Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tradition, The Path From Fishermen to Potentates

The above photo is of Cardinal Pell of Sydney Australia celebrating a Traditional Latin Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, this past week. The service was held in Rome.

The picture to the left depicts Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to be his apostles. They were simple fisherman.

The history of Roman Catholic tradition is supposed to explain how the Holy Spirit inspired our leadership to progress from simple fishermen to Imperial Cardinal.

I have a problem with believing the Holy Spirit inspired the Church to take on Imperial trappings and a Romanesque military hierarchy, and make them dogma.

I don't see the rough and tumble fisherman in Cardinal Pell and his entourage. I do see boatloads of fish in the cost of their vestments.

I don't see love operating in Masses in which the pomp and circumstance become more important than the truth of the Eucharist. Where form matters more than content, where the devotion and awe is purposely centered on the celebrants and not the Mass itself.

I grew up with the Latin Mass and the gold filigree and the mountains of lace. It left me feeling insignificant and confused. How was I supposed to connect with the humanity of Jesus and see his face in the poor when I was presented with images which were completely the opposite of His message.

As I got older, took a few psychology classes, some church history, it became readily apparent that I was never supposed to connect with the human Jesus. The Jesus which is part and parcel of my interior life. I was supposed to feel insignificant and less than because the authority of the clerical caste depended on me being dependent. My relationship with Jesus was supposed to go through them and be external to me. But that's not what Jesus actually taught. He taught the exact opposite. His kingdom was WITH IN us, not external to us.

The church could very easily have taught the Gospel without the Imperial trappings. It did successfully for it's first three centuries, and it works spectacularly well for Evangelicals now.

Dragging the Church back to the 'drag' will not be successful. It is jarring, it is out of touch with reality, and it's message is not love and transcendence, but ego and control.

Rumor has it the Vatican is planning to move the Kiss of Peace to the beginning of the offertory. Distancing it from communion where it is seen as disruptive to the 'correct' personal preparation for reception of the Host. For some people this won't be a big deal, but it is because it's one more step backwards. One more step where the theology of community is lessened. One more step away from communal nature of the Last Supper for the sake of old notions of personal piety.

It's been announced that Cardinal Arinze's replacement for the Congregation of Divine Worship will be Spain's Cardinal Antonio Canizares. Traditionalists are ecstatic, as they foresee that Cardinal Canizares will enthusiastically continue with the 'reforming' of the Novus Ordo. Cardinal Canizares was also one of the most outspoken Spanish prelates in it's attacks on Spain's socialist government. Benedict certainly seems to be surrounding himself with hard core right wing Bishops and Cardinals. I guess that let's him take on the kindly pastoral face of Rome.

Be that as it may, this has nothing to do with inspired fishermen and everything to do with preferred Imperial tastes. There's very little in all this which is spiritual or inspired by the Holy Spirit. If this is the kind of church Jesus envisioned, if these are the kinds of leaders He wanted, then the Church should just ditch the New Testament or at least those passages in which Jesus defined leaders as servants to the servants. It might not improve the church, but at least it would ditch most of the hypocrisy.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excerpt from "SINS OF THE FATHERS"

    There are many scriptures in the new testament that specifically refer to the Magisterial Authority of the Catholic Church, and not in complimentary terms.

    Mr 12:38 - "And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts"

    Lu 20:46 - "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts,"

    (long robes, 20' magna cappas, places of honor, ring kissing - sounds awfully familiar doesnt it?)

    Lu 12:1 - "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

    Mt 16:11 - "How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees."

    Mt 16:12 - "Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees"

    The internet is filled with photos of the bishops from all over the world in their ornate robes and cappa magmas. Each of these photos is an indictment of the depraved indifference of the Magisterial Authorities to the true message of Christ that is contained in the scriptures.

    The hypocrisy of the bishopric is well documented. Very well documented. There are enough examples just in the last 2 decades to fill a very large encyclopedia.

    The question we must be asking now, is very simple. The bishops are supposed to be guardians of the faith. How faithfully are they performing that function? The answer: all one has to do is look at their clothes, their cars and their castles and the answer will be obvious.

  3. Perhaps they really have ditched the New Testament. It would seem that they focus too much on the old anyway. They are always looking back and making what is in the past more important than what is now, in the present. By doing so they have become stuck and are tripping on their long robes into empty churches.

    word is maticise

  4. i agree with you butterfly. . .i think most of what we see with the religious right is about being in the level of consciousness that is often expressed in the Old Testament. . .

    my word is follydr. . .i would imagine most of these potentates have studied the letter of the law and surely have phd. . .

  5. Colleen, deeply insightful commentary, with some good zingers (e.g., the implications of dragging us back).

    I especially like how you note the link between the new liturgy czar's politics and his view of the liturgy. The two go hand in hand, always, and too often, these discussions of liturgy don't point out the political implications.

    I'm glad you're doing so.

  6. That's funny Marci. Follydr as a word verification is perfect for this post as most of these potentates have PHD's. Of course, the vast majority of those degrees are from Catholic seminaries and are in Canon Law.

    True Bill, politics and pompousness go hand in hand. The website I took Pell's photo from frequently name drops the minor nobility he has run across in his pursuit of covering TLM activities in Rome. The comments, their fawning and such, are incredible. It's hard to believe this is an American site.

    My word was deste, which my brain tried to turn into detest.

  7. Wow. You really are going after the traditionalist movement hard now aren't you? Jesus criticized the pharisees for their hypocrisy. Not for the pomp and magnificence of the temple. You give fine jewelry to a lover. But should we not do the same towards God? Having things such as Gregorian Chant, incense, kneeling to recieve communion are all about lifting us up to the divine! It's all about giving us a sense of the sacred. A sense of mystery, if you will.

    2) The fact that the pope is moving the sign of peace is good. Before the consecration it is important that we put our full attention towards God! The mass is about God...not the community. Do I downplay the community? No, I admit the importance of community and the mass is a deep prayer in which the Catholic community prays to God, and recieves the Eucharist, together.

    Thankyou and God bless

  8. Thanks for commenting Christopher, and you are correct about my going after the traditionalists. Well, somewhat correct.

    I find nothing in the Traditional Latin Mass that is intrinsically offensive, and a great deal which truly is transcendant like Gregorian chant.

    What I find offensive is all the pomp and circumstance laid on the celebrants and the cost there of.

    If our mysticism does not lead to our understanding that Jesus dwells in all of us and we must serve one another, then our mysticism is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Mathew cahpter 23:

    All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.

    5 They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,

    greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'

    6 As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
    Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.
    Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah.
    The greatest among you must be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    I'm sorry Christopher, but I just can't reconcile Imperial Catholicism with what Jesus is saying in Mathew chapter 23.

    I attended parish Masses back in the 60's at both a large wealthy suburban parish in Detroit and a small rural parish in Montana. The two latin Masses were like night and day, but although the Detroit parish did it in spades, glitter, gold, and incense, the small Montana parish was much more spiritually meaningful. So I know from personal experience the TLM does not need the glitz and glitter to be effective.

    A personal side note. The Parish priest in the small Montana parish was a personal friend of John Paul's and he visited the parish a couple of years before he became Pope.

    I used to have the greatest arguments with Msgr Glusczek who absolutely hated the Novus Ordo. I think we were like three years behind the rest of the diocese in implementing it.

    Monsignor and I loved each other dearly even though our theologies weren't even in the same league much less the same ballpark.

    The last thing he ever said to me was that he would pray very hard for me in Latin to see that I didn't wind up in hell. We both laughed and I thanked him!