The old phrase is: Piscis primum a capite foetet.
Over the many years I have been either going to or living in Rome, it has been interesting to see how the styles and modes change in the ecclesiastical shops. These modes are driven by two forces: market forces and the imaginations of the shopkeepers, trying to anticipate where clerical tastes will go in this or that pontificate. Toward the end of John Paul’s life, the shops were getting more and more traditional, losing the sheer crap of Pauline aestheticism. In Benedict XVI’s time that accelerated. Now, you see junk returning, edging back in. However, seminarians and priests these days seem, as far as I can tell, to want the more traditional stuff. I don’t think seminarians, from what I hear, are paying much attention to this… new stuff we are hearing.
On the other hand, the Vicariate of Rome’s subtle messaging from above drives many things which happen inside churches. The last time I was in Rome (May) I noted the sudden appearance of liturgical MONSTROSITIES, entirely out of place in the spaces where they were callously installed. Think of the altar in the Pantheon and the ghastly pile of rubbish now defacing Sant’Andrea della Valle. It is enough to make angels hang their heads in embarrassment and cause those interred within the sacred walls and floors to rattle their bones in the indignant dust.
I received this note from a priest:
My experience of studying in Rome tells me that Italy (and probably most of Europe) is far behind the United States as regards “winds” of liturgical movement. Whereas we in the USA seem to have left the truly crazy days behind and turned a corner in some degree of liturgical “sound mindedness,” Italy is in the heyday of post-Vatican II nonsense. [Italy is a liturgical wasteland.] Visiting Rome this week after many years, liturgical appointments seem even more cheap and tawdry than my last visit. Some truly sinfully stupid things are going on in sanctuaries in Rome. Some pics are with this email.
I was shocked at Sant’ Andrea della Valle that the presbytery/sanctuary has been completed vacated and a huge stage area set up just outside the Communion rail. In a certain sense I’m glad that the new junk isn’t in the sanctuary but the notion of having vacated the true sanctuary is such a telling and emblematic move.
The Basilica of Sant’ Eustachio seems to have a food pantry operation taking place in a side chapel before an altar that had once been made and consecrated for sacred worship. The area is complete with caterer chafing dishes lined up like a buffet serving line and a bread cutting station.
The Church of Santa Lucia has some new art productions hanging in a side chapel. One modern style painting is of a woman (Mary?) standing behind a young boy (Jesus?). For some reason the woman is crowning the boy (what does that even mean) and more inexplicable the boy is stark naked.
What is this garbage?! As much damage as has been done in the USA we do at least seem better off than Europe. However lasting damage and still undeveloped ripple effects from having changed our rites is an ongoing tragedy on both sides of the Atlantic.
This is a manifestation of a clericalism that is probably also #sodoclericalism if you get my drift.
These Italian clerical euroweenies fancy themselves aesthetes. How sophisticated they are! They disgusted me for decades with their self-centered, condescending effeminate blather. I suffered for years from their sacrilegious tyrannies.
I honestly don’t think they have the faith. They certainly have no respect for people who come into the churches or for their forebears who built them.
And they don’t, when there are conflicts or disagreements, act like normal men do to trash them out. That also characterizes those bishops who send men off to the psych ward.
We must hold on. We must hold on and expand. The weenies will drop away and leave the field open for our advance if we just have the will to get out beyond our comfort zones and start inviting people to join us, reclaim tradition. In order to do that, you will have to be smart and patient and excel in good works.
You must, as traditional Catholics, learn to overcome your anxiety about the times we are enduring and, on the contrary, exude hopeful joy.
Joy will attract.
It is one thing starkly to identify what is going on, as we do in these pages, and what other do on their sites. We must, however, also underscore the good things that are going on. And there are good things!
More and more young priests are turning to traditional liturgical worship, an ars celebrandi. Good bishops are getting good vocations and are inviting groups to take dying parishes. The mask is being pulled off the fakers and the parasites. People are waking up.
This is a WAR but this is also an OPPORTUNITY.