At Crisis there is a piece by Paul Krause which knocks one out of the park. He writes about reverence in worship. His starting point is a Christological view of anthropology and, therefore, the virtue of Religion (though he doesn’t use those specific labels).
From the onset he makes a good point. :
The desire for reverence is not the desire for a valid Mass….
There is a minimalist tendency among some Catholics.
In libs it manifests itself in the desire to twist, bend, force the liturgy into their own image, so long as it remains valid. This is an element in the lib desire constantly to dumb-down the Mass for immediate comprehension by the lowest common denominator in the pews without effort or discomfort. (I’m reminded of those who promote the diabolical “rapture” theory, which seeks to remove the need to embrace the Cross from salvation.) The result is the reduction of the supernatural to the nature which is the essence of that doctrine from Hell, modernism.
It has its manifestation among trads who focus too much on questions like “What’s the latest I can arrive at Mass and still fulfil my obligation or go to Communion?” Sometimes that is a real, practical point. If it takes over and becomes a matter of regular practice, that’s bad. This too can strip the Mass of the essential register of the mystery which transforms us. Again, the immanent supersedes the transcendent.
Catholics who have a true Christian spirit want more not less in their sacred liturgical worship. This fundamental truth reflects the reality that “we are our rites”. It reflects the dynamic interchange of worship, belief and conduct of life. Of course, because Christ is all in all, we make adjustments for the ascetic worship of individual Cistercians and Carthusians… who when gathered aren’t that minimalist at all.
Let’s see some of Krause’s argument. Keep in mind my labels of Christological anthropology (understanding who man is by contemplating Christ) and the virtue of Religion (what we owe to God as God, which is primarily worship). My emphases:
Part of the fundamental truth of the Catholic religion is not merely the recognition that Christ is present in the Eucharist, but the awareness that we ourselves are temples of the Lord and part of the Body of Christ. Every Catholic is an instantiated extension of the Body of Christ in this world. This is why Catholic ethics are “tough.” The heart of Catholic ethics centers not on forbiddance or restrictions but on dignity, on virtue. This body of mine, as St. Paul says, is not really mine but the Lord’s. We do well to heed this truth and not defile, therefore, the Body of Christ. St. Augustine, to my mind, offered up the greatest expression of the full appreciation of this reality: “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us?” [Leo the Great at Christmas: “O Christian! Recognize your dignity!”]
It equally does us well to remember that when we enter church we also enter into the presence of Christ. For Christ is also present in the Tabernacle located in every church. To enter any Catholic church is to enter into another instantiated extension of the Body of Christ. How beautiful it is that the Body of Christ is assembled together in such a unity.
But since we have become Christ and Christ dwells in the church, why, then, is it too much to ask for the recognition of this through the very church itself and the liturgy which is meant to express that appreciated worship? Just as we ought not to defile the Body of Christ through all the myriad means by which one can defile the Body, this principle should naturally be extended to the church in which Christ is present.
Since we are instantiations of Christ, individually and collectively, we defile ourselves and the mystical Person of Christ, through unworthy sacred worship.
Liturgical abuses defile ourselves, even those Christians not present, because we belong to the Person of Christ. We also defile through minimalism or half-assed efforts. Naturally we have to be guided by the virtues of prudence and moderation in ramping up our liturgical spaces and accouterment. We have to be guided by what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote and sang: quantum potes tantum aude! Dare to do as much as you are able! That prompts us always to be improving, not just resting complacent. It also tells us to do so according to the golden mean of our means, balanced against other responsibilities as Christians, especially regarding works of mercy.
You who have been around here for while know about my analogy for the Novus Ordo and the TLM along the lines of Paul’s analogy of spiritual food for children and for adults. It is uncharitable to force children to eat what their bodies are not yet ready to take. Their nourishment needs and the form of the nourishment must be determined by what is truly good for them, not merely by our whim or will. It is also uncharitable to refuse to feed the mature anything other than the pabulum proper and good for the young. We make progress in the spiritual life. We have to make progress in our liturgical life as well. We must not be minimalist or complacent. And people should not be held down, their spiritual and liturgical maturation prohibited through the denial of what is good for them.
We are our rites! We reflect them. They shape us.
Check out the whole of the piece at Crisis.