I was alerted to a column by Louis Verrecchio over at the excellent CNA.
It weighs in at about 1700 words. I will edit and add some emphases and comments and then shoo you over there to read the rest.
Mr. Verrecchio makes an interesting connection.
Liturgy’s effect on gay ‘marriage’ debate
By Louie Verrecchio *
Perhaps you’ve visited the popular weblog of the inimitable Fr. Z (AKA Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS.com) [Why, yes! I have!] where one of his trademark battle cries is, “Save the liturgy, save the world!” If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. [Buy some stuff with that phrase.]
“If you throw a stone, even a pebble, into a pool it produces ripples which expand to its edge. The way we celebrate Mass must create spiritual ripples in the Church and the world,” Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes, making the point that our liturgical practices have a truly universal impact; whether positive or negative.
With this in mind it occurs to me that if one examines the history and the fruit of the post-conciliar reform of the Roman Rite, the liturgy’s impact on the way Catholics view the gay “marriage” issue can be brought into focus.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc? No, it certainly isn’t a matter of simple “cause and effect,” but follow me here and then draw your own conclusions.
Polling data published by the Pew Research Center in October 2010 claims that 42% of Americans support gay “marriage,” while an even greater percentage of self-identified Catholics (46%) responded likewise. More noteworthy still is that the percentage of those who so reject Church teaching on the sanctity of marriage remains remarkably high (34%) even among weekly Mass-goers!
Though the gay [I loath the distortion of the word “gay”.] “marriage” movement is a relatively recent one, it’s difficult to imagine more than one-in-three Catholic Mass-goers rejecting any such foundational doctrine of the Faith back in 1963; [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] the year the process of liturgical reform was formally set in motion with the promulgation of the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium. [See where he’s going with this yet?]
So, how did we get here? Let’s begin by looking back to the year 1969 and the inception of the “gay rights movement” at the inaugural event often cited by its proponents; the “Stonewall Riots” during which homosexuals clashed with police in Greenwich Village over a period of three days beginning on June 28. It was an unprecedented uprising against secular authority for the gay community; setting the tone for decades to come. [Liberals and evil forces are brilliant at the use of creeping incrementalism. Conservatives tend not to be so patient.]
Less than 90 days earlier, on April 3, Pope Paul VI had issued the Apostolic Constitution, Missale Romanum, with high hopes that the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae (now known as the “Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite”) would put an end to the challenges being leveled against the Church’s liturgical authority and all of the experimentation that came with it throughout much of the decade.
Fast forward to today.
It’s important for us to realize that the Council Fathers never envisioned, much less encouraged, a scenario in which the Church would in essence create a brand new “form” of the Roman Rite while leaving the Mass according to the 1962 Missal (now called the “Extraordinary Form”) unchanged. How and why this happened is a subject unto itself, but the salient point here is that the near “overnight” emergence of a “bi-formal” Roman Rite is as unusual as the unique set of circumstances it created! [There is a bit of a misstep here, perhaps. It is true that the older form of Mass remained in use, but it was for all intents and purposes crushed out of existence in most places. The “bi-formal” has really come from Summorum Pontificum, in a juridical sense, at least. But let’s not go down this rabbit hole. The writer’s point is good: the Council Fathers asked for one thing and different thing happend.]
The peculiar set of circumstances in which we find ourselves today have created an environment in which Roman Rite Catholics are faced, either in practice or in theory, with two entirely valid liturgical “choices;” i.e. what form of the Roman Rite works best for me? [Of course Catholics have always had choices of Latin and Eastern Rites to attend.]
The majority of Catholics, who as the name suggests worship in the Ordinary Form, are further faced with yet another unprecedented set of potential liturgical choices as the Novus Ordo is given to multiple variations.
Do I prefer the Folk Mass or the “regular” Mass? Do I like Fr. Joe’s Mass or Fr. John’s Mass? Do I want to drive a few extra miles to go to the charismatic Mass, or should I take the kids to that parish across town with the video screens and the PowerPoint homilies?
Saving any commentary on the merits of these choices for another day, the very idea of shopping for a liturgy that suites one’s fancy is inherently flawed in that it approaches a divinely instituted gift that is given by Christ to His Church (not to the local community, much less to the individual) and it treats it as though it is a product of the people that can be repeatedly reinvented according to popular fashion as seems useful to the meet the demands of personal preference. It is, in other words, a liturgical approach that is inordinately “me-centered.” [In a sense, he is right. In theory. But in fact, when faced with a Mass filled with wacko stuff by Fr. Just-Call-Me-Bob at St. Abusiva in Mahonyville, or a reverently celebrated by Fr. Just-Say-The-Black at St. Fidelia over in Benedictburg, it isn’t any longer a matter of “fancy”.]
[And here we are at the point we knew he was aimed.] With this being the case, is it any wonder there are Catholics in our day who operate as though their personal preferences legitimately reign supreme in such fundamental matters of faith as how one defines the sanctity of marriage? Consider, if you will, the convoluted yet not entirely unpredictable logic that the current liturgical climate has invited. [If you incessantly show people that they can make it up as they go and then you chose to do things that are undignified, you are telling people that nothing they believed is fixed and those things we have been told are not that important anyway. There is a reciprocal relationship between what we believe and how we pray. Change one and, over time, the other will change too.]
Perhaps this is why so many on the Catholic Left who embrace personal choice when it comes to things like abortion and sexual morality are often moved to outright hostility at the mere suggestion that there is value in the traditional form of Holy Mass for anyone. [Truer words were never written. And, ironically, I have found over the years that those who bash the older form of Mass the most are themselves burdened with problems of sexual identity. It is usually only homosexuals who point their fingers at the traditional things and then suggest that those who use them are homosexuals.] Could it be that they realize there is much more at stake in the liturgy than what goes on within the walls of the church building? (Ironic, is it not, given the mantra of the Left, “Stay out of my bedroom?”) [The proximity of the dismissal to the end of distribution of Communion, in both forms of the Roman Rite, is no accident.]
The fundamental difficulty here is that when liturgy, in practice, becomes a venue in which believers are empowered to exercise choice as a function of personal preference the stage is set for a certain “idolatry of self” to play itself out.
Evidence of this danger is made manifest in any number of ways in the Ordinary Form; the orientation of the priest and the physical layout of our church buildings wherein the community of believers is turned inward upon itself, the narcissistic music that we often bring into the Mass, the ever increasing roles that we assign to the laity while granting them the title “minister,” etc. [bingo!]
So now what?
“Save the liturgy, save the world,” of course. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
I think he is on to something.
Also, for your amusement, Mr. Verrecchio also came up with a way to describe the concerted efforts to undermine, derail, otherwise whine about the new, corrected translation:
“Global Missal Dissent System”