Friday, May 19, 2006

Continuing the Discussion
... from yesterday's scattered post. First, as I've said countless times before on this blog, the content of the liturgy (be it 1970, 1962, or whatever) is less vital than the spiritual qualities the celebrants (meaning all the people) bring to it. I've no doubt that in a few scattered places, the Tridentine Mass was wonderful. Most places it was doubtless perfunctory, hurried, and not done very carefully, especially Low Mass. The Vatican II vision, however much it's been fumbled here and there, was to replace it with High Mass every Sunday, every holy day, and lots of other times besides. If parishes here and there, or even mostly everywhere have failed at this, it's neither the fault of the council, nor any liberals except for those particular liberals responsible for particular parishes. I'm not afraid to say that despite not having a lot of chant, my parish does liturgy as well as any other parish in my diocese, including the indult parish. Why do I make this claim? Because we attempt to cultivate an involved, participative spiritual life, and we put lots of effort into making worship fruitful. If liturgy has, in some places, become functional, it might be that it has never reformed rather than been reformed badly. A parish could make all the right rubrical moves according to 1970, and still be mired in functionalism, materialism, or other sins of the pre-conciliar liturgy. Second, it is an established fact that the Catholic hierarchy prior to the council, and in some places after it, was indeed racist (for its treatment of black seminarians) and rigid (for gutting American seminaries of scholarship, among other things). Third, here's Amy's link. Sorry; I did mean to post it. And lastly, I think Brigid is on to something. Frowny-faced Catholicism can't be very impressive to newcomers and outsiders. I think of Anne Bancroft's character in Point of No Return when she's coaching Bridget Fonda in dealing with bothersome things. Fonda would rather spit her gum on the floor and kick somebody's butt. Bancroft, however, delivers a much steelier stance in wrapping her displeasure in inane cocktail talk--but you know. This is part of why I have serious reservations about the neo-apologist movement in Catholicism. Too much desperation: Catholic enemies might get the mistaken impression we actually have something significant to lose. Too much talking: Catholicism is indeed rich, but a million-word essay isn't going to get the point across as well as a thousandth as much content. Too much reaction: Catholicism shouldn't be letting the culture dictate what we preach; we should be setting the standard for others to ask why we do as we do. If people are curious about Jesus, fine. Don't mention Dan Brown's book, movie, or name; just talk about the gospel. The problem with Amy, Mark, and all the other Catholics going dog-rabid on Dan Brown is that they give the impression that the whole future of the Church depends on their personal ability to debunk him. Clue: it doesn't.

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