Monday, July 16, 2018


Beautiful, sensible Chinese inculturation:

The Annunciation

sobodash, imgur

The Birth of Christ

sobodash, imgur

To be honest with you I am not sure what inculturation really means because in 2018 it isn't spoken of as much as it was in the 1970's.

Even in pre-Vatican II times there was a very beautiful inculturation that centered on art work. Our Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus would be depicted as a Korean, Japanese, African and so on. Other artwork was of the culture.

Today, though, it might mean vernacular languages. Back in the 60's and 70's it meant the Church had to bow and worship the culture. Rather than bread and wine other substances similar to the west's bread and wine would be used for the Eucharist. Except, the Vatican stopped that because the drug like euphoria about the "spirit of Vatican II" had to be reigned in by an ailing Pope Blessed Paul VI.

As with so many things in the Church today, a desire to return to the silliness of the 1960's and 70's is very important for many people my age and older, dinosaurs who will soon be extinct by the laws of nature, as sad as that is for me personally.

This is a quote from the late Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, the Superior General (Black Pope) of the Jesuits who reigned during the drug-like induced euphoria of the immediate aftermath of the "spirit of Vatican II."  To be honest with you, I find it filled with pious platitudes. But worse yet, it is pre-Vatican II triumphalism applied to what the "spirit of Vatican II" would accomplish. It is hogwash.

In 2018 can anyone really say that what Fr. Pedro Arrupe's pious platitudes of nothingness has really accomplished what he says it will do? The Catholic Church almost without exception in every part of the world is a mere shadow of its pre-Vatican II self in terms of strength, integrity, morality and the ability to shape culture. Rather culture has shaped the Church and diminished her.

Read this quote on inculturation from Fr. Arrupe. What is the heresy in this paragraph? It isn't about Jesus transforming the culture, but inculturation doing it by how we live our lives and the message of Christ (not His Real Presence) is transformative. The heresy is that inculturation will animate, direct and unified the culture, transforming and remaking it so as to bring about a new creation! Inculturation not Jesus will do that--what the hell??????

Fr. Arrupe may be recommended for canonization and he may become the patron saint of inculturation. As those mired in the 1960's would say, isn't that neat? Nifty too!

…inculturation is the incarnation of Christian life and of the Christian message in a particular cultural context, in such a way that this experience not only finds expression through elements proper to the culture in question (this alone would be no more than a superficial adaptation), but becomes a principle that animates, directs and unifies the culture, transforming and remaking it so as to bring about “a new creation.”


Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I love this depiction of the Annunciation. I love the image of the angel coming from behind the "curtain." That in itself is much food for reflection.

God bless.

Victor said...

Fr. McD:
Perhaps you are too severe with Fr. Arrupe. The idea of "Christian life and Christian message" reminds me of Pius X's idea of "Christian spirit" (in TLS) which the Holy Father desired to flourish particularly in the liturgy, and which was repeated in Sacrosanctum Concilium. In other words, inculturation can be looked at as the the result of Christ's work in transforming a culture. And this is perhaps the greatest problem following V2, that inculturation was looked at as the means for cultural transformation not of society, but of transforming the Church to conform to society, rather than as the result of Christ's work in transforming society to the Christian spirit.

Cardinal Sarah in his "The Power of Silence" said something similar to what you are saying:
"Inculturation is not religious folklore. It is God descending and entering into the life, the moral conduct, the cultures and customs of men so as to free them from sin and introduce them into the Trinitarian life." pp. 226-7

Robert Kumpel said...

My daughter recently visited the Crazy Horse memorial in South Dakota. She brought my attention to this translation of the 23rd Psalm, adapted for the Sioux. I do not find this offensive at all:

The Great Father above is a Shepherd Chief. I am His and with Him I want not.
He throws out to me a rope
and the name of the rope is Love
and He draws me to where the grass is green
and the water not dangerous
and I eat and am satisfied.

Sometimes my heart is very weak
and falls down
but He lifts me up again
and draws me into a good road.
His name is Wonderful.

Sometime, and it may be very soon,
it may be very long, long in time
He will draw me into a valley.
It is dark there, but I'll be afraid not,
for it is in between those mountains
that the Shepherd Creator will meet me
and the hunger that I have in my heart
all through this life will be satisfied.

He gives me a staff to lean upon.
He spreads a table before me
with all kinds of food.
He puts His hand upon my head
and all the "tired" is gone.
My cup He fills till it runs over.
What I tell is true.
I lie not.

