Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Liturgy is the Issue in the Ave Maria Dispute [UPDATED]

A few weeks ago, Catholic blogs heated up over the controversy at Ave Maria University. Fr. Fessio, the founder of the Reform the Reform movement, was fired. A day later it was announced that he would stay on in some consulting capacity. Gossip about such institutional flareups can be notoriously unreliable, and yet now we have an interview with Roger McCaffrey, an associate of Fr. Fessio's who worked for Ave Maria. The title of the article is a bit unseemly ("Chaos erupts...") but the interview is very interesting, for it seems that what is true is what many people suspected: the core issue here is liturgy. What we have here is a conflict between charismatic elements in the administration and B16-style "traditionalism" among the donors and faculty.

I must say that I've never understood the "conservative" brand of charismatic Catholicism that you find here and there in the Catholic world, but it its influence seems strong if perhaps waning. I'm not even sure I know how to account for it, except to say that the liturgical confusion has been so severe over the last decades that many people have become very confused, and that this confusion is not limited to the "progressive" camp. This is why people who work in their parishes for good liturgy are not always correct in anticipating support from parish pro-lifers and traditionally-minded CCD teachers. It may seem strange that a group of people who are absolutely attached to Catholic morals and doctrine could be so egregiously off track when it comes to liturgy (and music!) but there it is.

One can only hope that as the New Liturgical Movement makes advances, these good people will come around to understand the relationship between doctrine, morals, and liturgy, and that the Catholic faith is not best transmitted in liturgies dominated by the pop songs of Dana and the like.

It doesn't require a vast amount of spiritual enlightenment or intellectual understanding to comprehend this. Compare the Catholic Jukebox with Choral Treasure, two online radio stations, and ask yourself which more fully expresses a liturgical sense of the faith.

[COMMENTS: Comments are now reopened in hopes that a 24 hour break will settle the discourse down. Shawn.]

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