Friday, August 14, 2009

Is This For Real? You Be The Judge!

Every now and then, we find some articles that are so mind-blowingly stupid, we are forced to consider if the author was serious in the writing or if this is some bizarre form of journalistic fake vomit, something hurled into the public for the purpose of creating a stir of activity.

Such is the case with Ted Rosean's recent effort over on US Catholic. If the dumbness of this article of his registered on the Richter Scale, Mr. Rosean would have single-handedly destroyed all of North America.

Where to begin?

At one end of the archdiocese where I live, a Mass is held in a gymnasium every Sunday, and a group of lively folk musicians accompany the assembly through a relaxed and informal liturgy. The mood reflects the music. Because it's a gym, children seem to act less restrained, feeling free to roam a bit. Folding chairs are set up in a semi-circle around a portable altar that this group has used for many years.

There are no kneelers, of course, reflecting to some extent the impracticality of portable kneelers, but reflecting to a greater extent the theology of those gathered: These are "looking up to God in trust, not bowing down to God in fear" Catholics, nurturing a view of church and theology that was born at the Second Vatican Council.

You knew it was coming. The obligatory "Vatican II changed all that" reference. What's great is how he builds on this.

I know many of these Catholics and consider them to be very good people. Their liturgy is, I believe, a scandal.

But why? If it's reflecting all this Vatican II goodness, how can it be a scandal?

At the other end of the archdiocese, a priest adorned in shimmering vestments murmurs prayers in Latin, facing the tabernacle, his voice barely audible to the assembly of worshipers kneeling behind him. Many of these are silently and privately praying the rosary. At certain moments there is an exchange of words between the priest and the assembly. These words are in Latin.

The atmosphere is reverent, reflecting to some extent the mood naturally created by silence, candles, and Latin, but reflecting to a greater extent the theology of those gathered: These are "kneeling before God in awe, not back-slapping brother Jesus" Catholics, preserving a view of church and theology set aside at the Second Vatican Council.

"Set aside" at Vatican II? Where? Can you cite the relevant portions of Vatican II setting aside these views of Church and theology?

I know one of the people in the assembly to be one of the finest human beings alive-my father-but his liturgy is, I believe, a scandal.

A scandal. The Mass celebrated by almost every single saint of the Latin rite of the Church is a scandal.

Somehow, this is starting to remind me of something. Oh yeah. Now, I remember. Rosean does get to his point, though.

This is what makes these liturgies scandalous. They represent such polarized expressions of worship that they drift from the central purpose of liturgy as stated in the introduction of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "to be a sign lifted up among the nations, to those who are outside, a sign under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together until there is one fold and one shepherd." A church practicing such divergent forms of worship will hardly unite the scattered children of God.

It's really awesome how this guy completely manufactures the meaning of this quote from SC. This citation has no context as "the central purpose of the liturgy." It's doubtful Mr. Rosean read past the introduction. If he had, he might have noticed something hitting a bit closer to that whole central purpose thing:

Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.

Currently we are many folds under a shepherd who last year stirred the pot with his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum (Of the Supreme Pontiffs), sanctioning wider use of the old Latin or Tridentine Mass. Besides allowing individual parishes to conduct Latin Masses at the pastor's discretion, secondhand reports suggest that Pope Benedict XVI would like to see a Latin Mass offered at every parish. Upon hearing this, I felt a rumbling that I'm certain was Pope John XXIII, who opened the Second Vatican Council, rolling in his grave.

So Pope Benedict is promoting schism. That's a shame. Not only that, but Blessed John XXIII would be upset with all this. Here's a newsflash for you, Ted. The current Traditional Latin Mass is offered according to the Missal of 1962. Guess who the Pope was who promulgated it?

The guy you portray as "rolling in his grave." That rumbling you felt must have been a bad burrito or something as it would make a bit more sense that Pope John was rejoicing from heaven at seeing his Missal being allowed common use again.