These roads that are away ahead
will stay with me through life and after,
and afterwards I will go to live
in the Big Tepee and sit down
with the Shepherd Chief forever.

So be it.

Anonymous said...


Victor said...

Incidentally, I should have mentioned that preparations to launch the Cause of Jesuit Fr Arrupe have begun, and his writings will be investigate for any heresy.

By the way, I have often wondered why the portrayal of Jesus in the visual arts for the past few hundred years has generally been the historical Jesus, dressed in what was considered to be the attire of year 0 AD. This is somewhat unlike the Middle Ages for which Jesus was a living figure, dressed in the contemporary clothes of the Middle Ages as if he walked among His people present to them as a living person.

Gene said...

On the other hand, the depictions of Jesus as Chinese, black, etc, are anti-historical and represent a horizontal, humanistic Jesus.
Salvation history is linear and based upon an historical moment in Bethlehem of Judaea when God broke into time and history with a specific act...the birth of a Hebrew baby to a Virgin named Mary. This act of God, totally transcendent and without human initiative, is the rock upon which all humanism, rationalism, and gnosticism break. Our salvation is bound to this historical moment in this place and time. The trans-cultural representation of the nativity, though quaint and appealing to the literati, is really bad theology.

Anonymous said...

"I have often wondered why the portrayal of Jesus in the visual arts for the past few hundred years has generally been the historical Jesus, dressed in what was considered to be the attire of year 0 AD. This is somewhat unlike the Middle Ages for which Jesus was a living figure, dressed in the contemporary clothes of the Middle Ages as if he walked among His people present to them as a living person."

Maybe because he wear the contemporary clothes of the Middle Ages...?

And Santa didn't kneel before the newborn Savior of The World, either.

Anonymous said...

Because he did not wear...

Gene said...

...a Hillary t-shirt...

Anonymous said...

..a MAGA hat...

Anonymous said...

"Inculturation is the term that Catholic leaders and theologians have used in recent decades to denote a process of engagement between the Christian Gospel and a particular culture. The term is intended conceptually both to safeguard the integrity of the Gospel and to encourage sensitivity to various cultural contexts. Inculturation as a theological notion has been specifically associated with John Paul II’s strategy for evangelization, including what is known as the “new evangelization” that focuses on cultures that had traditionally been Christian but which are now not clearly so. Yet inculturation, understood with a somewhat different emphasis, has also been associated with the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner’s theological interpretation of Vatican II."

Gene said...

Nothing Rahner said should be taken seriously. Inculturation is humanistic theology. Most of its advocates are neo-prots or "Christ of culture" types. The only mandate that Christians have regarding other cultures is to preach the Gospel to them and call them to repent and believe. Anything else is syncretism.

TJM said...

Ironically, the Catholic Church became an international Church by largely ignoring inculturation. We are shrinking as a Church, in part, because of inculturation aka balkanization of the Church

John Nolan said...

There is no such year as 0 AD. 1 BC is followed by AD 1. Incidentally, it doesn't make sense to refer to (say) the third century of the Christian Era as the third century AD, since Anno Domini means 'in the year of Our Lord'.

An obvious point that is usually overlooked.

Anonymous said...

"Ironically, the Catholic Church became an international Church by largely ignoring inculturation."

Well, when the culture of the gentiles was not too happy with circumcision, it was abandoned.

The culture of the Jews profoundly influenced the early Christians.

The culture of Italy impacted the music, art, architecture, etc., of the Church for centuries.

No, the Church and it's culture have been in dialogue since day one. Each influences the other, we hope for the betterment of both.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

The Roman Mass, other than a few times in history which were then abandoned, was not subjected to inculturation. Wherever missionaries went, the Roman Mass was used and shock, shock, people converted to Catholicism notwithstanding this so-called "foreign" Mass (at least it is foreign in the minds of liturgical progressives). These priests were, well acting as priests, and not the carnival barkers most of us are subjected to today at the typical Sunday, Novus Ordo Mass. You know that is what I meant. Thanks for the laughs

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In pre-Vatican II times and after Trent, certainly the Mass was universal worldwide in the Latin Rite. There was no inculturation of the Mass by missionaries and if they attempted it, they were condemned. However art and architecture did allow for some of that. Popular devotions certainly employed inculturation. However after Vatican II popular devotions were maligned by the liturgical elites and all but disappeared. The Mass then became the object of inculturation and yes was treated as an object.