23 December 2007

Thank you, Papa Benedict

Reading various items on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's most excellent blog, I'm humbled and grateful at the fruit of the Motu Proprio.

Fr. Ze has excerpted an article written by Fr. Michael Kemper in America. I've copied the following from Fr. Z's blog. As you read, keep in mind that this is a self-identified liberal priest writing for one of the most liberal Catholic publications.

He opens by describing how he was approached by some parishioners with a request for the Extraordinary Form. At first, he objected, citing his unfamiliarity with Latin. But ...
My original cranky demurral crumbled under the force of my own pastoral self-understanding, which had been largely shaped by the Second Vatican Council. As a promoter of the widest range of pluralism within the church, how could I refuse to deal with an approved liturgical form? As a pastor who has tried to respond to people alienated by the perceived rigid conservatism of the church, how could I walk away from people alienated by priests like myself—progressive, “low church” pastors who have no ear for traditional piety? An examination of conscience revealed an imbalance in my pastoral approach: a gracious openness to the left (like feminists, pro-choice advocates, people cohabiting and secular Catholics) and an instant skepticism toward the right (traditionalists).
As he explored the Rite, he realized that
I had never noticed as a boy, I discovered that the old rite’s priestly spirituality and theology were exactly the opposite of what I had expected. Whereas I had looked for the “high priest/king of the parish” spirituality, I found instead a spirituality of “unworthy instrument for the sake of the people.”

The old Missal’s rubrical micromanagement made me feel like a mere machine, devoid of personality; but, I wondered, is that really so bad? I actually felt liberated from a persistent need to perform, to engage, to be forever a friendly celebrant. When I saw a photo of the old Latin Mass in our local newspaper, I suddenly recognized the rite’s ingenious ability to shrink the priest. Shot from the choir loft, I was a mere speck of green, dwarfed by the high altar. The focal point was not the priest but the gathering of the people. And isn’t that a valid image of the church, the people of God?
Please pray for this priest.

I would say that his experience can be shared by the laity in attendance, as well.

The sad thing is that there are so many of us who lost, if not our faith, the belief that any of it mattered any more. I invested so much of myself into the Church, only to have it turn on me savagely and tell me I was wrong and deluded to love what it was up to 40 years ago. There were few priests as honest and fair-minded as Fr. Kemper.

I have only myself to blame that I didn't "stick it out" in hopes of relief in my lifetime. However, I had to make the choice of remaining in the Catholic Church and losing my faith, or withdrawing and staying close to God. Of course, that ultimated in life choices which mean I may never again be a communicating member of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict surely knows about the thousands of us out there. I hope he prays for us, as I do for him.

But read the excerpt quoted above again, and reflect on what this means. The Catholic Church has survived, as Jesus said it would. Deo gratias!

No comments: