Friday, May 8, 2009

The Other Shame of Notre Dame

I'm talking about McBrien. This is why so many people who talk about Vatican II amount to little more than dishonest hacks. Take a look at this article.

We find ourselves asking the question quite often. Is McBrien stupid, ignorant, or, to use the words of the Holy Father, just a theological whore? This article is loaded material that screams for this question to be answered. Let’s take a look at Fr. McBrien’s third-hand repetition of a story that he has no personal knowledge of but assumes to be true in the worst light possible for those who oppose his perspective of the Church and the world.

The e-mail came from a large suburban parish in which the pastor has apparently done everything that he can to remove most traces of the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council.

Note to everyone. Whenever this guy starts talking about Vatican II reforms, anything that comes afterwards is usually going to be bass-ackwards wrong.

The pastor has done away with all contemporary music at Mass, and has restored pre-conciliar devotions along with auricular confession. He even gives the impression that confession is the greatest of the sacraments.

That didn’t take long. Where did Vatican II require or even exhort the use of contemporary music? Let’s take a look at what Sacrosanctum Concilium did say about music:

The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.

The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.

Here's that Art. 30, by the way:

To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

Weird. Nothing about contemporary music. John Paul II certainly didn't interpret that way.

With regard to liturgical music compositions, I make my own the "general law" that Saint Pius X formulated in these terms: "A composition for Church is sacred and liturgical insofar as it approaches Gregorian melody in flow, in inspiration, and in flavor, and so much less is it worthy of the temple insomuch as it is recognized as departing from that supreme model".

Where did Vatican II abolish or suppress pre-conciliar devotions? It didn’t. On top of that, how exactly do “pre-conciliar devotions” cause any sort of harm or trauma to the parishioners? It’s not like the Sunday buffets are so important that saying the Leonine Prayers after Mass or some such is going to cause huge numbers of Catholics to stop attending. I hope not, at least.

Where did Vatican II abolish auricular confession? This whole line of thought is swimming in heresy. Auricular confession is not an optional deal for the faithful.

So basically, we have dishonesty from the very beginning by claiming that the pastor’s actions are contra-Vatican II. Really, they are just contra-McBrien. You can tell this irritates him because he immediately introduces non-sequiturs to attack the pastor in question:

Perhaps there is some misunderstanding here because the Council of Trent, back in the 16th century, made clear that the greatest of the seven sacraments is the Eucharist.

Sure, it did. Of course, there’s no evidence of any “misunderstanding.” There’s just a third-hand account that the pastor “gives the impression” that confession is the greatest of sacraments, which even if true, could mean a bunch of different things given the context.

He also gave vocal support to the minority of U.S. Catholic bishops who proclaimed in effect that “Catholics could burn in hell” if they voted Democratic in the recent presidential election.

They very well could. Let’s just shelve the idea that such a vote as normally contemplated would be a mortal sin. Call me crazy, but when you’ve got “Catholics” who are running groups that are promoting expanded access to abortion, I’m willing to bet that more than a few voted for Obama in order to further that goal. These kinds of circumstances can rapidly have one tip-toeing into mortal sin, which yes, does make for a burning in hell situation.

My correspondent reported that other members of the parish staff are hurting “terribly.” Indeed, they share the feelings of the woman who darted out of church recently during the homily – in tears.

She informed the pastoral associate that she could no longer handle the situation, and that she had to leave the parish. She said that all that she ever hears from the pulpit is what sinners the parishioners are, and why it is so necessary for them to “go to Confession.”

“Other members.” What does that mean? A significant minority? A majority? He’s already claimed that it’s a large parish. No way of knowing the numbers from here, though. Of course, the “feelings” of the parishioners who are being spiritually enriched by all this don’t matter. They are contra-McBrien, after all.

Could it be that the pastor noticed that nobody ever goes to confession, yet everyone receives the Eucharist? Might this be a cause for alarm, given that it means a lot of these folks might be committing sacrilege and/or living in mortal sin?

Maybe, just maybe, the pastor’s focus on sin (gasp!), forgiveness, and judgment have saved someone’s soul. Of course, I guess it’s possible that everyone in the parish was immaculately conceived and has never committed a single sin in their lives. Why didn’t someone tell the pastor that he was dealing with perfect people who have no need of God’s mercy?

I wonder how many sermons of St. Peter Damian or the Cure of Ars had a similar focus.

That particular Sunday, with the old-fashioned church music, all the statues covered in purple as they were before Vatican II, and the usual severe words in the homily, the pressure was simply too much for her to bear.

Amazing how the Church lasted so long with all these horrors in place. You know, back when 80%+ of Catholics went to Mass every Sunday. Yet the era of liturgical decomposition from the 60s until now has brought plummeting attendance rates and a normalization of dissent (translation: heresy).

The woman poured out her frustrations, saying that the pastor had taken the parish back to a church that she knows nothing about and in a manner that showed no understanding of others’ feelings.

I’ll get to this in a bit.

I continued: “If there are no parishes or other worshipping communities in the vicinity where the pastoral leadership is healthy rather than driven by a narrow ideology, then one simply has to ‘take a vacation’ from the church until the skies finally clear and we are bathed in sunlight once again.”

What would his response have been if the pastor had implemented liturgical dance, U2 songs, leavened bread for the Eucharist, etc.? I’m guessing he would have nothing but contempt for such people who would dare to leave a parish just because they actually want a Mass for their liturgy.

“It’s new territory, dealing with people grieving for their church,” he wrote.

