Is There a Liturgical Counterrevolution Underway? I Hope So.

There have been a number of conflicting reports about impending changes to the liturgy in recent weeks. The National Catholic Register, on the one hand, reports that:

On Aug. 22, the reliable Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli reported that cardinals and bishops of the congregation voted almost unanimously at their plenary meeting in March “in favor” of 30 proposals aimed at increasing reverence in the liturgy. He said these included “a greater sacrality of the rite, the recovery of the sense of Eucharistic worship, the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations and inappropriate creativity.”

Tornielli also wrote that the bishops had reaffirmed the importance of receiving Communion on the tongue rather than the hand, and that Cardinal Cañizares was studying the possibility of “recovering” the practice of celebrating Mass with the priest facing ad orientem (literally “to the east”; i.e. in the same direction as the people).

As we might expect, however, the National Catholic Reporter remains skeptical about any proposed changes:

On Aug. 24, a Vatican spokesperson effectively denied the Il Giornale report, saying, “At the moment there are no institutional proposals regarding changes to the liturgical books currently in use.” Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s No. 2 official after the pope, dismissed the reports as “fantasies” in an interview with the Vatican newspaper.

So it would appear that, as of right now, all we can say is that there are discussions about the liturgy taking place.

Though I ought to know better by now, I continue to experience amazement when I detect the fear and apprehension of “progressive” Catholics at the notion of a “reform of the reform” of the liturgy. Can it really be that taking communion in the mouth as opposed to the hand, and having the priest face away from the people, are really that terrible? For my part, I don’t expect that a reversion to the pre-conciliar liturgical norms is going to be mandated, but I do think it is accurate to say that the Vatican is ready to take action against outright liturgical abuses.

As important and as wonderful as I find the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, I am opposed to what I recognize as a tendency to believe that the Church is the Social Doctrine and that even the liturgy must be subordinated to it. One of the chief arguments for the “ordinary form” is its supposedly more inclusive and, dare I say, even democratic nature. ‘The people” (in reality, intellectuals and malcontents) are to have a greater role in the liturgy, just as they are to achieve political and economic power.

On the contrary, I contend that if the social teaching of the Church is detached from a reverent and spiritually significant liturgy, it becomes another “ideology” to contend with liberalism, fascism, socialism, communism, etc. The object of the liturgy is not, was not, and should not be to advance a social agenda or a ‘revolution’ against earthly injustice.

More reverence in the liturgy would actually serve as an inspiration for Catholics to take their faith and its demands – which I do believe include an obligation to serve and improve our communities and our country – more seriously. Because I reject materialism, I reject the notion that society must be remade so that men can be remade, as seductive as an idea as that has been and remains to this day.

It is man being remade through Christ and the Church, especially through the liturgy and the sacraments, that will serve as his greatest impetus to live up to the standards that God holds him to. This will never lead to a utopia, for, as Christ tells us, “many are called, but few are chosen”. Thus the traditional liturgy is not inadequate, for it helps to perfect those who are called and who wish to be among those chosen. For those who will not heed the call, no series of liturgical gimmicks is going to change their hearts.

In the end, I hope we will see a return of the notion that we go to Mass to please God, and not ourselves. This was the attitude of my former priest, Fr. Kenneth Fryar (FSSP), who said of the Tridentine Mass in response to a journalist’s question of how it would be received:

“This is for God,” Fryar said in the rectory of St. Thomas. “It doesn’t matter what the people think. It wouldn’t matter if nobody was there.”

I second that notion. It doesn’t matter what you think of the liturgy. Maybe you aren’t greater than the 2000 year tradition of the Church, maybe your whims are not a substitute for the accumulated wisdom and practice of countless generations. Maybe the Mass is how we show our reverence and devotion to God instead of serving as some kind of “self-expression”. If there are things more important to a Catholic than what it has always meant to be Catholic – things like social justice, or even being a faithful adherent to the political platform of the GOP – that Catholic ought to consider which religion he professes.

I say this in all sincerity, for I have great respect for certain Protestant advocates of social justice and traditional values. I think of the Reverend Walter Hoye, who was spent time in jail for refusing to capitulate to an unjust law that would have prevented him from counseling women on their way to an abortion clinic in Oakland. There are many other examples.

Though it would sadden me, I would prefer that a Catholic dissatisfied with the Church would simply find one that better suited his spiritual needs than to remain within the Church and try to ruin it for those who love it as it is. In other words, if I must choose, I will take pluralism over the revolution. I can be friends and allies with a sincere Protestant, Jew, or Muslim (while praying for their conversion); for a dissenting Catholic who wants to prevent tradition from returning to the liturgy, I can muster little more than contempt. The Church is not your playground.

Even if you don’t leave the Church, at the very least, leave the liturgy alone, and let the counter-reform, should it come about, run its course. For in the end, there is no reason you can’t protest injustice on Saturday and sit through a Latin Mass on Sunday. If Dorothy Day could do it, so can you!

62 Responses to Is There a Liturgical Counterrevolution Underway? I Hope So.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Catholics simply are not Protestants. Too much of what has gone on in regard to liturgical “reform” over the past four decades was an attempt, intended or not, of transforming the Mass into a Protestant “communion service”. It was inevitable that this attempt would fail and that Catholics would return to the liturgical forms which generation after generation of Catholics have cherished.

