Monday, June 10, 2013
POPE FRANCIS OPPOSES CAFETERIA CATHOLICISM, PICKING AND CHOOSING
In today's homily at the chapel of his residence at the Vatican Motel 6, Pope Francis decried Catholics who pick and choose when it comes to being Christian. This is what the Holy Father said:
Reflecting on the daily readings the Pope began by noting that, at the beginning of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul uses the word consolation several times. The Apostle to the Gentiles, he added, "speaks to Christians who are young in the faith," people who "have recently begun to follow the path of Jesus", he insists on this, even if "they were not all persecuted." They were normal people, "but they had found Jesus." The Pope said this "was such a life-changing experience that a special strength from God was needed" and this strength is consolation. Consolation, he said again, "is the presence of God in our hearts." But, Pope Francis warned, in order for the Lord "to be present in our hearts, we must open the door”. His presence requires our "conversion":
"This is salvation: to live in the consolation of the Holy Spirit, not the consolation of the spirit of this world. No, that is not salvation, that is sin. Salvation is moving forward and opening our hearts so they can receive the Holy Spirit’s consolation, which is salvation. This is non-negotiable, you can’t take a bit from here and a bit from there? We cannot pick and mix, no? A bit of the Holy Spirit, a bit of the spirit of this world ... No! It’s one thing or the other. "
Others have been commenting that there has been a loss of Catholic identity in parishes and that those who what orthodox Catholicism have to pick and choose where they will go to Mass. One person stated that if his job didn't depend on him living in a particular community, he would move to a city that was an EF Mass community as that would assure pure Catholicity.
There is no doubt that in the last 50 years there has been a dramatic loss of Catholic unity, identity and mission precisely because the bishops and the pope caved into political pressure from special interests groups in the Church and very early. These groups were self-stylized academics, usually theologians, but not always, who wanted to refashion and re-imagine Catholicism in an ecumenical and interfaith way.
Liturgical theologians deconstructed the 1962 missal and made it ecumenical and flexible and encouraged priests to bring their personality to it. Ritual action was reinvented and the traditional hymnody associated with a Sunday Low Mass (four hymns inserted, but no singing of the actual Mass) was thrown out in favor of contemporary folk sounds that have now morphed into Hollywood tunes with religious words and Protestant or non-denominational vapid worship and praise ditties all of which are normally devoid of Catholic theology, doctrine, piety and spirituality.
The former Sung Mass became diluted to the point that any priest or liturgy committee could decide what would be sung and what wouldn't. There are no real rules or rubrics. And contemporary sounds were brought into the parts of the Mass and Gregorian chant jettisoned.
The worse thing to happen to the Sung Mass was the explicit option in the GIRM that the official Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons could be substituted by other kinds of music. This was and is an utter disaster although congregations like hymns and modern sounds.
With the deconstruction of the Mass and then its further destruction by priests and liturgies committees that made it banal, horizontal, hip and meaningless, other aspects of orthodox Catholicism were dismantled, including the devotional life of the parish and private devotions of individual Catholics at home or elsewhere. Even devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was dismantled and ridiculed. This led to the iconoclasm of the traditional looking Catholic Church building, but worse yet, its sanctuary and the location of devotional relics.
Then morality was tackled and debated usually revolving around natural law as it concerns sex, artificial contraception and marriage. Situational ethics became highly touted, in other words the dictatorship of relativism.
Then theologians tried actually to change doctrine and dogma surrounding the sacraments, especially that of Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. The push for female ordination and same sex marriage which are intertwined as well as dumbing down Jesus Christ to the point of making him a buddy, more human, less divine became the norm.
There were those questioning the Immaculate Conception, Virgin birth and Assumption. There were those questioning the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels and these were made up by those who put the oral tradition into writing. The bodily resurrection of Jesus was called into question. Hersey, pure and simple is what this was and is.
Catholics of a liberal or progressive ilk of this period of the post-Vatican II Church found all of this quite exciting. They had lost their orthodox Catholic faith and were inventing weak, vapid substitutes for it and trying to make the Magisterium accept it so they wouldn't feel guilty or outside the tradition of the Church. They almost succeeded!
They didn't expect the Holy Spirit to put a stop to it with the election of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis.
But now these aging radicals think that they still can accomplish what they have failed to do on an institutional level and in a bout of nostalgia are trying to make a comeback with their same old routines similar to the ill-fated Life with Lucy show in the 1980's that was canceled after three episodes because an old Lucille Ball could not recapture the youthfulness of her 1950's "I Love Lucy" show and she looked ridiculous trying to do so and tired and worn!
Pope Francis is calling all of us but especially the more radical groups in the Church such as the LCWR and the various associations of aging clergy still stuck in the 70's and thus in arrested development or a nostalgia for it and thus walking backwards rather than forward, to obedience to the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church, which of course Pope Francis defines as the Successor of Saint Peter and the bishops in union with the Pope.
Is it wrong to ridicule those who want to go back to the recent past when the Church was in free fall? No, it is not wrong to do this as they have made themselves into a caricature. Our American culture uses caricatures in cartoons to deride the ridiculous.
I think that the reason there is such harsh criticism and ridicule of these 1960's retro groups is that there is fatigue in their constantly trying to refashion the Church according to 1960's dated criteria and agenda. We're tired of it and find it the babble of aging hippies who lost the war but have been living on an island and don't really know it!
Pope Francis is calling the Church out of the cafeteria and into orthodoxy and fidelity to the Magisterium. It will take another 25 years for us to fully recover from the 1960's but we are doing so.
We must walk forward with the reform of the reform in continuity. We can't walk backwards to the 1960's iconoclasm or theology of dramatic rupture with the Catholic Church prior to 1965.
At the same time, we can't be like the 1960's clerics and others sympathetic to their aging and archaic demands by trying to go back to the 1950's. No we must follow Vatican II and revisit the documents and interpret them in the context of "reform in continuity."