Thursday, June 15, 2006

What else is there? III

To the two or three readers still reading this blog, I apologize. I hadn't meant to leave this much time before putting this third part together. I apologize also because this post is badly written. The new baby cometh and I feel pressed for time.

The first part, the reader will have long forgot, suggests that nothing is quite so important as the Liturgy. If Divine Worship isn't done well, all the rest will come to naught.

The second part concerns the theory, articulated so well by C.S. Lewis, that "You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first."

My premise all along is that the near-uselessness of the modern Church is the result of putting second things before first things. Liturgy, you see, is First Things and as long as the Church continues to bungle public worship, she will fail in every other way.

The clever observer will need no enumeration of this late monumental and tragic failure.

So continues my outreach to the Newfangled Catholics. Don't take my word for it. I present here the case for First Things in the words of Pope John Paul II, and from Vatican II (that inferior sequel of inferior sequels).

If you ain't seekin' you first the kingdom, whatever else you're doing isn't going to work out.

John Paul II, of happy memory, put it pretty well when he said, "The first duty of a creature is to glorify the Creator".

And Vatican II's Sacrosanctum concilium says it is the Mass "wherein God is perfectly glorified".

Perfectly glorified. In the Mass. One supposes a creature, if he were well inclined to discharge his duty, would want to do so as perfectly as possible.

So we concern ourselves here with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by which God may be perfectly glorified and man may most perfectly accomplish his First Duty.

"Oh sure" you're thinking, "but it doesn't say a thing about which Mass or how it's celebrated. The Novus Ordo has every bit as good an effect as the traditional Latin Mass".

I give you Vatican II again: "But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects …when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration".

"Something more you say? I just love Eucharistic Payer Number Seventy Three. More than valid and licit? What on earth or in heaven is there more than that?"

Well, if you ask John Paul, he'll tell you that "like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no "extravagance", devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist".

The Newfangled Catholic will want to take a moment here to consider that of late, on the contrary, the Church has feared every extravagance. No heed has been paid to the proper orientation of the people, the wonder has been cut away and with it the liturgy's full effects are missing.

The Liturgy, you see, is broken, and because of that Man fails miserably in his first duty, to glorify the Almighty.

But how can we tell it's broken?

Vatican II again: "The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows".

Who wants to argue that the Church has not been powerless in the face of the secularist onslaught? The Church is powerless because she has disconnected herself from the font of all her power. It's there in black and white. You don't want to go rejecting Vatican II, now do you?

"Okay," saith the Newfangled Catholic, "you've made your point, but why is the liturgy so important? The protestants have been screwing up public prayer for as long as Cranmer was a damned filthy heretic and the world has only just now started going completely to crap".

I could scarcely have said it better myself.

Divine Worship is not only our first duty. It is our last end.

In this world of ours, God gives us quite a lot more than the Liturgy to show us of our place in the Universe, and pagans and heretics could rely on these to remind them.

Sex, for one. Monarchy for another. The sky, for a wonerful third.

But man imagines now that he has conquered the created world and himself. Sex is all screwed up. Man is no longer in any awe of his capacity to procreate. Babies turn up in test tubes or in garbage bins, and none of it seems noteworthy. Government is at man's whim and there is no more king as a reminder of permanent things, the godliness of paternal love, hierarchy, man's place before God.

A man used to be able to look at the stars and feel at once significant and insignificant; just as he should before God.

Now the stars only fool modern man to thinking that nothing lies beyond his understanding.

So that's it. It's because so little else is left that man needs the liturgy more than ever to remind him of his place before God. It is the last thing keeping man from going over completely to the original temptation:

You shall be as Gods.

And when Divine worship becomes all about me, what could we be but lost?

This is the third of three parts. Read part one here here and part two here.


Terry said...

This would be the absolute perfect to answer Mr. Eubanks' question on Rod Dreher's Crunchy Con blog.

Terry said...

In English it would be: "This would be the perfect answer to Mr. Eubanks' question."

J D Carriere said...

I don't know anything about any Mr. Eubanks, but if this would be of use to him, I hope you'll direct him to it.

bearing said...

So for whom are you planning to vote in the next King of Canada election?

Anonymous said...

I read the long-awaited third edition. a good post. well done.
I'm now convinced that you're prone to vast over-exaggeration, though.
"the two or three readers..." Come on John, you know its only me and my pseudonyms.

J D Carriere said...

I'm afraid, Erin, if you're waiting on an election for the sovereign, you may have missed the point of monarchy altogether.

Besides, there is no opening just now for monarch as the position is filled by Her Majesty Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen of Canada.

The next king, presumably, will be her son H.R.H. The Prince Charles, may the Saints preserve us.

J D Carriere said...

Ah no, Jimbo; you, your pseudonyms, and my mom. That makes three.