It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Catholic Liturgical Crisis Fully Explained


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: In the above video clip, Cardinal Arinze nails it! As a convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism, I have a perspective on the Church's liturgical crisis that some cradle Catholics may find refreshing. After coming into the Church, it wasn't long before I was exposed to the whole thing. I was astonished to see how polarized the factions were.

On the left were the modernists, who claimed Vatican II, and the new Missal of Pope Paul VI, gave them license to do whatever they wanted with the mass. They could create novel innovations and explore "new ways" of worshipping God. This group gained control of much of the American Church after the Second Vatican Council. New chapel designs explored the limits of modern art. Traditional iconography was often eliminated. The tabernacle was moved off to the side, away from the center of the sanctuary. This was accompanied by "new ways" of interpreting Catholic doctrine, in the "spirit of Vatican II." On the issue of morality, a greater emphasis was placed on "personal conscience" than on the absolute teachings of the Church.

On the right were the traditionalists, who claimed Vatican II ruined the Church and the Missal of Pope Paul VI ruined the mass. They wanted to go back to the "good ol' days" when mass was said exclusively in Latin, and the missal used was of Pope Pius V. Some of the more extreme cases even went so far as to deny the validity of the Second Vatican Council. Those who held to this extreme opinion often ended up leaving full unity with the Church for the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

As an outsider coming into the Church, and a former Evangelical pastor, I saw a classic example of what happens when one faction is given too much control over the whole church body. Almost immediately I was expected to choose sides, and it was at first assumed that I would be on the left with the modernists. Then over time, it became apparent that I hadn't picked a side, and immediately the modernists reacted negatively to my sympathies to traditionalist ideals. But the most extreme traditionalists found my position just as frustrating, because I refused to go along with all of their conclusions. So I define myself as a traditionally-minded Catholic, but one who sees some positive effects of the modernist trends in the Church. The problem I see in western Catholicism is one of control. For far too long the modernists have been given unlimited, even unquestioned, control over local parishes, diocese, and even the national conference of bishops. This "blank check" given to modernists in the 1970s, has continued through the 1980s and 1990s, into the liturgical crisis the U.S. Catholic Church (along with many other national churches) finds itself in today.

What modernists, and those clergy who sympathize with them, fail to understand is that traditionalism (of any kind really) is almost exclusively a reactionary movement. Never does traditionalism spring up on it's own. It must have a catalyst. It must be provoked. Traditionalism is the natural result of change that has gone too far and much too fast. It's as normal as the force of gravity. What goes up, must come back down. If the apple never moves, indeed if it stays on the ground, the gravitational force pulling it downward is neutralized. But if somebody picks up the apple, and throws it into the air, it will go up for a while, until the gravitational force takes over again, and pulls it back down. This is what is happening in the Catholic Church. The modernists were given a "blank check" in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, to change the Church in whatever manor they thought best. (The apple was thrown up.) Now the traditionalists are starting to gain the upper hand, much to the absolute terror of many modernists, and the Church is slowly moving back to its previous state. (The apple falls back down.) In the midst of all of this change, there are some people who don't adapt well. Traditionalists who couldn't stomach the motion of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, left the full unity of the Church for borderline schismatic organizations like the SSPX. I should point out here, that the overwhelming majority of traditionalists did not go with the SSPX, but instead swallowed their pride for 30 years, and chose to remain within the full unity of the Church. One should give them credit for this. Now as the pendulum starts to swing back in the other direction, (the apple comes back down), we have modernists who are threatening to leave the Church. Make no mistake about it, some eventually will, and we may very will see an exodus of these people to the Anglican Communion, or else the creation of a modernist organization similar to the SSPX. It is unfortunate when anybody leaves the Church, but it does reveal something about them. Schism is the result of spiritual immaturity. It's the childish "take my marbles and go home" mentality playing itself out among adults. It is not limited to any particular ideology. Modernists are just as prone to it as traditionalists, and it was this very mentality that gave us the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. Catholics feeling the urge to leave the Church would do well taking a lesson from the traditionalists who chose to stay within the Church over the last 30 years. While like-minded Catholics were moving over to the SSPX, they swallowed their pride and chose to remain in full unity with Rome, their bishop, and their local parish. They never gave up their beliefs, but they endured the changes nonetheless.  This is a sign of maturity we must all look up to and try to emulate.

Now for my analysis of the problem. Who is right and who is wrong? Is it the traditionalists or the modernists? The answer in my opinion is as follows. They're both right, and they're both wrong. The Church made a huge mistake by giving modernists a "blank check" over the last three decades. In doing so an injustice was perpetrated not only upon traditionalists, but especially upon the modernists themselves. Because the modernists were falsely misled to believe they had all the answers. They were misled to believe their ideas were somehow superior to those of the traditionalists. Like a small child who is permitted to rule over his twin brother as his superior, both of them were made to suffer. Modernists and Traditionalists need each other. They should be listening to each other, and carefully weighing what the other says. They shouldn't be opposing each other, nor should one be given authority over the other. That's the problem in the western Church, particularly the United States, and the sooner things are put back into balance the better.

Yes, the future Catholic Church will look a lot more "traditional" than it does now, but that's only because it's moved so far into modernist thinking in recent decades. What goes up must come down. But even though we can expect a return to tradition as a natural reaction to the advance of modernism, we must recognize that when the "apple" finally comes to rest again, it will have been permanently changed in character from the apple it once was before.

The truth is as follows. The missals of Pope Pius V (Tridentine or "extraordinary') and Pope Paul VI (Novus Ordo or 'ordinary') are equal. They are both valid, and they are both edifying to the body of Christ, when they are celebrated properly. The problem we're now seeing is just as Cardinal Arinze pointed out. A growing number of Catholics, (particularly young Catholics), are growing tired of modernists being given a "blank check" with the liturgy, parish design, catechises and Church policy. As a result, they're turning back to more traditional ways, and the growing popularity of the extraordinary (Tridentine) form of the mass is a manifestation of that. This 'problem' (if we should even call it that) can be easily remedied in every parish, at every level, and without any strife. All it takes is a slight attitude adjustment which anybody can make on a personal level with little discomfort.

Basically, it involves a simple recognition that what goes up must come down. Traditionalism is a reactionary force, and it's just as natural as gravity. Traditionalism is not the problem anymore than modernism is. The problem is this erroneous notion that one faction should rule over the other. The fact is, traditionalists have something extremely valuable to bring to the table, and they should be listened to. Likewise, modernists possess the same, and they should be listened to as well. In all of this, the historic precedence of Catholic patrimony must be adhered to. If this is done, there will be no need for conflict and competition.