  • “Though it would sadden me, I would prefer that a Catholic dissatisfied with the Church would simply find one that better suited his spiritual needs than to remain within the Church and try to ruin it for those who love it as it is.”

    Funny sentiments for someone who in the same post says they hope there is a “liturgical counter-revolution.” Seems to be self-contradictory. What you want is the Church in your image and your understanding, and claim anyone who doesn’t agree is “dissenting” and should just leave the Church. That’s not how it works. Indeed, that is the Protestant mentality of ecclesiology right there.

    Since the Church is supposed to be in constant reform, there will be things to be critical of, and indeed, it can be important to be critical for the betterment of the Church. Many great saints have shown this in history (St Catherine of Sienna is a great example here). Should she just have left the Church in a schism because she was not satisfied with what the Church was in her day? Was she an “evil dissenter”?

    This is why the ecclesiology you present is wrong; there is a difference between being satisfied and being faithful. The question is not where do you stand in your private opinions/desires, but how do you relate to the Church despite them.

  • I agree with Henry. What a strange set of ideas you are presenting here. In favor of reform, and yet calling for Catholics to “leave the Mass alone”? You simply want the Mass as YOU prefer it.

    Can it really be that taking communion in the mouth as opposed to the hand, and having the priest face away from the people, are really that terrible?

    If this is the route you are going to take, then it could be asked right back at you: is receiving communion in the hand and having the priest face the people really that terrible>

    For my part, I don’t expect that a reversion to the pre-conciliar liturgical norms is going to be mandated, but I do think it is accurate to say that the Vatican is ready to take action against outright liturgical abuses.

    Are you saying, then, that reception of communion in the hand and having the priest face the people are “liturgical abuses”? Seriously? This is not the view of Pope Benedict I’m afraid, no matter how much you think it is.

  • Kevin in Texas says:

    Henry, I’m trying to see whereyou’re coming from there, but your comparison of “spirit of Vatican II” liturgical dissenters (e.g., all of the columnists/bloggers at the National Catholic Reporter) with St. Catherine of Siena is not a valid one if one presumes the reality of the great saint’s mystical marriage to Christ, as the Church clearly does. I doubt you are claiming that the majority of anti- “reform of the reform” liturgical progressives to whom Joe H is referring are in a similar relationship with Christ Himself, correct? From the little I know of St. Catherine, not having read her work directly, I believe she was instrumental in drawing the papacy back to Rome and away from France, and in doing so, the focus of her writings was very much in the vein of “the Pope is much more than a political leader of this world”, counteracting a tendency towards worldliness among the Catholic hierarchy of that age.

    How on Earth do modern Catholic progressives who reject traditional liturgy, nay even ancient devotions like Eucharistic Adoration of Christ (rf. Father Richard O’Brien’s recent screed against tradition over there at NCR) compare to ancient saints who battled with the help of the Holy Spirit against worldliness and over-politicization of the Church hierarchy? Once again, not a valid comparison to make for any number of reasons, the most important of which is the Church-recognized communion of St. Catherine with Christ Himself in her mystical marriage to Him.

    All of this is begs the question that Joe H presents here: what are the real motivations of liturgical progressives who indeed, by their own proud admission in many cases, are modern dissenters against orthodoxy and orthopraxis, words which are shunned among the NCR crowd? I occasionally read from there when I see links to silly columns like Fr. McBrien’s or Sr. Chittister’s via other Catholic Web sites, and it always saddens me to read the comments, as well as the columns themselves, which are reliably dissident in tone and in spirit. One thing that I NEVER glean from reading dissident comments on sites like NCR is any sense of appreciation of the Divine or respect for the grace so abundantly available in practices like prayer, confession, Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary, other Marian devotions, etc. The dissenting comments are trite and banal, almost always focusing on worldly concepts of power (“women’s ordination MUST be allowed if women are to have power in the ‘misogynistic’ Church”), equality (“any priest or bishop who doesn’t welcome altar girls is sexist and doing irreparable harm to female egos”) and sexual libertinism (“gays should be affirmed in their love and welcomed into the priesthood and greater pastoral roles for the good of the Church”). To be sure, there are plenty of “Rad Trads” who go to the other extreme, and who spout heterodox views (often also focused on worldly politics) which also conflict directly with the Gospel, the Magisterium and Tradition, and I have no interest in defending them here.

    In the end, the question is really quite simple, like Joe has presented it: why do dissenting liturgical progressives so fear the possibility of “reform of the reform”? Why do they have such a vitriolic, reflexive hatred for the Latin Mass and pious devotions to the Eucharist and to Mary? Who do they think they are to demand that such practices be ended in the name of their version of “unity”, which is nothing more than something you point out yourself, Henry, i.e., making the Church over in their own image, to suit their liking? The level of irrationality they adopt in opposing even the mere presence of such devotions within their dioceses, even those in which they are under no obligation to participate themselves, sends liturgical progressives into fits of spittle-spewing apoplexy. To almost any orthodox Catholic of the post-V2 Generations X and Y, it seems that their bile comes from a place that is stuck in the politics of dissent from the 60s generation, not from any spiritual understanding.

