In another entry, about the priest/penitent privilege and a state’s violation of the same we read:
I don’t believe it is likely that secret eavesdropping on conversations between priests and penitents is a growing trend in this country, but the revelation of truth and the limits that the law allows between civil authorities and clergy are being pushed to more narrow levels.
In my recent article in The Catholic Herald I mentioned that we, as Catholics, are in a fight for our lives.
For our Catholic lives to be sure, but also for the sake of the life of society.
This is an ad intra (Catholics considered as Catholics among themselves) and ad extra (Catholics considered in relation to the wider world).
I have mentioned too many times to count in this blog pages that I think Pope Benedict is implementing a kind of "Marshall Plan" for the Church. Just as there was a plan to rebuild Europe after the devastation of WWII so as to create strong partners in trade, a healthy society and a bulwark against Communism, Pope Benedict is trying to revitalize our identity and the life of the Church in continuity with the past after the devastation of the last 40 years since the Council and the false hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture which have so pervaded every facet of the Church’s life. In doing so, he is trying to provide for a healthier, holier Church and create a breakwater against the rising tide of relativism.
Catholics, as Catholics, have been shoved out of the public square. They are more often than not excluded from contributing to discussion of the burning questions of our day. This is often because Catholics themselves, as Catholics, excluded themselves from contributing a Catholic voice because they are either dissenters or because they are weak or because they are tepid.
But Catholic must contribute to the discussion in the public square, or as Pope Benedict called this phenomenon recently the "digital continent". We have an obligation, each of us according to our vocations, to shape the world around us to the extent we can. Holy Church has a God-given mission to teach both ad intra and – of course – ad extra.
The ad intra dimension entails Catholics knowing who they are and what they believe. If we don’t know these things, if we are not firm in them, then we are vulnerable to every manner of marginalization and, don’t doubt it, persecution. If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, we will never be able to articulate anything clearly about the burning questions of our day and make a contribution as Catholics according to our vocations.
There is an incremental erosion of human, common sense values taking place. At a certain point, the erosion will pick up speed and, suddenly, we will wake up in a new kind of world. Similarly, the process of revitalizing our identity and our Church will also take time. Our gains will be slow and incremental. Brick by brick.
We must not be complacent or one day we will find we are living a nightmare.
I return to what I wrote in my liturgical-political manifesto after the Notre Dame Debacle.
I urge all priests and bishops who read this blog with any slight quaver of resonance or benevolence, to consider this with care:
If you sense that something quite serious and important is going on right now, for the love of God rethink your approach to how you foster Holy Church’s proper public worship.
Do all in your power and through your influence to foster a worship of God which conforms not to worldly goals – as praiseworthy as they may be in a world still dominated by its dire prince – but rather to the real point of religion: an encounter with mystery.
Our worship must become more and more focused on the one who is Other. Seek what is truly above in your rites and raise people to encounter mystery.
You will be challenged and reviled, blocked and attacked as you do. You will be worn down and afraid under the weight of resistance.
But I think that to save the world we must save the liturgy.
[The Notre Dame Debacle] reaffirmed this for me.
They can’t compete with the fullness of Catholic liturgy and sound preaching.
Reforming the liturgy along the lines Pope Benedict has proposed may be the most loving and effective option we have in these ever hotter times.
People will have to keep working very much in the sphere of the secular. Of course! Our inward Catholic Christian identity must find outward expression and bring concrete fruits.
But I think the real work now – where we will make some effective headway – must be done at the level of our public worship.
In the present circumstances, we are not going to argue most people out of danger or error. But together we can draw them in and along and back through worship.
So long as we remain doctrinally faithful and active in works of mercy both spiritual and especially temporal, if we get our public worship together we will have a strong bastion against error.
Holy Catholic worship will be an attractive force for conversion.
We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.
The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right.
Our goal must be that which is good and beautiful because it is true, that which reflects what is of God, not man’s image merely. Give us mystery, not fabrications smacking of the world, fallen and transitory.
Fathers, and you Reverend Bishops, if anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship. Examine your approach with an eye on the signs of the times. Take a new approach.
The approach we have had least last few decades isn’t getting it done. Really … it isn’t
Going neither left nor right along the road toward the Lord, even as He comes to us, take the flock now deeper, now higher on that path, but always to encounter the mystery which distinguishes truly Catholic liturgy… and therefore true Catholics.
Lines are being drawn, sides taken, choices made.
More than ever we need what Christ, the true Actor of our liturgy, desires to offer us through Holy Church’s worship.