Friday, November 16, 2012

“Beating up the Devil”: releasing the power of Faith through the fullness of tradition


People can become comfortable with almost everything.  The human being can accommodate himself to a great variety of circumstances even quite dire in order to reach a "new normal" in the effort to survive and thrive.  As a member of the military who has deployed to a war zone I can attest to the great strength of human beings to adapt to their surroundings in order to survive.

When it comes to the Faith which is a matter of revelation, however, of God reaching out to us and opening Himself and His life to for us for the sake of our salvation, a different priority is in order.  Revelation functions not as a matter a matter of adjusting things to suit our tastes and needs but rather of adapting ourselves and adjusting our lives to accommodate God.  Revelation demands conversion.
In the Church over the past half-century many of our people have developed an attachment to the indults such as Saturday evening vigil Mass, liturgies entirely in English, communion in the hand. These special permissions which granted the possibility of introducing practices which ran counter to longstanding noble customs which have developed through the Holy Spirit in tandem with the piety of the people over the course of years.  The indults, unlike the noble customs, were forced into practice from the top down, by diktat, and in some cases were intended only for experimental purposes on a temporary basis but got out of control and passed into widespread practice.

In the midst as we are of a catechetical emergency and the dramatic fall off in Catholic practice of the faith a reappraisal of everything that we do is certainly in order.  That state of affairs considered together with the maxim that the law of worship is the law of belief leads us to consideration of how we are celebrating our liturgies and the tenor of our sacramental life.  After 20 years as a priest I certainly have come to respect those who are attached to the indults and defend their option to use the practices as granted by the Church but can no longer place my trust in their ability to hand on the Faith effectively.  I have come to believe that the indults in many cases are responsible for a loss of faith.  For these and other reasons I see a call for employing all the traditions and noble customs of our Faith to save souls.

An example of the problematic nature of the indults is the internal incoherence they bring to the celebration of holy Mass in the case of communion received standing.  The rubrics still call for the people to kneel for the moment when Christ becomes present at the consecration of the Mass but not for the same true Presence at the moment He is received in communion, the supreme sacramental meeting between the Savior and each soul and the reason for His true and real Presence in the Eucharist.  This inconsistency cannot be expected to build up faith when it does more to cause confusion than anything else.

At a recent solemn high mass to mark Veterans’ Day a priest friend summed it up best by his words to the corps of altar boys as we commenced the entrance procession when he said, “C’mon boys, let’s go beat up the devil”.  Haven’t our people been sufficiently beaten up by the devil already?  With the devastation of family life, the epidemic of divorce, the rampant sacrilege and the public promotion of heresy and immorality on the part of people who call themselves Catholics there is more than enough evidence that the devil is hard at work.  Society around us is in moral free-fall with the legal re-definition of marriage and the promotion of sodomy and infanticide as well as abortiom.  We can no longer afford the luxury of weak measures.  The times in which we live call for all the beauty, power and protection of the whole tradition of our Catholic Faith with all of its noble customs.

Souls are at stake so, I say with my priest friend, “C’mon, let’s go beat up the devil!”

1 comment:

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

Well written. It also upsets me that so many churches did many things that the Second Vatican Council never called for. These customs you speak of, were never intended by the Council. It is time for us to cling more firmly to the faith traditions which have always distinguishes us as a people apart, as Catholics.

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