February 19, 2009

Open Letter to Left-of-Center Catholics

This post is a response to a couple things I've read lately.

The first is this post from Jeff about the controversy over displaying crucifixes and icons in classrooms at Boston College. As usual, he is a faithful and thoughtful voice for moderation and against the polarizing forces of contemporary Catholicism. When it comes to those who object to displaying Christ crucified at an allegedly Catholic school (!) he writes, "Oh, give me a break! With moonbats like this around, no wonder we have SSPX wingnuts around... Is there anyone sane out there?" Though made in a colorful way, this is a very important point.

The second is this post from SFO Mom, expressing her frustration over the lack of seriousness or solemnity surrounding her child's preparation for the full sacramental initiation of Confirmation. I feel for her.

So here's my point to the alleged majority of faithful, dedicated and prayerful "left of center" Catholics: I will love you and revere you always because you have raised me, encouraged me, believed in me, and handed on the faith to me. But as long as we treat the deposit of faith and the gift of the sacraments casually, as long as we tolerate the environment of liturgical abuse that makes everyone their own pope, and as long as we give in to the secularizing forces that privatize and marginalize the truths of the faith, frustrated people will react by going just as far in the other direction, and they will find the demagogues you call "ultra conservative" or "far right" with great ease.

So if you love the accessibility and inclusion of the Mass of Paul VI and are worried about the remission of restrictions on the old Mass, then let's pray the Novus Ordo Missae together with the reverence that doesn't want to change its words or rubrics. Without the nonsense of liturgical abuses and 'making it up as we go along,' many fewer will seek stability and refuge in the Tridentine Mass. If you are worried about losing the "spirit of Vatican II" to so-called "traditionalist" forces, then let's read the documents of the Council again and pray about how we can put them into practice according to the "signs of the times." And I mean the signs of 2009, not those of 1971. And the so-called "crisis" that is behind my writing today is one of those signs that needs interpretation and action in the light of the Gospel.


ben in denver said...

Preach it Father!

The true spirit of Vatican II is the Spirit of Christ, the same Spirit that breathed life into Nicea and Trent. There are no contradictions and no ruptures between Trent and Vatican II.

As a person in the pews, I will let you in on a secret. The number one issue that divides the so-called conservative catholics like Jeff and SFO Mom and myself from the left-of center ones is not Vatican II, it is not liturgy, it is not social justice, it is not the abortion issue, it is not war or foriegn policy; it is the acceptance of so-called liberal Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae". This short document determines the factions in this church.

See this recent article by the Apostolic Penitentiary, James Francis Cardinal Stafford:


Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the link, Ben. Good to hear from you. I remembering reading Humanae vitae in studies (in a theological school without any Christian "symbols" in the classrooms, by the way) and being so impressed.

For all who only remember it as being about artificial birth control, go back and read it. Take note of the warnings listed therein, note how they have come true, and let us ask ourselves if we can do better.

Barb, sfo said...

Ben, thank you for that article. I agree that you have hit on the big issue that divides Catholics.

Friar Charles, I agree. We have to do better.

Anonymous said...

I would be a bit left of center and do not treat the deposit of faith nor the sacraments lightly. Confirmation was at my parish tonight. We confirmed children who haven't been to Mass since their own First Communion. Meanwhile, my child knew that Confirmation confers a permanent character.

To be left of center is not to be a moonbat, ignorant or less than reverent. Similarly to be right of the mark.

We all need to read and reflect on these documents and how we might respond.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comment and adjustment, Anonymous. You help me to remember that the question isn't about what label we apply to each other, and much less who is a "moonbat," [;-)] but about questioning the Catholic culture that allows things like the pro forma sacramental initiation that you describe (among other things.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are all members of the same Church. The image I like is of the Barque of Peter - if everyone climbed to the same side of the boat, it would tip over! (Though of course, if an individual moves too far from the center - you can fall right out of the boat.) The tension helps keep all of us in balance, as long as it is predicated on love of God, respect for the Church and each other.

I would imagine the reverent among us on both sides of the center are equally piqued at being described as "crazies".

pax et bonum