The BS really gets about hip deep here. The myopia is astounding, as is the utter self-centeredness of this way of thinking. When the Traditional Mass was derogated, when we started seeing invalid Eucharistic matter, when priests were ripping up rosaries at the pulpit, when Catholic churches were being taken over by non-Catholics for “ecumenical” functions, etc., nobody heard the grieving of the faithful. Either that, or they didn’t care.

The foundations of many parishioners faith were ripped away from them in the most top-down, heavy-handed means available. They grieved to deaf ears or cold hearts, for the large part. What about these people? I draw your attention back to Pope Benedict’s letter regarding the criticisms directed against him for the lifting of the SSPX excommunications. The bottom line is that the people raising these issues, like McBrien, care nothing for the faithful hurt and scandalized by decades of religious deformation. They only care about having things their own way, as evidenced by the utter ignorance and/or rejection of what Vatican II actually said and what has been taught by the post-conciliar popes.

People love to bring up John Paul II’s apologies for lots of things. Anybody remember this one?

As I bring these considerations to an end, I would like to ask forgiveness-in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate-for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience or negligence, and also through the at times partial, one-sided and erroneous application of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of the doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament. And I pray the Lord Jesus that in the future we may avoid in our manner of dealing with this sacred mystery anything which could weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people.

Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae

The pastor in the true story above surely would regard himself as “orthodox,” but the woman who left the church in tears would never have defined herself as a “progressive” Catholic. That adjective would mean nothing to her.

Here’s the point that I deferred on earlier. I hope that everyone who reads this blog (both of you) understands this. Do not become what you hate. I know of churches where the priests one day simply started offering Mass in Latin. They have no concept that what they are doing to their parishioners who are young, converts, etc. is exactly what was done to the generation of the 60s and 70s that had their world turned upside down.

Yes, yes, you can say that these priests are “restoring” the liturgy or whatever. Milk before meat, people. You can’t throw all this stuff at folks who have no concept at all of what it is and who may think that disco liturgy is the norm or that the Eucharist is just a communal meal and not do a lot of damage in the process. There are a lot of parishioners who are of good will who simply don’t know any better. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

The deep end of the ocean will have to wait. Stick to the shallows for now.


Jane said...

I completely agree, especially with your last paragraph.

My husband and I co-direct a small choir for a Sunday evening Mass. When we started, the congregation already chanted most of the Ordinaries in Latin, then had three hymns and usually the cantor sang a solo for Communion. In the last six months, we've started singing better psalm settings, chanting either the Proper Offertory or Communion, and singing a motet for whichever of those we don't chant the proper for.

We haven't introduced a new Ordinary setting. We haven't stopped singing hymns for the processional and recessional. Certainly neither our choir nor our pastor would object if we did either of those things, but we wait because we don't want to scare the congregation or make them uncomfortable.

We are currently in the very first stages of planning a series of lectures on the history of art, architecture, and music in the Church at our parish. Hopefully, after that is underway, we can continue to move forward, restoring more of the Propers, teaching our congregation a new Ordinary setting or two, and suchlike things. It will probably be at least two years before we get where we'd like to be--but that's ok. The Church is a big ship, and ought to make all turns slowly so she doesn't fall over and tip people off the deck.

Throwback said...

Sounds like good progress. You and my colleague Karl that posts here would get along famously. He's a Ruthenian cantor and is all about sacred music.

Jan said...

I didn't read the article that this post referred to, and will do so as soon as I comment. One small thing: if you're going to use that black background, could you bold the text? It would make it brighter. I could not read the bits in red, and had a hard time with the rest. The other thing: I clicked on this blog because I have been thinking of another shame of Notre Dame myself, and that is, when they first planned the protest, what was proposed was a continuous rosary in the grotto during commencement (I have an email from the guy who proposed it, is how I know). I thought it was just brilliant, and said so on my blog. But when the official announcement came out, the official schedule of events, the rosary had become both a 'scriptural rosary' and also a Pro-life protest, led by Father Pavone. And I'm really disappointed. The rosary, just the rosary, with everybody on their knees praying, that's the medicine, that's the ticket. The other rosary, the new rosary, is--the same thing that fuels the 'Catholics' over in the commencement! That's how I see it anyway, I just can't help it. They changed the rosary, or tried to, along with the mass changes, but Paul VI finally drew the line, but this scriptural rosary came along anyway, along with the badly-written Luminous Mysteries. I guess most people pray the Luminous Mysteries (not my church) but who the heck actually prays the 'scriptural rosary'? Except at media events, such as this one has become? I've prayed the rosary before mass in many places in both the US and Mexico and it's the same old, good old, sweet old rosary and never ever a scriptural rosary. But when I protested to the planning committee, they said it was 'usual,' and 'traditional.' Not!!! I'm sad about it and sad that I have to be sad about it. But I was so looking forward to us just praying instead of the usual 'performance.'

Jane, you guys are going great! I hope you keep it up!

Now I'll go back and read the original article, and stick to the real point of the post. But I just wanted to share. There appears to be shame to go around.

Throwback said...

We aim to please. The text is now bolded. If you still can't read the red bits, let me know, and I'll work on that.

While I prefer the older Rosary, I don't think there's anything wrong with the scriptural version. For me, it runs in the same vein as my last point in this post. So many Catholics don't know anything about the Rosary or Sacred Tradition at all. Many think like Protestants and immediately wonder "Where in the Bible is that Assumption business?"

With thoughts like that, the scriptural Rosary can get folks in this category into the practice. Once they are there, acceptance of ideas like the Marian Psalter and such will be a lot easier to grasp.