  • Kevin

    You do not get the point — which is obvious. The issue is not whether or not there should be more development and reform; the issue is that Joe said if one feels the Church is unsatisfactory, they should leave. The whole point of the “reform of the reform” is that people are not satisfied. Should they leave or work for more development? That’s the problem. One can’t have it two ways. And so my response is that the issue is not of satisfaction, but of fidelity.

  • Kevin in Texas says:

    “That’s the problem. One can’t have it two ways. And so my response is that the issue is not of satisfaction, but of fidelity.”

    Henry, please tell me you notice the irony of your claim.

    Dissenters cannot have it two ways, and their issue is not one of satisfaction (“I don’t like what the orthodox faithful are doing, I’m unsatisfied with the way the Church is moving”), but of fidelity to the Church, the Magisterium and Tradition (“the hierarchy is misogynistic and stuck in the past, so it must respond to us in our demands as the sensus fidelium”) . They seek to re-make the Church in their own image rather than to seek spiritual guidance about the wisdom of their dissent, throwing the equivalent of a tantrum whenever and wherever the reform of the reform is occurring.

    By the way, Henry, it doesn’t seem too kosher to ignore 99% of Joe’s points (and mine, but I’m just a fellow commenter here, like you) in his post and then try to redirect the conversation to dispute a personal opinion of his with which you disagree. Why choose to ignore the larger questions that he presented on reactions to the reform of the reform?

  • Kevin

    Again, I quoted his own statement, a statement which I found to be in error. I do not have to discuss the whole of the post. But that statement as I said was in self-contradiction to the post itself. He said if people are not satisfied with the Church, go elsewhere. I would leave it that the whole “lets fix the liturgy” is itself an example of not being satisfied. For me, again, the issue should not be satisfaction. It is always fidelity. And in fidelity one can offer one’s opinion without it being a lack of fidelity.

  • Henry,

    While I recognize that one who has been jestingly awarded the title The Rook of Inapposite Analogy has certain responsibilities when it comes to rhetoric, I think that you’re missing or bending what Joe is saying here.

    His argument is clearly that people who want the Church’s liturgy and sacramental life to be something fundamentally other than what it is (which I think is arguably when you have some progressive Catholics who scorn confession, eucharistic devotions, and many other traditional prayers and devotions, and advocate changing the liturgy into something much more like a semi-spontaneous community meal and prayer/preaching service) then perhaps those people need to consider whether their problem is that they don’t actually want to be Catholic and all that that entails — that they have already rebelled against the authority of Christ and his Church in their hearts, and are trying to rule the Church themselves rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to do so.

    Clearly, there are a small faction of “traditionalists” who fall in the same error, people who refuse to recognize the authority of the pope and of Vatican II or the validity of the current missal.

    Keep in mind, when we talk about the Church being in constant reform, we’re not talking about the kind of “go find your own pure new way” reform to which the word is often used to refer in our Protestantized culture. The Church is called to a process of cotinual process of reform in the sense that the great monastic orders have constantly sought to return to a true practice of their rules — we are called to be constantly returning to the source, to that which is truly Catholic. This can certainly mean change, but it is not just any sort of change. The accidents are changed to more deeply and clearly reflect the essence, but the essence is unchanged.

    And I don’t think it takes too much reading of some of the more liturgically “progressive” writers to discover that they are looking for a fundamentally different essence to the liturgy that the Church has _ever_ had, now or in the past, East or West.

  • Darwin

    His statement was “if you are not satisfied, leave the Church.” But those seeking for “reform” are not satisfied. That is the self-contradiction in the post. I have no problem with more reform and positive liturgical development. But we have got to be honest with ourselves, and look beyond the Protestant “my way or the highway” mentality, which is what Joe is telling people to have.

    It reminds me of many who would respond to criticism of America’s policies during Bush’s era: “America, love it or leave it.” The fact is one can love something while not being satisfied, and in that love work to improve that which one loves. To stay within where one believes one is to belong, whether or not one likes all that one sees, is about fidelity. But to make it as if those who do not go along with all ideas of reform should just leave the Church is not right. The Church and its liturgy has always had give/take, people debating each other which way it should go, without it meaning those who don’t get their preference should leave.

  • You really cannot stop thinking like an American, can you? No “traditional” Catholic could possibly imagine a fellow Catholic would leave the Church and find one “better suited his spiritual needs”. That flows from American Protestant Gnostic narcissism, the notion that religion is something that makes one feel good about himself. It is the quintessential American religion.

    Personally, I’m as liturgically conservative as they come. I love the EF Mass and am training to serve it. I was talking to a traditionally-minded fellow this weekend, a man who readily admits to having a “pre-conciliar” mentality. We started talking about a Church in DC that offers the EF Mass. He says he doesn’t go, because the people there are are all angry and bitter and, quite frankly, going to Mass is not about being angry and bitter. He’s right. So many of those who seek liturgical reform are indeed angry and bitter – to the point of telling those who disagree with them to get the hell out. Case in point.

  • Zak says:

    Henry,
    If he had said, “If you openly reject the church’s teachings and publicly dissent against them, you should leave,” would you object to that? THat seems to have a precedent in Church history, because excommunication the Church ordering people out (in a sense).

    MM,
    Since when do you like the EF? I recall you writing a post shortly after attending it, saying you prefer the Latin OF.

  • Henry,

    If you’re desire is simply to play a rhetorical “gotcha” game, then by all means proceed. But it’s quite clear from Joe’s post that he is not in fact advocating the interpretation you have put on his phrase.

