What If We Just Said, “Stop!”

No, sillies, not to that.

But this infernal bickering about lists, petitions, reform with some number or prepositional phrase after it, and the like. The usual line of argument: let’s do it right now/let’s wait/you’re a marxist/you’re turning the clock back/17,000 is a lot/17,000 is diddly squat/our signatories are higher profile than yours/your signatories are old/the church is not a democracy/we’re being prudent/you’re being disobedient … Not to mention the usual suspects (Bishop Trautmann and conservatives, too) trotting out the schtick about PDL.* (Oh, and any signatory on “wait” will have lost all credibility when they have to implement–rubbish.)

I signed the petition, too, and I’ll still implement better than most any reform2 person for the simple reason that I’m a better pastoral liturgist. My community knows what side the bread’s buttered on. They’re aware of the distinction between loyal opposition and outright heretics–much better than the ideologues yelling and overstating an otherwise simple case to make their point.

I have to say it’s been a pretty good Lent staying away from commenting on other blogs–though I did trip up once or twice already. But even before Lent I was already thinking that Pope Benedict has a very serious problem on his hands–much more serious than stubborn Anglos crossing their arms instead of consulting a new missalette to read the new Creed. If the Holy Father is serious about his role as guardian of unity, he’s going to have to come up with something to address the simmering on the extreme sides of the liturgy tussles.

I suspect he realizes unity is on thin ice these days. Otherwise, why would Summorum Pontificum have such a huge introduction to calm people down before they read the actual document?

I can’t say I have the answer for Rome on this. There’s a reason why they’re ordained, appointed, and discerned in conclaves, and I’m not. And I’m glad. Many liturgists may be missing the forest for the trees, but B16 is still responsible for the big picture. Very happy it’s not on my head.

Not being inclined to withdraw from the blogosphere just yet, I can think of only two ways out. First, to keep poking at the silliness and laugh about it. I know, I know: on the internet my attempts at being wry and sarcastic come off as being arrogant. If you think that way, you’re welcome to the sentiment. I’m still going to laugh it off and invite you to Iowa for a beer or something.

In a different way, I suspect Fr Ruff is trying to poke at the conservatives he knows have gotten hooked on PrayTell. I suspect he will do a better job keeping them than I do here. And if I’m inching up toward 6,000 posts in over six years, I suspect the other blog will be able to at least match that staying power.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time to start thinking about working on unity on our own initiative, if the pope and bishops seem disinclined. Eventually, conservatives and liberals on the net are going to work together. It happens in parishes all the time, and it’s part of what makes parish life so vibrant and three-dimensional. In contrast, the internet, worldwide though the audience may be, remains as two-dimensional as a flat screen.

The Church may not be a democracy (though a decent argument might be made that we’ve always had democratic elements, especially among the groups that take their discipleship  in Christ the most seriously). But every Catholic is still obligated not only to profess unity, but to live it. Believers might get their jollies by debating endlessly and incessantly, but those unwilling to serve with those not of their own sub-clan, are little better than those they criticize morally or liturgically for being Catholics in name only. I some cases, I suspect they truly believe they are orthodox (though often careful theological scholarship can poke holes in that) but they have lost something of their catholicity. Which is indeed a loss–both for them and the rest of us.

And that second thing is to reiterate my oft-repeated suggestion to take concrete steps to work together online. Move past the juvenile fisking and pseudo-conversations of bloggers in the wilderness and actually have a few chats. If I had the software and the know-how, I’d set up audio interviews and post them here. Or set it all up on a neutral site. With the demise of Catholic Radio 2.0, I don’t think there’s anybody else out there doing anything constructive in this department. If I’m wrong, contact me. As Meredith said earlier today

*poor dumb laity

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to What If We Just Said, “Stop!”

  1. Tony says:

    Schadenfreude is not a Christian attitude, but I’m haveing a difficult time fighting it when I see the “reformers” fighting the newest “reform” that they don’t like.

    Summorum Pontificum was, for me, the first sip of “water” in the liturgical desert. And not because I could finally enjoy the TLM, since we already had an indult mass 10 minutes away that I could attend. The reason was that we finally had a pope who through his actions validated the position that many of us had that the required reforms of Vatican II had very early on gone off the rails.

    Now the banal language in our missal is being addressed. We are correcting theological faults in the translation, and clarifying what we believe as English speaking Catholics.

    Now if only Rome would address the advertizing jingles that are in our Hymnals.

    Fr. Z. is right. “brick by brick…”

  2. Commander Craig says:

    Thanks for acknowledging my demise — I mean the demise of my show. I wish I had the energy to continue, because Advent 2011 and beyond may prove to be mighty contentious times. I anticipate that while most priests and parishes will use the new translation, out of obedience if nothing else, there will be some who will continue to use the current translation, a gaggle of Gommar DePauws in reverse. These may be the same folks who in the first place riff on the text endlessly instead of reading what’s on the page and letting it speak for itself (” . . . keep us free from sin and save us from needless worrying” and the like)

    Regardless, the transition process should be fascinating to watch. How will preparation take place at the parish level? At the level of liturgical music?

    I am generally supportive of the new translations, but even for those not so supportive, the transition affords a golden opportunity for liturgical catechesis that should not be passed up. And the sort of dialogue you propose, Todd, would eventually contribute to a better understanding of the new translation and why it has come to pass.

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