The Our Father has the distinction of being one of the few prayers that Jesus personally gave us. To be sure, the Mass is far more important, but it has had many additions to it, and can only be truly said by a priest. The Our Father is meant to be said by all, and has survived unchanged since it was first given to us. As it was given to us by God, who has infinite intellect, one expects it to have an infinite meaning. Hence, its being a favorite topic for the Fathers of the Church. While my analysis of it is much briefer and less profound then theirs, perhaps it will serve as a useful introduction.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
God is both our Father, and God. He is infinitely merciful and loving, but at the same time, his name is hallowed, he is above us. It’s one of the paradoxes of God that he can be both so close and so far from us. He gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink, but he remains so sacred that to use his name improperly is a mortal sin. The first line emphasizes both these sides of God, lest we think of him either as a distant impersonal ruler, or just as “One of the bro’s”.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done
In this line, we are praying to God that he will do what he wants to do. It seems a bit odd at first. Nobody runs up to me and says “Henry, please eat that unhealthy looking pizza. It’s what you want to do.” (Told you this was going to be different then the Church Fathers’ version.) But in God’s case it makes perfect sense. What does God will? He wishes that we love him, obey his commandments, and be happy, both on earth and in heaven. We are free Human beings, and God will not override our will. By praying to him that his will be done, we are asking him to help us fulfill his will. We are asking for the graces to overcome our base passions.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
How are God’s commands fulfilled in Heaven? Halfheartedly, or with a burning love? So many theological controversies today revolve around “What can I get away with?” This should not be our attitude. Our attitude should be one who cannot ever be satisfied with what he has given, and always seeks to give more.
Give us this day our daily Bread
We are dependent on God for everything, both spiritually and physically. Bread is the symbol of both these things, as bread not only nourishes us daily, but also is God’s instrument of Transubstantiation. Without God, we have nothing. He alone can provide.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This part continues the theme of the supplicant, but in a different way. Now, we beg for mercy, demonstrating our sin. But, what is more, humanity is no longer passive here. God is the source of all good, as the last lines have shown. But humanity does not get that good scot-free. His forgiveness is conditional. To be forgiven, Man must forgive. In other words, our actions do make a real difference, it is not just God’s grace. Very worth noting to certain protestant groups.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
As our Father, God has several roles; the sacred role, the filial duty and respect that every parent is owed. The role of a ruler; every man is king of his own household, and commands those within. The Role of provider; every father must care for his children. The role of judge; every father must raise his son to righteousness, and both condemn his faults and accept his apologies. Now, we come to the final role: The role of a guide. Christ is our Shepherd, and we pray that he will not take us where our souls may be endangered, nor that he leave us in our sin. The good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, as Christ did indeed do. No matter how deadly the peril, Christ will save us from it.
"Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called
Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."
Despite what the world portrays, the act of sex isn't the definition of intimacy. Induced by the culture and popular opinion, many have come to think of the terms 'sex' and 'love' as synonymous. This concept is found in all debates about relationships. It is assumed by the world that if you love someone, then the next logical step is to give yourself to them physically.
It doesn't have to be this way.
True intimacy is in-to-me-see. Looking at the other person with the eyes of Christ and wanting their good above your desire for pleasure. It is a combining of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of a human being. Intimacy that wills the good of the other before the good of oneself sounds really good in words....but it isn't so easy in actions.
When did intimacy become such a fragile concept? Because, back in the beginning, sin won out in the human decision between the true love of God and the illusion of grandeur offered by a certain conniving snake. Before the fall, man and woman were naked without shame - both with each other and with their openness to God's plan for their lives. Yet after the fall, the first action of the man and woman was to sew fig leaves and hide from God.
Physical intimacy, in the true and only sanctioned, holy place of marriage, is the ability for a husband and wife to be knit together at the level of heart, mind, body and soul. Without shame, because there is a commitment to each other for life. Anything outside of this context is a cheap fake of the reality.
For instance, contracepted sex in marriage is a fallacy. With the very intimate act of sex in marriage, you give yourself freely, totally, faithfully andfruitfully. It is not only bonding with another person physically, but on a heart level. Contraception halts that bonding. With their bodies, the couple is naked, but they are not without shame, even if they claim to be. Because they feel the need to use contraception to prevent a pregnancy, they act ashamed of their fertility.
As if children are shameful and fertility is disease worth avoiding. In his book, Soul Cravings, Erwin Raphael McManus writes, "Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness. We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment."
