Thursday, April 21, 2011

Standing up for the RIGHTS of Catholics

In addition to it being the holy Triduum this weekend, I am coming across another “anniversary”, something I’m not normally used to. This Saturday marks 6 months I’ve been in a relationship. Every now and then people ask what has changed with me in the relationship. If one looks at the amount of posting I’ve done, that’s an obvious change. I’ve got less time to read the blogs and the web to pick up stories. I think that’s a good thing. People nerd-rage far too much on these issues.

Yet blame a boring day at work for this coming post. With nothing to do and a column already written on the Offertory, I decided to check out the blogs. Apparently over the past week there’s been some controversy surrounding lay Catholic commentator Michael Voris. While I normally avoid the nerd-rage of those like Mark Shea and others, I think it is instructive. If anyone wants a glimpse as to why the Church has been through so much trouble recently, this tempest is a perfect example.

Apparently a bunch of liberal earth-hippies wrote a letter to Catholic Bishops. The memo suggest using the homilies during our Holiest days of Christianity (From the evening of Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) to talk about Earth Day. As opposed to, you know, speaking about the Sacrifice of Christ, our salvation, and our ultimate Heavenly home because of the Resurrection.

In a video that went viral amongst the Catholic world, Michael Voris suggested that if your parish priest so much as talks about Earth Day during the homilies, Catholics should leave that parish and attend elsewhere. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s wrong with that statement. Many Catholics have been confined to a prison of stupid homilies by liberal prelates over the years. I went to a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday once. The priest turned those meditations on the Passion of Our Lord into a call for social action against the “rich” and how the real lesson of Christ’s sacrifice is how we are to fight against “economic inequality.” I used every bit of my strength to not shout “you can’t be flippin serious!” I simply walked out.

The “conservative” intelligentsia of American Catholics have predictably gone into full nerd-rage mode. Mark Shea accuses Michael Voris of trying to act like a Bishop. Elizabeth Scalia comments “the Church is not a democracy” and states that Michael Voris is a “wolf in sheeps clothing.” She compares him to Fr. Michael Pfleger, that wildly dumb and heretical priest out in Chicago.

When I read this stuff, I am reminded of why I am a traditionalist, and why I can’t take these people seriously. To put it bluntly: Michael Voris is simply saying what everyone actually believes deep down. Give the man a medal.

As far as “The Church is not a democracy” this is true but irrelevant. Apparently in the face of such flagrant liturgical abuses, the Catholic in the pew should just keep his mouth shut. Canon law says differently. The Congregation of Divine Worship says Catholics have a “right” to a liturgy free of such nonsense. Finally, last time I checked, I am a Catholic. If St. Jahosphat burns down tomorrow, I don’t lose my faith. I can simply go to another Catholic parish. Likewise, when every parish around me was rife with liturgical abuses, I was free to attend the Extraordinary Form at St. Jahosphat, which was free from such abuses.

There seems to be an idea that Catholics are required to “obey” something here. Where has the Church commanded that we must sit through liturgical abuses? Where has the Church said that we are not free to choose which parish (of those in communion with the local Bishop) we attend? On the contrary, the CDW has said that a liturgy free of abuses is owed to the lay Catholic by their rights as being a Catholic:

For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal, but are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. In the end, they introduce elements of distortion and disharmony into the very celebration of the Eucharist, which is oriented in its own lofty way and by its very nature to signifying and wondrously bringing about the communion of divine life and the unity of the People of God. The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of “secularization” as well.

On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. (Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum)
That is what we are supposed to be obedient to. If priests are depriving the rights of faithful Catholics, they should be called out. Yet in addition to that, if there is a parish down the road that goes out of their way to make sure your rights as a Catholic are accommodated, one is free to attend that parish.

Far from being disobedient, we are doing precisely what the Pope wanted. When he released Summorum Pontificum, he envisioned the Extraordinary Form enriching the liturgical life of the entire Church, instead of just being a concession to a few cranky traditionalists. Part of this enrichment is one sees how a liturgy is supposed to be carried out. If Catholics are given every opportunity to choose between a liturgy that is done by the books and with reverence, and a liturgy which has neither, most faithful Catholics will want the former. They may not want the Extraordinary Form, but they will rightly ponder why their current parish doesn’t follow such reverence. So they start looking for a parish that does, and go there. If the other parish wants to stay open, eventually they will have to start improving their liturgy. The liberal parishes are growing older and smaller, whereas the parishes which have a more traditional bent are growing younger and larger. As to the rest, the law of nature takes its course.

Which makes me wonder: why on earth are these people so upset? Why are they comparing someone who wants politics driven out of the Mass with someone for whom the Mass should be linked to a political campaign? Why are they so upset at those who want reverence in the liturgy, and absolutely silent on those who deprive Catholics of their rights? Let us remind our critics that the Church indeed is not a democracy. Their opinions on what Catholics should suffer through are absolutely irrelevant. The Church has spoken, and that should be enough for them.

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