Waiting for the Barbarians

12 02 2009


On the Iconoclasm of Louis Bouyer and the 20th Century Reform Movements in the Catholic Church

This post is not intended to be an extended essay on Bouyer or anything of that nature. I wish merely to post some quotes from his rather problematic work, Liturgical Piety, a pre-Vatican II work out of which one can discern much of the modernism in religion that we see now in Christianity. Here is the first passage:

For there was a time, – not so far from our own, and not yet entirely past,- when it was taken for granted by many Catholics that the liturgy was something to be performed, but that to understand it was, at best, optional, never necessary or highly desireable, and occasionally, considered even objectionable.

I wouldn’t want to emphasize the point too much, but for me this smacks a bit of rationalism. True enough, as I have written before, my family hated the all-Latin liturgy. But the opposite seems to have won the day. We are too comfortable with the Christian mystery, the workings of the Divine, and the hidden forces at the center of the cosmos. That is because we think we see or understand too much, which I would say is an erroneous impression. Often, the only way you can understand a mystery is to perform it.¬† At least that was the ancient understanding.
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The war against the saints

24 09 2008

On the¬†extirpation of “idolatry” in a Mexican village

…And here also we can see, naively acknowledged, the purely pagan character of Baroque religion when it is examined in its essence. Vallemont certainly regards the liturgy as something sacred; but, to his mind, sacred means untouchable, something to be preserved intact at any price, and something which cannot be kept intact without the complete renunciation of all attempts to make the practice of it intelligent and living. No notion more fundamentally unchristian can be imagined: here, in fact, the kind of false “holiness” of the pagan mystery-religions is given the name of the true holiness of Christ.

-Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety

In one chapter of John M. Ingham’s book, Mary, Michael, and Lucifer: Folk Catholicism in Central Mexico, the author discusses religious change in a small village in the Mexican state of Morelos. In the town of Tlayacapan, there was an attempt to impose more correct forms of Catholicism and liberation theology beginning in the middle of the 1950’s. The clergy who served in that town often felt that their parishioners were far too pagan and used the festivals of the saints and their side altars to behave in an unchristian manner and divert attention from Christ Himself. They thus began to refuse to say Masses for the dead and the saints, and even began to tear down the side altars to various patrons of the village. In this way, they felt that they were creating a Catholicism more in harmony with the Gospel, and completing the evangelization of the people that began almost five hundred years before.
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