So true intimacy between a man and a woman in a marriage covenant is a very beautiful gift from God. It is being without shame in every aspect of life - spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. It is not only sex - although sex is a vehicle for intimacy to develop in - but so much more.
It means looking at another person - looking at their hopes, dreams, loves, wishes, struggles, and flaws - and loving them because of and in spite of these. It also involves opening up to your spouse in such a way that they see into you as well. It is putting their human hearts into the hands of a divine lover, and walking side by side towards the plan He has for them.
Love is not an emotion - it is a decision. It doesn't always 'feel good.' The ultimate example of love is Christ, laying down his life for those who crucified him. It didn't 'feel good' to die from suffocation, weighed down by your own body, struggling to breathe. Love, sacrificial love, is a decision made when the going gets hard.
Do not reduce intimacy to sex. See it as the whole gift as it is - an expression of authentic love according to God's design.
Si vis amari ama,
"Concerning this salvation, prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and investigated it,...It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you [through] the holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels longed to look". (1 Peter; 10, 12)
So, I have a confession to make, and the confession is that I have failed. Now your probably thinking something along the lines of "I know your haven't exactly posted on a weekly bases, but dude your being too hard on yourself, it's just a blog post after all". Here me out though. I have failed this mission before I even started. You see, I started writing this series with the assumption that I could just follow a simple apologetics course, get all my questions answered, and post about my experiences. Can I just say, I have never been more wrong about something than I was with myself regarding this 'seeking of truth'. Human curiosity and the desire for truth, not to mention the Holy Spirit, most definitely cannot simply be forced to fit a certain predesigned mold and expect to be satisfied, nor reach it's fullest potential. Searching for truth comes with taking risks, and making ourselves a little uncomfortable, we can't always 'play it safe'. Not to mention, being Catholic is not about sitting at home, clean, tidy, neat, always comfortable and always acting like we have 'everything all together'. No, being a Catholic means to get your hands dirty, to be sweaty, to take risks and ask questions. To be Catholic is to live an adventure guided by the Holy Spirit, not just by human literature or our own desires.
From here on out, I can not promise I will post a lengthy update for this blog series every single week. Nor can I even promise that all of my posts will be stellar defenses of the faith, well reasoned treastises on dogma, or breath taking philosophical arguments defending our faith . Heck, I can't even promise my grammar will be spot on in all of my blog posts (have you seen some of my posts lately?). I simply am a human being, a Catholic, in search for truth, and who knows where that search will take me? All I know is that it will be an adventure, and I promise to bring you along for the ride. They may not always be breathtakingly beautiful, but I will record the thoughts, the experiences, and feelings I encounter. I will go bearing prudence, wherever I feel called to go; lifting every rock and lookin in every nook and cranny to satisfy this growing hunger for answers and ultimately the truth. I finally understand that if the Catholic faith is the true faith it must be understood that she has the answers for the questions that we seek; that is to say reasons to back up the beliefs that she holds. The Niecene or Apostle's Creeds are not simple words to be uttered at random, they are meant to be a profession of faith to live by (a.k.a you are saying that you personally believe these things and desire to live your life according to them).
At some point in our lives we must question whether you can really in good conscience profess a creed you haven't given more than a school lesson's worth of attention to, if that much at all. I desire to find the truth, and sometimes one can't just play everything safe; things must be challenged for you to truly appreciate them. We owe it to ourselves to search for truth and not be complacent with our thirst for answers. Keep me accountable to this, I pray you do. In our hearts we know we'll never be satisfied not knowing the truth for why we exist or how we are called to live our life. Keep yourselves accountable, ask questions if you have them and do not be afraid. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be honest with yourself. Go get dirty with your faith. Put yourself under a little pressure and wrestle with the faith, as Jacob did with an Angel of God, in the book of Genesis. Sweat a little, cry a little, but most importantly, as Christ says, "come and follow me"and let us unhinderedly find the spirit of truth together no matter the price. Here, I truly begin this quest for truth, and as we were taught to say at the Steubenville East Conference this past weekend, "Nunc Coepi". "Now, I Begin".
There is a move in the current culture to redefine marriage to include the supposed healthy union between two members of the same sex.
As a Catholics, respecting and obeying all that the Catholic Church stands for, there is no way that we can accept this radical cultural shift. There are many reason why, but today's post will focus on why a same-sex marriage, whether defined legally as such or not, does not line up with what the Catholic Church defines as marriage.
