Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dancing Waters!

The last days and weeks have seen an increase in significant reflections and observations in the blogoshere concerning the urgency of restoring our Roman Catholic Liturgical Tradition. One of the best summaries of this discussion appeared on the blog New Liturgical Movement: The Growing Realization of the Irreparable Failure of the Liturgical Reform by Peter Kwasniewski. I highly recommend Nicholas Postgate's article for perspective and for substance that of Fr. Thomas Kocik. Just today the LMS CHAIRMAN - THE CHAIRMAN'S BLOG started a new series in the same vein and of the author's usual high quality. To quote from St. Augustine: Take and read!

I wish, however, that Peter Kwasniewski had left it at that, but he also published a piece on Rorate Caeli: What does it mean to be a "traditional Catholic"? Aren't all Catholics traditional? To say the least, it is hard hitting. I'd like to attempt to explain why I think such articles are wasted energy in furthering the cause of promoting the restoration of the Roman Rite.

To explain the random video above and the title of the article, I guess I have to attempt to explain a cultural phenomenon which passed me by for some reason, rendering me a bit of a social outcast. The phenomenon is a popular attraction to something called "dancing waters". Wikipedia lists the topic under "musical fountains" and dates the earliest one to Transylvania in or around 1820. I remember as a child that organists even traveled with portable fountain and light basins attached somehow to the organ and gave concerts which were quite popular. As I say, I could never understand why people, like my Aunt Dorothy, were so passionate about either these or firework displays. We also had a family friend, amateur photographer, who would give slide shows of his still photos of the 4th of July... I'm sorry! While I cannot claim to have better taste aesthetically or otherwise than others, I think it safe to say that "dancing waters" was not the apex of anything in the realm of the performing arts. The attraction continues for people around the world (not just in Las Vegas) and perhaps grows! Try and posit effective resistance to it with reasonable arguments; you are lost before you start!

What do "dancing waters" have to do with Peter's impassioned defense of a sense of and adherence to tradition, especially in matters of doctrine and liturgy, as being the only truly Catholic stance? Very simply, I would say, most folk cannot sort out the difference between faithfulness to tradition and conservatism. Most people tend naturally to be conservative: they can tend rather unreflectively to do things as their parents had done them; they are creatures of habit; a conservative stance is just that. Winning someone for the Mass of the Ages is not an appeal to innate conservatism as if it could be claimed to be part of baptismal character. We're dealing with teaching and learning here. Adherence to the tradition is an intelligent choice, which may be aided by the natural inclination toward conservatism, but it is based always on the noble virtue of obedience and, most likely, on a reasoning process worthy of a human being. Faith comes through preaching as does a worthy appreciation for the tradition. Peter knows that obviously, but he's taking on a crowd (once again on the rise seemingly within the Church and hierarchy) which knows to have conservatism on their side (yes, indeed). 

Conservatism alone does not inoculate a person against a fatal attraction to "dancing waters" nor against "polka masses" or Life-Teen programs (it probably does protect against clown masses, giant puppets and liturgical dance by an Indian Jesuit in a loincloth and bracelets, with a red dot on his forehead and eye makeup). While Peter might be right on every account concerning why the so-called neoconservative position is to be rejected in favor of the tradition, he simply vilifies our closest allies as traitors to the defense of the tradition against the iconoclasts and deconstructionists who got the upper hand after the Council and seem to be attempting a comeback in these last days. How do you fight "dancing waters"? Obviously you don't. Honestly, I am not being impertinent. 

The scandal of the Ordinary Form resides in its failure to be a vehicle always and everywhere of attentive reverence in the presence of the Heavenly Court and at the foot of Calvary, one with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in His Perfect Sacrifice upon the Cross for the life of the world. While it is plain wrong and outrageous to deny that there are worthy celebrations of the Ordinary Form, this does not address the fundamental questions of 1) its radical departure in many points from the whole liturgical tradition of the Latin Church; 2) its failure to adhere both in spirit and in letter to the instructions for liturgical reform imparted by the Second Vatican Council. If you appeal to Papal authority in the promulgation of the Ordinary Form, it should not be done by putting Pope Paul VI at odds with an Ecumenical Council, which he and his successors have steadfastly upheld up until our present day. How do you fight "dancing waters"?

I really think that all people are doing to reform the reformed liturgy is a sine qua non for creating the atmosphere of mutual enrichment (after the mind of Pope Benedict XVI), which will enable the organic development of the Liturgy once it has been restored to its glory (nothing is lost from the good of the 3 successive editions of the Roman Missal and more recent and faithful translations). Father Kocik believes that the reset point for the restoration is 1965; my guess is that others may disagree. I don't think the scholars of the restoration have completed their work; we need a lot more reflection and analysis like that carried on by Joseph Shaw on behalf of the faithful, both clergy and laity. The rediscovery of Eucharistic Adoration has born fruit in faith and vocations all over the world; it sustains many Catholic marriages and saves families. Radical reverence, pondered reverence is a key element in this equation and today's priority for Divine Worship. "Dancing waters" belong in Vegas; our churches, our temples, our very being belongs to God. Human nature understands this and when Church authority banishes all but the sublime from the temple that same nature in its very conservatism, enlightened by a true sense and understanding of our tradition, will embrace it in obedience.

Join me in praying for leadership from bishops and priests to do all in their power through teaching, preaching and action to prepare the way of restoration. Pray that our Holy Father will begin to move beyond the genuine sobriety he personally witnesses in his celebration of the Eucharist to laying the foundations for the restoration which time and again great saints have begged of God for Mother Church. We entrust our prayers to Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, Mother of God and Mother of the Church.


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