Tuesday, 4 November 2014
A Recent Conversation...The Saints; the Extraordinary Form and Lay Leadership
A recent conversation with one of the high-profile priests of this Diocese set me thinking. Having confided to him that my self-image is rather low even though I seek daily to be more charitable, humble, industrious and challenging, he asked what spiritual reading I was doing. I told him I was reading ‘The Way of Divine Love’ and had just finished ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’. He smiled and said, ‘You don’t have much confidence in what’s going on today do you?’ My response was ‘No. I don’t’. (I silently wondered, ‘why put aside the wisdom of the saints for the musings of today’s gurus..?)I have never understood why Modernisers who promote new ways are seen as the open and intellectual folk, while those who hold to tradition are seen as closed and less than intellectual. Do the Modernisers, I wonder, choose to see a practitioner of alternative medicine when they are ill, or do they continue to trust themselves to a traditional physician? If they really believe new is best, what is stopping them giving up on traditional medicine?
To be honest, I wonder how anyone can have confidence in ‘today’. I wonder why, as Mass attendance continues to fall and why, we have been closing so many organs of the Church (schools, convents, seminaries and parishes) that those of the modernising ilk insist the Church is healthier now than she has ever been. Basic physiology tells you that when organs of the body are shutting down, death is imminent. There is great naivety in the modernising folk who seem to have only one goal in mind: get the laity in charge of parishes and devolve doctrinal authority so as to change our doctrine to fit the anti-life mentality of today (as the recent Synod all but attempted to do).
The conversation with my brother priest then turned to our parish celebration of the Extraordinary Form: “Don’t you a lot of think people come to it simply to fulfil their obligation, but don’t like it?’. Well, yes, I do. Some have told me in no uncertain terms that they don’t like the use of Latin; others that they don’t know what to do in the silences. In the former case they mistake word recognition for understanding and responses for conscious participation (if they understood the Mass and the Eucharist they would not be talking during Mass, and if they were consciously participating they would not be parrot-fashion saying ’Amen’ in the middle of a reading where the words ‘forever and ever’ are used). In that they don’t know how to handle the silence they are demonstrating that they don’t know how to pray or even rest in the presence of God; they need the pantomime dialogue of the Novus Ordo to keep them ‘engaged’.
Truly, I cannot believe it is the Holy Ghost who inspires Modernisers with confidence in their strategies and to push for ‘more of the same’ when we can all see the Church dying away in front of our eyes. Only the enemy could encourage us to think of closures and falling Mass attendances as good; only the enemy could have us scorn and disparage a form of Mass sanctioned by the Popes, loved by the saints, and defended by our martyrs. Only the enemy could have us turn from the wisdom of the saints to the musings of today’s gurus. When it has become a sign of wisdom and intellectual acuity to deride what the Church always treasured and abandon her liturgical and spiritual heritage, something very evil is happening in the Church that is simply not being recognised by the great and powerful.