    Since what you’re condemning is clearly not what he’s saying, why bother wasting words on it?

    MM,

    Again, I think you’re pretty clearly misconstruing what Joe said here. He’s quite obviously not endorsing a “find whatever spirituality is right for you” mentality, but rather saying that if someone is already clearly bound and determined to accept something other than what the Church is, and to reject what the Church in fact is, then they should at least be honest about the fact that they’ve already rejected the Church.

    Now, I would hope and expect this is not all that Joe has to say on the topic. Clearly, what _should_ happen is people should conform themselves to the Church rather than demanding that the Church be more to their liking. I don’t think Joe would say it’s a matter of indifference whether someone is Catholic or not. So you could urge him to talk about that side of the topic. But what you’re attacking him for is something he’s not saying.

  • Zak

    You question is still too broad. As Avery Dulles made clear in many places, like in The Craft of Theology, there is room for dissent: “Room must be made for responsible dissent in the Church, but dissent must not be glorified as though church authorities were generally ignorant, self-serving and narrow minded” (14).

    It’s not just mere dissent which needs to be the issue, but the kind of dissent, why there is dissent, how it is portrayed, and the Church’s reaction to that dissent. Just remember Henri de Lubac and his whole life story — should he have left the Church? Obviously not, as he was eventually made a cardinal.

    Excommunication, therefore, is a proper response of the Church. But to tell someone who questions something going on and is not satisfied with what they see that they should just leave, when the Church has not excommunicated them, again, the reason is clear: a false ecclesiology which doesn’t understand fidelity. One can dissent while being faithful.

  • paul zummo says:

    You really cannot stop thinking like an American, can you?

    Unbelievable. You cannot cease dividing the world into “us” versus “them,” so you attack a blogger who writes something that is frankly in accord with almost everything you purport to believe. And why? Well, it’s written on The American Catholic web blog, and we all know that TAC bloggers are kooky Americanists, so you have to ride to the defense of your quasi-schismatic blogging buddy.

    I mean, seriously, how does this post in any way, shape, or form demonstrate an American mindset? Are you so out of ideas that this is all you can resort.

    Ugh. At this point it is so patently obvious that the VN crew consists of nothing more than intellectual poseurs who get their jollies by being nothing more than contrarian loudmouths. It’s frankly boring.

  • It’s so funny to see so many people accusing those who favor the current liturgy of wanting to “change” the Mass “into something it’s not,” while not understanding that their desire to eradicate this Mass in favor of a past version is a desire to make the Mass into one’s own image: the image of their emotional, romanticized notions of a medieval church that no longer exists.

    I’m in favor of the Mass as it is, not as it was, not as it might be.

  • We have all been grafted onto the true vine. There is no “pick up and leave.”

    If it were that simple, that individualistic an issue, mainstream Catholics could turn right back to you and say, if you don’t like the Vatican II reforms of the liturgy, then leave and join one of the various rad-trad sects that must be so attractive to your medieval fantasies.

    But no, we don’t do that, because you are grafted onto the vine too. There is no “pick up and leave.” MM and Henry are right to point out that these are american and Protestant ideas.

  • e. says:

    “Tradition is not fixed.”

    *T*radition is fixed; it is tradition that’s not.

    I can’t stand it when folks don’t realize that there is in fact a difference between the two.

    For Iafrate et al, these would rather promote the blatantly absurd notion that Latin Rite is nothing more than an arbitrary designation and see that our sacred patrimony be annhilated.

  • e. – Of course there is a difference between the two. I’m referring to our liturgical tradition, not Tradition. Surely you don’t object to me capitalizing tradition if it falls at the beginning of a sentence?

    If you think the previous form of the Mass belongs to the category of Tradition, then YOU are the one who does not understand the difference between the two.

  • What so many of you, Joe for instance, want is a church of dusty books, swords, a particular slice of architectural history perhaps, but not a church of persons. Tradition is not fixed. Tradition is related always to human persons.

    Umm… Huh?

    I’m completely unclear, as with the claims of Protestant mentality which you repeat from Henry and MM above, where you’re getting this from in Joe’s post.

  • e. says:

    “The Church is not your playground.”

    Just as the Church is not the playground for those ghastly dissidents who would dare demolish Tradition in order to supplant it with a pagan creation all their own and make the Great Sacrifice of the Mass into little more than a Dionysian ritual replete with frenzied dancing and orgiastic groanings; it is also not a playground for insufferable Lefebvre triumphalists who would dare defy Tradition, covering the Seat of Peter with incredible insults to the very extent of even spreading heresy as regards the Keys, which is the very Rock of said Tradition, and, thus, promoting an equally abominable agenda!

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I knew this post would result in something like this. To those who have defended my point of view, thank you.

    To Steve, who said,

    “Have you read B16’s Jesus of Nazareth? If not, you should. Chapter three makes many of the same points you make here.”

    Thank you especially! I can think of no higher compliment.

    Regarding the so-called “contradiction” in my post, summed up in lines from Henry such as these:

    “What you want is the Church in your image and your understanding”

    No… I’m pretty sure I said I want the Church to return to the traditions that made it meaningful and great, and not a ridiculous gimmick meant to impress the kiddies. That tradition is not “mine”. It is something greater than you or I, something I consider myself both subordinate to willing to defend. What a crazy Protestant I have become!