What is marriage then? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1601) says, "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."
Essentially translated, this paragraph means that marriage is a covenant (a promise between God and man) between two people of the opposite sex. It is a permanent institution, as pointed out by the wedding vows themselves (what God has joined let no man tear asunder). What really is emphasized here, though,
is the two characteristics of marriage: unitive and procreative. Drawing the spouses together, while simultaneously closer to Heaven, and a blatant openness to life. This union ultimately becomes part of the Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace - a sacrament.
What, then, are the characteristics of marriage that homosexual unions can be compared to in order to understand the difference between homosexual and heterosexual couples?
Characteristic One: Free
Definition: This love is not free in the sense that it does not have to be paid for. Rather, free love is not controlled or manipulated by another person or by a disordered desire, according to Christopher West in his commentary on the Theology of the Body. Not forced upon one of the parties (such as in the act of rape), but rather chosen out of free will.
In traditional marriage: In the context of sexuality in a traditional marriage, this characteristic of freedom is fulfilled when a married man and woman are able to give themselves freely to each other. This includes the elimination of lustful desires, disorders such as contraception or pornography, and not being a slave to sexual passions. In this type of love, we see a man and a woman seeing each other in the image of God and willing the good of the other as other.
Personified by Christ: Christ loves us enough that he would rather die than risk spending eternity without us. Despite the sins and transgressions that we laid upon his back on the way to Calvary, He loves us unconditionally.
Not seen in homosexual unions: The inability to fulfill the characteristic of freedom in pertinence to homosexual unions is as follows: Freedom to love is defined as freedom from disordered desires. Yet desiring sexual pleasure from a member of the same sex is a disordered form of love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2358) reads, "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity....these persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
Characteristic Two: Total
Definition: Once again from Christopher West, total love is defined as "love without the strings attached, love that holds nothing back. In it you make gift of yourself to another - a total self donation." Complete.
Absolute. Your whole self.
In Traditional Marriage: This instance is where the notion of Natural Family Planning and the absence of any form of artificial contraception is key. When in a marriage between a man and a woman, the presence of a contraceptive essentially says this: "I love you darling. I love all of you. Except your fertility. Because nothing would be worse to me than having another one of you running around." Instead, by removing contraception and being open to both the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage, the husband and wife say "Take all of me. Here is everything, including my fertility. Here are my future children. The grey hairs they will cause you when they run a muck in the church pew. The cost of their school. Our shared tears and laughter. My hip replacement. Our retirement plans. Because you are more than just a body for my pleasure - you are a soul and body which I love totally."
Personified by Christ: This is where Christ shows us true and total love. When in the garden, he sweats drops of blood because of the agony anticipated in the slow death and torture on the cross. Yet he says, "Not my will but thy will be done." This is total giving. Giving one's all for the benefit of the other and holding nothing back. Blessed Charles de Foucland (1858-1916) penned the prayer, "I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen."
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: The totality required of a marriage is lost when applied to homosexual unions. There are two good analogies that I have heard this explained in layman's term. The first is that one cannot appreciate a gift they already have. If I own my favorite movie of all time already, when someone gives me that favorite movie as a gift for my birthday, I will not appreciate that gift. After all, I already own that movie. A second ownership of the same object is pointless. Similarly, in the natural world, the two ends of a magnet only connect if they have something that the other does not. The polar opposite ends connect because they offset each other. The two southern poles never connect - they each possess what the other has. Thus, in a homosexual union, one cannot give the totality of oneself to another - because that man already has masculinity as part of his genetic makeup, or that woman already possess femininity both physically and mentally by her very nature as a woman.
Characteristic Number Three: Faithful
Definition: Once again said more eloquently than I could ever hope for, Christopher West says, "Faithful love is love that is committed. That commitment guides all other actions. You keep your promises once you have made them, no matter how your feelings may change."
In Traditional Marriage: True marriage is living one's wedding vows every day. I cannot speak from experience here, but I know from observation alone that this is not the easiest thing to do. There are (or may be in the future, depending on your state of life) days when the feeling of infatuation simply isn't there anymore. You realize that the honey moon is over and there the supposed love of your life is, lying in bed snoring while dirty socks decorate your room like stinky, old confetti. It is in these times that you have to put your nose to the grindstone and decide that love, despite what Hollywood will so convincingly try to portray, is not an emotion but an action and devoted decision.
