Thursday, 14 March 2013

Reservations About the Pope and Liturgical Reform

The liturgy is MERELY an expression of our love. If the liturgy is dysfunctional, it is because we (the community of believers) are dysfunctional. Yes, the liturgy is what you say it is: "The meeting of earth and heaven, the normal means by which we encounter the source and summit of our faith, Jesus Christ Himself." But is it anything more than vanity to express what is not genuine? Yes, the liturgy is a means of catechesis, the most important means. But there was a time when the liturgy was without blemish, and it wasn't good enough. Why? Because it was vanity; it wasn't a true reflection of what was in us. Fix what is on the inside," Clean the inside of the cup and behold all things shall be clean unto you." By cleaning the inside, you accomplish the cleaning of the outside, which is our outward communal expression of love and cooperation.

We need to walk the path that JP II & B16 showed us. We need real metanoia. We need real conversion. When that happens, then people will not only want the kind of reverent, sincere liturgy you and I love... they won't be able to help but express that kind of reverence and sincerity, because it will flow naturally from the abundance of their love. That's not something that everyone will be able to participate in... that's why Benedict XVI made his remarks about the coming catharsis.

Fixing the liturgy isn't as little as putting a bandaid on the problem, but it isn't curing the problem either. If having perfect liturgy was the end all be all of what we have to do, Christ might have come before Vatican II and received his perfect Bride. What does it matter if we have the perfect liturgical form, but lack the perfection of liturgical essence? Nothing... it's vanity. You like good liturgical form because you are a devout and pious person. That's why. Having good liturgy requires getting everyone to that point... and that is so much more than just having good liturgy. I mean, this isn't 'Field of Dreams' where "if you build it, it will come."

Think about it like this: When Christ comes back, and he asks us what we did for the Church, what do we want to say? " I zealously defended the liturgy. I even held the Pope and all the bishops in suspicion over the matter. And I scolded anyone who deviated, Lord." What's he supposed to say to that," Good job, Phineas!" I suspect a lot of people who allow their bitterness to take the form of liturgical scrupulosity will much rather say," Shiiiiii..." when they realize that's all they have to say. No, we want to say that we were full of good works, charity, counsel, piety, faith. The liturgy is just an expression of those things. If they aren't there, how can the community express them? Those virtuous things predicate a good, sound, and holy liturgy. The liturgy is a sacrificial love offering, and it must be without spot or blemish... even the blemish of vanity and pretense.

Liturgy is extremely important. You know I believe that. But we need to fix the sickness that is destroying it, not just fix "it." So, it's ridiculous, and counter-intuitive for so many to be harboring all these negative reservations about the Pope, and to hold him in suspicion, to start the petulant whining and nagging about the liturgy... especially when we have every reason to hope in the selection of the Holy Spirit, who is the Pope. Because here is a man who might show us by his example how to clean out the inside of the cup, to live the life that predicates a good, clean, and wholesome liturgy which is the outside of the cup. If all we care about is the outside of the cup (the liturgy), then we are as the Pharisees.

And to close, let's look at that passage of holy scripture in Luke:
"As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn't God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things."

And to cross reference it with Matthew:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also."

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

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