    And I am thrilled that the Vatican now more seriously appreciates the scope of the crisis. It is what we have prayed for.

    “His statement was “if you are not satisfied, leave the Church.” But those seeking for “reform” are not satisfied.”

    Because the Vatican has never abandoned or outlawed the traditional Mass, in spite of the outright rebellious defiance of hateful “progressive” bishops, because groups such as the FSSP and other valid traditionalist orders have been encouraged by the Popes, I would not ever have to “leave” the Church.

    I AM perfectly satisfied, being able to attend a daily Latin Mass in a magnificent Church right near my home. Not everyone has the same options I do, not everyone is aware of them even if they do.

    Exactly BECAUSE, you fool, that this is NOT about ME, but about the future of the whole entire Church, that I bring up this matter and hope for a successful counter-revolution. If it were just about me I’d just be quiet and enjoy what I have. I suppose that is more of my “American thinking” shining through.

    For Darwin:

    “Clearly, what _should_ happen is people should conform themselves to the Church rather than demanding that the Church be more to their liking.”

    Yes, that should happen; but it is easier to get a malcontent to leave than it is to get him to no longer be a malcontent. You cannot force the heart to do what it does not want to do. We have free will. So if someone is determined to ruin the Church to suit their personal whims, I’d rather have them go be a Protestant, where you actually get high marks for that sort of thing.

    And yes, I do realize that this can only really happen in modern times and especially America. But I think it is a good thing. More damage is done by malcontents than by people who a) set satisfaction as their highest goal and b) believe they are satisfied. Life involves difficult choices. At a certain point you have to turn your back on a person until they come to their senses or at least become involved enough in their own affairs that they stop trying to involve themselves in yours.

    Finally:

    I’ve been called some pretty harsh names in the past, but “American” and “Protestant” – now those are fighting words.

  • Zak says:

    Well, our church of dusty books and swords won’t be possible in MM’s world, since he’s unlikely to stop with gun control (they can pry my broadsword from my cold dead hands!). Plus, I dust my library regularly, and I encourage all others to do so as well. On a more serious liturgical note, people may look nostalgically on aspects of the Middle Ages (guilty, as charged), but the primary drive behind “reform of the reform” (which is not a counterrevolution is to restore some of the reverence which can be lost in liturgies that don’t adhere to the rubrics.

    Henry,
    So what criteria can be used to distinguish responsible dissent? Is denying the virgin birth? Is advocating contraception? Is ignoring Pope John Paul II’s teaching on womynpriests? In my eyes, these have gone beyond responsibility, but people like Fr. McBrien and Sr. Chittisinger clearly think their dissent is responsible. In the meantime, they do much to undermine people’s faith. Clearly it’s not my responsibility to evaluate the quality of people’s dissent in any kind of formal manner, although it is my responsibility to determine whether I should pay attention to what they have to say. But if there is continuum in which Henri de Lubac in the 1950s is at one end and Frances Kisseling is at the other end, where should one draw the line? What is the tipping point into “unreasonable dissent”? Is it related to tone, as Dulles’ quote suggests, or is related to content?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Henry,

    To countless non-Catholics and even Catholics who no longer take her teachings seriously anymore, how could you possibly dispute it?

    Of course it is meaningful to me.

    There’s never “enough said”. You’re so damned determined to disagree and fight with me that you want to turn every sentence into some kind of smoking gun you can use to justify your attitude.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Oh and…

    It becomes increasingly evident how few people actually read the post before com-boxing.

    I never equated communion in the hand with liturgical abuse (and I am aware of the Pope’s view on the matter).

    The subject of abuse was brought up in the quoted article which spoke of:

    “the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations and inappropriate creativity.”

    Does no one read?

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    michael,

    What so many of you, Joe for instance, want is a church of dusty books, swords, a particular slice of architectural history perhaps, but not a church of persons. Tradition is not fixed. Tradition is related always to human persons.

    What a stupid insult. Now let’s think it through for a second. Is it really any mystery why such a wide variety of folks have found interacting with you to be a tedious chore? After a while, wading through all the projections, preening, and insults does get to be a bore. Joe doesn’t care for a “church of persons?” And you know this exactly how – because you just do, right? This is a very uncharitable bit of writing, and its characteristic of many of your interactions. It strikes me as some strange and pathetic bit of status and attention -seeking, but who knows. Is it really that difficult for you to substantively engage without this sort of nonsense?

  • Zak says:

    I think Joe means to a fuller expression” of the traditions that [have] made it meaningful and great”. You may argue that he has made a freudian slip in which dismisses the OF liturgy as not meaningful, but I don’t think that’s what he means. Surely we should approach each others’ comments with a hermaneutic of charity, which doesn’t attribute the most objectionable meaning to what someone says? It seems like Vox Nova/American Catholic debates are in great need of such an approach.

  • Zak,

    The issue is complex and not simple, because there are different levels of teaching authority with different levels of expectation by the Church for adherence. One of the things, which the quote from Dulles highlights, is that one should nonetheless respect the hierarchy and authorities even in the difference. When the issue is of something of a higher level of truth, it is the proper ecclesial authority which determines the response (and the will look to how is it questioned, why is it questioned. excommunication is done by Church authorities, and someone shouldn’t act like an authority and tell people to leave if they don’t like how things are going!)

