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.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.