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Monday, February 10, 2020

The Liturgy Is Not Performance Art

I'm going to confess the substance of some uncharitable thoughts I've had at times. Please forgive me; I'm trying to let them go, and they serve my point today. Here goes.

I've often thought, "I hate the Latin Mass." I've attended at least 10, I should think, over the years. If I went to a TLM parish, I may well grow into it. As an aside, I had two years of Latin in high school and college. I should have been less bewildered. So anyway, I'm inclined to appreciate things like people kneeling, and receiving on the tongue. I think ad orientem should just be the normal way the priest celebrates Mass, in both forms of the Latin Rite. Does anyone know why the Gloria is not always in Latin, in both forms? And the Our Father?

I digress. I don't like certain other things. I don't like how TLM is supposed to be the badge of a "Real Catholic." I don't like the basic attitude that the Ordinary Form is defective. I don't like the basic posture of total freedom to criticize the Bishops and Pope Francis. Side-bar.

You will never hear me criticize the Pope in a public forum. You probably won't hear it in private, either. Learn and apply: "If I would have spoken thus, I would have betrayed the generation of your children."

Frankly, I wonder why all these people with whom I am acquainted between 25-35 are drawn to it. If what I discern from their other attitudes and habits of mind is accurate, it freaks me out. Have we honestly wrestled with the history of anti-Semitism? Are we allowing these pernicious attitudes to flourish, under the banner of restoring the Church?

And I love Vatican II. I have no problems with Nostra Aetate. "Vatican II" does not mean, "We decided we no longer believe what Christ teaches." I still believe the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Christ, and that insofar as people are able, they ought to know Christ and His Church.

Here's a truth-bomb: Liturgy may save the world, but liturgy alone absolutely will not. Just like praying 10 Rosaries will not make you sinless.

Liturgy is, in basic terms, the fitting public worship of God. It's what we owe him, as the family and community of the redeemed. It's not an Orthodox Catholic merit badge. If there were one, I wouldn't get it.

And why do the priests rush through the prayers of TLM like they have a tee time after? If you want to recover Latin as our language in this Rite, treat it like a spoken language. Sooner or later, it will be again. Right now, the whole thing seems like a piece of fine art, a museum piece, not like we're playing with dynamite, to paraphrase Annie Dillard.

Stop blaming nameless "liberals," or the Ordinary Form, for the ruin in the Church. With due deference to God and His grace, if you want to save the Church, save yourself. Don't play at being a faithful Catholic; be one.

If you want men to come back to the Church, stop being jerks that other men don't want to be around. Stop juxtaposing the masculine against the feminine! Seriously, this is a big one. I like spunky, strong women who are smarter than me. Stop translating lust into a more socially acceptable desire for Church renewal. I've probably thought women in veils were "hot"; I probably should have repented of my lust in a sacred place. I don't mind if a woman wears pants, as long as she's not OK with abortion.

Finally, I'm glad "intelligibility" won the day at the Council. If people don't understand what Jesus is saying, they can't respond. The Word wants His gospel to be understood. How many new converts at a TLM community do you know? I'm all for populating the Church with our own kids, but there are over 7 billion people on this planet. Don't carp about "outside the Church, there is no salvation." Get them in here! Maybe the Feenyite impulse is and was institutionalized cowardice.

Thus, the rant ends.