    Within the Church there is going to be engagement of theological opinions and desires, and not everyone is going to be satisfied with the outcome. That is not the reason to leave. Should those not satisfied with the outcome of abuse in the Church just become Protestant? Should Paul have made a new Church when he wasn’t satisfied with Peter’s actions towards Gentiles? It’s again the wrong message to be telling people, “If you don’t like it, just leave.”

    But this is exactly the kind of mentality which permeates Protestant ecclesiology. It’s why they keep splitting up. They can’t understand that it is not about “me me me.” They think it is about “what I want.” Catholicism never has been about that. It is the Protestant mentality which says “my way or the highway” and my problem is that is what Joe said here.That is the problem.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Surely we should approach each others’ comments with a hermaneutic of charity, which doesn’t attribute the most objectionable meaning to what someone says?

    Bingo. Far better for all involved that to read into another’s motives your own biases and projections of an “other”. Someone doesn’t care for a “church of persons?” That says far more that is negative about the author of the insult than the supposed motives of its target.

  • Joe

    Who is to say who should be excommunicated? Those who don’t like the normative liturgy as it is now practiced in the Latin Rite and so trying to reform it? Seriously, you still are not engaging the issue. The whole point is that you only one want side to speak their mind (those who support what satisfies your desires) but tell others to just leave and not speak theirs. That doesn’t work. There is no reason for excommunication just because one doesn’t feel satisfied. Indeed, the absurdity is that you are telling people NOT to be Catholic, not to be challenged by the Catholic faith, when in fact, for everyone, the Catholic faith should be a challenge. We should be working for each other, instead of saying “well, I don’t like your views, leave me.” Again, just because someone doesn’t like a given practice and would prefer another doesn’t make them non-Catholic and worthy of excommunication!

  • “All I have really suggested is that certain people skip the formalities and excommunicate themselves.”

    NO ONE has the right to tell people to excommunicate themselves. To tell people “just excommunicate yourself” is basically to tell people to go against the Church. That is what you are telling people. “Go and oppose the Church.” Seriously, Joe, that is as anti-Catholic as it gets.

  • Zak

    For me it is not about TAC/VN. The problem is someone telling others to “leave the church” instead of struggle to find a way to keep them within. The duty of Catholics is not to kick people away and tell them good riddance, but to find a way to help them remain when they have questions. That is what I found and find objectionable to this post. That is my issue and concern. The whole “just join us and follow the reform of the reform in the way I interpret it must mean, or leave the Church” is wrong, especially since the “reform of the reform” continues and the voices of all should be heard in the process — all while the normative liturgy and tradition of the West is one thing, and those who are satisfied with it (and there are those who are) do not need to be told “be off with you.”

  • JohnH says:

    Henry, are you this way all the time? Reminds me of one seminar professor I had who would only grade well when you were in lockstep with his opinion.

    And I seem to remember you repeatedly asking someone who was a frequent commenter on Vox Nova why they converted to Catholicism, implying that they would be better served elsewhere. Mote, beam, and all that.

  • JohnH

    I’m not the one who is saying there should be only one opinion! That’s the whole point! The idea is that we can have various opinions, and not be satisfied with the state of things in the Church, without having to be told to LEAVE the Church. Everyone is not satisfied with something; again, this whole post is about, among other things, such a lack of satisfaction with the liturgy.

    And asking someone who converted to Catholicism why they did so is not the same thing as telling them not to be Catholic.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    To tell people “just excommunicate yourself” is basically to tell people to go against the Church. That is what you are telling people. “Go and oppose the Church.” Seriously, Joe, that is as anti-Catholic as it gets.

    Good grief. A lot of hysteria in this thread and far too little charity and substance.

    How about putting the personal projections and motive-assignments behind and actually backing up this rather large claim? If you want to call someone “anti-Catholic,” bring the evidence. Perhaps start with some quotes of your “opponent” that in any way actually resemble the characterization.

  • jonathanjones02 says:

    Now:

    “All I have really suggested is that certain people skip the formalities and excommunicate themselves.”

    I would disagree with this statement, but I really fail to see how it or anything in the original post is in some way “anti-Catholic.” That is a serious charge that is thrown around far too lightly, and has been for a long time. Why can’t we discuss changes to the liturgy without throwing around heated terms and questions of motives?

    No one should “excommuniate themselves” that wishes to partake to the Sacraments, and makes a good faith effort to live in accord with Catholic teaching. This would include, I think, a wide variety of views about “liturgical revolutions and counterrevolutions.”

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Fool that I am, I am going to answer Henry’s questions as if they were not rhetorical barbs but actually meant to be thoughtfully considered.

    “Who is to say who should be excommunicated?”

    We certainly have it within our power to excommunicate ourselves latae sententiae. Because we have free will, we decide whether or not we want to be a member of the Church.

    “Those who don’t like the normative liturgy as it is now practiced in the Latin Rite and so trying to reform it?”

    Those who would subordinate the liturgy to personal or political agendas, left or right. Only in this case, the right has no interest in transforming the liturgy; some would do away with its social teaching. My advice to them would be similar.

    “Seriously, you still are not engaging the issue.”

    To your satisfaction, no, I suppose not. Can’t please everyone.

    “The whole point is that you only one want side to speak their mind (those who support what satisfies your desires) but tell others to just leave and not speak theirs.”

