Monday, 4 July 2016
A Bull In A China Shop
I have always felt rather unwelcome by the liberal elite in the parishes, and irritating to the many of the clergy: I was a maverick simply by being loyal to the Catechism, the Code and liturgical rubrics (it is not so much strange but disturbing that by conforming one becomes a non-conformist). I did perhaps go about my ministry like the proverbial ‘Bull in a China Shop’ in that I simply discussed the norms at the RCIA, preached on the use of Latin, ad-orientem, etc., at Mass, placed notices in the Bulletin giving references for such things, and dates when such things would become part of our liturgy. In my naivety I presumed such education would disable prejudice against such things, but it did not: it created hostility in a few parishioners because “no one else is doing this –why should we? You’re taking us backwards.” I went ahead anyway, and in that sense was like the proverbial 'Bull in a China Shop': I perhaps dragged the few hostiles along rather than took them along, yet I was simply trying to ensure liturgy was solemn and reverent so as to inspire the folk with a reverence for God; to ensure the Catechism was preached in line with Tradition so the folk would know The Truth and thereby avoid capture by the Father of Lies, and ensure I was always available to folk in crisis situations.
We had a chance to get the whole Church back on track doctrinally and liturgically in 2013 when Francis was elected, since John-Paul II had clarified Doctrine by promulgating the post-Vatican II Catechism (after world-wide consultation of the Bishops) and set stabilisers for the liturgy via the CDF/CDW in Redemptionis Sacramentum. Francis, sadly, is undermining all of this. He too has become a ‘bull in a china shop’.
Sadly, two young people spoke to me recently about very nearly giving up The Faith: “How can I believe in a Church that undermines its doctrine at the very highest levels and takes no care to offer a liturgy that evokes adoration of God?” I could only tell them that we have a Pope and with a good heart but perhaps an imprudent way of speaking off-the-cuff. I also reminded them that he has not officially imposed any new teaching that would make him heretical (an Apostolic Exhortation such as Amoris Laetitia is not a teaching document), nor has he damaged liturgy in any way that would render it invalid. I added that perhaps the problem is the secular mainstream media, which has no idea that the Pope is not a CEO who can change doctrine or impose incongruent practices at will, but simply a caretaker with the job of defending the Deposit of Faith. The MSM take and run with his off-the-cuff remarks as though they were now the direction of the Church. Sadly, the problem this creates is compounded by uninformed and by liberal Catholics (lay and ordained) also seeing Francis’s remarks as a new direction for the Church. They aren’t, and cannot be: he is simply the supreme Defender of the Deposit of Faith.
Finally, I suggested to the two young people that we are simply in a period of instability comparable to the Arian Crisis, and the best thing we can do is to stay in the Barque of Peter to help stabilise her, not jump overboard where we can do nothing to prevent her sinking. Times like today really test our faith at a human level, but our Faith must be deeper than that; we must hang on even when all seems lost: today is not the end of the Church; crucifixion is not the end of the story. Resurrection to new life is just down the road…perhaps we should all hang on to the reality of the Resurrection.