Personified by Christ: Once again to the crucifix, we see Christ's faithful love. Despite the ease of simply saying, "Well guys, I think I've proved my point here" and walking off the cross, Christ hung on the cross until the last breath of air fell from His lips. He can sympathize with our pain, but also with our struggle to endure in faithful love, even when the going gets tough.
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: The Catholic Church is not being a prude by saying that homosexuality does not line up with God's plan for the human heart, soul and body. Instead, it calls all people (regardless of sexual tendencies) to a life of purity. It is calling you to live as you were created - to be God's. Any marriage would not be functioning properly if one spouse was continually cheating on the other. Similarly, the marriage cannot work if the union itself constantly cheats the other out of who they are able to be in the light of Christ's redemptive love. Homosexuality never allows both parties
to daily renew the wedding vows because the very act of homosexual physical relations are not marital. This is not to say that those who struggle with homosexual tendencies are evil people who deserve final damnation. They simply are looking in the wrong places for authentic and faithful love.
Characteristic Number Four: Fruitful
Definition: This characteristic is self explanatory. Love that is truly fruitful is constantly open to life. It is open to both the sides of physical fertility, procreation, and the raising of children, but also open to the life of Christ in the spiritual life of the couple.
In Traditional Marriage: The Catholic Church never defines how many children a couple must have for a "authentic Catholic" marriage. However, the Catholic Church does establish the fact that the couple needs to be open to children from the moment "I do" is said. This means an absence of contraceptives of any sort, despite any perceived exception. Responsible spacing of children is advised with the help of Natural Family Planning, the method that uses the woman's cycle to track fertile and infertile times. If
the presence of contraceptives is in the marriage, both the nature of the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage is destroyed. This only applies to marriages that deliberately block the procreative side of life and fertility. The naturally infertile couple is not willing infertility. Yet any marriage that reduces one or both of the parties down to an object for the other's sexual pleasure is violating the fruitful characteristic
Personified in Christ: Christ's love for His Church is always open to life. Pope Francis spoke on this subject a homily on June 2, 2014. The love of Christ, he said, "makes the Church fruitful" by her children through the sacraments of Baptism. "This culture of well-being from ten years ago has convinced us: 'it's better not to have children! It's better! you can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free...it might be better, more comfortable to have a dog, two cats and love that goes to the cats and dogs. Is this true or is it not? have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age and solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful It does not do what Jesus does with his Church. He makes his Church fruitful."
Not Seen in Homosexual Unions: Not matter how much perceived emotional love that occurs between two members of the same sex, life can never be produced. Two men, no matter how they try, will never be able to produce a child without the assistance of a woman, and the help of modern medicine. Biologically, the fruitful aspect of the homosexual union can easily be pointed out as non-existent.
To read more on the free, total, faithful and fruitful love as taught by the incredible Saint Pope John Paul II, read the Theology of the Body online here. For more Christopher West, go here. For discussion on the topic of TOB, you don't have to go anywhere though, the comment box is right below.
Si vis amari ama,
Really this is what separates us from our “separated brethren”, the issue of Scripture alone. Catholic apologetics have used scripture to totally defeat that argument. So instead of boring you with the scripture side of the argument, let’s look at the historical aspect of Sola Scriptora.
The first couple of hundred years of theChrist’s church is a good place to start off at. The first“Bible” was not in print until somewhere close to the fifth or so century. This means that the first centuries of the early Church went off the preaching of the successors of the apostles. There was no Bible. This poses in interesting question, what did they do for those years? If Jesus founded his Church on the Bible, He needed to have the Bible printed automatically. The books of the Bible, as we now know them, were not ratified until the fourth or fifth century. The“late” Bible printing has another question it asks, what did the martyrs die for? If scripture alone was what these Catholics built their faith on, then there was
nothing for them to believe in. There was no Bible. Now as a side note, I used the word “Catholics” in the last sentence on purpose; there were no Protestants before the sixteenth century. So now the first years of the Church were without the Bible.
Ok so let us go several more centuries. During this time, the printing procedure back then was really slow. It took a monk (got to give credit where it is due) a year to write the whole Bible. It was hand
written out, and if there were more than 10 mistakes the whole page was thrown out. The material that was written on in that time was animal skins. After theskins were acquired they had to go through a bunch of steps to make them usable. When it was all said and done, the Bible would typically cost about a
year’s worth of wages. Anyone want a Bible? Not only the expense, but these materials did not last long, usually only ten or so years. So over the course of these years Bibles were there, just not readily available to the general public.
