Thursday, August 13, 2015

Average Catholics and images in worship


  • New Oxford Review on that "Your Average Catholic" story I linked to back in May (original article). Valid orthodox Catholic o tempora point: catechesis since Vatican II has been abysmal. Then again we have this medium, the greatest library in history. The Catholic Church has fulfilled the Great Commission. There are two traps you can fall into. One is forgetting "the Catholic Church: here comes everybody" and that "it takes all kinds." In short, not everybody is called to be "involved in their parishes" and "avid Catholic media consumers" (is that even necessarily good?) as if the institutional church, though made by God with a purpose, were an end in itself. Priests appreciate lay help, and some people are called to that, one hopes without self-righteousness. (Variants of "church as hobby": spikery, meaning ceremonial for its own sake, and church gossip over coffee or sherry.) Trying to make everybody into a church geek is as wrong, unfair, as trying to turn all introverts into extroverts, as if for one type there is no salvation. It's the well-meant mistake of the first Protestants and of Catholic reformers last century (orthodox ones before Vatican II and heretical ones after): sort of like the assumption that everybody should go to college, it's a kind of clericalism, trying to clericalize the laity ("make everybody into little priests" as a friend puts it). Middle-class arrogance? As my friend says, the church is also for the masses who never read a book again once they're done with school. The church has minimum requirements to remain in the state of grace; all you need to be "practicing." And: it's always been so. Some accuse traditionalists of idealizing the past into something that never really was; no, we have enough "living links" to before Vatican II to keep things real, and the learned among us know that for most of history, most people have been lax and uncatechized. Also: isn't the whole point of being a Catholic layman, lay apostolate, being the best doctor, editor, or bricklayer you can be ("for Christ"), not being "a little priest"? (The point of Opus Dei without necessarily joining Opus Dei.) Let's be realistic about the laity. Sure, the church is supposed to be a community but that includes families, towns, and national cultures, Catholic but not necessarily churchy. The other trap is a distortion of the truth that there are many levels of "participation." (Another level-headed Catholic friend: "participation" means showing up, and a blogger: to eventually be a good Catholic, start by being a bad one.) Liberals like these stories as part of "survey says," dissenting from church teaching (you don't have to go to Mass, you can be divorced and remarried, you can contracept, etc., since "survey says" most Catholics do those things). It's true that "being Catholic isn't so much what you do as what you are." Certain sacraments leave an indelible mark on the soul so the lapsed are still in the church. So Pope Francis is right of course: the divorced and remarried are still Catholic and of course welcome. They just can't receive Communion. The modern(ist) notion that one has a right to Communion is wrong. Food for the imperfect on their journey, not just a reward for good behavior? True but here the distinction between venial and mortal sin (or at least grave matter) comes into play. Communion remits venial sin; if you have grave matter on your conscience, go to confession first.
  • Anglicanism's change from Protestant iconoclasm to agreeing with us on images, accepting the seventh ecumenical council. Fr. Mitchican's Anglican history lesson. You can learn the original view from honestly reading the Thirty-Nine Articles. Liberal high church loves our creeds, our traditional liturgies, and our culture more than Catholic liberals do. How many libcath priests wear cassocks and birettas? Thing is, per Articles XIX and XXI, it's still not the Catholic Church. Taking this iconodulia at face value as a kid, this stuff accidentally taught me traditional Catholicism; then you realize it's not the church.

1 comment:

  1. When I was little my parish church had an huge Christus Rex crucifix in the sanctuary, and I loved it. Even now, when I don't think much of the cult of "Christ the King," I have a soft spot for that crucifix. But I love crucifixes. I had a lovely bloody Spanish one years ago but I gave it away.

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