Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catholicism in the Netherlands

Fr. Anthony Ruff found himself at the Church of St. Dominic. Here is his description of the Mass:
No Penitential Act, Gloria, or Collect. No first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, Alleluia, or Gospel. Rather: song, prayer by female prayer leader, song repeated; welcome talk by another woman; song; a man read from Dorothee Sölle; homily by another woman; song; and on to the collection with piano intermezzo. Uh, no Nicene Creed. Then a table prayer with sung elements (no Sanctus) led by seven people (5 women, 2 men, none vested), and sharing of the bread and wine. Then general intercessions, blessing, and song. Coffee served at the platform.
As it turns out, this parish is in schism but no one informed him of that in advance and he would not have known if he had not pressed the issue. Reading this gave me a sense of relief but I'm not sure how much one should feel, given that no one thought much about whether the parish was or was not in schism and also given the statistics on Mass attendance. "Fifty years ago, over 40% of Dutch people were Roman Catholic. The figure is now below 17% and will soon be below 10%. About 1% of the entire population attends Catholic liturgy on Sunday."

My thought when reading his post was as follows. There are no controlled experiments in social science, but, in seeking an explanation for this catastrophe, my mind first turned to the serious and devastating problems that ensue to any community or nation or civilization from ritual upheaval and revolution. It creates no end to problems and unleashes unpredictable destabilization on any society. That is surely not the whole explanation but any theory that does not point to liturgical revolution as bearing some responsibility is not telling the whole story.

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