Here is a really sad tweet about this year’s Corpus Christi procession moved from Rome to Ostia. (Not a great idea, but, hey, they didn’t ask me.) There is a link to a video of the whole thing. Click ahead and watch the crowd. WARNING: The music is horrific. Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.
Almost no one knelt as the Most Blessed Sacrament passed. This is the state of Catholicism in Italy, people don’t even recognise Christ as walks by them. Sad https://t.co/rYmIDf4yWy
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) June 3, 2018
None of this should surprise us after the last, say, 50 years or so.
We can grant, that getting a procession together can be a little chaotic and distracting, and it can be distracting to have the Pope in your neighborhood. We can grant that people who are truly wicked can kneel and put on a pious but empty show. What you see through the streets in the video is something else entirely. It seems to be a lack of comprehension, rather than of indifference.
Were there no signs of faith or reverence? Of course there were. But watch extended moments and get a sense of it.
And this started a long time before Pope Francis was Pope. On the other hand, I don’t think I am being entirely unfair to remind people of Benedict XVI in Hyde Park, London – HERE (try 40:00 on). Also, lest I be unfair, you can find youtube videos of Corpus Christi processions of yesteryear and not everyone kneels. 1925 HERE – 1941 HERE 1947 HERE There is an entirely different ethos. We also must adjust our minds for cultural differences and locations: cathedrals of major cities are different from parishes in small towns. Nevertheless…
We all understand the concept quantum potes tantum aude, but the quantum and the tantum and the posse and the audere have been nearly reduced to zero. I refer the readership to my rants about milk and goop v. steak and cabernet. We also know that in most places, if there is even cultural Catholicism left, it’s a surprise. We have to be patient and realistic.
Above all, however, we have to examine ourselves and what we are doing.
All the more reason for our own truly devout relationship with Christ in the Eucharist and efforts to initiate, foster and promote worthy sacred liturgical worship.
I often have written in these electronic pages of the connections between our identity as Catholics, our impact in the public square, and our sacred liturgical worship. This is what Benedict XVI’s “Marshall Plan” (as I called it) was all about.
You might recall what the Marshall Plan was.
After World War II many regions of Europe were devastated, especially its large cities and manufacturing. These USA helped rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan so as to foster good trading partners and, through prosperity, stand as a bulwark against Communism.
After Vatican II many spheres of the Church were devastated, especially its liturgical and catechetical life. We need to rebuild our Catholic identity so that we can stand, for ourselves as members of the Church and in the public square for the good of society, as a bulwark – indeed a remedy – against the dictatorship of relativism.
If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, if we don’t know what we believe or pray as Catholics, then the world has no reason to listen to anything we have to say as Catholics. We will be all the more easily driven from the public square.
In that procession, with the Holy Father and Eucharistic Lord, people just stared – like passive observers. They were exactly as libs falsely accuse people of being at the Traditional Roman Rite.
We need a Church wide “Marshall Plan”. No renewal of the Church can take place without a revitalization of our Catholic worship. Without a renewal of worship, all our other efforts will be lacking.
We are beset from within and from without. At the same time, our obligations to strive for greater holiness and fidelity within the Church, and to bring the Good News and Christ to the rest of the world, both remain. We must be renewed internally, so as to be effective externally. This is an ad intra imperative (Catholics considered as Catholics among themselves) and also an ad extra mission (Catholics considered in relation to the wider world).
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 usually because Catholics themselves, as Catholics, excluded themselves from contributing a genuinely Catholic voice because they are either dissenters or because they are weak or because they are ignorant or because they are cowardly.
Catholics must contribute to the discussion in the public square, or as Pope Benedict called this phenomenon 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 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. 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.
We will be marginalized and persecuted anyway. We may as well strive for holiness and salvation within the hardships we will inevitably face as living signs of contradiction.
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.
Good grief… it already is.
The process of revitalizing our identity and our Church will take time. Our gains will be slow and incremental. Brick by brick. And, in worldly terms, we may make no discernible progress in our lifetimes.
Do we have time? When the Lord returns, will He find faith? Shall we be judged for not having done our part?
Are we passive observers?
For the near future, we must not be complacent or one day soon we will find we are living a nightmare. Our judgment will follow.
I firmly believe that in Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the emancipation proclamation for the older Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we have a mighty gift and tool to help us revitalize our Catholic worship, to reconnect with our tradition and identity as worshiping Catholics. Summorum Pontificum, clearly one of the important achievements of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, is slowly being implemented. We need more.
No renewal of Holy Church and our identity, our ability to contribute to and shape the world around us as Catholics, is possible without a renewal of our liturgical worship.
The older form of Holy Mass of the Roman Rite, the Usus Antiquior, must return in strength. Recovery of the older form will exert a “gravitational pull” on the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated. As priests learn or relearn the older form, they change the way the say the newer form. The deepening of their ars celebrandi will have a knock-on effect in their congregations.
A good example of what I mean is the impact that ad orientem worship has when it is restored.
This is not for the sake of aesthetics or nostalgia. I think we are in a fight for our spiritual lives.
Revitalized worship of God is a necessary element of a New Evangelization.
The Biological Solution continues is scything work. New priests, free from the dominating hermeneutic of the 60’s-80’s, are rising up. In the next few years, we should see a more rapid increase in the number and places where the older form is used.
To save our world we must save our liturgy.
And even if the world is slipping beyond our reach, we must nevertheless relentlessly seek through grace and elbow grease the salvation of our souls and those of our loved ones and as many as will come with us.