Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Or better still, she throws another gutter ball!

Well, well, well! Coming fresh off her rejection by the Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, Sr. Joan Chittister decides to give the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum a ride. CRASH!

(Snarky remarks and emphasis mine.)

Have your barf bag ready!

Coming soon to a church near you
(Source - National Catholic Distorter)
(RSCT - The Curt Jester, who has some excellent commentary of his own)

It used to be that if you asked a question about the Catholic church, you got very straightforward answers. No, we did not eat meat on Friday. Yes, we had to go to church every Sunday. (You still do have to go to church every Sunday. That has NEVER changed!)

Not any more.

In fact, the answers are getting more confusing all the time. Consider the question of how the newly revised Roman Missal is better than the last, for instance.

They tell us now that Mass texts -- including even hymns -- may not include feminine references to God. (After all, God IS our FATHER, and Christ is his SON) And this in a church that has routinely addressed God as Key of David, Door of life, wind, fire, light and dove. God who is also, they tell us, "pure spirit" can never, ever, be seen as 'mother.' Are we to think, then, that even hinting at the notion that the image of God includes the image of women as well as the image of men, as God in Genesis says it does, is dangerous to the faith? Antithetical to the faith? Heresy?

Or, too, we learned that the words of the consecration itself would soon be edited to correct the notion that Jesus came to save "all" -- as we had been taught in the past -- to the idea that Jesus came to save "many." The theological implications of changing from "all" to "many" boggles the mind. Who is it that Jesus did not come to save? (It's very simple. "Pro multis" means "For many". He never said "pro omnes", did he? Not to mention he couldn't save those who didn't want it in the first place.)

Does such a statement imply again that "only Catholics go to heaven?" And, if read like that by others, is this some kind of subtle retraction of the whole ecumenical movement? (And who's idea was this "ecumenical movement"? Weren't we supposed to convert the others? Instead of being like the others?)

Now, this week, we got the word that the pope himself, contrary to the advice and concerns of (a small fraction of) the world's bishops (including one crybaby), has restored the Tridentine Latin Rite. It is being done, the pope explains, to make reconciliation easier with conservative groups. (It was never banished to begin with. The Holy Father simply made that clear to the bishops and to the world. And there was only ONE troublesome conservative group, the SSPX, as I last recall.)

But it does not, at the same time, make reconciliation easier with women, who are now pointedly left out of the Eucharistic celebration entirely, certainly in its God-language, even in its pronouns. Nor does it seem to care about reconciliation with Jews who find themselves in the Tridentine Good Friday rite again as "blind" and objects of conversion. It's difficult not to wonder if reconciliation is really what it's all about. (And what the sam hell does the Jews have to do with the Motu Proprio?)

What's more, where, in the intervening years, bishops had to give permission for the celebration of Tridentine masses in the local diocese, the new document requires only that the rite be provided at the request of the laity. (Permission shouldn't have been needed in the first place.)

But why the concerns? If some people prefer a Latin mass to an English mass, why not have it?

The answer depends on what you think the Mass has to do with articulating the essence of the Christian faith.

The Latin Mass, for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people (typical liberal bull$&!+ - priest and people are in the same direction, turned to GOD), in a foreign language (Yes, Latin, still the official language of the Church) -- much of it said silently or at best whispered -- makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it.

The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process, the special human being, the one for whom God is a kind of private preserve. (More hogwash! If anything, it is the priest facing the people that becomes the focal point - in most cases - the ones who prefer to have that "stage presence", and I've worked for my share of those yahoos!)

The symbology of a lone celebrant, removed from and independent of the congregation, is clear: ordinary people have no access to God. They are entirely dependent on a special caste of males to contact God for them. They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof." ("Domine, non sum dignus" has always been a part of the people's prayer. That has never changed.)

The Eucharist in such a setting is certainly not a celebration of the entire community. It is instead a priestly act, a private devotion of both priest and people, which requires for its integrity three "principal parts" alone -- the offertory, the consecration and the communion. The Liturgy of the Word -- the instruction in what it means to live a Gospel life -- is, in the Tridentine Rite, at best, a minor element. (But it's that instruction - the Liturgy of the Word, or Mass of the Catechumens - that need to grasp and live by in order to be worthy of receiving Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.)

