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REAL CLEAR RELIGION

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

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THE FAILURE OF THE SECULARIZATION AND MUNDANIZATION OF THE LITURGY


Thanks to Marshall for recommending the following article from Una Voce. By the way, Marshall recently decided to pursue the priesthood, and to further his cause financially he has designed some very nice products at Zazzle. Please pray for him and remember his designs when Christmas shopping.

Excerpts from
Una Voce by Prof. Mattei's Fontgombault: "The Mass, which is the sacred action par excellence, has always been regulated by a rite, which is to say, its ordo, according to the words of Saint Augustine: "totum agendi ordinem, quem universa per orbem servat Ecclesia." With the liturgical reform, the essence of the Sacrament which remains valid and retains its efficacy, did not change, but, according to the expression of Cardinal Ratzinger, a new rite was "fabricated" ex novo.

"The rite, of which the classic definition goes back to Servio (Mos institutus religiosis caeremoniis consecratus), is not in fact the sacred action but the norm which guides the unfolding of this action. It can be defined as the whole of the formulas and practical norms which must be observed in order to accomplish a specific liturgical function, even if the term sometimes has a broader meaning and designates a family of rites (Roman, Greek, Ambrosian). It is for that reason that if the sacraments, in their essence, are immutable, the rites themselves can vary according to peoples and times.

"In theory, the Novus Ordo of Paul VI established a collection of norms and prayers which regulated the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in place of the ancient Roman rite; in fact, the liturgical praxis revealed that one found oneself with a new protean rite. In the course of the reform a whole series of novelties and variations were progressively introduced, a certain number of which were foreseen neither by the Council nor by the constitution Missale Romanum of Paul VI.

"The quid novum would not know how to limit itself to the substitution of the vulgar languages for Latin. It consists equally in the will to conceive the altar as a "table," in order to underline the aspect of the banquet in place of the sacrifice; in the celebratio versus populum, substituted for versus Deum, with, as a consequence, the abandonment of the celebration toward the East, which is to say toward Christ symbolized by the rising sun; in the absence of silence and of recollection during the ceremony and in the theatricality of the celebration accompanied often by songs which tend to desacralize a Mass in which the priest is often reduced to the role of "president of the assembly"; in the hypertrophy of the liturgy of the Word in comparison to the Eucharistic liturgy; in the "sign" of peace which replaces the genuflections of the priest and the faithful, as a symbolic action of the passage in the liturgical action from the vertical dimension to the horizontal; in Holy Communion received by the faithful standing and in the hand; in the access of women to the altar; in concelebration, tending to the "collectivization" of the rite. It consists above all and finally in the change and substitution of the prayers of the Offertory and of the Canon. The elimination in particular of the words Mysterium Fidei from the Eucharistic formula, can be considered, as Cardinal Stickler observed, as a symbol of the demythification and so the humanization of the central core of Holy Mass.

"The main theme of these innovations can be expressed in the thesis according to which if we want to render faith in Christ accessible to the man of today, we must live and present this faith to the interior of contemporary thinking and mentality. The traditional liturgy, by its incapacity to adapt itself to the contemporary mentality, distances man from God and renders itself guilty of the loss of God in our society. The reform proposed to adapt the Rite, break down the essence of the Sacrament, in order to permit the Christian community this "participation in the sacred" which cannot be grasped through the traditional liturgy.

"Thanks to the principle of participatio actuosa, the entire community becomes subject and bearer of the liturgical action. "The phrase 'active participation,' apparently so modest, complete and conscious, is an indication of an unlooked-for background," observes Fr. Angelus Häussling, in stressing the connection between the participatio actuosa of the liturgical reform and that which, in the school of Karl Rahner, has been called the "anthropological turn" (anthropologische Wende) of theology.

"It does not seem excessive to affirm that the participatio actuosa of the community appears to be the ultimate criterion of the liturgical reform from the perspective of a radical secularization of the liturgy. Such a secularization consists of the extinction of the Sacrifice, the sacred action par excellence, which will be replaced by the profane action of the community that glories in itself, or, according to the words of Urs von Balthasar, aims to respond to the praise of the Grace of God with a "counter-glory" purely human.

"It is not truly the priest, in persona Christi, that is to say God Himself, who acts, but the community of the faithful, in persona hominis, in order to represent the exigencies of this modern world which a disciple of Rahner defines "as holy and sanctified in its profane state, that is to say holy under the form of anonymity." Opposed to a "divine, sacred, and plurisecular Word" which has as a consequence "a liturgy regarded as sacred and separated from life," is a Word of God which "is not pure revelation, but also action: it realizes that which it manifests"; it is "the absolute self-realization of the Church."

