The Distorted Mirror

10 04 2008

Some Clarifying Notes

Yesterday’s post wasn’t one of my better ones, nor do I think that I was very clear in what I was saying, so hopefully here I can clarify what I was saying:

1. The nakedness I refer to is man without God.  Unlike in the ancient world, there now exists the idea of the division between philosophy and theology. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (of all people) openly mused about abolishing the division between philosophy and theology years in Roman Catholic seminary training. I think he had a real sense that philosophy standing on itself would only lead to more confusion. Man without God is an abyss as a philosophical question. We have wanted to strip man of the Divine, and that leads to nothingness.

2. The modern Roman Catholic order in many ways co-operates with this process. In its theology of the “People of God”, it aims to project an image of God by putting a mirror to contemporary society in order to worship it. As Chenu would say, this would be an example of the Gospel incarnating itself in our contemporary society, complete with felt banners, drumsets, and psychobabble/Oprah-speak. But no society can ever worship itself consciously. This is what Mass versus populum ultimately becomes. It is an idolatry that not even the most darkened ancients could have conceived.

3. If I could find the solutions to these problems, I wouldn’t be writing this stupid blog, would I? But I walk into a church now and I am no longer enchanted by it. When I was in the religious life, I was enchanted by the traditional liturgies, both Eastern and Western. I was enchanted by the posadas in Mexico, young Mexican immigrant  men crawling towards the Crucifix in Hollister, the Stations of the Cross in Buenos Aires, the All-Night Vigils in Russian Churches, and the Coptic vigils in the Mojave Desert. Maybe it is just play-acting. Maybe we are deluding ourselves. Maybe it is a form of idolatry. But it is the only religion that I can give any credibilty to. It is a religion that is uncommon, disruptive and somewhat scary. That is because the Gospel is a scary thing. The Incarnation is a scary thing. It is not pleasant and it is not nice for a God to be incarnated, die on the Cross, and rise from the dead. And if we have a religion and liturgy that is pleasant and pasturized, then we are NOT communicating what Et Verbum caro factum est  really means.  That is a tension that I have sensed in my own life growing up Catholic in this country. And I feel that our church is still going down the wrong road.

We are stuck in a hall of mirrors where we think that modern man, devoid of imagination, tradition, and a real sense of the Divine, is the only thing that exists.