My mantra in these electronic pages for years was and is and will be “Save The Liturgy, Save The World“.
Sounds odd at first?
Consider that of all the relationships we have, that which we have with God is and must be the most important, put before all others. If that relationship is disordered, all others will be too.
We have to give to other persons what is their due by the virtue of justice. But the Triune God is qualitatively a different person, so we have a different virtue that governs what is due to God: religion.
We fulfill the virtue of religion especially in our sacred liturgical worship, as individuals and as groups, small and large. So, the sacred liturgical worship of the Church orders everything we do, gives it sense and purpose. Hence, every gesture and word of sacred liturgical worship is significant and has effects on us and everything we do as Catholics. And the more sacred the rite, the greater impact.
Eucharist is to be understood not only as the Eucharistic species, Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ. Eucharist is that, but it is also Its celebration: Holy Mass. The Eucharist (Host and Mass) is the “source and summit’ of the life of the Church. If our treatment of the Eucharist (Host and Mass) is disordered, everything else we do will be disordered.
Just as the Fall of our First Parents produced devastating “ripples” through material creation, so that we are out of order with it and it with us on many levels, so to do liturgical abuses or even poorly intentioned sacred liturgical worship produce “ripples” in the cosmos.
Celebrate the liturgy well, good results. Celebrate poorly, bad results.
In my “Save The Liturgy, Save The World” manifesto in 2007, I wrote:
If we really believe that, then we must also hold that what we do in church, what we believe happens in a church, makes an enormous difference.
Do we believe the consecration really does something? Or, do we believe what is said and how, what the gestures are and the attitude in which they made are entirely indifferent? For example, will a choice not to kneel before Christ the King and Judge truly present in each sacred Host, produce a wider effect?
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.
So does our good or bad reception of Holy Communion.
So must violations of rubrics and irreverence.
I stand by that.
Now a young priest has taken up the theme, or so I read at LifeSite.
Fr. Mark Goring has called for a return to Communion on the tongue while kneeling. Why? To avert apocalyptic disaster, due to irreverence.
“Is receiving the Eucharist on our knees going to fix all the world’s problems? I think it will,” he said.
This is timely, in light of the new book by Card. Sarah and Benedict XVI, who are both champions of a return to the better and more reverent and entirely reasonable practice of reception of Communion directly on the tongue while kneeling.
Fr. Goring says what I have been shouting for over a decade. He says it in his own way, but it is, effectively, the same thing.
We deserve – collectively – sharp correction from God due to our collective laxity when it comes to our sacred liturgical worship. We have not been fulfilling the virtue of religion, giving God what is His due. Chastisement would be deserved. We can avert some of that, or lessen it, by revitalizing our worship and by acts of reparation: in other words by getting serious.
Please allow me to rant.
I’ve been talking to people who are just plain tired of “yet another book” which effectively says what we expect the writers might say in the first place. Yes, the books are good because the chronicle The Present Crisis for future generations, and they really do contain great spiritual material. Yes, the books are good.
But do books constitute action? Does reading a book constitute action?
They might help, but they are not themselves enough.
What is needed is concrete action in the lives of more Catholics.
We need priests to start priesting as if their souls depended on it. And that pep speech has the added benefit of being exactly true: their souls do depend on it.
We need lay people to start demanding priests to priest, as if their souls depended on it. Again, true.
I have a quote on the sidebar from Fulton Sheen:
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops.”
Sound about right?
Here are some ideas.
- Fathers, begin a process of liturgical catechesis and start your parishes on a return to Communion on the tongue while kneeling
- Ditto, a return to ad orientem worship. Remember, Klaus Gamber, who influenced Ratzinger deeply, said that versus populum worship was the single most damaging thing done in the name of Vatican II. There are priests who have successfully done this in their parishes: seem them out and get their advice.
- Fathers, learn the Traditional Roman Rite. I know that Latin is intimidating. But what part of priesthood did they promise you was going to be easy? Anything that produces big benefits requires work. It can be done. If priests in the past did it, you can do it.
- Lay people: start forming “base communities of Faith”. This might take the form of Saturday morning coffee groups where you read the Sunday readings and study the Catechism… a catechism at least. Then, if you hear something weird from the pulpit, show up, as a group, in front of the priest, with your catechisms and sources and pin him down. “What was that, Father?”
- Lay people: Prompt, cajole, urge, beg, persuade your priests to move to ad orientem worship and Communion on the tongue. Tell them you will help in any way to make it happen, even paying for all the carpentry, etc.
- Lay people: Prompt, cajole, urge, beg, persuade your priests to learn the TLM. Promise and execute when it comes to buying things, provided help and time at the church to set up, take down, everything. Give 110% support.
- Fathers and lay people: GO TO CONFESSION.
Get clean for this battle.
A special note to SEMINARIANS:
Men, be careful. You are young and zealous and these are hard times. Many of us older guys went through the bad times before. There were some years of relative calm. Now tough times are returning in many places… not everywhere, but in many places. You might be disoriented having grown up in the time of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and relative sanity.
Keep your heads down.
I recall our old Rules for Seminary Survival in the 1980s. Where you are they may pertain once again:
Seldom make distinctions.
Smile a lot.
Say very little.
Never wear black.
In my day, you could be called in for wearing black socks! These days that last one might be something else… like… back out of the room?
In the 80’s, it was as if we were officers-in-training, but in the military academy of the enemy.
I don’t want you to look for problems where there aren’t any. Also, there are so many more good bishops now who really care about their seminarians. That wasn’t the case back in the day, believe me. So, if this are good and calm and peaceful and solid and faithful and clean, then… FORWARD! But still be careful.
This is what you must do if your profs and the staff are modernists: don’t fight them. It isn’t your job in the seminary to teach or to correct or to defend. Smile. Learn what these modernist oppressors have to teach, parrot it back to them, and read good books on your own, with a flashlight and shades drawn if necessary.
And if you have to give up the internet, then for the love of God and His Holy Church give it up.
Your day will come.
- Keep your mouths shut.
- Assume that your use of the internet is being monitored. Avoid using the seminary’s internet to look at anything other than neutral or liberal sites.
- Cough up the dough to get a separate plan for data for your laptops and phones. Use VPNs.
- If several of you must pool resources to do that, do that, and then – discreetly – do the samizdat thing.
- Use your personal handhelds or phones for surfing good Catholic sites but avoid seminary WiFi.
- If you can’t find a way around their logging, or you can’t afford the data in your country, then either give up traditional sites when surfing or give up the internet completely!
Go silent and go deep.
And if you get a biretta through the BIRETTAS FOR SEMINARIANS Project, and you are in an iffy situation, keep the biretta at home. Don’t have it at the seminary. Your day will come.