Behind the Times
Pope Benedict keeps reminding me why I am a Catholic. If I hadnt converted as a boy, I would now. In the space of a few days he has moved to correct the very things that once helped me (along with my own sins) to lose my faith.
First, he took steps to restore the ancient Tridentine Rite, commonly known as the Latin Mass. This beautiful liturgy connects todays Church with its ancestors all the way back to the days of persecution in ancient Rome, and its use has given worshippers the sense not only of antiquity, but eternity. I still love the responses I learned as a youth: Domine, non sum
I never understood why anything so gravely beautiful and venerable should be abandoned for jejune modern vernaculars; what was gained by the supposed reform? The Novus Ordo liturgy has always made me feel as if Id dropped in on a slangy Unitarian ceremony.
The liturgical reform, moreover, backfired miserably on its own terms. It impaired belief itself; and Mass attendance, Catholic education, frequent confession, and big families decreased sharply along with belief. These were the opposite of the happy results the liberal reformers confidently predicted, and the Church lost both its authority with Catholics and the wider respect and influence it had enjoyed among Protestants and even in the secular world.
The entire world has suffered from the misguided changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council. Try to imagine the solar system if the sun dimmed and lost its attraction for the planets, and you have the idea. If the Council had never occurred, would the U.S. Supreme Court have dared to strike down laws against feticide? Would the Episcopal Church be ordaining sexual perverts today? Such questions answer themselves. The world has never seen so consequential an abdication of authority. It has been like the effect on a family of a fathers suicide.
The Pope has also reaffirmed the supremacy of the Catholic Church, a doctrine never denied, but certainly soft-pedaled since the disastrous Council. For some reason this has irritated many Protestants, who seem to think their sects can thrive without the strong presence of Catholicism. Incredibly, one Protestant editor has referred to Catholicism as a denomination, rather like Mormonism. Does he know what the word means? He might as well speak of the sun and moon as planets.
Like its Founder, the Catholic Church has an unending power to inspire hatred in those who reject it. The worlds hate is one of the proofs of its divine origin and authority. After 2,000 years, it is still persecuted, still treated as a threat. But no worldly persecution could have damaged it as much as
And yet the Church never compromised the essentials of faith and morals. Amid the hysteria of a population explosion in the Sixties, even the weak Pope
But the last thing man gives up, even in the face of death and damnation, is his pride, and very few Europeans, even in formerly Catholic countries, can bring themselves to admit, We were wrong. The sexual revolution has been a calamity for our civilization. The Church was exactly right. Europe could finally see that communism was a dreadful failure, but it still cant bear to repent. Even as the end draws near, the syphilitic Prodigal Son is still whoring away. God wants to save us so much more than we want to be saved!
Its ennobling to belong to a church centuries behind the times, as they say, and indifferent to the fashions of the day; but its supremely undignified to belong to a church five minutes behind the times while always huffing and puffing to catch up. Benedicts papacy is already a glorious one.
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