In the Latin mass, the sense of mystery -- of mystique -- the incantation of "heavenly" rather than "vulgar" language in both prayer and music, underscores a theology of transcendence. It lifts a person out of the humdrum, the dusty, the noisy, the crowded chaos of normal life to some other world. It reminds us of the world to come -- beautiful, mystifying, hierarchical, perfumed -- and makes this one distant. It takes us beyond the present, enables us, if only for a while, to "slip the surly bonds of earth" for a world more mystical than mundane.

It privatizes the spiritual life. The Tridentine Mass is a God-and-I liturgy. (What would you rather have? That "Jesus our buddy?" theology that seems to infest liberal souls like yours, Sister?)

The (Spirit of) Vatican II liturgy, on the other hand, steeps a person in community, in social concern, in the hard, cold, clear reality of the present. The people and priest pray the Mass together, in common language, with a common theme. They interact with one another. They sing "a new church into being,' non-sexist, inclusive, centered together in the Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Galilee curing the sick, raising the dead, talking to women and inviting the Christian community to do the same. (In other words, instead of worshipping God and worshipping Jesus, the people worship themselves. Can't you tell by such insipid crap they pass as liturgical music like "Table of Plenty", "Gather Us In", and "They'll Know We Are Christians", all that sentimental garbage like "Beagle's Things", "You are Mine", and "Be Not Such a Wuss", and similar ilk? And liturgical dance, forbidden in the Latin Rite? It's just a big frickin' stage act.)

The Vatican II liturgy grapples with life from the point of view of the distance between life as we know it and life as the gospel defines it for us. It plunges itself into the sanctifying challenges of dailiness.

The Vatican II liturgy carries within it a theology of transformation. It does not seek to create on earth a bit of heaven; it does set out to remind us all of the heaven we seek. It does not attempt to transcend the present. It does seek to transform it. It creates community out of isolates in an isolating society. (Actually, when the Mass according to the 1970 Roman Missal is done right, it does do all those things. God, Jesus, Heaven, are STILL the focus. Yes, we worship as a community, but bragging about it at Mass a la "Gather Your People, O Lord" and "All Are Welcome" shifts focus the wrong way.)

There is a power and a beauty in both liturgical traditions, of course. No doubt they both need a bit of the other. Eucharist after all is meant to be both transcendent and transformative. But make no mistake: In their fundamental messages, they present us with more than two different styles of music or two different languages or two different sets of liturgical norms. They present us with two different churches. (Are you looking for an excuse to hybrid the two, e.g., Hootenanny Music at the 1962 Mass? Bad move!)

The choice between these two different liturgies bring the church to a new crossroads, one more open, more ecumenical, more communal, more earthbound than the other. The question is which one of them is more likely to create the world Jesus models and of which we dream. (Both, when done right, the way Vatican II envisioned, not in your so-called "Spirit of Vatican II"!)

There are many more questions ahead of us as a result of this new turn in the liturgical road than simply the effect of such a decree on parish architecture, seminary education, music styles, language acquisition and multiple Mass schedules.

The theological questions that lurk under the incense and are obscured by the language are far more serious than that. They're about what's really good for the church -- ecumenism or ecclesiastical ghettoism, altars and altar rails, mystique or mystery, incarnation as well as divinity, community or private spirituality? (Again, if you'd rather see the Catholic Church become Protestant, then why not BE Protestant, damn it?)

From (the intellectual outhouse) where I stand, it seems obvious that the Fathers of Vatican Council II knew the implications of the two different Eucharistic styles then and bishops around the world know it still. But their concerns have been ignored. They don't have much to do with it anymore. Now it's up to the laity to decide which church they really want -- and why. Which we choose may well determine the very nature of the church for years to come. (Are you going to cry too? It's attitudes like yours that have drawn people away from Holy Mother Church to begin with.)

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