    People can speak however they like, moreover – it is what they DO that matters. I never said anything about speech. You made it up.

    “That doesn’t work. There is no reason for excommunication just because one doesn’t feel satisfied.”

    I didn’t limit it to satisfaction – are you illiterate? I am talking about people who are so dissatisfied that they would tear down and transform the Church before learning to live with their dissatisfaction.

    Have I ever suggested becoming a schismatic to show one’s disapproval of Vatican II? Have I ever endorsed SSPX or any other schismatic group? Have I not always made clear that I am an ardent supporter of the Papacy, of our current Pope? Have I not made clear that I attend indult Masses and not “independent” chapels?

    I am MOST displeased with the way that liberal progressive bishops have abused their authority and persecuted faithful traditionalists, but I have never counseled anyone to become a schismatic on those grounds.

    What I do believe, however, is that if someone is determined to destroy the Church to remake it in their image, it would be better if they simply left. It’s nothing personal – if someone were to throw a live grenade into my room, I’d try to throw it back out before it blew up.

    “Indeed, the absurdity is that you are telling people NOT to be Catholic, not to be challenged by the Catholic faith, when in fact, for everyone, the Catholic faith should be a challenge.”

    What absolute nonsense. I am telling people who are already not Catholic to be honest with themselves, that’s all. Of course the Catholic faith is a challenge – the whole point is that these people are so hysterical that they will not be challenged at all! They seek power, authority, and control precisely so that they will be able to leap over challenges, so they will not have to look inward and transform themselves, so they can instead use their position to transform others.

    “We should be working for each other, instead of saying “well, I don’t like your views, leave me.” Again, just because someone doesn’t like a given practice and would prefer another doesn’t make them non-Catholic and worthy of excommunication!”

    That “just because” is your invention. Are you always this violent with logic and rhetoric? Do you always just completely make crap up out of nowhere and smear your opponent with it?

    I made it pretty clear who it is I think ought to leave – people who want to have a “revolution” and overthrow tradition, not people who simply have a “preference”. To me those aren’t identical. I know people who prefer the new Mass, but they don’t hate and despise the traditional Mass either.

    I don’t wish to abolish the new Mass, and neither does the Vatican – what we are talking about here is addressing liturgical abuses that have taken place, often at the behest of radicals and psuedo-intellectuals trying out their pet theories on the congregation.

    You have taken my very specific targets and conflated them with some very general behaviors, attitudes, and concepts. I don’t know whether it is dishonesty, illiteracy, or irrational hysteria that drives you forward, and I don’t care. I’ll say a quick prayer for you and hope you get better.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I am also sick of the ridiculous and absurd slander that I am making this about “me me me”. I am defending a 2000 year old tradition that I believe is much greater than myself. Yes, I have aligned my will and my desires with this tradition, but this tradition is not “mine”. It does not emanate from me.

    It is the hysterical radicals that want the Church to resemble “me me me” – it is because of them we have a proliferation of liturgical abuse, and it is because of them that the Vatican is now considering a “reform of the reform”.

    In all of this finger pointing and name-calling, that simple fact is forgotten. The point is that the revolution may well be over, and that it will no longer be permissible to tamper with the Mass to make it reflect “me me me”. When that soon arrives, will it then be the Vatican and Pope Benedict that are accused of intolerance? What happens when new guidelines are established, some phony excuse for a “priest” decides to go ahead with a voodoo ritual instead of a Mass anyway, and he is excommunicated?

    Will the Pope then be chastised by Professor Karlson for taking the “challenge” out of his faith?

  • Jonathan

    I already pointed out that the thrust of the post is that people should go “where they are satisfied.” That is the Protestant thrust, the way Protestants think. That is the problem — it is individualistic in mentality instead of communio. And what is or is not a liturgical abuse is often a part of the question. I know many say “clapping is,” and yet Pope Benedict clapped! I know many say “the filioque is” but here we are, it’s there. Development often comes from what one generation thought was “abuse.” I am not saying one should promote abuse, but on the other hand, what some desire which others think as abuse might not be such an abuse. And to tell them “go away” is not the right response, again, it reflects an individualistic mentality.

  • Joe

    You are not defending 2000 years of tradition, but your own interpretation of that tradition and telling people with different views of it to leave. That again is the problem. It is assuming history to have been univocal in the past and only now confused; not so. It is assuming many things assumed to be “traditional” wasn’t one time “liturgical abuses.” Not true. A study on the history of liturgical development clarifies this easily. For some, Latin was a liturgical abuse- – and yet, here we are.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    This is so pathetic. An “individualist” mentality – for criticizing the people who want to be complete individualists and remake the liturgy to reflect their personal preferences!

    Did I leave planet Earth and step into Oceania?

    I will say this one more time, though I am sure it won’t stop Henry from continuing to lie: the people I think ought to leave are those who are SO dissatisfied that they would trample tradition and “revolutionize” the Church before they would learn to live with their dissatisfaction.

    I NEVER said dissatisfaction as such, in a broad, general sense. I made it perfectly clear that I was referring to a specific level of contempt for the Church.