So now we have that great invention of the printing press. Unfortunately the Protestant revolt was strong in many parts of Europe. The Protestants used this invention to promulgate their doctrine. Contrary to what some believe, Christians did not base their belief on the Bible once they got their hands on it; or that the Catholic Church locked the Bibles so no one could see the “truth”. The fact of the matter is that if one
promulgates a lie long enough it becomes truth in people’s eyes. The CatholicChurch did have its Bibles locked up. For a good reason though, remember how much they were worth? To have a year’s wages sitting on a table is asking for it to be missing one day. Also, the Bibles were written in Latin, a large majority of the laypeople could not read Latin. Without the ability to read Latin, the Bibles were unreadable to them.
As seen, for the first fifteen-hundred years of Christ’s Church’s existence the Bible was not available. So then if Sola Scripture is correct, the Christians for fifteen-hundred years did not have the foundation for their belief. On the other hand, it is much more creditable to say that the Church is the pillar and foundation of Christian faith, as pointed out in 1 Timothy 3:15. God bless!
I took information from Steve Ray’s talk
“Finding the Fullness of Faith”. I highly recommend you listening to it.
Why are the early church fathers important?
There are many reasons the early church fathers are important to our faith. If we as Catholics claim to be the church started 2000 years ago we should be able to tell the church back then was Catholic. We should be able to show non Catholics, we are the true church and one way is showing them what the early church believed. It should be understood that Baptism ,Confession, the Transubstantiation of the Eucharist, infant baptism, apostolic succession were all believed by the early church fathers. You can't get around the fact the early church was Catholic. When I talk to non Catholics I tend to use the same arguments early church fathers posed to the people of their time. Even if your not Catholic you might reading their writings interesting. I think Catholics and non Catholics can learn from their writings. A lot of the early church fathers wrote a lot about the Trinity. The trinity is something all Christians believe in. They also wrote on The resurrection of Jesus. These are examples of things all Christians believe in, and we can learn how the early church father's defended these truths. These wise and brilliant men have taught me a lot from their writings. Some of the early church fathers died defending their faith. They should inspire us to share our faith no matter what the cost.
Taken from Pat McNamara (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY3vNHWlo_xh4aN4k99eUhg)
"Have courage. Go forth. Make noise...Go forward. There will be people who will say things to you
to slow you down, to block your path. Please, go against the current...Go against the current: and this means making noise. Go forward, remaining true to the values of beauty, goodness and truth.”
Pope Francis made an excellent point when talking to 500 young people in Italy. For the full report, click here.
The overall message that our wonderful Pope is stating is "Go against the norm." In today's society, most of the "norm" goes against our religion and our morals in general. Sex before marriage, abortion, drugs... the list goes on and on. But most young people today have a comeback, "But everyone else is doing it!" Yes, everyone else is doing it. But that doesn't mean you have to. Go against the tide, be different. You will inspire others to come to the "light side". For all you Star Wars geeks out there, there is that memorable moment in the series where Darth Vader asks his son, Luke Skywalker to join the Dark side. He tempts him with glory and power, but Luke stands strong and keeps to his side. And hey! Luke made the right decision. Spoilers ahead if you haven't finished the series... He eventually defeated his father and his father repented. Let's be Luke Skywalkers' of the world and help the others who hide behind the darkness and hidden promises, and bring them to the light.
I was watching a TV program one time that had to do with mimes. There was a group of kids who were interviewing them. The mimes had them do an exercise where one of the kids started doing some crazy action such as waving his hands in the air like a mad man. The others looked at him very weird, like any normal person would in real life. The mimes told them to imagine they were in a park, and this "mad man" started doing an action. Slowly, the others started following this boy until there was only one person left. Eventually, that one person joined the other group. Now think about this. At first, everyone else thought that the "mad man" was weird and they didn't want to join him because he was the only one doing it and they didn't want to draw attention to themselves. They didn't want to be "out of the norm." Then when everyone else started doing the action, that one person suddenly had all the attention, even though he thought he was doing the "right" thing!
Imagine if we could change the world like that. If one person starts it, others will catch on and eventually, others will notice! That exercise shows that if one person goes against the tide, others will catch on. Something that encourages us to swim with the rest of the generation is peer pressure. Peer pressure happens to the best of us, and it takes an open heart and mind to realize that people are pressuring you. Have you ever caught yourself agreeing with someone else's' opinions just because you didn't want to be different?
