Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist: Final Part IV-Renewal and Pastoral Considerations

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist (Against the “New Theologians”) Final Part
By Matthew James Bellisario 2010

Renewal and Pastoral Considerations

    After reading my assessment concerning this desacralization of the Eucharist in the modern Church, it is no wonder that Mass attendance has declined by almost 50% since Vatican II. Before Vatican II there was 65 to 75% Mass attendance. It has now dwindled to about 25 to 30%. (Index of Leading Catholic Indicators : The Church Since Vatican II) (12) It will be a challenge to restore Christ back to His rightful place in our liturgies. When this happens, the faithful will come back to Mass. It is important now to acknowledge changes that have taken place, and look forward to changes that will be coming, that will eventually return Our Savior to His rightful place in the Church and in the Mass.

    In July of 2007 Pope Benedict released his Apostolic Letter "Summorum Pontificum" which effectively reinstated the practice of Classical Roman Rite Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Many bishops have followed the Pope's wishes by inviting groups like the ICK and the FSSP into their diocese to accommodate the ever growing demand for the Extraordinary Form. In Jan of 2008 Pope Benedict XVI removed the freestanding altar in the Sistine Chapel and celebrated the Novus Ordo liturgy ad-orientem on the original altar. Likewise, Bishops are starting to follow suit as Bishop Slattery in Tulsa has, following the Pope's example, returned to right orientation in the liturgy. The bishop stated in Sept 2009 (13), “Even before his election as the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict has been urging us to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship. For that reason, I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when I celebrate Mass at the Cathedral. This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together.”

    It will take great effort and courage to return Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to his rightful place in the Mass. There will have to be an outright abolishment of this “new theology”, in light of the continuity that we must assent to regarding Vatican II, in light of the Church that lived and breathed this Sacred Mystery before the Council ever came to be. These changes will be the result of sound catechesis at the diocesan level. This sound catechesis, must be followed by the implementation of liturgical changes made by bishops who are willing to follow the Holy Father and take a stand for Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    We must also return without pause to sound philosophy in the Church, that of traditional Thomism. Pope Pius IX wrote about St. Thomas Aquinas extensively in Studiorum Ducem, "In a recent apostolic letter confirming the statutes of Canon Law, We declared that the guide to be followed in the higher studies by young men training for the priesthood was Thomas Aquinas... He alone enlightened the Church more than all other doctors; a man can derive more profit in a year from his books than from pondering all his life the teaching of others." Nothing less than this absolute return will regain stability to sacramental theology in the Church. The acceptance of modern philosophy has been disastrous for the Church, and it must be rejected at all cost for the salvation of souls! The “new theologian” is hopelessly lost in a state of subjective “reality” which can never be reconciled with the objective reality that Christ has given us in His Divine Revelation, promulgated by His Church. The “new theologian” is then at odds with the Church, and is her sworn enemy. As many have stated before, “the modern experiment has failed.” Pope Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: "Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science...these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid." (Gregory IX Epist. ad Magistros theol. paris. July 7, 1223)

    It is now fitting to close with the words of the great theologian, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. “...the Mass is to us the crowning act of Christian worship. A pulpit in which the words of our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than to His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar, and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ, is the center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion. Its value does not depend on him who says it, or on him who hears it; it depends on Him who is the One High Priest and Victim, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Calvary and the Mass) (14)
Bibliographical Notes
1. Thomas. Summa Theologica. Franklin Center, Pa.: Franklin Library, 1985. Print
2. Lang, Uwe Michael. Turning towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004. Print.
3. Benedict. The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2000. Print.
4. Noll, Ray Robert. Sacraments: a New Understanding for a New Generation. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1999. Print.
5. Bausch, William J. A New Look at the Sacraments. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1983. Print.
6. Pope Paul VI, Lumen Gentium, 1964
7. Pope Paul VI, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 1965
8. Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec 22nd, 2005,
9. Klein, Gregory L., and Robert A. Wolfe. Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments: a Catholic Perspective. New York: Paulist, 1998. Print.
10. Canon II on the Eucharist, XIII Session Council of Trent1,1551
11. Reid, Alcuin. The Organic Development of the Liturgy: the Principles of Liturgical Reform and Their Relation to the Twentieth-century Liturgical Movement Prior to the Second Vatican Council. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2005. Print.
12. Jones, Kenneth C. Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: the Church since Vatican II. Fort Collins, CO: Roman Catholic, 2003. Print.
13. Bishop Edward Slattery, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic,  2009
14. Sheen, Fulton J. Calvary and the Mass. New York: IVE, 2008. Print.


kkollwitz said...

"These changes will be the result of sound catechesis at the diocesan level. This sound catechesis, must be followed by the implementation of liturgical changes made by bishops who are willing to follow the Holy Father and take a stand for Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."

If it's any comfort to you, I just finished my 6th year of catechizing 6th graders, after 4 years of teaching RCIA & adult ed. Using my own lesson plans, the kids are catechized straight from Scripture with particular attention paid to the Mass, and Christ's actions in it.

Here's a typical bit, you'll probably like it:

Matthew Bellisario said...

Cool thanks for the info. We all have to pitch in to bring the ship back on course.

Andrew said...

Well, let's just hope you can pull it off, Matthew. The Church is going to need all the help it can get from you. After all, it is infallible.