  • Joe

    You are unable to understand that there is a thing called interaction: if someone is wanting liturgy to develop a certain way, is it wrong for them to explain what it is they desire? Does it make them an individualist just by saying what they would prefer? The Church is, as Michael I pointed out, a church of persons; and it is as persons they are met, with their own needs, desires, interests; there is nothing wrong with them making heard their desires, and indeed, it might be more than just one individual doing this. You are trying to say “only my view, only my traditions.” I am saying there is room for many views, without having to tell people they must leave. Of course they must work with the Church and follow where the Church goes, but again, for that to be, there is the need to realize it is the Church as a whole, the sense of the faithful, which is necessary.

  • Darwin,

    Let me put it within the context of what happened in the US for Byzantine Catholics. We had a new translation of the liturgy come about, which at once tried to reach back and include more traditional customs, but yet use more modern language (inclusive language for example). Many people were not satisfied with this– various reasons of course. Should they be told “go become Orthodox”? No (some did this, of course). Rather, the question is — why did they reply as such, what can be done to help them, is it something which will be fixed with time, are they remaining with us or not despite the changes? Some of the changes I liked, some I didn’t, but I knew it was not in my hand, and so was able to follow and defend what came about, despite the things I would do differently. That is what I am saying — we shouldn’t just tell people to shove out and excommunicate themselves when reform is happening to liturgy. Again, it’s the same problem as those who said “America: love it or leave it.” And it’s that mentality I find troubling.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    A thing called interaction?

    Seems to me that honesty would be the basic groundwork for interaction, something you seem to be entirely incapable of.

    “is it wrong for them to explain what it is they desire?”

    Is it right for you to ask me this question as if it has anything to do with what I originally wrote?

    For the record, no. People can “explain what they desire”. But in the end, what people desire is totally irrelevant; the Church never has and never ought to reflect our “desires”. It is about aligning our will to God’s.

    But please, continue accusing me of “individualism” for suggesting that personal desires shouldn’t shape the Church, and don’t quit your dayjob as editor of the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary.

    “oes it make them an individualist just by saying what they would prefer?”

    No, you unbelievable ass, and I NEVER SAID THAT IT DID. It is when their “desire” becomes a revolutionary slogan and is followed by real action that the problem begins – it is when certain people cannot take “NO” for an answer.

    “You are trying to say “only my view, only my traditions.””

    And you are committing verbal rape. How does it feel? They aren’t MINE. It is because you yourself are so obsessed with your own individualism that you cannot imagine what it means to forgo one’s own personal preferences and humbly submit to tradition and authority. If you can’t “express” your personal viewpoint and have it reflected in the practices of the Church you feel “oppressed”. Boo hoo!

  • You may very well find that mentality troubling, Henry. I find it quite troubling myself, but it’s not present in Joe’s post. He didn’t say that if people had ideas about the liturgy different from his own then they should shut up and leave the Church.

    What he did say was that someone who was only willing to remain a part of the Church on the condition of being given total license to destroy any parts which he did not like was someone who should probably consider leaving.

    You’re free to continue asserting to the contrary, but I don’t think the text bears your contention out. And since one of my main criticisms of this conversation is that people are spending way too much time arguing over a mentality that isn’t even in the post — I will do my part by leaving well enough alone.

    (Joe, seriously, you’re making yourself crazy trying to keep fighting the shape-shifting hydra of a straw man which is being thrown up at you. Things won’t get better if you keep trying.)

  • For the record, no. People can “explain what they desire”. But in the end, what people desire is totally irrelevant; the Church never has and never ought to reflect our “desires”. It is about aligning our will to God’s.

    That is the point. You are telling people who are not “satisfied” (thus, not getting their desire) to leave and excommunicate themselves. I am saying that is not the proper response! The proper response is to encourage them to be faithful to the Church despite whatever desires they have, and whether or not they are satisfied, while feeling free to put to question, in the proper way, what is happening and explain what they feel is being neglected. That is the whole point.

    As for them being yours, actually, they are – you are doing with tradition what Protestants do with the Bible. “That’s not me, that’s the Bible speaking.” “That’s not me, that’s tradition speaking.” But it is you who is reading the tradition and interpreting it; of course you are free to do so and raise your voice as you explain what you interpret that tradition to be; it is another thing assuming your reading is one and the same as the tradition. Tradition is living, and the Church, not the individual, is the authentic interpreter.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “you are telling people who are not “satisfied” (thus, not getting their desire) to leave and excommunicate themselves.”

    I am telling people who are dissatisfied TO THE POINT OF REBELLION to leave because they will do far more damage if they stay.

    “The proper response is to encourage them to be faithful to the Church despite whatever desires they have…”

    And what I have said clearly only applies to people upon whom that encouragement HAS FAILED. I’m sorry to burst this utopian, “man is inherently good” bubble you seem to inhabit, but some people cannot and and will not be moved by such an appeal. When that becomes manifest, then I say it is better for them to leave than to destroy the Church. I will not apologize for that.

    “Tradition is living, and the Church, not the individual, is the authentic interpreter.”

    Again, you seem to miss the whole damned point here; the Church is preparing to move in a more traditional direction precisely because of the damage that notions such as yours have done.

    What you are arguing is that it is impossible to arrive at truth, that we cannot know what tradition actually is. Why not extend this, Henry, to all matters? Why not morality as well?

    I have closed comments because this exchange has become ridiculous. I have no desire to repeat for the 10th time that I did not say something that Henry says I did.

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