In a time which feels like so long ago, it was a well-known fact that man was a living and true substance. He was a person, with a body and soul, matter and form. His place in the hierarchy of creation was the highest of material bodies. He governed all that was placed under his dominion by the Lord, most especially the garden of his soul, watching patiently and carefully for the coming of Christ upon time’s demise. As a rational animal, man was made for truth; indeed, that he could see truth and recognize it as such is what distinguished him from the brutes he ruled. Because of this capacity for truth, our lives were filled with color and music, laughter and joy, goodness and beauty. We lived in a community as parts of a whole (for the whole is greater than the sum of the parts), all toiling together in the hope of the vision of the Divine Essence. Man was human in the fullest sense of the word.
There exists the deplorable practice today of invoking the words “be in the world, not of the world” in a saintly voice in justification of wallowing in vicious self-love. This excuse comes almost subconsciously, and not surprisingly: it is, more often than not, yet another wise maxim projected onto church-going hedonists to gratify their egos.
What is it to be in the world and not of it? It is to walk wholly in the imitation of Christ, in the examples of the Saints and the Blessed Mother. It is to be a vessel of grace, a person who despises the things of the flesh and desires enmity from the world only after the desire for union with God. I would guess most of us are far from this degree of holiness.
Perhaps the easiest pastime of this fall is to worry about coronavirus, worry about getting shut down again, worry about the election, about riots, about the economy, about having the Sacraments banned, etc. There are a seemingly endless number of crisis to stress out about. Everybody is talking about these things, and I’m pretty tired of it. So let’s not talk about them.
One common behavior I’ve noticed is that many of us Catholics readily rebuke people who hold wrong opinions but are never willing to receive rebukes ourselves (myself included, of course. I’m a bit of a hot head.) This is certainly not a new problem, but it is one which is manifesting itself over and over again in innumerable conversations. Do we forget that Satan does not just tempt everyone except ourselves? Do we forget that we too are the worst of sinners? Do we forget that we too are stupid, faithless, and despicable creatures because of our own sinfulness and vices? Any seriously honest examination of conscience will reveal the great depth of our capacity for evil.
The day may be far spent, but there is still hope for those who look to the horizon. For the light of the rising sun shines forth over the edge, shines through the Church and Her Sacraments, shines through the grace of God without end. Such has been established by Christ in his time on Earth, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. We must continue to search for the sun, the Beloved Son, who will come again.
I must confess that I am angry.
This title serves to illustrate how I have recently come to entertain the idea that, going forward, the form in which the faithful receive Holy Communion is one of the main determinants of the future of the Catholic Church. If the majority of faithful continue to receive Holy Communion in the hand, there will likewise be a further decline in belief in the Real Presence along with Holy Mass attendance and general orthodoxy. However, if the tide begins to turn and more faithful start receiving the Holy Eucharist on the tongue, there will be sundry effects which will echo throughout and strengthen the overall standings of Holy Mother Church.
Let me begin by acknowledging that both receiving in the hand and on the tongue are allowed and not sinful. However, it is ignorant to set the two on completely equal footings based solely on the fact that both means are currently legitimate.
In the last article I identified some of the positive reasons I prefer Traditionalism over the Charismatic Renewal movement. In this second part I will name various negative reasons why Traditionalism is better than the Charismatic Renewal movement.
Firstly, the movement is prone to and fosters practices which are theologically ill-grounded and irreverent. One potential point of error includes failing to make the distinction between the power of a priest’s blessing or prayers versus that of a lay person’s. Another may be to equate a lay person’s hands with that of a man who has received Holy Orders; while a lay person laying hands on another person may have significant emotional or physical effects on the subject, the laying on of hands by a lay person has no theological significance on account of their hands not being consecrated (referencing St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian). This leads into a third error, and that is the failure to target the soul as the principal recipient of grace. Often the movement places an unwarranted importance on emotions, on feeling good, and feeling “the power of the Spirit.” While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is certainly a bad habit because it deceives the unsuspecting faithful to think that prayer is all about feeling, about getting consolation, and this thinking is detrimental to a proper prayer life every Catholic should be sustaining. I am not discrediting a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit or emotions; both are genuine and valuable and used by God to give consolation. But, I think the “Holy Spirit” is too often a substitute for the term emotion. Furthermore, it is this aspect of some denominations and Christian individuals’ spirituality which lead outsiders to criticize religious people as lunatics who self-induce euphoria to make themselves feel better about a world broken by sin. Sometimes these critics are right. I will admit I am skeptical to the notion of being “slain in the Spirit,” and I think this concept is odd and perhaps unnatural. I suppose you could say it’s a bit too Pentecostal for my liking, but that’s me.