"The distinction, proposed by Rahner, between the "secularization" which must be positively admitted as an inevitable phenomenon, and the anti-Christian "secularism," which would only be a form deviating from secularization, is captious. In fact, the word secularization, while having a number of different senses, is commonly understood to be the same as secularism, as an irreversible process of "mundanization" of a reality which is progressively liberated from all its transcendent and metaphysical aspects.

"This secularization presents itself in fact not only as a de facto acceptance of the continuing secularization of the present-day world, but also as the idea of a process that is irreversible, and, insofar as it is irreversible, true. This secularization is "true" because the truth is in every way immanent in history; the sacred is "false" because of its illusion of transcending history and of affirming a qualitative distinction between the faith and the world, between transcendent and transcendental. Faith in the power of history thus takes the place of faith in Providence and in the power of God. This philosophy of history is founded on the myth, proper to illuminism, of the world become "adult" which must liberate itself from the values of the past, recovering from the childhood of humanity, in order to attain to a level of life entirely rational. Such a vision has found a rigorous expression in Protestant thought, especially in the thesis of Bonhoeffer on the so-called "maturity of the world." (Mündigkeit der Welt), a maturity which one attains with the elimination of the sacred from life, in all its dimensions. This maturity has been carried to its ultimate coherence by Gramscian Marxism, which represented the development in the twentieth century of the philosophy of the Enlightenment and secularism's point of arrival as radical immanentism. Progressive theology, especially after the Council, wanted to replace traditional philosophy with "modern" philosophy, in subordinating itself inevitably to Marxism. The latter represented for Catholic progressivism the first philosophy that had succeeded in transporting its criterion of truth into praxis and which, in the success of this praxis, seemed to demonstrate the truth of its thought.

"The affinity between the theological vision of Tyrrell, founded on the primacy of lex orandi over lex credendi, and the concept of the "self-realization" of the Church in the pastoral and in the liturgy of Karl Rahner, has been remarked. However, the authorities of the first modernism were developed by progressive theology from within the perspective of thought which is no longer simply positivist but Marxist, a perspective of thought that puts the finishing touches to a process judged necessary, which sinks its roots into the philosophy of the Enlightenment and into Protestantism, and further still, into the intellectual movement that put an end to medieval society. "The philosophy of praxis," according to Gransci, "is the crowning achievement of all this movement of intellectual and moral reform; ... it corresponds to the link Protestant + French Revolution."

"The philosophy of Gramscian praxis, retranscribed theologically, leads to the necessity of a new praxis orandi. The liturgical reform presents itself then as the Word of the new theology which takes flesh, that is to say praxis, in "self-realizing" the Church by the new secularized liturgy.

New liturgy and post-modernity

"As we have been able to observe, the problem goes well beyond the liturgy itself: it touches upon all of the decisions concerning the relations between the Church and modern civilization; it refers to the necessity of a theology of history. Above all it cannot be resolved in abstract fashion but must take into account what has occurred in the Church in the course of these last thirty years. Throughout the liturgical reform, secularist theology has sought in praxis the proof of its own truth. But then the truth which results from this praxis has not been a rapprochement between the Church and the world but on the contrary an extraneous thing ever enlarging between the Church and the world, and which attained its current dimensions in the crisis of faith since admitted to by everyone.

"The new theology sought an encounter with the modern world exactly on the eve of the collapse of this world. Indeed, in 1989, with the so-called "real socialism," all the myths of modernity and of the irreversibility of history which represented the postulations of secularism and of the "anthropological turn," collapsed. The paradigm of modernity is replaced today by that of post-modern "chaos," or of "complexity," the foundation of which is the negation of the principle of identity-causality in all aspects of the real. In subordinating itself to this cultural project, the new progressivist theology proposes the "deconstruction" of all that it has "fabricated" in the course of these last thirty years, beginning with the liturgical reform that it now considers constructed according to an abstract and "bureaucratic" model. Thus, to the schema "monocultural modern" of the new Ordo Missae, is opposed the postmodern "inculturation" of the liturgy which is left to the "creativity" of the local churches."

"How can I not share with you these words of Cardinal Ratzinger?
"That which previously we knew only theoretically, became a concrete experience: the Church lives and falls with the liturgy. When adoration of the Divine Trinity disappears, when in the liturgy of the Church the faith does not manifest itself in its fullness, when the words, thoughts, intentions of man stifle it, then the Faith will have lost its place of expression and its domicile. It is then for that reason that the true celebration of the Holy Liturgy is the center of any renewal of the Church."(Emphasis added)

Proposal of solutions

"In line with these considerations, one can deduce practical conclusions which I will permit myself to set forth in the spirit of love for the Church and the Truth.

