Sunday, July 17, 2016
THE BROUHAHA IS MORE THAN THE ORIENTATION OF THE MASS; IT IS ABOUT CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY, ORTHODOXY (CORRECT BELIEF) AND ORTHOPRAXIS (CORRECT PRACTICES)
Much of the 1970's mentality that has returned to the forefront of the Church today focuses on helping the poor and marginalized with little attention paid to the manner in which the Mass is celebrated and the forms of spirituality and devotion that flow from it or are a part of it.
Helping the the materially poor and marginalized is at the core of human goodness and is not exclusive the Catholicism. Secular (godless) governments are better at it than many of the institutions of the Church. To make helping the poor the core of Catholicism seems to miss the point as it is the core of humanity created in the image and likeness of God regardless of religious persuasion or spiritually.
The right beliefs and practices of Catholics, though, flow from the proper celebration of the Mass and the other formal liturgies of the Church as well as private and public devotions.
If the Mass is too otherworldly and focuses to much on the fluff or rigidity--it becomes like the liberal Anglican tradition that has no basis in orthodoxy as it concerns morality but glories in the liturgy that is cotton candy, sweet to the taste but of no substance. High Anglican Liturgy is more Catholic that the Catholic version of high Liturgy but there is no resemblance in right practice between the two in real life.
What has polarized the Church as symbolized by Cardinal Sarah, hung out to dry, and Cardinal Nichols of London, is Catholic verses Protestant sentiments when it comes to the style of the Mass. It appears that the Holy Father disciplined Cardinal Sarah at the promptings of Cardinal Nichols.
Thus the 1970's is momentarily triumphant over Pope Benedict's quite sober "reform in continuity" not to be confused with the "reform of the reform." Reform of the Church must go back to what Vatican II actually envisioned and not to those after the Council who hijacked it and turned it into something else altogether as symbolized by the wrong reform of the Tridentine Mass as celebrated today in most parishes. By wrong reform I refer to the Order and rubrics of the Mass but also to the banal and creative ways the reformed Mass is celebrated which is even more insidious.
Thus reform is required if one is faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and to an ecumenical Council, but for Pope Benedict and his school of thought of which I am a card-carrying member, that reform is in continuity with the Church of the past not in rupture with it. Catholic identity hinges upon it.
Thus the way the priest faces the altar or the congregation is paramount in the proper implementation of what the Council sought to do in continuity with what the Church practiced at the time of and during the Council itself.
Ad orientem is a symbol of "reform in continuity" with the Tridentine Mass and the modest reforms that Sacrosanctum Concilium desired. So we go back to the Tridentine Mass and reform it as Sacrosanctum Concilium actually requested and what you get is Mass celebrated ad orietem with some vernacular for the changing parts of the Mass and noble simplicity which of course is open to wrong interpretations.
But the clamor for the return of the old Mass exclusively to the Church is doomed to failure although living with the two forms even in the same parish is quite desirable, possible and non-divisive if implemented in the correct way.
But why this conservative/liberal polarization?
Because the reformed Mass is celebrated so poorly in most (not all) parishes in the world.
1. sloppy celebrations with no attention to detail, the dress of lay participants and lacking in choreography (artistic implementation)
2. music that has nothing to do with the traditional spirituality or piety of the Mass or of Catholicism's devotional life
3. Lack of attention to the right practice of the Faith out of an abundance of political correctness
But music I think is the greatest culprit that can compromise the Catholic spirituality and piety of Catholics.
In many Catholic parishes Protestant hymns are sung at Mass. Some of these, especially from High Anglicanism and some from the Methodist tradition are quite compatible with Catholic hymns and pious sentiments.
Most evangelical or Baptist hymns are not Catholic in orthodoxy, piety or sentimentality. Two hymns in particular that symbolize this are Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. I personally like the "soaring sounds" and sentiments of both the lyrics and melody, but these are in no way Catholic. They drip with Protestant (Baptist) sentimentality in their syrupyness. These are symbols of Protestant piety not Catholic piety, Protestant syrupyness not Catholic syrupyness.
Catholics should be as aghast to hearing these at Mass or in a Catholic devotion as a Protestant would be hearing "O Beautiful Mother" or "Ave Maria" or "Tantum Ergo" in their churches.
From the devotional, piety and spiritual point of view there is a distinctive identity in these hymns and one knows where that identity is.
Apart from Protestant music's sentimentality and devotion, other music used in the Mass, like worship and praise as well as contemporary sounds more in tune with Broadway melodies are as insidious to Catholic piety, sentimentality and spirituality not to mention morality.
So, let's get on with Pope Benedict's brilliant analysis of the crisis in the Church. It isn't Vatican II or its documents, but the right implementation of these which should have been and could still be "reform in continuity" not the "reform of the reform!"