Some hours back I posted an interesting piece by a baptist minister which has been getting some play in the blogosphere.
On a site called Crunchy Con there is a reaction to the experience this baptist minister had.
A "crunchy con" is conservative whom some say have a greater awareness of the environment, or a preference for small shops rather than strip malls. I have a sympathy for what I think "crunchy con" might mean. I like the fact that they are against abortion and attacks on traditional family values. I like to support small stores rather than huge chains, but I also go to Sam’s Club for a lot of things. I think we need to take care of the environment, but I think real conservatives love mother earth too. So… we are supposed to read what I reposted below with the image in our mind of "a crunchy con" reflecting on liturgy.
Try to follow… a post within a post within a post…. a different way of going down, not a rabbit hole, but through the looking glass.
My emphases and comments.
Prayer and worship (Erin)
Tuesday June 9, 2009
Rod’s [Dreher's] post below about the Baptist preacher’s experience of Orthodoxy, and the interesting discussion which follows it, have got me thinking a bit about prayer, worship, and man’s need to encounter God.
Every religion worthy of the name has had some sort of worship ceremonies, rituals which were supposed to get the deity’s or deities’ attention, or honor him/her/them/it in some way. The impulse to offer worship is a recurring feature of most cultures throughout the ages; Christians tend to explain this as man’s natural yearning for the true God, while atheists tend to explain it as some sort of shared psychological impulse which was waiting, not for God, but for science to come along, explain it all, and thus free man from such apparently irrational and primitive behavior.
As a Christian, I, of course, take the first explanation as the true one. As St. Augustine put it, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God." We are always searching, always seeking a deeper knowledge, a more intimate encounter, a more perfect love, and a more holy service of our wills to the Divine Will.
In our quest to do those things, we seek to communicate with God; we seek prayer. Prayer can be both private and public, both our personal daily habits and devotions, and our daily or weekly attendance at a liturgical or worship service. It can’t be said often enough that for a Christian, both of these things are necessary–to pray daily while never joining in with the community in prayer can stunt your spiritual growth, while to pray on Sundays surrounded by others and then never really think of God or seek to experience His presence during the week can be an indication that one’s spiritual growth is already stunted, or deficient in some way.
As a Catholic, my liturgical life is centered around the Mass, which itself is centered around the Holy Eucharist. There can be no closer union with God on this earth than receiving Him in the Blessed Sacrament; it is the greatest mystery and the greatest gift we have, for the fostering of our spiritual well-being and the strengthening of our souls. Every act, prayer, song, reading, and posture at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ought to be geared toward this ultimate act of intimate communion with God; anything which distracts or detracts from the proper focus on this sacred mystery ought to be removed.
[And we get to something more engaging...] What I have come to understand, as I’ve read preconciliar documents and writings about the Mass, is that this is exactly what those who proposed reforming the Catholic liturgy had in mind. Writing about these times later, in the book The Spirit of the Liturgy, the then Cardinal Ratzinger said the following:
"We might say that … the liturgy was rather like a fresco [in the early 20th century]. It had been preserved from damage, but it had been almost completely overlaid with whitewash by later generations. In the Missal from which the priest celebrated, the form of the liturgy that had grown from its earliest beginnings was still present, but, as far as the faithful were concerned, it was largely concealed beneath instructions for and forms of private prayer. The fresco was laid bare by the Liturgical Movement and, in a definitive way, by the Second Vatican Council. For a moment its colors and figures fascinated us. But since then the fresco has been endangered by climatic conditions as well as by various restorations and reconstructions. In fact, it is threatened with destruction, [watch] if the necessary steps are not taken to stop these damaging influences. Of course, there must be no question of its being covered with whitewash again, but what is imperative is a new reverence in the way we treat it, a new understanding of its message and its reality, so that rediscovery does not become the first stage of irreparable loss." [In The Spirit of the Liturgy, named after R. Guardini's book, Ratzinger explicitly stated that he would like to see a new Liturgical Movement. Remember that Pope Benedict gave us Summorum Pontificum so as to help us see the fresco he is talking about here. Read that through the lens of his December 2005 address to the Roman Curia.]