"1) From the point of view of Catholics faithful to the Tradition, priests and lay persons, the solution of the whole problem, in the short term must be sought, in my opinion, within two "invariables": on the one hand it is necessary that the "traditional" faithful recognize, not only in theory but also in all its practical consequences, the fullness of the jurisdiction which belongs to legitimate ecclesiastical authority. On the other hand it is clear that ecclesiastical authority cannot legitimately demand that priests and faithful do positively whatever it might be that goes against their own conscience. Cardinal Ratizinger wrote several acute pages on the inviolability of the conscience which has its foundation in the right to believe and to live as faithful Christians.
"The fundamental right of the Christian," he wrote, "is the right to the uncorrupted faith" and, we can add, an uncorrupted liturgy. It will not be difficult to deduce the canonical and moral consequences of these clear principles.

"2) In regarding things, not from the point of view of Catholics faithful to the Tradition, but sub specie Ecclesiae, it seems to me that the only way ecclesiastical authorities can reasonably go in the meantime, is that indicated by the formula "reform of the reform." This way arouses among certain "traditionalists" perplexity and skepticism, for the "reform of the reform" does not constitute a true and just "restoration"of the traditional rite. But if it is true, as the traditionalists themselves maintain, that the liturgical reform succeeded in carrying out a true "Revolution," at the very moment it affirmed its continuity with Tradition, how can we deny to a reform of a contrary spirit, the possibility of arriving, even gradually, at a return to Tradition? On the other hand it must be clear that the "reform of the reform" would not make any sense if it "offered," or better, imposed on "traditionalists," the demand that they abandon a rite to which, in conscience, they do not want to renounce; it makes sense, on the contrary, if it is proposed to the universal Church in order to rectify, at least in part, the current liturgical deviations. The "reform of the reform" makes sense as "transition" to Tradition and not as a pretext to abandon it.

"3) These measures, though necessary, cannot solve the basic problem. In a phase that some would consider too long but which, in reality, is only urgent, for it admits of no shortcuts, it is necessary to renew with a theological, ecclesiological and social vision, founded on the sacred dimension, that is to say on a project of resacralization, a society diametrically opposed to it in its project of secularization and of de-Christianization, of which we suffer the dramatic consequences. That means that one cannot imagine a liturgical reform or restoration that disregards the difficulties of a reform or restoration considered theologically, ecclesiologically, and culturally. Action on the plane of lex orandi will have to parallel action on the plane of lex credendi in order to reconquer the fundamental principles of Catholic theology, beginning with a theologically exact conception of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

"Today secularism is in crisis. However, the new forms of the sacred, whether it be New Age religiosity, or that of Islam prospering in the West, eliminate the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and with it the idea that man can be saved solely by the gratuitous Love of God, by His Sacrifice, and that to such a gift, man must respond by also embracing the Cross of redemption. So one must approach with love of the sublime mystery of the Cross and of the idea of sacrifice that follows from it. The sacrifice, of which the model is martyrdom and of which the expression is Christian combat, is before all the renouncement of a legitimate good in the name of a higher good. Sacrifice supposes a mortification of the intelligence which must bend itself to the Truth, on a line exactly contrary to that of the self-glorification of the human thought that characterizes the last centuries.

"But how are we to imagine a reconquest of the idea of sacrifice, which is at the heart of the Catholic vision of history and of society, without this idea being lived? It is necessary, it seems to me, that the idea of sacrifice impregnate society in the form, today extremely abandoned, of the spirit of sacrifice and penitence. This, and no other, is the "experience of the sacred" of which our society has an urgent need.

"To the principle of hedonism and self-celebration of the "I" which constitutes the core of the plurisecular revolutionary process that attacks our society, it is necessary to oppose the lived principle of sacrifice. A Catholic reconquest of society is impossible without a spirit of penitence and of sacrifice, and without this reconquest of Christian principles and institutions, it is difficult to imagine a return to the authentic liturgy and to its heart: the adoration due to the one true God.

"The call to penitence, and above all an example of penitence, can be worth much more than numerous theories. It may be for that reason that at Fatima the Holy Virgin indicates the road of penitence as the only one by which the contemporary world can be saved. The triple call to penitence by the Angel in the Third Secret of Fatima, is a manifesto of doctrine and of life which shows us the way to full restoration, even liturgical."