From the Mailbox

6 09 2008

From a friend (and an expert) who gives much to think about:

Now the question of liturgy (of which some of my readers think very little!)

The historical question has a very practical aspect. Liturgy is basically an oral phenomenon only very rarely was it written down. Next, why no more “fuss” in the past? I suppose you could leave out the Old Believers, but they are very interesting. If you get a chance listen to their music (especially the 40 Gospodi pomiloi; it’s pure Philip Glass). Anyway, liturgy is the crystallization of the faith of the people (in its reception mode) and the crystallization of the understanding of faith by the doctors of the Church it in “emission” mode. Dumb doctors (i.e. Latin Church) means dumb liturgy. Dumb people (in all Churches) means that the liturgy falls on deaf ears.

The liturgy is also the collective expression of the faith of the Church and therefore it is non-subject and no one gives a rat’s arse how you “feel” about it. Feelings are personal and subjective, even an individual will one day be moved to tears by something, and the next find the same thing corny and funny. So the liturgy has to be looked at for its content first and foremost. The prayer of the individual must learn to conform to the prayer of the Church, just as the mind of the individual must conform to the mind of the Church. (Which goes light years beyond any “party line”.)

I remember telling you once that I thought that the Latin Church had abandoned the spiritual life to the field of the feminine. The guys (i.e. the Jesuits) “do stuff”, the chicks (i.e. the discalced Carmelites and the Visitandines and any other unfortunate gaggle of gals the SJs could get their fangs into) “pray and suffer for the Church”. The result of that is that the RC has no real conception of the maleness of Jesus and a lot of silly women want to become priests (because that’s where the action is.)

Spiritual dryness, dark night and all the “Dungeons and Dragons” games invented by a liturgy-less church are an insult to the intelligence, and a lack of intellectual and imaginative grasp. They are not “typical” of Latin Christianity before the Reformation. The Cistercians and the Carthusians don’t go in for them in a bigway, I don’t think even the Franciscans do either. It’s been impossible for anyone to escape the Jesuit blight but it’s not the same intensity everywhere.

Now if you are bored with the Church and Church things, I think that is only a sign of sanity. Anyone who would spend their time absorbed in the politics and intellectual life of a kindergarten is to be worried about. The Church is probably at its lowest point intellectually ever. We just have to learn to live with it. The great saints of the Middle Ages lived with an absolutely corrupt and ignorant clergy…A council of despair? If the situation is desperate what else can one give?