be variously labeled...Doctrine of God, Doctrine of Creation, Doctrine of Redemption, Doctrine of Sanctification, etc...but all of them flow from and are inseparable from this Eucharistic Christology.
In Protestantism, this inner circle among the others is the spoken Word wherein Christ dwells contingently. His Presence is contemporaneous with the preached Word and contingent upon it. Ultimately the "sacrament" of Communion is not a Christological issue for Protestants, but the preached Word is most certainly one. This is a huge Christological gap between Catholic theology and Protestant theology, and I'll bet those who took Vat II and ran with it were trying to avoid dealing with this insurmountable ecumenical barrier by disguising it behind all kinds of "meal" talk and nonsensical interpretations of the Liturgy. Hey, folks, Rome is Rome and Geneva is Geneva and never the twain shall meet..."till earth and sky stand presently at God' great Judgement seat." (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

John Nolan said...

@ Marc

The part of the altar at which the Holy Sacrifice is offered has always been referred to as the 'mensa' (table). Liturgy is to an extent fabricated, although I would argue that even an OF Mass which includes the Roman Canon is in continuity with the older form. And although EP III is a new composition, it does not seem to me (or to the Pope, who uses it often) to have anything heretical about it.

My own instinct would be to keep the NO as a normative rite and issue rubrics and musical directions to keep it into line (and come down hard on liturgical abuses) and yet promote the EF as the last exemplar of the classical Roman Rite.

Marc said...

@ John:

Introibo ad mensa Dei...

Your point is well-taken. But the overemphasis on the table, in opposition to (and not correlated with) the Altar, was the focus of my post.

One could say the Sacrifice of the Mass occurs at the Altar and Communion is dispensed from the Table of The Lord. And yet, my critique was focused at a suggestion that included no reference to Altar at all. In the scenario, which is common of late and in the environment where people believe erroneously that the Mass is a reinactment of the Last Supper, the exclusive use of "table" is problematic in a way that it was not during all those previous times you referenced where "Mensa" was properly understood.

Typos due to iPhone.

John Nolan said...

@ Marc


'Introibo ad altare Dei'. So said a priest-martyr of the French Revolution as he ascended the scaffold. 'Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam' said I at the age of eight when I served Holy Mass for the first time in 1959. I know that Ps 42 is not a necessary part of pe-Tridentine rites but its inclusion in the 1570 missal was a good idea. As a child we did not have 'children's Masses', in fact the Mass was a serious grown-up affair. I remember being enthralled by the Missa Cantata from the age of three or four; I had no idea of what the Latin words meant, but in the next few years I came to understand - and I didn't start learning Latin as a language until I was 11.

Marc from iPhone said...

@John

I agree with you completely. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar set the proper tone for the Mass. I cannot think of a legitimate reason to dispose with this precursor to the Mass.

In fact, now that I think of it, are there any psalms included in the Novus Ordo (excepting the Responorial, that is)? We no long have tPatFotA, Introit (in most cases), Gradual, Washing of the Fingers... Am I missing any other psalms in the TLM?

Considering they are our prayer heritage, and are that scripture that was called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, it is off to eliminate all these psalms. Also, there is no Glory Be to be found in the Novus Ordo, I have always found this odd considering its repetition in the TLM.