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Twilight in Camelot

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 25, 2003

Uh oh. You know there's trouble in the Kingdom of Eagle's Wings when the U.S. Catholic urges us not to shop for worship outside our own parish boundaries. This from an article by Peter Feuerhard:

Jesuit Father Walter J. Burghardt writes that "some Catholics refuse to worship with other Catholics save on their own narrow terms." Those terms can include all sorts of factors -- a similar social class, ideological temperament, ethnicity, and age -- yet imposing these conditions are stabs to the heart of the unity of the Body of Christ. It's not that parish shoppers are evil. However, they might be establishing an alternative structure of church without thinking through what is being lost, namely the vitality of the neighborhood parish.

Understood at face value, outside of its real-world context, Fr. Burghardt's rebuke is entirely on target. We shouldn't flit from church to church in search of designer liturgies that gratify some idiosyncratic and spiritually irrelevant caprice. Yet many orthodox Catholics will feel their throats tighten at the unfairness of the suggestion. Why? Because too often they are made to feel that the desire to have a mass "by the book" is as self-serving and "ideological" as the motives of those who change the words and actions on their own authority to conform to feminist or New Age fashions. "You prefer 'Peace to His people on earth,'" the pastor explains patronizingly. "Others prefer 'Peace to God's people on earth.' I can't please everybody."

Which option wins out nineteen times out of twenty? You guessed it. And that is why the orthodox often flock to churches with a reputation for masses celebrated as the Church requires they be celebrated. The liberal response? Well, dialogue, and patient renegotiation, one might think.

Not so. Just as liberals rediscovered the liturgical sovereignty of the local bishop once the Holy See began restoring order across national and diocesan boundaries, so they've rediscovered the virtue of the geographical parish now that Catholics (and those disproportionately young and committed) are packing out the trad masses and ritually kosher liturgies. When libs are reduced to the expedient of deploring "an alternative structure of church" -- precisely the cause they've been beating the drums for these thirty years past -- you know they're running scared.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 25, 2003 11:31 PM ET USA

    Ahhh, the Tridentine Mass. How wonderful to go to Mass each week knowing it hasn't been changed from the previous week; knowing that Father won't spend 15 minutes giving the platoon of Eucharistic ministers communion before they finally get to us; knowing that none of the altar servers are working on Girl Scout merit badges. I can't stop the aging Left from screwing up the English Mass (pearls before swine), but I don't have to watch them do it. It will be nice, however, to watch them die off.

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