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Renewing Catholic Culture Starts with The Mass - ArturoOrtiz - 11-22-2013

[Image: latinmasspicture-300x199.jpg]
On November 18 His Holiness Pope Francis gave a homily over the book of Maccabees. Pope Francis talked about the danger of secular progressivism and globalized uniformity. His Holiness stated “God save us from the hegemonic uniformity of the “line of thought” “fruit of the spirit of the world that negotiates everything”, even the faith”.1

The pope emphasized the necessity of keeping the Catholic identity and not negotiating our relationship and fidelity towards God.  The pope gave a passage from the book of Maccabees which says, “The king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and everyone abandon their customs.”(1 Maccabees 1:41)

“A globalized conformity of all nations is not beautiful, the hegemonic uniformity of globalization, the single line of thought. And this single line of though is the result of worldliness”.2

This is something that has been going on in the modern world. A big example is in developed first world countries such as Europe and the United States, where many Catholics have fallen away from their faith in order to embrace progressivism and what the Pope has called secular uniformity. They have become one people with no identity of the One True Faith, one in which people have abandoned their customs. They have traded the truth of God and have sold themselves for a phony wisdom and knowledge that we find in a Godless and worldly society. So what happened? How did we end up selling ourselves out of the True Faith and have lost our identity as Catholics? Most of it has to do with not embracing the Church’s Tradition. This includes its tradition in its entirety, from its intellectual, musical, apostolic, and even ecclesial and Liturgical Tradition. Doing this has made it hard to differentiate the world from the Catholic.

About two months ago on September 3, 2013 Professor Thomas E Woods JR, gave a great speech to Catholic students in Benedictine College. The talk lasted about twenty-five minutes. He spent the first 15 minutes discussing the contributions that the Catholic Church had made to Western Civilization.

He went on to describe the development and start of the University System in the Middle Ages, the contributions to modern science and economics, by the late scholastics, and the many more contributions made by the Church to Western Civilization. Some of these contributions which you can read in my article The Not So Dark Ages or in Professor Wood’s own book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

The most relevant contribution for this article however has to be the artistic and architectural contributions that the Church had made which professor Woods talked about in his speech. This includes the many medieval cathedrals, or Michelangelo’s work, and the great artistic masterpieces such as The Madonna.

This is in contrast with the trash of today’s so called “art”. This includes Duchamp’s The Fountain which is a sculpture of a man’s urinal. Marcel Duchamp inspired Dada, an anti-rational, anti-art cultural movement. This modern sense of art is what professor Woods has called “a fetish for moral and esthetic ugliness”.3

Woods talked about what it meant to “live according to nature” both in the ancient world and in the modern worldly sense. Woods stated that “To the Stoics of the ancient world this meant pursuing virtue as the best way to conform oneself to the Divine Plan. To the Aristotelian similarly living according to nature meant discovering the unique characteristic of human beings “which is our rational nature” and living our lives by exercising that reason in our moral conduct and in our intellectual pursuits.4

However today living according to nature means doing whatever comes naturally. As Woods accurately stated “To the modern man this means that man is a beast and is to be quite content in his beastly state. 5

Because of this modern intellectual and artistic stagnation, professor Woods stated that in order to bring back cultural renewal in all areas of life, it has to start with ourselves as Catholics.

“We (Catholics) need to examine ourselves, how well have we devoted ourselves to the Church’s intellectual tradition? How devoted are we to our studies? Have we used the media that is available to us for free? How much have we studied the Church’s contributions to Western Civilization?”6

This brings us to the Mass and how it is celebrated. This will perhaps be the focal point in my article. The Mass as Professor Woods states is one of the determining factors that gives Catholics their identity and means of differentiating between the world and a Catholic. It is the difference between the World and Heaven.

“How can we bring cultural renewal if Mass is celebrated badly? How can we expect the average person to know anything about the Church’s beautiful musical patrimony when in our own parishes we prefer emasculating music from the 1970s?”7

The Vatican II documents state that Gregorian chant should be given pride of place in the Liturgy. It also states that we should not forsake sacred polyphony.

