Thursday, June 5, 2014

THIS ANONYMOUS COMMENT IS GOOD ENOUGH TO BE ITS OWN POST!



This is a comment that Anonymous had left on my post "HAS HORIZONTAL WORSHIP CORRUPTED AND DIMINISHED CA...": It was good enough for me to make it a regular post!

If there's one problem since 1965 it's been a general social loss of a sense of purpose for Catholic things.

We are creatures of our American Western culture which is informed by the Sexual revolution and the materialist presupposition in 'science' (although there's nothing scientific about presuming reality is just material).

What is our 'daily bread' in terms of media consumption? Most is secular: movies, sitcoms, commercials, music, theater, hobbies, news, magazines, blogs, etc.

Our general culture is dark because culture is based on or orbits whatever it is people ultimately worship as the basis of good and evil.... if you disbelieve in God then Man and man-made utopias will be worshiped as the criteria by which to judge right and wrong and all that hinders the pursuit of 'happiness' so defined will be rejected while all that promises to facilitate happiness will be promoted.

We worship sex, individualistic pleasure (including drugs, bread and circuses), thus as a society we think of nothing of subsidizing a billion dollar sports arena but would freak out with a cathedral! We accept abortion because pregnancy and parenthood was seen as a threat to the idol of individual pleasure. Anything that calls for self-control, discipline, or struggle is avoided, fought, and now called threats to happiness.

So when we go to Church on Sunday for a single hour of "religion" what sense does the Catholic thing have on our lives and presuppositions?

People are waiting to be called. They're waiting for someone to call them, personally, in the name of the Lord and put them to some useful task, some quest that will lead to total human flourishing.

They're also waiting for someone to map out how the Catholic doctrine etc. fits into the big picture and makes sense of life, the universe and everything.

I suspect this is why the WYDs were so beneficial - the Pope called the youth to meet him, preached to them in terms of a personal Lord who had a personal calling for their lives and then challenged them to go back to their homes with a sense of belonging to the Lord and the whole cloud of witnesses (angels, saints, Mary, etc.) to whom they had a relationship and thus identity that is more fulfilling than their relationship to fad, clique, ideology, or secular groups.

The faith is not a program, it's a romance. It's not a matter of externals so much as the internal being made visible.

Gut check time thanks to the Pope: do we believe Jesus is Lord and our joy can be found in Catholic discipleship.... or do we accept the secular sexual revolutionary premise that happiness is found here through material, human devices, a Babel or golden Calf of our own making?

The externals of worship matter, but only to the degree people understand the symbolism and purpose of the ritual and rubrics. After all, prior to Vatican II the Latin rite had the Tridentine rite on all altars but it didn't seem to halt the rise of atheism, communism, socialisms, world wars, modernism, etc.

If the rite reveals the Lord and we discover that all our joy comes only from discipleship in and with Him....then we'll be able to resist the alternative of today's culture with its very powerful enticements

25 comments:

JBS said...

"The faith is not a program, it's a romance. It's not a matter of externals so much as the internal being made visible." If this is true, then perhaps the trouble the older generation has with serious young Catholics is precisely their expressive love for the Church. The young priest who enjoys wearing the cassock, the coed Catholic who wears a veil inside the church, the gentleman Catholic who kneels like a knight before the King for Holy Communion: these may be external marks of a burning love.

When grumpy hippies only see reactionaries, perhaps God sees the beginnings of ecclesial love affairs. What's remarkable is that even after the curmudgeons have spent fifty-plus years ridiculing and forcibly stamping out reverence and piety, the embers still produce occasional flames in the romantic souls of some brave young Catholics.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Sounds familiar, no?

(RNS) For Southern Baptists, it’s happened again: Another annual report shows the denomination is losing members and baptizing fewer people.

The Rev. Fred Luter, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, thinks old-time methods to spread the gospel have met a culture that’s younger, more diverse and doesn’t necessarily see the pew — or even sin — as a priority.

“Our society is just not what it used to be,” said Luter, who admitted he’s discouraged by the reports. “When I grew up there was a challenge by parents in the home that our sons and daughters would be in church. It was a given. … That day and time is gone.”

Luter said he and others will address the issue at this year’s annual meeting, which takes place June 10-11 in Baltimore. But beyond calls for reversing the trend, there’s little sign of agreement on a way forward.

Though some have said the 15.7 million-member denomination needs to be more racially and ethnically inclusive, Luter, its first African-American president, thinks the main reason for decline is that all congregations need to take a role in evangelism.

“We have just not been very active in doing what we can to reach the lost and the unchurched in our nation,” said the 57-year-old New Orleans pastor.

Weeks before the denomination’s annual meeting, a task force charged with helping Southern Baptists “own the problem” released a report that noted these recent signs of trouble...
...The Rev. Jared Moore, pastor of a small church in Hustonville, Ky., is not convinced that a special method or a new way of training is the answer.

