Monday, June 12, 2023

How to obey the Church in the liturgy

Maybe... like this.

My latest for OnePeterFive

Among the familiar phrases of the debate on the liturgy are ones involving obedience to the Church. “The Church asks us…”, “we must obey the Church…” and the like, generally employed by supporters of the liturgical reform. It is not immediately clear what they mean. What are these people saying when they refer to “the Church”?

When theologians want to discern the “teaching of the Church” they may be able to pick out some “extraordinary” act of the magisterium, such as an ex cathedra definition by the Pope, but very often there isn’t one available. This being so, they go to Scripture and Tradition, as containing the Deposit of Faith: they will tell us what the Church teaches. The Fathers and Doctors are witnesses to the Tradition and also draw out its implications. This is the “ordinary” magisterium of the Church, and the ordinary way in which the Church passes on the teaching which has been entrusted to her by our Lord.

This is how, ordinarily, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us; this is how, ordinarily, the Holy Spirit speaks to the Church: through what has been passed down. When people are moved to overturn established Tradition in favor of a radical new reading of Scripture, perhaps inspired by a private revelation, we can expect to hear some heresy.

This I hope is not controversial, but when it comes to the liturgy a very different attitude often takes hold. Liturgical progressives tell us that the Spirit has called them, or is calling the entire Church, to adopt some liturgical innovation: to take just one example, consider the service of the altar by females (altar girls). This overturns a tradition of only men and boys serving at Mass going back as far as the records go, which is the late 4th century (see canon 44 of the Collection of Laodicea).

Read the whole thing there.

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