By the way, read this. It will remedy some of your ignorance on the Pope and his view of things.

The problem with the gym mass is not the gym, or the folk music, or even the lack of kneelers. The gym liturgies I've participated in mostly adhere to the rite promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. The scandal is the fact that 100 yards from the gym, a splendid church sits where liturgy is celebrated by the other 90 percent of the parish every Sunday.

Vatican II promulgated a rite? Where? And where in this alleged rite is the promotion of gymnasiums, folk music, and the removal of kneelers?

Or is Mr. Rosean just speaking from a lower orifice here?

And why is he participating in liturgies that he believes to be scandalous?

In the zeal that followed the council, many well-intentioned but liturgically ill-informed experiments cropped up in parish liturgies. Some progressive liturgies went too far and abused the intent of the council's changes.

Given that he's really ok with the gym liturgy thing, I wonder what he considers too far. I've noticed he hasn't really given anything as to what these Vatican II changes were or what the intent was.

Many of these alternative practices have fueled the reaction of extremists who now want to rewind church history and drop us all back into a Bells of St. Mary's world, as black and white as the cassock and surplice of a 10-year-old altar boy. At one end of our church, progressives dance to the beat of their very own drummer, while at the other end nostalgic traditionalists turn back the hands of time.

"Extremists." Does he use such polemical language to describe the gym liturgists? I don't think so. Even those who he admits crossed the line of propriety are called "well-intentioned." Clearly, if you wish to attend a reverent Traditional Mass, you are an enemy of the Church. If you want a liturgy that makes an abuse of the Pauline Mass, you are just swell, albeit misguided.

In my judgment, the progressive, alternative Masses are much less troubling than the return of the Tridentine Mass. As mentioned, gym liturgies are mostly faithful to the changes promulgated in the council. While they may cross the line at times, at least they seem to be reaching in the direction the council members were pointing us toward.

Hey, at least he admits it. It's too bad he's so dishonest on everything else. Does anybody honestly think that the Fathers of Vatican II were pushing us towards gym Mass? Maybe Rosean should try to find out what really happened at the Council. How is a gym Mass remotely similar to what Vatican II says.

Meanwhile, think of your patron saint. Unless you have an Easterner, your saint was nurtured by the Traditional Latin Mass. Your saint is the product of a "troubling" liturgy.

And let's face it, my generation, the flower-power gang, is, well, beginning to push up daisies. Progressive liturgies are fading away as the jingle-jangle of our tambourines increasingly exits stage left.

And isn't that a big honking shame.

What is scandalous about this practice is not the Latin. After discussing the issue with theologians and liturgists Keith Pecklers, S.J. and Mark Francis, C.S.V., both independently made the distinction between the Tridentine Mass, celebrated by Catholics between 1570 and approximately 1965, and the post-conciliar rite practiced in the Latin language.

The reformed liturgy is flexible enough to allow the use of Latin at times. Many parishes replace the "Lamb of God" and the "Holy, Holy, Holy" with the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus during the season of Lent. Besides being in complete conformity with the changes promulgated by the council, this appropriate use of the Latin can often deepen the spiritual tone of the liturgy and underline the gravity of the season. But limited use such as this is far different from a complete 180-degree nostalgic return to an outdated rite.

Ok. Remember this. It's not about the Latin.

The Tridentine Mass is not simply the current Mass (the one promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970) spoken in Latin. The Tridentine Mass, which dates from 1570, reflects a very different-and incomplete-understanding of the early church. Francis argues that "the 16th-century framers [of the Tridentine Missal] lacked adequate historical resources, as they were unable to refer to manuscripts dating earlier than the pontificate of Innocent III, around 1216."

Actually, Ted, your "experts" should have told you that the Traditional Mass actually goes back almost unaltered to about the 6th century.