“It’s not something that any president or any individual can reverse,” he said of the trends that show seven straight years of declining membership. “It’s something that God must bring about.”

He added that “it takes a lot more time, a lot more conversations than it did 50 years ago” to succeed in evangelism when some people don’t consider themselves sinners.

“I think we’ve got to stay the course, continue preaching the gospel, even when the ears of our community is closed,” said Moore.

The Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a former SBC Executive Committee chairman who is considered to be a front-runner for the presidency, said there’s a need for “extraordinary prayer” for another “major spiritual awakening” in America. He said Baptists have determined that the Great Commission — a phrase about the biblical command to convert believers across the world — is the path they are committed to follow.

“Our problem is the pace,” said Floyd, 58, pastor of a multisite megachurch in northwest Arkansas. “We need to return to a commitment of personal evangelism.”

David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, said Southern Baptists are facing challenges, both theological — some people don’t see themselves in need of a conversion — and sociological — waning agreement with traditional conservative worldviews.

“It’s a tough world out there at this particular time and there’s not a lot of easy answers,” said Roozen, who said the Southern Baptists are joining mainline Protestants in the hand-wringing about declines. “There’s little fixes but they probably don’t address the root challenges.”

Anon friend said...

Anon & JBS, thanks.
Gonna start trying to be less curmudgeonly. Just like in my 39 y.o. marriage, I'm pretty jaded at times, and forget the romance..

WSquared said...

Well written!

Anonymous 2 said...

This is an excellent post. With just a few minor quibbles, I agree with everything there.

I would frame the issue more pithily, as I have done before – our fundamental problem is metaphysical. And this, by the way, and FWIIW (which I am sure is nothing in this venue but I tilt at the windmills nevertheless), is why I do not get hung up on the particular liturgical form. The TLM per se does not solve the metaphysical problem, as the author recognizes, and folk masses don’t cause it. You have to “see” beyond the form to the substance and the true reality.

George said...

"The externals of worship matter, but only to the degree people understand the symbolism and purpose of the ritual and rubrics. After all, prior to Vatican II the Latin rite had the Tridentine rite on all altars but it didn't seem to halt the rise of atheism, communism, socialisms, world wars, modernism, etc."

And the implementation of the Novus Ordo has halted what? (Not that I'm against the Novus Ordo) Atheism, Communism,Modernism are all Godless philosophies which stand against what the Church and Christianity stand for, as Did National Socialism in the short time it existed. The Church provides us with all the tools we need to change the world for the better. It is made up of human beings who in many cases are not what God desires us to be. The Church has survived for two thousand years and it will survive until the End of Time. It should be noted that in the more traditional parishes, where you have the TLM or the Novus Ordo celebrated by priests with piety and reverence is where the most religious vocations are coming from. This is also in part because the more pious and tradition-minded families are drawn to such parishes.

Gene said...

Anon 2, It isn't metaphysical, it is theological. Metaphysics is a philosophical term that has nothing, that is to say nothing, with Christian worship or theology.

JBS said...

Gene,

I'm afraid you're quite wrong. It is precisely the disjointed philosophy of our age that prevents Moderns from appreciating Christ as the center of all things: relationships, history and science. It is because metaphysics is so important that the Church requires seminarians to study properly integrated philosophy for two years before beginning theological studies.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you, JBS. Gene would never take that from me. Perhaps he will take it from you.

Pater Ignotus said...

Metaphysics (All quotations from the Catholic encyclopedia.)

"The nature of metaphysics determines its essential and intimate relation to theology."

"But, while theology thus derives assistance from metaphysics, there can be no doubt that metaphysics has derived advantages from its close association with theology."

"The philosophy of the thirteenth century, represented by Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, Roger Bacon, Albert the Great, St. Thomas, and Duns Scotus, accorded to metaphysics its place as the science which completes and crowns the efforts of the mind to attain a knowledge of things human and divine."

Yes, Pin/Gene, you are quite wrong.



Gene said...

JBS and Anon 2, I was a philosophy/theology major with grad degrees in both. I know the difference between metaphysics, philosophy, and theology. I am Kantian about metaphysics (as everyone should be). Pure metaphysics (post-Aquinas) can say nothing about Christology. The metaphysical "god" is simply a first principle or some kind of prime mover, not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…not JHWH. I agree that it is impossible to thoroughly understand theology without a background in philosophy, but only because of the historical impact (mostly negative) of philosophy upon theology.

Now, JBS, I do not disagree with you that the philosophy of our age is disjointed (see existentialism/nihilism). But, once you make the step to metaphysics, you open the door to rationalism, which is what led to the enlightenment, modernism, and the nihilistic reaction to both. The rationalist God is the god of Spinoza, Leibniz, Whitehead, and Modernism. The Christian God is supra-rational…supra-logical…He is theological.

