Renewing Catholic Culture Starts With The Mass

walkinginthedesert.com/2013/11/22/renewing-catholic-culture-starts-with-the-mass/

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.

Agree. Amen.
Pax et Bonum:bible1:

If a Catholic renewal of the world is going to occur, it will happen through lay Catholics acting as salt and light in the world. We are like the foot soldiers sent by the colonels of the army under the direction of The Supreme Commander in Chief.

And like soldiers in every army throughout history, we will be sent without adequate equipment, supplies, and sometimes even food. But we still have to obey orders instead of focussing on the lacks …

It is not the form of the Mass, it is the existence of the Mass. And it is not the Mass alone, it is all the prayers of all the Faithful. Rather than concentrate on Getting The Mass Back To Where I Think It Should Be, we should be praying and encouraging others to pray. And we should be praying for the hierarchy, praying for government officials throughout the world, praying for conversions both of those close to us and distant from us.

Lovin’ this article and if I could have put words to paper, they would have said much the same thing.

I have much sympathy for those too young to have been exposed to an earlier era of “Heaven” and the flow of grace emanating from a liturgy purely focused on the worship of God and untouched by cultural novelties. They simply don’t know what they have missed. We do not have a TLM here, but I would certainly appreciate the Novus Ordo being celebrated with some chant (which is what we are supposed to do) and in such a manner that would exclude the frivolities one often sees at Mass today under the guise of fellowship and community. I could weep over how much we have lost!

Will Catholics be the restorers? In the current climate of suspicion and thinly veiled hostility toward all things traditional, I wonder. Those who cherish Tradition are of a minority, at least in my little corner of the world, and the different Catholic camps can’t seem to help but pick each other apart.

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

Father is correct. The world is rejecting the things of God at an alarming rate. As the Mass is our most important prayer and that which keeps the world upright, evil needs to try to disguise and/or minimize its affect - not that it can. I’ve read sources which state that the younger generation is being drawn back to that which once was - almost like they will not allow themselves to be denied. I pray that their energy and vivacity and their spiritual eyes will be catalyst for a renewal.

Very good article. In terms of the Liturgy. I prefer EF to the OF. However, even the OF can still do a wonderful job is celebrated correctly. A few small changes would go a long way:

  1. Reintroduction of the propers.

  2. Reintroduction of Gregorian chant and Latin music. 1500 years of amazing Latin music shouldn’t be going to waste as it is today. Chant should be the standard of music for the Liturgy.

  3. Turning around altar and making at least the Liturgy of the Eucharist ad orientem. People can see the priest during the Liturgy of the Word. The LotE should be completely focused on the sacrifice.

  4. Creating more rigid rubrics which do not allow as much leeway. Too many priests do omit parts of the Mass or just do things that make you scratch your head.

  5. Return of incense for most Masses. Having one Mass without incense can accommodate those who have allergies that can’t be controlled.

I am a little confuse. I read what the Holy Father said, about the danger of hegemonic uniformity and not compromising the faith. The rest of the article seems to depart on a tangent from that in a new direction about the Mass, how bad 70’s music is and the state of art. That is all well and good, but it has zero to do with what the Holy Father said.

Uniformity is not necessary. We need not trade one form of cultural uniformity for another.

Here is more on what the Pope said:

vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20131118_fidelity-God_en.html

Edit: I wanted to add that the OP here has an awesome website. I found it very impressive, if anyone wants to check it out.

I am glad someone else said this.

We need to listen to our Holy Father, not what others say our Holy Father is saying.

Likewise I have sympathy for those who, because they are too young to have actually experienced it, fantacize about a version of an earler era that never really existed. They are simply don’t know what they think they have missed.

…while others do know what is truly being missed because they actually did live it and live in it, and…well…it wasn’t “a fantasy.” :wink:

God bless you and I am glad for you. I, however, don’t miss it a bit., and I lived it also. Please do not suggest that people like me are the rarity, because we are not. Instead, we should recognize that God touches us in different ways, and I am equally as fed by the OF as others are by the EF.

:thumbsup: I lived through those early liturgies before V-II, also, and I would never entertain any desire whatsoever to go back to those days. Many folks who are our age have expressed the same sentiments and are very appreciative that we have the new liturgy.

Just to clarify, I too did live in that era, for over 20 years, and yes, Cokes were a nickel and gasoline did selI for 17 cents a gallon.

I have no problem if someone is attached to the litugical celebrations of that time. My point of contention is with those who, far too young to lived then, long for an excessively glamorized era of golden perfection in all things liturgical and I’m here to say that that era did not exist, it is FANTASY.

And because this era was problematic in many ways with regard to liturgy, that was the primary focus and first order of business undertaken at the Council - to renew the litugy. If people would read the documents instead of chutzpahs, they would have a better understanding of this necessity viewed by the Councilors.

Ralph Martin just last week on New Evangelilzation announced the voting for each of the Council’s documents. It was overwhelming, with only an insignificant percentage in opposition. I can’t seem to find the program on Youtube, so if anyone wants the scoop, I’m sure Dr. Martin would be happy to oblige.

Maybe this article would be helpful in the meanwhile: “The general meetings of the first session of the ecumenical council closed with an overwhelming vote of approval for the preface and first chapter of the project on the liturgy.”

I think this discussion is important, and also believe it is not about OF and EF.
This comes down to our priests and our bishops.
Personally, having been an altar boy in the Latin Mass and going to Latin Class every Saturday to learn the Mass I can honestly say I love a well said OF.

We have some very fine priests who say very reverent OF Masses and preach wonderful homilies, following the fine teachings of our Popes.

Let us pray for these priests, they need our support and encouragement to continue.

I recall a conversation with a priest who was new to a parish, it was full of good people but had gotten lax in some rubrics and had picked up some bad habits, including the music.

He knew there had to be changes, but he also said he does not want to chase thee people away, they are good people, though possibly mistaken, misguided or misinformed.

Slowly he will introduce changes, explaining the things the Popes are asking us to do and why, and to teach them, as their intentions are good.

This can be a daunting task for our clergy as we have had the large disparity in understanding since Vatican II, but in meeting many young priests and seminarians over the last few years I truly believe God is sending us a group of fine labourers for our vineyard … He will give us what we need, we need but to co-operate.

Thanks for reading the article

I can see where you can get confused.

Let me just say that what I meant to say in both the first part of the article and the second half is that we should not let ourselves get modernized or lose the uniquiness of Our Catholic faith because we want to keep up with the world.

The Mass itself is one of the things that helps us know that although we life in the world we are not of the world.

Just as art we ought to know that the Mass is Heaven on Earth

I agree with your understanding. The Holy Father is simply being used as an excuse to promote the OP’s private concerns which he happens to share with Professor Woods and Fr. Ripperger.

"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”.
Professor Woods

The thread is a misnomer in order to patronize a return to the TLM. From his second post:

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.”

Arturo concludes: 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.

IOW, he seems to promote rather strongly, a view that the OF liturgy is in need of restoration to the traditional latin mass, gregorian chant, etc., and preempts it with an underscore that it seemingly comes from Pope Francis.

Of the few young priests that I have been exposed to recently, I must say that I’m quite confident for the future. Many of these younger priests are coming out of the seminary with a very traditional and reverent outlook on things. It’s quite refreshing.

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