The large text really makes it clear, though. The Pauline Mass is better because we are allegedly smarter than every single saint, Pope, and Doctor of the Latin Church who ever offered a Mass for 1500 years or so. Geez. Glad we aren't being arrogant or anything.

A church digging in its defensive heels at the peak of the Reformation developed the Tridentine Mass, taking shots at pagans, heretics, schismatics, and "perfidious" Jews. The rich revelation of the Old Testament is mostly absent, and the participation of the laity barely exists.

Here's an idea, Mr. Rosean. How about you tell us how the Tridentine Mass differed from the prior rite of Mass? I know that doing so will expose you as ignorant or a liar, but just give honesty a try.

The Second Vatican Council had some very good reasons to call for an end to the Tridentine Mass and to promulgate a new rite. More sophisticated research uncovered a fuller understanding of how liturgy was celebrated in the early church. Improved scripture scholarship developed into a new lectionary with a wider selection of readings. Better historical research removed fictional saints from the liturgical calendar.

Where did Vatican II call for an end to the Tridentine Mass? Where did it order the promulgation of a new rite?

Ted isn't very good with this honesty stuff.

Here's another item being ignored. The Eastern liturgies. Does the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which holds comparable antiquity to the Traditional Latin Mass, bear all that much resemblance to the Pauline Mass, much less a gym Mass? Or does it more closely resemble what you'd see in the 1962 Missal?

The fictional saints bit is simply untrue. All the saints from Christopher to Philomena are very much real. I'm not sure why Mr. Rosean thinks it's ok to say such things about people that God has accepted into heaven.

Perhaps most important for the average Catholic, the Mass was celebrated in the language of the people. Interestingly, while the Tridentine Mass began to be used in 1570, Masses were celebrated in Latin as early as A.D. 350. Originally, the Latin replaced Greek because people understood Latin, and using Latin allowed more people to understand what was going on. In 1965 the church once again came to the seemingly obvious conclusion that people should understand what is being said in Mass.

In other words, it really is about the Latin.

The stakes are high. We participate in the liturgy to praise God and to be transformed so that we can transform the world. We need to do this together. We cannot gather the scattered children of God together if we ourselves are scattered.

For all you Easterners out there, too freaking bad. Pope Ted has spoken. Your rites are scandalous, just like gym liturgies and Traditional Latin Masses. In fact, since they are old and actually involve reverence, they are probably worse than gym Mass. You do use the vernacular most of the time, though, so you aren't as bad as those FSSP extremist lunatics.

Ruthenians, Maronites, Chaldeans, Syro-Malabars, etc., you are called upon to abandon the horrors of your ways! Repent of your scandal! Pay no attention to Vatican II! The power of Ted compels you!


Chants a Lot said...

You're right. He's either an idiot or a liar, or perhaps a some of both. Why is it that folks like this guy are so resistant to the TLM? Are they afraid that once the Pope has taken a liturgical inch, he'll then go the whole mile and abolish the Paul VI Mass in the vernacular and restore the TLM as the ordinary form and then mandate its use?

Throwback said...

Make no mistake. There are a lot of folks out there who think that this scenario is at least possible. It terrifies them to no end.

This presents a good distinction to recall. While there are some who desire the outright suppression of the Pauline Mass, I think they are in the minority of TLM attendees. The other side of the spectrum wants nothing more than the absolute condemnation of the TLM. If they thought about it enough, they'd probably want likewise for the Divine Liturgy as well.

Chants a Lot said...

I doubt that they care about the Divine Liturgy, mainly because most of them don't even know it exists. Ask someone who hates the TLM (such as the person at your parish who told everyone that to desire the TLM was to be in rebellion) about the Divine Liturgy. You'll probably just get a dumb stare. In fact, I know people, good Catholics, mind you, who do not object to the TLM but who really have no knowledge about the Divine Liturgy. They haven't been exposed to it, so they know nothing about it, and therefore, in the case of those who oppose the TLM, don't feel threatened by it.