Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breakin' the Law, Breakin' the Law

The revolution in the Catholic Church, like most revolutions, was very much a top down affair. It was committees of intellectuals that proposed and enforced all of the enormous changes in the Church's theology, spirituality, philosophy, and culture. How often have we dreamed of a top down restoration? How many lay Catholics have begged, pleaded, cajoled, protested, written letters, started blogs, or done any number of things to get the hierarchy to do something, anything to restore some of our lost discipline? How joyful would some of us be if Pope Francis or Bishop Stumblebum or Father Flapdoodle started laying down the law good and hard? Away with liturgical dancing! Be gone EMHC's! The collected works of Marty Haugen and David Haas can go straight to hell on eagle's wings! Get down on your knees if you expect to receive Holy Communion!

We often speak of a restoration of the Church but it would be more accurate to say that we must start over. Imagine a plastic water bottle. Somebody pokes a tiny hole in the bottom and over time all of the water leaks out until the bottle is empty. Plugging the hole is not going to bring back the water that leaked out. The bottle must be filled up again with new water.

Trads are frequently accused of being like the Pharisees. To be pharisaical is to adhere to the law as an end in itself. The laws of the Church are meant to strengthen the believer. They are supposed to provide him direction and discipline in his pursuit of personal holiness. It's important that the Magisterium not be actively undermining that discipline to be sure. But it's not enough. The Church cannot create piety through command. Restoration begins at home.

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