“ If we think we are going to save young people from this culture by mimicking MTV with rock music milquetoast preaching and casual familiarity in the presence of the sacred we are diluted. “ Mass should be a lesson on its piety, wonder, respect, order, and even manners. “It is to be a sign of contradiction”.8

This last observation that Professor Woods makes about cultural renewal being brought about by Catholics themselves is really important. Just as it was the Catholic Church that helped bring about the accomplishments and contributions towards civilization, if culture is to be renewed it is to be done so by Catholics themselves. Why does Woods argue this to be the case? It is because of the Church’s tradition and refusal to be part of the modern culture that Pope Francis warns us will happen if we conform ourselves to the world and become one people with no knowledge of our customs and traditions.

As mentioned before The Mass is one if not the most important aspects in my opinion, as well as the opinion of Professor Woods as the determining factor for renewing Catholic culture, in which we can as Catholics have our culture and identity as the people of God back. For several decades now the Mass has suffered through various liturgical abuses and lack of reverence that has obscured what always made it stand out as “Heaven on Earth” as Blessed Pope John II once called it. It is to be a moment were we are elevated to God and let ourselves experience a glimpse of Heaven.

That is something I like about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (The Latin Mass), in which Fr Chad Ripperger’s article The Spirituality of the Ancient Liturgy does a great job explaining the unique spirituality of the Old Mass.

Fr Chad Ripperger states “The ancient rite of Mass embodies a spirituality and spiritual lessons that can appeal to every generation and time. The ancient rite of Mass is actually the product of the hand of God Who used saints throughout history to develop it according to His holy intention. The desire to reject our liturgical patrimony seems to me to be in fact a desire to reject those things which God has done.”9

The Tridentine Latin Mass brings forth a genuine uniformity and unites us as Catholics in its eloquent beauty and tradition. One in which we all share that same faith and where we can all feel at home. Whether we are in France  or in Spain and are not familiar with the language, we can always know what is going on in the Mass. That is that Heaven has just come down to earth.

Fr Ripperger later writes “the liturgy embodies certain spiritual principles in the very nature of the ritual that are worthy of reflection. 1) The awareness of our sinfulness, 2) the need for self-denial, 3) perfection in virtue and 4) certain aspects about prayer. All of these are essential elements of any sound spiritual life.”10

“This is why Gregorian chant which, has an appeal to the intellect and will, naturally begets prayer, which is defined as the lifting of the mind and heart to God. Gregorian chant does not appeal to one’s emotions or appetites; rather, the beauty of the chant naturally draws us into contemplation of the divine truths and the mysteries of the ritual.”11

The Mass is the essential element that we most first restore if we are to renew the Catholic Culture, in which reason and real progress and accomplishments were made in all areas of life. Not one in which we sell ourselves off our heritage, our identity, and most of all our faith and fidelity in that One True God

Re: Renewing Catholic Culture Starts with The Mass - SpiderDweeb - 11-22-2013

I hope the Holy Father leads by example and ditches the beach balls. 

Re: Renewing Catholic Culture Starts with The Mass - Unum Sint - 11-22-2013

(11-22-2013, 08:48 AM)SpiderDweeb Wrote: I hope the Holy Father leads by example and ditches the beach balls. 

That didn't happen during Mass at least not as Pope.

Re: Renewing Catholic Culture Starts with The Mass - drummerboy - 11-22-2013

In the OT efforts to reform Judaism were always connected with efforts to reform worship at the Temple.  The prophets who were negative about the Temple did so more out of anger at the insincerity of those performing the rites. 

Re: Renewing Catholic Culture Starts with The Mass - SpiderDweeb - 11-22-2013

(11-22-2013, 09:53 AM)Unum Sint Wrote:
(11-22-2013, 08:48 AM)SpiderDweeb Wrote: I hope the Holy Father leads by example and ditches the beach balls. 

That didn't happen during Mass at least not as Pope.

Do a simple google search and you can find many instances where the Pope has performed in a lackluster manner, while performing various religious functions. 

Think of the recent World Youth Day liturgies that the Holy Father participated in.  Twirling Bishops doing the wave!  If I was a young man, I would most definitely not be attracted to the priesthood after watching debacles such as that. 

I want the Pope to crack down on liturgical abuses, but I'm not holding my breath.  He doesn't strike me as the type to get very worked up over liturgical matters.  Remember, actions speak louder than words.  He can say this, or that, but if he really means any of it, he will start cracking down on abuses and performing his own masses in the highest level possible for the Novus Ordo Mass. 

Like I said, I think he's just blowing hot air, or throwing a bone to good folks on the right.  In the end, nothing will come of it.  That being said, I would love for him to prove me wrong......