Favorite Conservative Liturgical Myths

There’s a war on Christmas.

If anything, this looks like a Peter Sellers production of the Mouse That Roared. Isolated stories about changing the lyrics of “Silent Night” (why couldn’t they tackle O Holy Night) and hoisting up holiday trees on college campuses does not make for a war. For a war, you need generals, a battle plan, some borrow-and-spend Republicans, and a tax cut for the rich.

Catholics have lost belief in the Real Presence.

Another popular myth these past few years. A secular pollster who will also tell you Americans want abortion on demand asks the wrong questions of Catholics. They couldn’t parrot the Baltimore Catechism in 1994, and since nobody took a poll in 1954, there’s no telling if Catholics have gained, lost, or stayed the same in terms of their level of understanding of the Eucharist.

Vatican II started all the Church’s problems.

Somehow, it escapes me as to how the world’s 2,000 bishops felt there was such a need for reform that they almost unanimously approved sweeping renewal in the liturgy. And that every poorly translated prayer was approved by eleven to sixteen bishops’ conferences plus the Vatican and the pope. Bad move? Sure. But the hierarchy made bad moves before 1962.

The Pope just needs to come in and tell the bishops what to do.

That would be the business model of administration. It’s never been the Catholic way.

Homosexuals are the problem.

No study of the numbers of priests having sex with adults. No consideration that child molesters will choose opportunity over the gender of their victims. Assumption that same-sex genital activity is actually always homosexuality. Problems: there are more serious pathologies at work here, for non-clergy most child abusers are heterosexual. Sure there’s the problem with the seduction of teem males. But outside of the clergy, we have statistics that tell us very different things about the profile of the abuser. Why is it that homosexuals in the clergy alone of all jobs have fallen over themselves to perp on male adolescents?

The schismatics aren’t really in schism.

This one slays me. But the pope talks with Fellay. But it was only a few bishops; we can do that you know. We had no other choice. We have vocations by the boatload; the Spirit must be with us. Our liturgy is prettier, especially the vestments. Sorry. You went against what the whole Church has been saying about liturgy, ecclesiology, and administration. You’re schismatics. Period. You might still end up in heaven, but you’re not Roman Catholics.

Cardinal Mahony is the darling of the Left.

You think the lay people he pink-slipped after the cathedral dedication think so? Check out the Catholic Worker House in LA; tell me what they think of him. It takes more than a pastoral letter and a longer church than St Pat’s to make him palatable to progressives. A lot more.

We need a reform of the reform.

Just because you’re thirty years late to the party doesn’t mean you’re calling the shots accurately. There have been parishes that have paid more attention to plainsong and other musical and liturgical traditions for decades. They kept the flame alive: were you with them or did you go SSPX? Other reforms had problems in conception, implementation, or on the pastoral side? That doesn’t make those who disagreed with them liturgical experts. The liturgy is in need of continual reform. Why? Because we’re human beings, and because we’re not God, we’re not there yet. If you want to talk about reform, just talk about reforming the liturgy. If you don’t want to talk about reforming the liturgy, then use some word like restoration or renewal that says what you really mean. Liturgy is the object here, people, not any particular reform.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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