Monday, February 15, 2010
They’ ll know we are Christians by our
I’ve glanced, just glanced, over a recent article posted by the eminent chant scholar and director Edward Schaefer, DMus., at PRAY TELL. I really must take it in thoroughly, with due attention, as his testament is as valuable to a liturgical practitioner as Fr. Ruff’s tome is to a historian and philosopher.
What of it that seized my attention was his confession that he has apparently made the decision to “vote,” I mean worship with his feet by traveling each Sunday to attend an Extraordinary Form Mass, even though that requires traveling over a hundred miles away from home, and presumably his “home parish.”
His is a real saga to be sure. He has paid serious dues for a long time, perhaps rendering to Caesars within the Church that which was not theirs to demand. His decision cannot possibly be associated with those that advocate that church to be “smaller and purer.”
But, for the immediate future, that is precisely to what he has opted to enjoin his soul and his talents.
But this post isn’t really about Dr. Schaefer and his laudable, life-long efforts to ensure that the music he directed at service to God was ever “sacred, universal and beautiful.”
In his story, mine, and those of most folks I know in our particular trawlers on the fickle seas, there has always been constant and varied tensions that make us literally “world weary.” I mean, of course, all that which we curse as “The Liturgy Wars.” But whether the turf we’re attacking or defending is the object of mere skirmishes or full-on frontal assaults as in the Bulge in Belgium, the siege of Leningrad or the protracted insanity of global terrorism, our “war” is really a civil dispute between family members, more akin to the Korean Conflict than a world war, God help us.
Simply because why, having access to more data about “wha’ happened” and to “what should happen” do we, who call ourselves fellows, find ourselves more disabled in the realms of worship than we do in the world itself, to which we are dismissed to both witness to Christ’s Kingship and to recognize Him among the least and most lost of our and His own kind and kin?
We proclaim the Kingdom of God daily in the prayer Jesus offered in response to the most human of questions: “Lord, how should we pray?” We crown Christ as being wholly that King on the last Lord’s Day of each liturgical year as tradition led us to acknowledge. This is not open to semantically nuanced contention by query over gender- specific or antiquated, militaristic revisionist agendas.
We talk a great deal about being fundamentally “anti-cultural” as Christians, both in word, deed and ritual, in contrast to the predominant, contemporaneous social cultures that hold sway over much of our daily lives. We tend to build up some extreme entity to be a hallmark of culture, and then systematically begin to dismantle it and discredit it as its novelty becomes passé. How Christian is that? Sounds more like a wandering, meandering, mistrustful tribe fashioning a new variation on the ol’ local deity theme: “Ooh, we gotta have THIS Golden Calf” before “he” returns from the mountain with the “SOSDD” dictums from “AM.” Rejecting kings is in all of our bloodlines. Only we Americans put a smarmy, sneering spin on it, thinking only as far back as King George or Huey Long. (And how perverse is it that we re-coronate the legacies of truly troubled souls such as Elvis or Michael Jackson after we air out the dirty laundry of their lives upon their deaths?)
We must, as Catholics, remember and honor with equanimity the three legs upon which our Church stands: Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. Like it or not, we adhere to an infrastructure founded upon hierarchies, both in our rituals and our administrations. If we accept the notion of the Church Militant, we are obliged to recognize, nee salute its hierarchy, its chain of command. To me, it seems as Hoyle as “natural law.”
But what does it portend when we break ranks with each other because we don’t like or respect or recognize the office of our local “Captain, my Captain?” And we convince ourselves that we can no longer fulfill our sacramental needs among our own neighbors and family (whom we are to un-categorically recognize as “Christ at our door”) if the attributes of the Captain’s leadership, style and those of his crew we find empty or wanting?