Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pro-Life News Site Lists the Liturgy as the First Priority in Building the Culture of Life

One can see, more and more, that Pope Benedict's teaching and emphasis on the sacred liturgy and its centrality is spreading and influencing both the celebration of the liturgy itself and, further, the deeper understanding of the direct influence and importance it has in the lives of each and every Catholic. There seems to be an increased realization of the intimate connection between the lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: that the law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of living.

An example of this can be found within an insightful four part series written by Steve Jalsevac of LifeSiteNews.com -- "a life, family and culture outpost" -- entitled, "Post Election Message to Catholic Bishops". In that piece, Mr. Jalsevac lists the sacred liturgy as the first priority in strengthening the Church and in building up the culture of life. This is an idea that is also shared and supported by the NLM -- see: The Sacred Liturgy: The Neglected Foundation to Building the Culture of Life

In the series, reference is made to the "broken window" concept. This is a theory which suggests that when one broken window is left untended in a neighbourhood, this -- by virtue of the message it sends -- lends itself to more broken windows and further vandalism within that neighbourhood. The LifeSiteNews.com series draws the analogy that the sacred liturgy is presently a type of "broken window" in need of repair. Accordingly, fixing it should be of the highest priority since not doing so lends itself to other "broken windows" within the Church.

This certainly seems reasonable to suggest. Indeed, one can see the parallel between the "broken window" theory and the Church's teaching that everything in the Church flows from the liturgy; in other words, if our parish liturgies become damaged, other damage will also flow from that.

Here is an excerpt from the LifeSiteNews piece:

1. THE LITURGY

The first of the "broken windows," or signs of disorder that most often communicates a message that no one is in charge or that authority is weak and rules are made to be broken, are the abuses of the liturgy - the formal, very visible ceremonies or rites of the Church.

Why do we start with this one? Because Pope Benedict, in his wisdom, has declared it to be of the highest priority. He has seen that the sense of awe of God, the wonder of His majesty and the faith of the people have been gutted by theologians, pastors and bishops who have given very liberal, unintended interpretations to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He commented on one occasion about the original intentions of the Council: "Anyone like myself, who was moved by this perception in the time of the Liturgical Movement on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, can only stand, deeply sorrowing, before the ruins of the very things they were concerned for."

[....]

For the broken window strategy to work, not one abuse or liberty with the universal (versus the often inadequate local diocesan or even national conference) liturgical requirements, can be tolerated. Otherwise it cannot work.

The priest, deacon and bishop are the teachers and witnesses of fidelity or infidelity to the people at every mass and other liturgical events. Any contradiction by them to what is clearly indicated in a faithful, Vatican approved missal or other text, sends a corrupting message to the people at that event. The message is that authority is what you decide it should be and that Catholics can ignore the order of love that has been prayerfully developed by the Church for the spiritual nurturing of the flock.

So what is a faithful bishop to do? Well, this is the most obvious of all the broken windows and one that can be manageable.

He can first make certain that in his cathedral and at all events directly arranged by his chancery, every single liturgical event would be conducted in a manner that would be approved by the Pope.

He can also do more than the basic requirements by changing the often man-centered emphasis of much of today's interior church arrangements. He can encourage those who wish to receive communion kneeling and on the tongue, as Benedict has made clear he prefers. He can ensure that the music at all events under his immediate control is truly uplifting and reverent, with many traditional hymns, which Pope Benedict has also emphasized (http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2006/ratzinger_sotlmu...). And finally, he can ensure that the cathedral building itself truly inspires prayer, is clearly seen and felt as a place of Catholic worship of God and at all appropriate times facilitates silent prayer for those who come to fulfill that need.

After that is well under way the bishop could begin to regularly instruct all his priests on the importance of these changes and begin to have them implemented first by those pastors who he is confident will follow his instructions. Then, parish by parish, school by school, he should cajole and inspire imitation of his faithful example throughout the diocese.

What does that have to do with Catholics voting for pro-abortion, pro-homosexual politicians? A lot. It is all about restoring a unity of understanding of what it truly means to worship God. From that eventually follows a tendency to desire to go further and to begin to live and act as Christians in the community with resulting improvement to the culture.

There is far more that could be said on this issue, but the main thing is that repairing the many broken windows in the liturgy in most dioceses is feasible and will likely lead to considerable positive effect on the more overwhelming problems. That is how the broken window strategy works.

To read the full article and the rest of the series go to this link.