It is easy to blame the Second Vatican Council, or the Novus Ordo itself, [Hang on. The Novus Ordo is not what the Council Fathers mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium.] for diminishing the Mass, or making it invariably irreverent or a less worthy form of worship than the Mass which preceded it. [Okay... big jump here after leaving a few things hanging in mid air. There were very important changes made to the texts of the Ordinary of Holy Mass, and of the orations which were brought along.] But it’s less easy to admit that there were problems before this time, [Umm... no, it is not. I think most reasonable people will admit that the Council Fathers saw that some changes had to be made. Sadly, the process of making the changes they mandated were hijacked. But, changes were to be made.] or that the reforms were intended for good, [This is a point some will debate.] even if the way they were carried out became an occasion for liturgical experimenters to push an agenda which really did view the Mass from a standpoint of deficient theology and heterodox practice. [Perhaps the liturgical experimenters, with their own agenda, were the ones to whom the Council Fathers entrusted the reform?]
Keep reading below:
And it has been difficult for those attached to what’s now called the Extraordinary Form to understand why so much was removed, and why its replacement seemed so inferior in the way it was celebrated. [Certainly "in the way it was celebrated". That is something that many of the more traditional bent need to remember. There are things to be concerned about some of the changes to the Roman Rite in the Novus Ordo. However... "it has been difficult for those".... hmmm... is there a touch of, what, knowing patience here?] If it has been hard to remind some that there is no liturgical rubric pertaining to the new Mass which mandates tackiness or breezy flippancy–in fact, quite the opposite–it is not necessarily the fault of observers if they assumed that such rubrics existed. [People can read.] An "anything goes" style of liturgical celebration has plagued the celebration of the Novus Ordo for far too long, and many of us welcomed the notion that it was time for a "reform of the reform" with open relief.
What really matters to us (and to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and to many of our Protestant brothers and sisters as well) is that we’re worshiping God in a way that pleases Him first and foremost, and that, for those of us who believe in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, our worship anticipates, points toward, praises, communicates, and celebrates in joyful thanksgiving that tremendous sacramental reality. [An interesting list.]
That said, it is still the case, it seems to me, that a lot of us wish to raise our personal preferences to the level of a liturgical mandate. [Perhaps saying the black and doing the red might help. But watch this part....] It is, sadly, just as easy [easier, maybe, because of the whole "anything goes" we have seen, and which the writer mentions. This is part of their identity.] for the present generation to argue a bit about the proper length of a liturgy, the proper posture or postures, the proper sorts of songs, the proper way to receive Holy Communion, and so on as it was in an earlier generation to argue about Latin, statues, candles and art. [I think he is saying that the externals etc. in themselves are all "morally equivalent".] We are as prone to insist on things being done our way without letting the Church tell us how liturgy ought to be done, as that former generation was, even if the former generation wanted guitar music, and we want it definitively banned. [Hmm... I don't think the previous generation wanted guitar music. I think some people wanted guitar music and forced it on everyone else. The writer needs to rethink the whole "just as easy" part. Human nature doesn't change, but something did happen among the baby-boomers. A world view changed, values changed.]
I struggle with these things as much as anybody, and I can tell you that in my case any sense that I know better what ought to be done is usually accompanied by a lot of pride and a sense that my fellow Catholics are all, or mostly, would-be heretics with one foot out the door already, so to speak. Such an impulse, even if I stifle it, think twice, and try to examine the situation fairly, just shows that mere attendance at the liturgy, and a habit of daily prayer, aren’t enough without the gift of God’s grace to root out pride and foster humility. [hmmmm]
There at the very end what is he saying? It think he… she?… is saying that if you want to make distinctions about the Church’s liturgy you are being … what… prideful?
This deserves some discussion.
I think we have seen a great deal of pride and arrogance in liturgical discussions. That is a reasonable observation.
Also, I think from the tone of the article we get the sense that the writer is not liturgical wacko. The writer is surely not in favor of what he called the experimentation.
But, I can’t shake the idea that, for the writer, the form of the liturgy doesn’t matter as much as a personal experience of the liturgy. Sure s/he mentions worship in common. Sure this is only one small blog entry.
Is "Erin" saying, "Hey! Our way, as young people of our generation, of praying is just as good, nay rather better than the way people used to pray. The fact that people always argue about liturgy just shows that all our choices are on equal grounds. But our grounds should be respected as our grounds, and those grounds are better for us."
It is not my intention to pick on this young person, "Erin". Use the post as a starting point. And use it with respect.
The author of the piece I looked at responded in a comment, below.