Thursday, 7 March 2013
Praying The Cardinals Will be Wise Enough And Humble Enough
The Cardinals preparing for the Conclave will surely take seriously the fact that they are being called to elect a successor of Peter as Vicar of Christ. I hope they also take seriously the need to elect a man who can strengthen Holy Mother Church’s realignment on the rails in the hermeneutic of continuity. It is, after all, undeniable that she has wobbled on those rails for the last fifty years in both her doctrine and her worship. John-Paul II began the recovery of doctrine by publishing the Catechism; Benedict XVI began the recovery of the Liturgy. We need a man who can consolidate these recoveries -and prevent Episcopal Conferences and the Roman Curia from stifling the emergence of the real Vatican II.
Sadly, many clergy formed in the liberal days of the 1960’s and 70’s, together with the progeny these folk formed, raise their voices against the Church’s teaching on contraception, same-gender marriage, the hierarchical Church etc. They don’t seem to realise (or else they refuse to acknowledge) that that the Faith, delivered once and for all, cannot change: “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1v3). Even when the Faith is applied in new ways to new situations it cannot change: what was true before is true now; what was error before is error now: “Christ is the same yesterday today and forever” (Heb.13v8).
As for liturgy this has, in my estimation, become a community gathering for fraternal affirmation rather than the worship of God. While the latter is not deliberately excluded by celebrants, it is surely down-graded: ask what motivates a celebrant to celebrate Mass as he does (facing the people; Communion in the nave rather than from the sanctuary; wandering around for the sign of peace and the use of ‘hip’ hymns etc) and he will likely say “it is good for the folks”. He thereby has the effect upon the congregation his primary concern, yet the primary object of liturgy is not the affirmation of the people but the worship of God by adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and supplication, with its unseen impact on souls ("Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" Rev.22v9). To think we give God adoration and propitiation by making the people our focus is to miss the mark of genuine liturgy.
My hope for the up-coming Conclave then is that the Cardinals will be wise enough and humble enough to choose the man the Holy Spirit points out rather than the man who embodies their own political Churchmanship; a man of deep prayer and commitment to things eternal who will consolidate what the Holy Ghost seems to have clearly begun by the Catechism of John-Paul II and the Liturgical Reform of Benedict XVI.