11 July 2007

More Whining Regarding Summorum Pontificum

[Taken from WDTPRS]
Published on National Catholic Reporter Conversation Cafe
Coming soon to a church near you

By Joan Chittister
Created Jul 10 2007

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. [Before legions of the discontinuity folks really snatched the reins of power in schools, chanceries, universities, seminaries, convents….]

They tell us 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.’ [sniff] 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? [If the shoe…. well….]

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" [Nooooooo… that is not what the correct translation "pro multis".] —as we had been taught in the past—to the idea [the FACT] 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? [This is just tendentious.]

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?

Now, this week, we got the word that the pope himself, contrary to the advice and concerns of the world’s bishops, [First, the Pope is not subject to the bishops. Second, the bishops are to be in union with Peter. Third, Peter’s role is to strengthen the brethren and govern the Church entrusted in the first place to him. Fourth, the Pope DID consult... and consult, and consult, and consult. And do you think he was just twiddling his thumbs without anything to do before he became Pope?] has restored the Tridentine Latin Rite. [Noooo….. even a fast reading of the MP shows that the older, extraordinary form of the Roman Rite had never been abrogated.] It is being done, the pope explains, to make reconciliation easier with conservative groups. [Noooo…. it doesn’t stop there. That is unjust. These provisions are for THREE, groups, those who are in questionable unity or broken with the Church (which subsists in its fullness in the Catholic Church), those who were wounded by the changes decades past, and those who have discovered the older ways and want them now. The writer was lacking in justice not to give the Pope’s document a fair reading. But here at WDTPRS we try to be just. If you want peace, work for justice, after all. This is a social-justice oriented blog, or rather an ad orientem justly social blog… well… you get it.]

But it does not, at the same time, make reconciliation easier with women, [HUH??? Whenever I go to a approved parish or chapel to celebrate the older use of Holy Mass (something the writer of this article will never do in any use) I always see lots of women. Women everywhere. Big women, old women, little women, young women, girls, and they are pretty happy to be there, too. You can tell by the way their chapel veils hang.] who are now pointedly left out of the Eucharistic celebration entirely, certainly in its God-language, even in its pronouns. [Nooooo….left out especially in its pronouns, Sister, let’s be precise.] 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. [Well… it ain’t about reconciliation on your terms, Sister, I can tell you that. And the provisions for the use of the extraordinary right really aren’t about the Jews at all. They don’t figure in the equation. And, you know what? That’s okay. Moreover, the writer is not just wrong, but also unjust. True Catholics don’t treat other people as "objects". People, made in God’s image and likeness, are the dignified subjects of their own actions. That dignity cannot be violated. No one is forced to be a Catholic or to listen to us. But, darn it, we have a right to be Catholic, and have our own language, and symbols, and prayers. And if anyone is interested in talking, we’ll talk. But in the CATHOLIC Church, we are not going to betray Jesus Christ and compromise our beliefs for the sake of "buonismo".]

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. [Right. This empowers the laity. It empowers WOMEN, come to think of it LAY WOMEN! And SISTERS! Sisters can now boss priests around and make them say the old Mass!]

But why the concerns? If some people prefer a Latin mass [I think the writer means the older form of 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,[I think the writer means the older form of Mass] for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people, [kaCHING! Say da magic woid, winnahunnud dahlahs!] in a foreign language—much of it said silently or at best whispered [much of it said very much out loud]—makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it. [I think we have covered what the Church really means by "active participation" here so often readers can recite it in their sleep. So, let’s just back away from this embarassing cliche and move 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. [Well…. yah… that’s about right. When the priest is at the altar, he IS special. He is alter Christus. That, Sister, is special!]

The symbology of a lone celebrant, [cue Clint Eastwood music….] removed from and independent of the congregation, [a clear whistled melody…. the distant howl of a wolf and… what’s that hear? Gunfire?!] is clear: ordinary people have no access to God. They are entirely dependent on a special caste of males to contact God for them. [B as in B. S as in S.] They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof." [Ehem…. one of those things the lone male priest is saying silently up there at the altar Sister can’t approach is "Domine, non sum dignus… Domine, non sum dignus… Domine, non sum dignus…" before anyone else says it. And, NEWS FLASH: No one is worthy to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Jesus in the Eucharist. We approach Him because He invitingly commands it and we, in hope that He will crown His own merits in us, extends to us now this great pledge of future glory. We come with humility, not a sense of our own "worth". His Holiness even before his election wrote and warned eloquently about an unbridled sense of "self-sufficiency" in the Church.]

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. [Riiiighhhht…. so… show me that list of great saints raised up solely on the newer form of Mass…. oppps…. where are they? It look like all these saints we so venerate were nourished on a Mass that had little to do with the Gospel life. I guess the Chinese and Spanish martyrs, Teresa of Calcutta, Damien of Molochai, Catherine of Siena, Bakhita, and well… others somehow just stumbled onto their…. thing… by chance.]

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. [So far so good.]

It privatizes the spiritual life. The Tridentine Mass is a God-and-I liturgy. [Riiiight…. that is why St. John of God and Camillus of Lellis, the aforementioned Teresa of Calcutta founded hospitals and houses for the desperate, why saintly mother foundresses built schools and shelters and orphanages, why holy missionaries left everything to go to the ends of the earth. This is why millions of quiet lay people saved and sacrificed to build their churches and support women religious (before they needed pants suits and hairdoos) and give to the poor and to missions. In the end, everyone of them, if you were to ask them after Mass why they did those things they would say without hesitation…. "It’s all about me and Jesus". That’s right! That’s sure what they would tell you.]

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. [Especially when those out of tune guitars start a strummin’ and the shouting into the microphone over the bongos begins…. hard, cold reality of the present… for an hour or so that seems never to end.] 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 [BLEEEEEAAAAACHHH .... ‘scuse me o{]8¬{ sorry… please go on… ] 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.

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. [Wow… no one had EVER thought of that before 1963!]

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. [Ehem…. to me… that sounds like hell. That sound like exactly the OPPOSITE of what Vatican II asks of the baptized living in the world. Still… let’s all sing!

Not in the dark of buildings confining,
not in some heaven, light years away,
but here in this place, the new light is shining;
now is the Kingdom, now is the day.
Gather us in – and ….aaaaaaaand…..

BLEEEEEAAAAACHHH .... sorry… sorry again…]
There is a power and a beauty in both liturgical traditions, of course. No doubt they both need a bit of the other. [After all that, you make this admission?] [The] 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. [Which is a pretty good start, thank you very much.] They present us with two different churches. [B as in B. S as in S.]

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. [While those who follow followed the heremeutic of rupture and "dreamed", in the bad old day Catholics WORKED and created the infrastructure the dreamers are still living off of. For people like this, who can see things only in blacks and whites without any flexibility and nuance, who are incapable of taking what is good from the last, say four decades, and then make corrections, I bet all of this really is pretty scary. We should be nicer…. .... .... later maybe… ]

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. [I’ll settle for those.]

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, [Always the drama… always with the drama.] altars and altar rails, [yeppp….. pretty scary] mystique or mystery, incarnation as well as divinity, community or private spirituality?

From where I stand, it seems obvious that the Fathers [and Mothers] of Vatican Council II knew the implications of the two different Eucharistic styles then and bishops around the world know it still. [And that is why the Fathers … and Mothers… of the Council mandated only VERY FEW changes to Holy Mass. Read the documents.] 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.

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