Over and over, wrong and wrong again; with the Church not speaking to the world from her wisdom, but the world teaching the Church a lesson in its foolishness, and the Church going along, like the puny kid in the schoolyard who sucks up to the bully and learns to cheer when the bully beats up the kid’s own brothers.
Thus endeth Anthony Esolen, in another pure-gold essay at Crisis.
We are, right now, in serious trouble, Having cut ourselves free from our moorings, having slipped out into the worldly stream without a propeller, the world seems to be sweeping the Church, as she is manifest in many places, toward the rocky waterfall. I am reminded of a scene in African Queen. They have to get the propeller straightened out and working or else the current will simply take them careening out of control. They have to go faster than the current in order to steer. So, the thing that is the most aft in the boat, connected to their past, is the only thing that allows them to navigate into their safe future.
Another sample from Esolen’s piece:
But the surest way to get everything wrong in the realm of nature is to ignore the wisdom of one’s forebears. Here the words of Edmund Burke ought to be seared into every Christian’s mind. Says he, referring to the good solid Englishmen of his day: ?”We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”
To apply Burke’s words to our time: there is nothing new about mankind, about men and women, about children, about liberty, principles of government, the good of the family, work, public servants, public varmints, education, piety, honor, purity, and all the other virtues, that has not been a part of the immemorial heritage of the human race. We are not wiser than our grandparents. Feminists have toiled in the traces for a century and not brought to our attention a single genuinely great writer or artist or thinker who had been neglected because of her sex; though they have slandered a few and warped our understanding of others. Educationists have come up with one New and Improved Method after another, and not one has enjoyed any success, and some have been disastrous; liturgists have penned New and Improved Music, and never a masterpiece, nay, not even a decent off-Broadway ditty among them. Cut yourself off from the wellspring: run dry and wither.
This is essentially right. Libs, mired in their immanentism, want us to think that human beings can evolve out any need to kneel, to submit to outside authority (other than when we are to submit to them, that is). We evolve out of old, stodgy mores and taboos. And, to celebrate ourselves in our self-defining autonomy, we need ever shifting ways to express ourselves, including “liturgy”.
That’s rot, of course.
For the umpteenth time, I’ll get on my hobby horse.
I have argued that Summorum Pontificum, the centerpiece of Benedict XVI’s “Marshall Plan” (my image) for the Church, is one of our greatest tools for a true revitalization of the Church and Catholic identity.
After World War II these United States rebuilt war-ravaged Europe for humanitarian reasons, but also to help create trading partners and a prosperous bulwark against Communism.
After Vatican II, many spheres of the Church were devastated, ravaged by internal dissent, a loss of continuity with our tradition, and from erosion by the secularism and relativism of the prevailing modern world.
We need a Marshall Plan for the Church in the modern world. Certainly what we have been doing up to this point isn’t producing fantastic results across the board. That’s because we don’t seem to know who we are anymore.
Joseph Card. Ratzinger had been concerned for years about the loss of Christian identity, which is at the heart of Western Civilization. Later, as Benedict XVI, he gave us a great tool by which we could reinvigorate our Catholic identity and, so, resist the negative influences of secularism and relativism. I think that Benedict intended Summorum Pontificum to play a key part in a long-term strategy to rebuilt our Catholic identity, to correct our way of reading … well… just about everything over the last half century or so, and to establish a strong defense against the dictatorship of relativism.
Only with a solid identity can we, as Catholics, have something positive and healthy to offer to the world at large, a clear voice offering important contributions in the public square. Look, for example, at the clarity and courage of the Little Sisters of the Poor against the evil machinations of the Obama Administration. They have a clear identity and they are steadfast. As a result they provide an inspiring example and they keep certain values before the public eye.
Our identity as Catholics is inextricably bound together with the way we pray as a Church.
To give shape and strength to our Catholic identity in these difficult times, we need an authentic liturgical renewal, a renewal that reintegrates us with our tradition, brings us into continuity with the deep roots of our Catholic Christian experience of two millennia.
Contrary to the notions of most progressivists, “the Catholic thing” did not begin in the 1960s.
There can be no authentic change for a better future without continuity with our past. Liturgy is the tip of the spear. Benedict XVI pointed us toward a healthier vision of the Church’s doctrine, history, public worship and our very identity as Catholics.
Just as a return to, for example, reading the Fathers of the Church can help us, collectively, correct the way we have been reading Scripture, so much and too long under the domination of an over-played historical-critical method, so too the Extraordinary Form can help us learn how to worship God as a Church which is not fragmented into tiny shards, and to reorient ourselves away from ourselves.
No positive initiative that we undertake in the Church will succeed unless it is rooted in and oriented by a revitalized sacred liturgical worship of God. Everything comes from worship and everything goes back to worship in a dynamic, ongoing commercium.
Start your local movement for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum NOW. I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste.