Boston Catholic Journal
Poor Bishop Brandolini, fretting that his work which decimated the Church may be imperiled by the clamoring of the Faithful for a return of Latin to the liturgy ... even the Tridentine Rite itself! His failed experiment that profoundly touched ... and detrimentally changed ... the lives of one billion people, may, he apparently fears, and to the point of tears, become along with himself, a footnote in Church history. And not a very proud one at that.
My question to the tearful, and deeply personally injured
bishop is this: how can he square the fact that the abandonment of the
Latin Mass and Divine Office following the
slash and burn liturgical
methodology following Vatican II
merely and strangely coincided
with the decimation of Religious Orders, the emptying of monasteries
and seminaries, the huge loss of friars, monks, and nuns, the unparalleled
drop in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the precipitous
drop in Mass attendance and the overtly disaffected teaching of so many,
many theologians disobedient both to their own Mandatum and
to the Holy See? Answer me this, my good bishop, obviously
in such deep communion, in such exemplary solidarity, with the Supreme
On the other hand, the relatively few who remained after
the terrible hemorrhage following the tearing down of the walls
... not the much vaunted
flinging open of the windows ...
of the Church following the
renewal of Vatican II, largely became
social workers committed much more to saving
social structures and
empowerment than saving
immortal souls. They
are politically astute and deeply activist, some even having held political
office. Nearly all of them appear to be strongly and visibly aligned
with a clearly distinguishable body politic called the Democratic
Party (think Fr./Congressman Drinan, 10 years and four terms in Congress,
From the Pie in the Sky to a Slice of the Pie
They seek our social and political franchise ... but not our souls. Odd. They work to rebuild the City of Man, having effectively emigrated from the City of God from the pie in the sky" to the "slice of the pie. I do not think that the founders of their various orders envisioned such a mutation.
The problem for these progressive" orders is that they simply have too much competition: there are already countless secular social workers, political activists, organizations and agencies that do exactly what they do. The prevailing charism could be summarized rather succinctly: Why look for a Pie in the sky, when you can have a Piece of the pie? But the most troubling question given this defection from the most fundamental nature of a religious vocation itself, a vocation that cannot be coherently understood apart from the primacy of the notion of redemption and a Redeemer, is this: who is looking to the souls of men and women in the meanwhile as such Religious increasingly pursue secular ends that are the proper province of the laity? Presumably such dimensions of our humanity as the immortal soul are still viable concepts ... even realities.
On the other hand, a brief look at religious orders such as the Missionaries
of Charity (Mother Teresa's order), and the Legionaries of Christ, to
name just two: reveal orders brimming with vocations and almost all
of them young. They leave politics to the politicians, activism to the
activists, and social work to the social workers (can anyone question
the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta and elsewhere with anything
less than absolute devotion to the poor ... in body and soul?).
In other words, they recognize and respect the distinct vocation of
the Catholic laity to be the leaven of Christ in the City of Man. Daily
their numbers increase while daily the numbers of the older
enlightened and socially progressive orders diminish. Could Brandolini,
and co-architect Archbishop Bugnini have been wrong? Can a mistake have
Mass became Mass Entertainment and a mass communal meal where the pews emptied entirely with no sinner in sight left behind in the pews. No one knows of sin because no one any longer speaks of sin especially mortal sin eo ipso there are no sinners in the Church. Since Vatican II, all, apparently, have attained to impeccability and are worthy of the Lamb and all and I mean all approach the table (as they now say, once known as the Altar in those dark pre-Conciliar days when the Mass was a Sacrifice, and not entertainment).
And, of course, every entertainer, every MC, has his musicians. If the Mass fails as entertainment it can always fall back on the music but the choir-as-music fails even more miserably, even more conspicuously were it possible, than the priest as entertainer. And it is possible: there is absolutely no public venue that would accept what is sung, tolerated really, at Catholic Masses and hope to break even at the end of the night. But at the end of Mass we are encouraged to actually applaud the cacophony that has grated on us for the past 45 minutes.
Applause is the also the most appropriate response to "entertainment".
As you applaud, the "musical entertainers accordingly bow
in gratitude for your appreciation of their performance.
If you were transported back 2000 years and stood present at the Crucifixion of Christ on Calvary ... would you be:
These are not facetious questions.
Mass is absolutely unique
One does not go to Block-Buster Video to worship God. One goes to
experiment with entertainment and to be entertained.
The word for that is pride. The deadliest sin of all. And the casualties,
as we have found over the past 40 years, have been nothing less than
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Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non
negasti Nomen Meum
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