Thursday, March 12, 2009

Liturgy and the Moral Teaching of the Church

I don't participate in internet fora very much anymore, and it's not because I am lazy. I am _lazy_, but I have other reasons: I don't think arguments convince very many people, and certainly not the sort of arguments that happen in the anonymous agora of the internet.

Finally, I don't think arguments about right and wrong have much chance of success in a world that doesn't understand the liturgical life. By "liturgical life," I mean a life that is centered on the holy, on the manifestation of God in the world. This needn't be mysticism, but can be a very practical sacramental life, marking the hours, days, and weeks by their relation to the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean by the liturgical life thinking more about whether it's the third week of Lent than whether March Madness is approaching.

The typical way of life of Christians consists in a normal secular life punctuated by a weekly hour spent discharging a religious duty. After the church service, life goes back to normal. This is particularly true of Catholics, who vote, buy, and live nearly exactly like eneryone else.

Any argument about the moral life is therefore attempting to convince someone to make a commitment to a more Godly life, when God only occupies an hour out of every week. How could it make any impact? I remember yearly arguments in one forum about Lenten fasting regulations, and How dare the Church tell me I can't eat meat? One despairs of making any headway.

So I don't, and generally put my energies into the liturgical life at my parish, doing my best to make it as full and beautiful as it can be. We will live better when we pray better.


Todd said...

Agreeance about the futility of arguments on websites. Instead of trying to persuade one another, it quickly becomes a game of one-upsmanship.

However, there are times when I learn something new and find some true insight.

The trick is separating out the stupidity from the good. Once that becomes a tedious effort, message boards become a lot more trouble than they are worth.

On your other point, I've been trying to get my life more liturgically focused, as it were. If the Eucharist is truly the source and summit of the Christian life, I need to order my life in recognition of that. The pull of the "normal" life is hard to break though. One effort I've made is to explore the liturgical offerings of the Church. In addition to participating at my local parish (where I lector), I try to go to a Extraordinary Rite Mass and/or Eastern Rite Mass once a month as well.

The hard part, of course, is Monday through Saturday. I've thought about a rosary during the commute or an attempt to attend Mass once during the week. Any other suggestions?

Philip said...

Good post, Karl. Thanks for reminding us to keep things in perspective and trying to get us to focus on that which is most important if we are truly to believe. I guess the hardest part is truly believing.

As for internet arguments, I'm not sure that we frequently convince anyone in an in-person discussion.


Throwback said...

Thanks for that, Karl. I needed to hear it.

Todd, something that I'm trying very hard to do on this point is to pray the hours. I'm not nearly adept enough to pray the entire Divine Office, but I do have a copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's a wonderful thing, and I'm a better person when I do it regularly. I'd recommend that. Baronius Press is where I got mine.