31 March 2007

Your Love Life Secrets Are

Looking back on your life, you will only have one true love.

You're a little scarred from your past relationships, but who isn't?

You prefer a quirky, unique person to be your lover. You're easy going about who you're with, as long as they love you back.

In fights, you love to debate and defend yourself. You logic prevails - or at least you'd like to think so.

A break-up usually comes as a shock to you. You always think things are going well.

10 March 2007

Revert revulsion

I came to the church as a teenager. My mother loaned me her Manual of Prayers (ca. 1923) and that was that. I could not rest until I became a true member of the Catholic Church. I still have the book and cherish it. It was an excellent catechesis. Like most hand missals, it has the English translation of the Latin prayers. It explains what happens during each of the Sacraments, the meaning of the gestures, etc.

However, that was in 1970. I had no sooner got settled into the practice of my faith than the mutinous children of the Council started scheming to throw me, and those like me, overboard from the Barque of Peter, in much the same way as Ric and Rac were laying for Bébé in The Ship of Fools.

Eventually, they won. I cannot make myself set foot into an AmChurch parish any more. It's not good for my soul. I've had to "detach in love" from Mother Church. She's been on a bit of a bender, and has put forth one Roger Mahony as my putative spiritual father. I'll have none of it.

Philip Blosser writes feelingly about those like me:

When these souls discover the truth about the Catholic Church, they fall in love with her. They are thrilled when they finally come, at least on some level, to apprehend the Catholic vision of the Church and to see and and understand her glory -- "ever ancient, ever new." They love the Church that spans the ages, the
Church of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Newman, Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI. They love the moral courage of the Church, which stands like an adamantine bulwark against the evils of abortion, pornography, and relativism. They love the magnificent beauty of her ancient European cathedrals, her basilicas, her paintings and sculptures, her Gregorian chant and polyphony (readily accessible in any music store). They love her theology, which they encounter in the writings of great doctors and theologians of the Church. They love her incarnational vision of life, which they encounter in the writings of numerous Catholic novelists.

But then they join a local Catholic parish ...

He ends with, "I worry whether, one day, one of these students who gets fired up and converts to Catholicism will want to take me to court and sue me -- or the Church, for that matter -- for dishonesty in advertising." Heh.

I do not darken the door of the local parish, which I'm sure is fine with them... can't have people wandering around who want to kneel to pray, after all. The Salvation Army gets my donations, because I can trust them to use it to help the poor and needy.

I am not proud about this. I am grieved and wounded and angry. I'm immune to well-meaning pleas to come back to the Church, fix it from the inside, be charitable, etc. & so forth. It doesn't work. Whether it's an alcoholic determined to have her own way, or an organization which insists on abusing its charges, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I'm not required to participate. The Church gives me the right to use my informed conscience. It tells me to stay well away for now.

It feels like spring

Lots of good thought and excellent writing out there just now... green shoots appearing where just weeks (decades) ago there was nothing but muddy snow.

Philip Blosser has made a number of amazing posts on his blog of late: clearly and carefully written, thoroughly researched (as always), and incisive. It is such a sigh of relief to read his stuff.

I recommend this post on the language of the liturgy: "Making It Real" - Part I: the words of the liturgy. But it is only a wonderful warm-up to this: "Making It Real" - Part II: the Sacrament of the Altar.

As those who've read my blog in the past are aware, I have strong feelings about all this. A year ago I wrote out my answers to some thoughtful questions from Lorna about the Mass. But I feel like a lisping child next to Philip Blosser's masterful articulation of what I have felt but could not say all these years.