A while back I wrote an article on Traditionalism and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. As time passes, I am led to reconsider and rearticulate what I previously stated.
In the article, I very briefly discussed the purposes of each movement, some things I liked about each, and how the two may be reconciled to bring great fruits to parish life. While my opinions about these things may not have exactly changed drastically, I do wish to express some clarifications and bring new knowledge to the table which I didn’t possess before.
Put candidly, I am much more inclined to and enthusiastic about Traditionalism than the Charismatic Renewal for several reasons which I will presently list. Firstly, Traditionalism is much more beautiful, in the objective nature of the term. The Tridentine Mass is inexhaustible in beauty, and an understanding of the theology of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass allows one to develop a much greater appreciation for the old Mass, not to mention higher quality prayer. Chanted Divine Office is central to the religious life and a great spiritual supplement to the lay faithful. It is no surprise, of course, that we are attracted to chant, to good music, as every human is hardwired to appreciate this gift of God. In an age where there is so much indifference, apathy, and relativistic lifestyles, one very greatly appreciates a setting in which everything you say and do means something in that you are participating in a truth that is greater than yourself, originating in the customs of Judaism and the Early Church and ultimately grounded in the Divine Simplicity, Unity, and Beauty of God.
Nowadays, “dialogue” is a touchy word. Some people cringe at it; others embrace it with unrestrained enthusiasm. Still more, as always, remain indifferent. But it seems as though the accumulation of years past have given the term unwanted connotations. People have adopted different views of what dialogue is and how it should be held. In my experience, true, productive dialogue is difficult to come by in the public forum, which is a shame. I hope that the principles of proper dialogue will once again be recovered, and productive conversations can be held, that we as human persons may move further ahead in the continual discovery of Truth.
As with any debate, lecture, or technical discussion, one must first define terms. What is dialogue? According to the Oxford dictionary, dialogue is “conversation between two or more people.” Synonyms include communication, discourse, conversation, and talk. It would seem that the word’s meaning is fairly straightforward and putting it into practice would be hard to mess up. After all, one has only to speak with another, and thus, dialogue. However, the fallibility of our fallen human nature often leads us to misunderstand the simplest of concepts and remain completely unaware. Or perhaps we are more often aware of our intentional misdeeds and commit them anyways… but that is a discussion for another day.
The Roman Catholic Church is in trouble. There is no denying it. Church attendance is dropping, deep and fulfilling spirituality is decreasing, belief in core Church Tradition is becoming lax, and it even seems as though we cannot trust a sizable number of our hierarchy. Granted, many faiths are suffering, partially due to the consequences of an indifference to and hatred of organized religion. The number of those unaffiliated with any religion is growing; slowly, but growing, and the number of self-identified Christians has dramatically decreased since the mid-1900s. I could go on about all that is plaguing us for a while, but I won’t because despite the current strife we are in we still have God.
God is good, all the time. Jesus is still truly and substantially present with us in the Holy Eucharist in every tabernacle of the world. His Word is still living and effective. We have the Holy Catholic Church. We have each other, being uniquely tied together as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Certainly, we have been given all that we need to achieve holiness; we have only to seek it out.
“What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate, the infamous post-modernist who condemned Jesus Christ to death by crucifixion. His question resonates deeply with every person who takes the time to ponder it. What is truth? Does it exist? Can we ever know it?
The short answer to the last two is “Yes.” Truth does exist, and we can come to know the truth. Truth can be defined as the correspondence of a statement to reality. In the tongue-twisting words of Aristotle, “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.”
We can identify many examples of truths. If I were to see a dog and say that it was a cat, that would be false, because it is really a dog. The dog is simply a dog. To say that it is a dog is a true statement, in conformity with truth. While this is a small observation in comparison to the big questions of the age, it serves to demonstrate that truth exists and we can come to know the truth.“What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate, the infamous post-modernist who condemned Jesus Christ to death by crucifixion. His question resonates deeply with every person who takes the time to ponder it. What is truth? Does it exist? Can we ever know it?