Gene said...

Ignotus, read my upcoming post. I am not "wrong," I am really saying something similar to what the Church says.

Marc said...

Reading this blog has turned me into a Humean. I think our science friends from the other thread should consider joining me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone.
The Catholic Church is bigger than the Latin Rite, so it follows that the forms and rubrics are relatively useful means of communication to the end of drawing people into encountering Jesus in Word and Eucharist. To the degree the rite and ritual actually communicate the faith to successive generations the Mass is source and summit of our Catholic life. But not the base. The base is evangelization by confirmed Catholics who heal, liberate, evangelize and thus bring catechumens to the Eucharist.

So crucial distinctions are called for. We're not cargo-cultists do X ritual and you're guaranteed Y effect no matter the disposition of the receiver). We have a common human nature which allows us generally to react to the One, True, Good, and Beautiful in relatively predictable ways - otherwise Hollywood movie music wouldn't work the effects they do world-wide. Think Jaws or Star Wars' musical score. Because we have a nature, like it or not some music will be inspirational vs. depressing.

But we're not just wills and emotions - we're also intellects. So the best Gregorian choir, in the architectural beauty of St. Joseph's with all the pomp etc. won't 'seal the deal' for people struggling with the world, flesh and devil (which we all are to some degree) who don't understand what it all means or is for. They will remain in the dark as eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear. In but not with the Church.

Our Lord commanded his disciples to a) heal the sick, b) cast out demons and c) preach the Gospel and only then to "do this in memory of me". I believe that order is not happenstance. Unless a person is healed (emotionally, spiritually, physically) and then evangelized, it's hard to appreciate the liturgical means of communication and communion.
Unless a person is liberated (or desires to be liberated!) from vice and the operation of evil spirits, they cannot hear the Word - it's robbed from their souls. Vice - any bad habit darkens the intellect. You have to be free to understand some concepts and to trust what you cannot see. Only when the demoniac was cured was he free to beg Jesus to take him on as a disciple.

So why is Mass attendance down? Because most people are sick, addicted or oppressed by evil, and buried under a daily diet of anti-Gospels barking and whispering a babel of enticements promising happiness in things of our own making (idols).

Until we Confirmed go out to heal, liberate, and evangelize through our lives, people won't be healed and free enough to hear, understand and accept the Word and thus won't understand or appreciate our encounter not just with each other or the Word but the Presence of God on earth in the Mass. This is what the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy, the exorcisms, sacramentals and all the other pious practices were designed to achieve - the creation of occasions of grace to combat and drive out occasions of sin.

Until we confirmed laity are equipped to heal the sick, cast out evil, and hand on these same words of life as lay apostles to the modern day 'decapolis' our temples will be emptying.

So whether it's English or Spanish or Latin... sure, let's make it beautiful and majestic. But let's also make sure people understand why we do what we do, the implications it has for EVERYONE'S STRUGGLE with the world, flesh, and devil, and how these Catholic things very much do make a difference for the introduction to people to the presence and power of Jesus in our lives.
Thanks for your time.

JBS said...

Wow, Gene. I'm afraid you may have fallen into Modernism.

Gene said...

Nope, JBS. Nothing modernist about me.

Gene said...

Marc, At first, I thought you said the blog had turned you into a human…I thought, "Nah…" Then I realized what you had written…LOL!
You know, Hume took Rousseau to London and set him up with an apartment complete with mistress and dog. But, Rousseau was so crazy and paranoid that he thought Hume was out to get him and so he left, distrusting Hume.

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Your first paragraph may be accurate, but I think it needs rewording. When an infant receives baptism, or an unconscious man receives sacramental absolution, these celebrations have effects upon their recipients. Further, those who argue in favor of this or that form of Mass or other liturgical option usually do so precisely because they believe these choices affect participation.

The Church has a very solid liturgical tradition, and this tradition guides traditional liturgical art and architecture by placing a premium on the artistic "incarnation" of the Divine Logos. Further, by following an intellectual tradition of music guided by the Gospel and informed by Greek cautions against excessively provocative musical forms, the liturgical music produced by the Church enables intellectual flourishing in ways that folk and Modern music cannot.

The Church has long taught the need for certain dispositions to receive sacraments. Who on this blog is suggesting otherwise?

As for your sixth paragraph, I would note that the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church both define blessings and exorcisms as liturgical acts. Therefore, these should not be confused with pious practices. More importantly, the sacraments impart grace and heal the occasions of grave sin. Works of mercy can be penitential and serve as "satisfaction" for grave sin, but recourse to the sacrament of penance is still required.

If your point is simply that Gospel preaching and teaching, accompanied by evangelical Works of Mercy, are effective means of gaining converts, then that's certainly true.

JBS said...