I was talking with my friend about 6 months ago about Les Miserables, a pretty new movie at that time. (It really is great, I highly recommended it). Since we are both theatre geeks, we both understand that the movie cast could never, ever reach the quality of Broadway. :) I did like the movie cast however, and my friend... not so much. I kind of found myself siding along with her opinions and then I thought Wait..
what are you doing? It has been my objective in the past month to stop and think before I change my
opinions based on what other people said. And it's not like my friend was trying to make me change, it was just me.
I think the reason we all side along with other people is because we don't want to be that odd one out. We don't want people to look at us weird and judge us based on our choices. But you know what? I would rather someone look at me weird then me change my opinions just because of peer pressure.
No matter what society, your friends, or temptation says, the right way will always be common sense. Like my religion teacher said, "right is always right and will never change under pressure." It will never change, never bend, never break. You just need the courage to go the right way, against the current. Pray to God to let you have an open mind and strong heart to let you take a stand, no matter how big or small.
So I challenge you, teenagers of today, the next generation, to go against the current, be different! Inspire others and get out of your comfort zone. Soon, you will realize that being different, is being better.
All through Christ,
Good evening, everyone!
I’m not gonna be going on about Latin or English in the Mass right now, but as a background to the topic of this post, I was talking about the liturgy recently (big surprise there) and it was on the very subject of Latin vs. English. My opinion may strike some as almost being schizophrenic: I actively like the vernacular, and when I go to a Mass in Latin I find it takes an extra effort to pay attention, but as a matter of fact I don’t like the vernacular and think we should go back to using Latin.
But why in the world would I argue we should use something (Latin) other than the thing I technically prefer (English)? That, my dear readers, is an idea I want to talk to you about now.
In a word, I would say this: in the end, the Mass is just not about us. To be sure, some liturgical principles should be maintained everywhere. To be sure, any liturgical celebration should be entirely founded on the traditions of the Church (a topic open to varying interpretations itself), and to be sure, I have my own opinions and pray about them. But in the end, I think we need to remember something: it’s not about us.
Did you notice that across the whole spectrum, especially across countless Catholic blogs, there’s a bunch of opinions about what would make the best liturgy? In conversation, I’ve heard many older Catholics say that they like the reverence and feel of the Mass before 1965, but don’t miss not being able to understand what the priest is saying; so basically they’re saying that, if they could pick, they’d take the reverence and aura of the older liturgy and do it in their own language. A ton of examples could be used to illustrate this mindset. What if you like Praise and Worship in the Mass, a distinctively new thing, but like to receive Holy Communion kneeling down and on your tongue, a distinctively old thing? What if, say, you like it when only the priest gives Communion, but you like Communion under both species rather than Communion under one kind only, so you start pressing for intinction? I’m not saying you can’t have your likes and dislikes. That isn’t my point. But how good is it, do you think, if we keep picking and choosing all these different aspects, as so many Catholics invariably end up doing? At what point do we begin to see the liturgy as a great big set of opinions, with our individual opinion—rather than the countless individual opinions of other people—representing the ideal liturgy? Before the 1960s, such an idea would have generally been unheard of. The liturgy was codified in all its different parts and was viewed as something that the Church was given and meant to safeguard. Now, whether someone is labelled a traditionalist or a liberal, it seems like the liturgy is viewed as something you can tinker with at will—making the liturgy what Cardinal Ratzinger once called a fabricated and on-the-spot product.
How do we get out of this? Honestly, I don’t know. In the end there will inevitably be varying opinions about what makes “good liturgy” and “bad liturgy”, but in my humble opinion, this would be helped partially by slimming down the huge number of options for everything in the current missal, giving us instead a set formula for each part, which would be used every Mass. This would give greater stability to the celebration of the liturgy in general; then, though many will disagree with me, I think we should do all we can (to borrow from the Pope Emeritus again) to bring the “current” Mass in line with the “previous” Mass, thus, again, limiting the differences. Finally, it would be my hope that we would, after many, many years, perhaps, have once again a single liturgical form, founded soundly on Church tradition, without a plethora of options and variations. This, to me, would decrease the “mental narcissism” of many Catholics—including me!—and would allow us to view the Mass, once again, as something objective, codified, and not formed by majority opinions. And if we were to reach such a point of resignation, we could repeat the outstanding principle laid out by St. John the Baptist: “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
By Michael B.
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