Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rex Mottram rides again

I enjoy solid papal teaching as much as the next reactionary, but this getting ridiculous. Pope Francis gave a homily at a Mass celebrated in honor of Benedict XVI's birthday. Now it's being carefully parsed across the ideological spectrum as though it were holy writ. Was he repudiating the Reform of the Reform or not? Was he rebuking Benedict or not? Was he slamming all Trads or just SSPXers? Is he liberal or conservative? And so on ad nauseam. However did Catholics survive before the internet made it possible to follow every utterance of the Holy Father?

I am thirty two years old. God willing, I have another forty or fifty years of life left in this world. Pope Benedict XVI was probably the most Traditional friendly pope I'll ever see in my lifetime. As much as I wanted to believe otherwise, I think it's fairly obvious that Benedict was always the exception to the rule in the hierarchy. Most bishops emphatically reject the culture and trappings of pre-conciliar Catholicism. How much did the Church change at the parish and diocesan level under Benedict? Within my own diocese of Sacramento, almost not at all. Benedict was in the middle of his glorious reign when I saw liturgical dancers on Good Friday at my geographical home parish. I doubt it could possibly get much worse than that under Pope Francis who, it's safe to say, does not share Benedict's liturgical preferences.

As much as I wish to heaven that Pope Francis would bring back all the stuff, it's not going to happen. I don't think he's trying to make implicit, subtle rebukes to Benedict or liturgical Trads. He's just doing what he's always done, what he was formed to do. I've enjoyed his preaching thus far. When was the last time you ever heard a Catholic prelate speak about the Devil, the great enemy of God and man? If his Holiness is aware of all the speculation swirling about him, I suspect his reaction would be, "Why are you all getting so caught up in the finer points of the liturgy?"

It's a question that's been put to me many times. I don't include the Holy Father in this because I don't know his heart, but I think it's tragic that there is such a radical disconnect between orthodoxy and orthopraxy in many otherwise fine Catholic men and women. Ladies and gentlemen, either "lex orandi, lex credendi" is true or it is false. If you think it's false, then we have nothing further to discuss. If you believe it's true, then getting the liturgy right is not simply a matter of the Temple Police, as progressives like to call them, obsessing over every jot and tittle in the Missal. Sloppy liturgy leads to sloppy belief. I don't care how long and hard you've studied the Catechism; if the way the Mass is celebrated doesn't reinforce your doctrinal beliefs, then slowly they will fade away. There's a reason why so many Catholics go parish shopping.

With respect to the Holy Father, you absolutely can and should turn back the clock if it's showing the wrong time. I've noticed that Catholics who speak a lot about how turning back the clock is a bad thing want to keep the clock frozen in the 1970s. Progressives will latch onto some of Pope Francis's pronouncements (though not others) and try to bowl you over with happy talk about how Vatican II was the birth of a new Church and good riddance to all of that 1950's garbage. Don't you believe it. There are FOUR lights!

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