Gene,

Perhaps you would consider supplementing your education with this simply and fairly brief text: http://www.fraternitypublications.com/metaphysics---dq-mcinerny-phd.html. I would go so far as to suggest that a renewed examination of the subject could prove essential along your journey towards Heaven.

Anonymous said...

JBS thanks for the corrections. I had to type up 3 versions of that post to get it under the character limit and a lot of qualifying sentences had to be jettisoned.

Yes Baptism etc. does have an effect. God is sovereign. But it remains the case that despite the beauty of cathedral, Gregorian chant, and awesome liturgy, people can (and do) fall away from the faith.

To blame the architecture, chant, language, and rubrics for this falling away was perhaps one of the errors following the Council.

So we got ugly box buildings, sugary Muzak, made up provisional ad hoc 'liturgy' rubrics and people still fell away but now even faster!

The problem pre-liturgical: what disposition and information do people have before they step into the Church?

If properly disposed and catechized a bunch of Tridentine Catholics could make do with a Novus Ordo Mass in English, guitars and Kumbaya songs without much grief because they know and appreciate meeting the Lord in the breaking of the Bread even in aesthetically displeasing wrappings.

I submit a proper reading of Vatican II and praxis carried out in the Church outside the English speaking world (say, in Poland or Korea) would be that our emphasis ought to be on lay catechesis, and lay leaders challenging the culture's anti-Gospel front on with healing, liberation and apologetics - including proving parallel or alternative cultural ecosystems in which to raise our children... who will then come to Mass and appreciate the music, architecture, and rite as the syntax by which we come to know the Word made flesh.

By jettisoning liturgy, then watering down catechesis, then encouraging the break up of our Catholic 'ghetto' as a bad thing, while implicitly declaring the secular or non-Catholic world to have lots of things to teach us about God and community... we as a Church have learned the wrong lessons. Vatican II is about the threat of atheism. We need an all of the above approach, not a piece meal one.

Pater Ignotus said...

JBS - When you speak of "Greek cautions against excessively provocative musical forms" how do you define what is "excessive" and what is "provocative."

Also, what might one be "provoked" to by excessively provocative musical forms?

Gene said...

Christ leads me to Heaven, but Kant is somewhere in the vanguard. LOL!

Gene said...

An excessively provocative musical form would be Lara Fabian singing the Ave nude. Christ have mercy!

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Well said.


Pater Ignotus,

Perhaps there can be some toleration for provocation. Fr. McDonald certainly practices this kind of toleration here.
We are to avoid provoking the emotions, which tend to overpower the discernment process of the intellect. The Greeks, as I'm sure you're aware, believed music could influence ethical behavior for good or for evil. Therefore, they imposed certain restrictions on the structure of music.

George said...

Anonymous:

"To the degree the rite and ritual actually communicate the faith to successive generations the Mass is source and summit of our Catholic life. But not the base. The base is evangelization by confirmed Catholics who heal, liberate, evangelize and thus bring catechumens to the Eucharist."

-The Mass IS the source and summit of Catholic belief and God-given grace. I would leave off the qualifying "To the degree the rite and ritual communicate etc." Evangelization is important but the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, devotions, prayer and fasting provide the fuel of grace that the engine of the Church,including her evangelization efforts, runs on. This "fuel" is not something we create by our spiritual efforts and so it is nothing we can claim or boast about but it is a gift from God who is the Source of all grace.

"But we're not just wills and emotions - we're also intellects. So the best Gregorian choir, in the architectural beauty of St. Joseph's with all the pomp etc. won't 'seal the deal' for people struggling with the world, flesh and devil (which we all are to some degree) who don't understand what it all means or is for. They will remain in the dark as eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear. In but not with the Church."

-The externals, the music and architecture can help though. Your right that in and of themselves they won't "seal the deal". They can have an effect. Sacramentals are externals sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives (CCC. 1677). In one of the biographies on her, I read that St Bernadette converted some just in the way she made the Sign of the Cross.

"Our Lord commanded his disciples to a) heal the sick, b) cast out demons and c) preach the Gospel and only then to "do this in memory of me". I believe that order is not happenstance. Unless a person is healed (emotionally, spiritually, physically) and then evangelized, it's hard to appreciate the liturgical means of communication and communion."

-I wouldn't make and inference between the order of "healing the sick","casting out demons","preaching the Gospel" juxtaposed as to when Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist. This is a case where He saved the best for last I would say. Many were healed by the apostles as many have been up to our time and continue to be.
As far as healing, we have the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick among other means of grace. Fr Gabriel Amorth makes the case in his books that there are some who not only need to avail themselves of regular Confession and Holy Communion, but also need to pray and fast and the prayer and fasting of others in order to be healed

JBS responded well as far dispositions needed to receive sacraments, and blessing and exorcisms being liturgical acts.

I don't disagree with the general thrust of what you say though.