Saturday, June 2, 2012


Small Corrections, a term I keep repeating to myself when "flying" my flight simulator program.  It's also a practice drilled into me by my flight instructor brother-in-law on those wonderful nights in a Cessna 152 so many years ago.  The basic concept being that to stay on a smooth and level flying path one must use the controls smoothly and not too radically. Start yanking things around a lot and you get yourself in to trouble really fast.  I have found the concept useful in many aspects of life - and equally hard to follow.  When we see things going wrong our human instinct is to "yank on the controls" to get back to where we think we need to be.

The same rule applies to the Liturgy and Liturgical Reform in general.  After the rapid, inconsiderate, and disastrous changes that occurred in the late 1960's when so much changed so rapidly, the importance of the Mass, properly celebrated, was largely forgotten. To be sure there were pockets here or there where people remembered the breathtaking gravity which the mass is, but there were great swaths wherein it became the religious equivalent of Thanksgiving Dinner ... "Happy are those who are called to His supper" ... it was even made to sound like Thanksgiving at Grandma's.

It was in that atmosphere where the celebration of the Mass more or less settled into a slow spiral down of sentimentality and sappiness.  Vapid lyrics set to mediocre (at best) melodies.  Homilies which didn't go much beyond the concept of  "Jesus loves me this I know, 'cause the bible tells me so".  Architecture less inspiring than a supermarket.  An atmosphere in church less reverent - by far - than a movie theater.  I could go on, but the point is that there was much that needed fixing.

It was also into that atmosphere that a whole generation of new priests were born - and continue to be.  BUT these priests seem without exception to know that things are, shall we say, less than ideal.  They also seem to know that Catholicism and Catholic Identity are important and needed in the world. That the Church is THE CHURCH and not just a big social program with Crucifixes in the offices. And they are smart - very very smart. They know what needs fixing and they are setting about to fix it, slowly, methodically, fixing it - using Small Corrections.

I have watched this evolution taking place over the last 6 years at Our Lady of Grace parish in my hometown.  When the current administration took over it was not a great situation.  The church building itself was the most inspiring and beautiful I have ever seen, but pretty much everything else was generic post 1970's blandness.  BUT then, after a few months, the Small Corrections started.  They continued slowly but relentlessly.  The parishoners were allowed to "grow into" each change before another came.  It has taken years - but it has taken hold.  I have seen it. And it works, for example, at 10:00AM Sunday Mass last week, I witnessed the most dignified, inspiring Novus Ordo Mass I have seen in my entire life.  The music was traditional hymns - good ones.  The young Priest sung much of the Mass.  The congregation sang their parts well and with passion.  The homily was inspiring and germane to the occasion.  And the whole atmosphere was just so... catholic.

In the traditionalist-catholic world, there are many who are ready to go in with torches and pitchforks and axes and "fix" the rest of the Catholic world.  But that isn't a Small Correction, that is a huge yank on the wheel.  The kind of yank which spins you out of control and into the ground.  That is not what the Church needs.  She needs Small Corrections.

AND, Thank God, She is getting them.

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