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        Boston Catholic Journal                   “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” Pope Benedict XVI

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A Commentary in Passing:

upon excerpts from

Introduction to Christianity


by Pope Benedict XVI

Part III:

Beating a Dead Horse ... the Dialectical that Didn't

 

"So", you ask me, "what about the dead horse? Enough of this obscurity couched as a disturbing metaphor that so far has quite eluded me. Cut to the chase!"

Very well.

If you are asking this question then you are not a bishop, priest, theologian, pastor or "Religious facilitator" (a particularly pretentious neologism denoting a person with quasi-religious credentials allied to other putatively professional credentials who "facilitates" understanding in a disputation — what had been known more coherently known as a "mediator", until "facilitator" sounded more erudite and likely to command greater wages — but I belabor the point.) In any event, ask any of the above and they will tell you immediately that the idiomatic "beating of a dead horse" pertains to matters dogmatic and ecclesiastical that preceded the insipience following the Second Vatican Council when the much vaunted "spirit of Vatican II" did not prophetically fulfill, but rather promiscuously abolished and ultimately superseded the actual words and clear intent embodied in the Conciliar documents themselves, which became largely irrelevant to a purpose, an agendum if you will, that increasingly became less symbiotic and more parasitic relative to the actual documents themselves, until what actually became "the rumor" of such documents collapsed under the collective weight of subreptive interpretation.

What of everything that we have been taught — those of us who remember, say, the days of real Nuns in real habits teaching "Catechism", and when more than a few priests wore the Roman Cassock. In other words, of everything that had been thrown out wholesale with the "Renewal" that did nothing to renew us, but through which we largely lost or threw out our historical identity as Catholics. That is to say, before the advent of "Woman Church", "Liberation Theology", "Queer Nation" which quickly and flagrantly became Queer Seminary and, not surprisingly, a queerly effeminately Church, under whatever guise it assumed as most expedient – to the devastation of the clergy, the seminaries, the chanceries, the Religious Orders, and finally our very children. Through ignorance of their faith and/or molestation of their genitals it was the children who suffered most. This is not what Jesus meant when He said,
"Suffer the little children to come unto me" ...

The dead horse is the Church not as it "used to be" (for, as St. Augustine noted, it is "ever ancient, ever new") but as it is embodied in precisely those documents that heralded the "Aggiornamento" for which distinct segments within the church vociferously clamored — and subsequently vitiated. It is the corpus of belief, doctrine, and dogma that had coherently defined the Catholic Church for 2000 years. These stifling, outdated, outmoded, and ultimately inconvenient canons governing the life of the Church in light of the historical teaching of Jesus Christ, the Church Fathers, and Sacred Tradition that we had erstwhile known as the "D" word (Deposit of Faith) had been beaten into secular submission — and left for dead.

The problem is that we were unable to bury the carcass. It lay, more an elephant than a horse, in St. Peter's Square defying those who beat her and pronounced her dead. Not only did the carcass remain unmovable, but, to the horror of those who brought it down, it began once again to breathe! There was a flurry of subtle, and not so subtle, activity to muffle the beast before, like Balaam's Ass, it began to speak — of things ancient as well as new! If permitted to suspire, it may even rehabilitate the hated doctrines for which it was struck silent to begin with.


I think that we must must begin to understand, "Introduction to Christianity" with this vivid, if distasteful, metaphor in mind. I do not think that the work can be understood apart from this propadeutic, from this necessary starting point which is not an Hegelian dialectical moment embracing contradictories only to reveal them as reconciled in a more comprehensive unity. Pope Benedict is a German and a philosopher, but he is no Hegelian. In fact, he argues that what we have accepted, been taught, as having been dialectically reconciled is, in reality, ultimately factitious, and that Catholic man today has found that he has, in fact, arrived at something irreconcilable — that the illusion of embracing the world and embracing Jesus Christ is, well, an illusion. It is an illusion so deeply seated that it infects believer and unbeliever alike:
 

"It is certainly true that anyone who tries to preach the faith amid people involved in modern life and thought can really feel like a clown, or rather perhaps like someone who, rising from an ancient sarcophagus, walks into the midst of the world of today dressed and thinking in the ancient fashion and can neither understand nor be understood by this world of ours. Nevertheless, if he who seeks to preach the faith is sufficiently self-critical, he will soon notice that it is not only a question of form, of the kind of dress in which theology enters upon the scene. In the strangeness of theology's aims to the men of our time, he who takes his calling seriously will clearly recognize not only the difficulty of the task of interpretation but also the insecurity of his own faith, the oppressive power of unbelief in the midst of his own will to believe."

Introduction to Christianity, Chapter I


Only in coming to terms, to honest terms, with this realization can the divisions within the Body of Christ be healed. As long as we live the pretense that we have abolished, and are even now in the process of abolishing irreconcilables, we live not only inauthentically, but deeply dishonestly. We cannot eviscerate Catholicism to invigorate it. We cannot beat the horse that brought us to St. Peter's Square, dismount it, and pronounce it dead ... simply because we find it convenient once we have arrived ...

The horse and the rider are one. Their purpose is one. Let us now see how rider and horse, each fully vested in reality, not translate, but transfigure the belief ... and the unbelief of men.


Geoffrey K. Mondello
for the Boston Catholic Journal

   Printable PDF Version


 

Part IV: The Oppressive Power of Unbelief

 

Go back to Part II: Of Benedict and Balaam - of Horses and Asses

Go back to Part I: The Corrupt Theology of Vatican II and the Odor of Less than Sanctity

 

Boston Catholic Journal

 

 


 


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