Now it's serious: the Pope has offended Sr. Joan Chittister. NOW what do we do? Maybe there's still time for the Holy Father to take back the Motu Proprio before the Patroness of Polyester Pantsuits holds her breath until she turns purple and passes out. Her outpourings on Rome's campaign to enforce the actual teachings of Vatican II are a classic backwards tribute to the Rule of St. Benedict: a perfect example of what happens to you when you vow to live by it, and then don't.
Here is Sister Joan's latest screed, with my comments, as always, in red.
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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. [Don't Benedictines still abstain from meat on Fridays?] Yes, we had to go to church every Sunday. [We still do.]
Not any more.
In fact, the answers are getting more confusing all the time [-- though this of course is not the fault of infiltrators like Sister Joan]. Consider the question of how the newly revised Roman Missal is better than the last, for instance.
They tell us now [NOW???] that Mass texts -- including even hymns -- may not include feminine references to God. 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.' [Don't overdo it, Sister. Sit down; put your feet up; maybe a glass of water? Let this be a lesson to you: leave argumentation to the professionals. You really shouldn't try this at home.] 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? [Don't sweat it, Sister: whatever church you've been going to that worships Goddess instead of God doesn't care what Rome has to say about liturgical texts anyway.]
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." [If only Jesus had known better, He wouldn't have said "many" at the Last Supper, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.] The theological implications of changing from "all" to "many" boggles the mind[, particularly the implication that, having free will, we can choose to reject salvation, which is what "many" implies]. Who is it that Jesus did not come to save?
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? [If it's a rejection of the sort of ecumenism that requires Catholics to compromise on the faith, I for one am all for it.]
Now, this week, we got the word that the pope himself, contrary to the advice and concerns of the world's bishops, has restored the Tridentine Latin Rite[, which was never abrogated]. It is being done, the pope explains, to make reconciliation easier with conservative groups[, even though these nutjob fanatical kooks that are raining on your We Are Church parade really deserve to be written off, right, Sister?].
But it does not, at the same time, make reconciliation easier with women, who are now pointedly left out of the Eucharistic celebration entirely [the Blessed Mother doesn't count], certainly in its God-language, even in its pronouns[, which Sister is so busy counting and parsing that she doesn't have any time left for donning a habit, praying the Divine Office, or reading Scripture]. Nor does it seem to care [magical thinking extends to personifying the Motu Proprio -- or does "it" refer to the Holy Father?] about reconciliation with Jews who find themselves in the Tridentine Good Friday rite again as "blind" and objects of conversion[; after all, when someone needs conversion, it's much more compassionate to stop caring whether they go to Hell]. It's difficult not to wonder if reconciliation is really what it's all about[, particularly when you've given the Motu Proprio as careless a reading as Sister evidently has].
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[, who are too stupid to be entrusted with the right to ask for the preconciliar forms, and to have access to the rich patrimony that so many have been denied all these years].
But why the concerns? If some people prefer a Latin mass to an English mass, why not have it? [That's just what the Pope thinks. And by the way, we capitalize the word "Mass."]
The answer depends on what you think the Mass has to do with articulating the essence of the Christian faith. [After all, in the World According to Sister Joan, it has very little to do with worshiping God.]
The Latin Mass, for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people, in a foreign language -- much of it said silently or at best whispered -- makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it. [A point of view typical of someone so shallow as to worship at the altar of appearances and belittle and discount the interior life, where the real action happens to be going on.]
The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process, the special human being, the one for whom God is a kind of private preserve. [If you think this is such a bad thing, then how come you want women to be priests?]
The symbology of a lone celebrant, removed from and independent of the congregation, is clear [only to a moron]: ordinary people have no access to God. They are entirely dependent on a special caste of males to contact God for them[ -- everyone knows a special caste of females to be the hoi polloi's sole intermediaries with God is infinitely preferable]. They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof." [No, we are NOT worthy. The only reason we sinners dare to approach the Host -- another word that needs to be capitalized -- is because we are commanded to do so.]
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. [How terrible to waste all that time worshiping God, when we could be worshiping ourselves!] 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. [Sister lies so much, why should we start believing her now?]
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. [And the problem is...?]
It privatizes the spiritual life. The Tridentine Mass is a God-and-I liturgy. [Too stupid for comment.]
The 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. [They prefer wallowing in the mud with Sister Joan to lifting their hearts to heaven.]
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. [Yes, here is the key to sanctity: lower your standards to the point where they're already met.]
The Vatican II liturgy carries within it a theology of transformation. It does not seek to create on earth a bit of heaven [we sure would hate to see that]; it does set out to remind us all of the heaven we seek[, even though, as stated above, it's supposed to keep us firmly rooted in our sordid earthly existence.] It does not attempt to transcend the present. It does seek to transform it. [And these are the problems with Sister Joan's brand of "liturgy."] It creates community out of isolates in an isolating society. [Huh???]
There is a power and a beauty in both liturgical traditions, of course[, even though Sister just got done arguing that beauty is irrelevant at best, and a distraction at worst, proving that heresy really does lower your IQ]. 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. [Thus Pope Benedict is a liar when he says that the extraordinary form and the ordinary form are "two usages of the one Roman rite."]
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. [And here we all were, misguidedly thinking the purpose of the Mass was to worship God, and to re-present the Sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner on the altar.]
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[, all of which the faithful are too stupid to cope with].
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[, the ersatz feminist "spirituality" of the Sister Joans of the world or the true Faith as handed down by the Apostles and their successors, the ravings of heretics or the teachings of Peter's Successor]?
From 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. [That's because Sister has never read the actual teachings of Vatican II, which plainly stipulated that the preconciliar rites were to be preserved and nurtured, not suppressed.] 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. [See, it's only the Golden Age of the Laity Who Dissent from the Magisterium; those who yearn for authentic Catholicism can go to Hell.] Which we choose may well determine the very nature of the church for years to come.
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Sister Joan Chittister has forsaken her calling as a chosen soul, and has become a liar, a cheat, and a heretic desperately in need of (a) public refutation, and (b) prayers for conversion. Instead of being of real use to the Church and to the world, she prefers to gnaw her petty grievances, taking offense where none is intended and leading such of the faithful astray as are still capable of taking her seriously. The church of her dreams is the Communist Bloc of Christendom.
And like the political Communist Bloc, it too is destined for the ash heap of history.