He quotes Martin Mosebach, the award-winning German author and film-maker, as he describes his experience as a diminutive altar boy under the aegis of the old Mass in his book, The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), in an appendix entitled "'This Is My Body': On Veneration of the Sacrament of the Altar in the Catholic Church":
I always found it embarrassing to see the Host at such close quarters, so vulnerable, as if it were lying naked on the white cloth. It was not something for my eyes, a layman's eyes, to behold. There was something secret going on between the priest and the Host. It was a real relationship: there was a kind of conversation between the Host and priest that was hidden from the eyes of the congregation by the priest's body. I, however, as an altar server, was aware and had to be aware of it, like a nurse who unexpectedly finds herself in the position of having to undress a respected personage. The gentle cracking sound of the Host made when it broke seemed not for my ears, either: it was an intimacy to which I was not entitled.

At some point - at a quiet Mass, of course - I heard the cracking of the Host and my soul shuddered at the thought of the thieves' legs cracking on Calvary. His body was broken, too, in so many ways, for us. Covered in blood and sweat, blue around the lips from suffocation, His hair matted around His face, having just died the most repulsive death... there are so many of us who still weep for Him in that moment, weeping in grief and gratitude. And there are a substantial number of those who are in love with Him to the point where they leave everything to live for Him alone. I once wanted to be one of those. With exquisite tact and tenderness, He listened to all my passionate outpourings, accepted my feeble attempts to live the life on my own, guided me with grace and the good advice of many, many writers whose books providentially came into my hands ... and said no.

My call is to love one man and know him only, and God is making that happen as tenderly and gently and firmly as He kept me at a distance all those years ago. And it is because of that love unfolding in my life that I understand exactly what Dr. Blosser is saying when he writes,
Please do not be offended, but I want to draw an analogy with another movement of cultural liberation that was concurrently underway alongside the liturgical reforms of the 1960s: the sexual revolution... It was precisely to protect the Real Presence of the Person that sex was hedged about with all those traditional taboos of courtship, ritual, decorum, and bonds of matrimony to begin with. Persons were never to be treated as mere things, to be 'used' as 'means' to satisfy our own pleasure, but always to be respected as ends-in-themselves. The taboos were a sign that we cared about the Real Presence of the other Person on the altar of sexual union. The dropping of the taboos was a sign that we no longer cared about the depth dimension of sex because we no longer cared about the Presence of the interior and irreducible selfhood of the other Person in the sexual encounter.

For those fortunate enough to know what it is to love like that, the very idea of being intimate with another human being is repellent, because they are not known... they are a stranger. And, also, because the stranger does not know one as does the beloved. Even when he was a young man, my beloved was exceptionally courteous, tender and kind. He managed to convey his deep affection without frightening me or lapsing from his habitually deeply respectful treatment of me - emotionally and intellectually, as well as physically. (Three decades later, nothing has changed. And there are still those who say there are no miracles!) Because of his gentleness, I am slowly allowing myself to be persuaded to consider life no longer alone, but forever after together, knowing and being known... and honoring one another with our care for each other's physical selves.

With the BBC News publishing the astonishing (/sarcasm) fruits of a study which concluded that not protecting young girls from sexual behavior harms them, and another study which conveyed the momentous (/more sarcasm) discovery that couples actually can space children without using methods harmful to the body or soul, and the hopeful signs that Benedict XVI is going to reiterate - tactfully, but clearly - the truth about the Sacrament of the Altar, and maybe even make it exceptionally clear that it may be celebrated as it once was ... one begins to feel that effervescent, springlike hope that the erratic thoughts and practices which followed the Council might - might - have begun to run their course, and souls might be waking up and wondering about these "new" ideas.

Count me among those who do not want to turn the clock back, but who do want to stop the endless liturgical churning and give God's Roman Catholic children at least the opportunity to experience a quiet, reverent Mass. I am not usually one to prattle on about "rights," but this is one big exception: it is our right as Roman Catholics to worship in the way we did before the Council. Even our Protestant brethren recognize this and provide both "traditional" and "modern" worship in their churches. So, if the goal of the Council was truly to adopt Protestant worship ways, then we must fall in line and allow our congregations to celebrate Mass in Latin, ad orientam. ;)