Monday, January 17, 2011

Brick by Brick (or... God is pretty bright!)

Looking at the way The Church is changing, and reflecting on how it is all unfolding, gives me cause to see clearly the hand of God in all the various facets of the situation as it exists now.

Most every day Catholics have been isolated (intentionally or not) from their heritage for 40 years. For years, the frame of reference has stopped at about 1964 - as if to discount everything before then. This attitude has permeated everything and most everyone. Think of the way the term "the council" is used! It (Vatican 2) is referred to as "The Council" - implying that said council constitues some sort of Omniscient and Omnipotent Force which exists as a prima facie Magisterium in and of itself. The typical context brings to mind once popular bumper-sticker cliche - "Jesus Said it, I Believe it, That Settles it". Substitute "The Council" for Jesus, and you get the idea.

But now, The Church is in the process of a renaissance. An awakening to the idea that we, as 21st century Catholics, are just the latest generation. The latest of hundreds. That we are the heirs to a tradition spanning many centuries. The being Catholic means something. And that that heritage carries with it the responsibility of treasuring it and passing it on.

There are numerous aspects of this unfolding as we watch:

Summorum Pontificum has awakened - even in the non-traditional - a certain awareness of tradition. Even those uninterested see it in the news (both secualar and Catholic) and bit-by-bit become aware of it's significance. And they get to see what Mass should look (and sound) like.

The Holy Father, with his kind and pointed guidance and example, is constantly reminding us of who we are. And I believe that his example of leadership, and selection of Bishops has over the past few years allowed Priests to explore more confidently (and thus rediscover) a more Catholic way of celebrating the sacraments. Slowly, the cabinet doors are opening and vestments and prayers and thuribles nearly forgotten are seeing the light of day.

The new (corrected) translation is coming up in only a few months. And the dignified prayers therein will also, slowly, permeate the way people experience Catholicism. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi indeed!

NOW, back to my first point... Any of the changes mentioned above, happening at any other time, would have been a flop. Summorum Pontificum would have been in the dead-letter file (just like Ecclesia Dei Adflicta). The Papal trend toward tradition (if even allowed by the likes of Piero Marini) would have been ignored completely as the eccentricities of "some old man in Rome". The new translation would have been killed in the womb by the likes of those who tried so hard (and unsuccessfully) to kill it by infanticide.

BUT, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN! God Himself has seen that each step is happening at EXACTLY the right time and in EXACTLY the right order.

The Extraordinary form is attracting people who never even heard of it, and is being experienced (even unintentionally) by those who looked upon it as something akin to snake-handling. The slow trend to more traditional practices is becoming "normalized". And the new translation is not only being seen for what it is (the chance to hear and say the prayers of the mass as intended), but seen as an opportunity to connect up to our catholic foundations!!!

I Thank God it's all happening. And I Thank God I am here to see it.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Dear Tom,

I work for The Maximus Group, a Catholic communications firm in the Atlanta area. We are working on an event scheduled for May 26 in Greensboro that you might be interested in. Can you please email me at Thanks in advance. I hope to hear from you soon. Tim Lilley, Director of Communications, The Maximus Group (