Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Making distinctions is what we do here

Categorizing people and putting labels on others is frowned upon in liberal society. It's the mark of refinement to say, "I don't fit into any one category" or "You can't really put the label 'liberal' or 'conservative' on me." Balderdash. We can make mistakes about labels of course. But at the end of the day labels are either objectively true or objectively false, even if the labeled person honestly doesn't think a label applies to him. A liberal is not someone who self-identifies as liberal; a liberal is someone who is loyal to or participates in the essence of liberalism, which is an objective thing that exists independently of whatever any individual liberal may think about the matter. With that out of the way, here is a god piece on Liberals, Conservatives, and the New Orthodoxy.

After thirty-five years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the liberal project has exhausted itself in failure. Not one of its political goals has been realized. There are certainly still liberals, and their influence is still palpable in chanceries, choirs, schools, and religious education programs throughout the country. But our Lord taught that we can know a tree by its fruit, and the fruit of liberal Catholicism is scant indeed: empty seminaries, empty pews, and closed schools. Moreover, the shrill bitterness that flames from some liberal periodicals is not the recipe for inspiring holiness and humility.
 
In the current ecclesial landscape, there are Catholics who loyally and fiercely support the Church against the immoral demands of the secular West: they are outspoken opponents of abortion, same-sex marriage, and government encroachments on religious freedom. They adhere to the true teachings of Vatican II as expressed by the Council fathers, not the liberal “spirit” as falsely advanced by what Benedict recently called the Council of the media. Their theological standard is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and they are employing it to foster the New Evangelization.
Let us call this perspective the “new orthodoxy,” the position of not a few Catholics in their late forties and fifties, and of a growing number of American bishops, as well as many cardinal electors in the coming conclave. To be orthodox is to hold as true the teachings of the faith, and this group does so with conviction.
 
...The second group inside the conservative camp, generally of a slightly younger age, shares the same goals as the “new orthodox,” but for them reverently celebrated liturgy is the ultimate standard of orthodoxy. They believe wholeheartedly in the maxim lex orandi, lex credendi – how and what we pray directly influences how and what we believe. For these Catholics, the liturgically minded pontificate of Benedict XVI has brought a great deal of hope and energy to the Church. Let us call this second group the “Benedictines.”
It is reasonable to hope that new orthodox and Benedictines will work together for the good of the Church. But as is often the case with the People of God – who, after all, are still a community of sinners trying to become saints – the two sides can be at odds over intra-ecclesial matters, especially the liturgy. And it is precisely this tension that may be the central point of contention in the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor. Those who assume the many cardinals created by Benedict share his mind on the liturgy have not been paying attention.
 
The author defines orthodoxy as "right worship," but it actually means right belief. Orthopraxy is right worship. The new orthodox sometimes accuse the Benedictines or Trads of being pharisaical about the liturgy. Gentlemen, either Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is true or it is false. If it is true, then it doesn't matter how much of the Catechism you have memorized. Sloppy liturgy eventually leads to sloppy belief. If the Eucharist is treated like it's no big deal then it doesn't matter if you preach on the Real Presence until you're blue in the face. If the Mass appears to be a rock concert, or a family dinner, or a hootenanny, then belief in the Real Presence will wane. If you lose faith in the Real Presence, then you have lost the Catholic faith in its entirety even if you show up to Mass every Sunday.

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