Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fr Z on the Notre Dame scandal

I've been too busy to post for a few days but Fr Zuhlsdorf's comments on the Notre Dame scandal bear repeating. Fr Z. reiterates his fundamental principle that the Church's problems are not separable from the liturgy. How is it that a great Catholic institution could sink so low, and in the face of the appeals of more than 70 American bishops? It is - to cut a long story short - because its leaders, and too many ordinary Catholics, have lost their sense of the sacred and their Catholic identity.

Fr Z writes:

More than ever, we must have what the Church really says, what Holy Church really has to offer.

We are not getting the fullness of the Church’s teachings from Notre Dame or other, now lesser, water carriers of the secularist agenda.

We are not getting it from very many of our leaders in the Church.

And so…

I urge all priests and bishops who read this blog with any slight quaver of resonance or benevolence, to consider this with care:

If you sense that something quite serious and important is going on right now, for the love of God rethink your approach to how you foster Holy Church’s proper public worship.

Do all in your power and through your influence to foster a worship of God which conforms not to worldly goals – as praiseworthy as they may be in a world still dominated by its dire prince – but rather to the real point of religion: an encounter with mystery.

Our worship must become more and more focused on the one who is Other.

Seek what is truly above in your rites and raise people to encounter mystery.

You will be challenged and reviled, blocked and attacked as you do. You will be worn down and afraid under the weight of resistance.

But I think that to save the world we must save the liturgy.

Sunday reaffirmed this for me. They can’t compete with the fullness of Catholic liturgy and sound preaching.Reforming the liturgy along the lines Pope Benedict has proposed may be the most loving and effective option we have in these ever hotter times.

People will have to keep working very much in the sphere of the secular. Of course! Our inward Catholic Christian identity must find outward expression and bring concrete fruits. But I think the real work now – where we will make some effective headway – must be done at the level of our public worship.

In the present circumstances, we are not going to argue most people out of danger or error. But together we can draw them in and along and back through worship.

So long as we remain doctrinally faithful and active in works of mercy both spiritual and especially temporal, if we get our public worship together we will have a strong bastion against error. Holy Catholic worship will be an attractive force for conversion.

We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.

The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right.

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