Monday, April 21, 2008

Ok, I've calmed down ...

However, that rant was definitely cathartic in a way ... :)

The problem, of course, with any counter-reaction is that one is tempted to go back to some mythical golden age, to turn the clock back. Which is, of course, impossible.

My rant was a kind of super-indictment of a whole generation of thinkers and theologians and priests and religious. I'm sure that's unfair. I am also mindful of our gentle Holy Father's words, in his homily at St. Patrick's:
We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear "what the Spirit is saying" to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7).
(I am certain, of course, that he is not talking about learning heresy from one's elders. As I wrote in a comment on the NYT blog in response to this post by Amy, some things are always going to be divisive. The unity that the Pope is talking about is not a superficial unity of "all perspectives are the same.")

I am suspicious of the hermeneutic of suspicion, for sure. However, I'm not reflexively, or even dogmatically, anti-modern. The Apostle's admonition to test the spirits is ever needed, because we are, indeed, a pilgrim Church, as the Council so beautifully put it.

One of the things that was eye-opening from my time in the Paulists, as I talked with the older generation, was the sense they had of overthrowing something that was deeply oppressive, and just how heady that time after the Council was. Whatever the truth to that, it was certainly how they perceived it. And one could sense their consternation and fear as they see the pendulum swing back. While a lot of the discussion focused on things like whether Paulists should wear habits again, the underlying fear was almost palpable. I (or my younger cohorts) never experienced that world. I'm never about denying people's experience. However, rants aside, I think the judgment of history a couple of generations down the line has been: something clearly went wrong.

And I rejoice that the corrective push of the rudder is even now turning the ship, and I am thrilled to be a part, if you will, of the rediscovery of the hermeneutic of continuity. Of the importance of orthodoxy -- i.e. unity in essentials. And, ultimately, to move beyond the rancor of the debates of the past, so that the hidden treasure of the Gospel might be shared with new vitality and joy.

1 comment:

Amy said...


You make an important point and it's the reason why I've never gone the "wishing the Boomers were dead" route or talking about "grey haired hippies" in control, etc.

There is definitely a generational thing, but I know enough people who were young adults when the Council happened who really saw it as liberating - and in a sense it was, of course. If you read about religious life formation before the Council, much of it verged on the bizarre and erred on the side of, well..stifling.

Same with the Mass. I've always said (or tried to say) that while I really do understand ad orientem and Latin from a positive perspective, that fuller understanding that we have today wasn't in the popular mindset at all around the time of the council. It wasn't presented or explained to them as the whole body of believers facing East or whatever. It's just the way at was, and most of the time, the way the Masses were lived out tended to obscurantism. If you read the history of the period, the majority of active lay Catholics were in support of the vernacular, in support of the priest turning around.

I know Catholics in their 60's - many of them from a charismatic background - who are pretty horrified by B16's liturgical thinking. They are with him on the theology, but the liturgy brings back bad memories, and it makes no sense to argue with them, because that's their experience.