Fr Rutler records much common sense about the liturgy here. I’m with him. I’m glad there are such creatures as liturgists and I value their expertise and knowledge, but for my money it all goes much deeper than the style and words of liturgy.
The deep down stuff is what we actually believe the liturgy is for, and that goes back to what we believe the church is for, and that goes back to what we believe about Jesus Christ’s work on earth and that goes back to what we believe about God. Like the Methodist who said when he learned that the ashes for Ash Wednesday are from the burnt palm crosses from the year before, “Gee, all this Catholic stuff is connected!”
If we make the liturgy all about us gathering together to have fellowship and then go out to change the world then we have not only changed the liturgy, we have changed the gospel. The core of the gospel is not some sort of protest movement or lobby for political change. The core of the gospel is about the reconciliation between God and his alienated children. Its about the forgiveness of sin. It’s the old, old story of mankind cut off from God restored through the salvific death of his Son the God Incarnate. The Mass celebrates and re-animates that once for all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and it is through this transaction that our hearts open first in repentance and then in faith and love to receive the life of Christ.
The real reason so many modern liturgists turned the whole thing into a sort of hippy like protest movement is that very quietly, and usually without even being aware of it, they stopped believing the old, old story. The Virgin Birth became in their minds a charming Christmas tradition. The incarnation became a metaphor and the atoning work of Christ on the cross was dismissed as a barbaric, archaic and inaccessible part of the Christian tradition. The possibility of miracles was forgotten and the reality of sin ignored.
When all that was dropped what was left? Not much more than a milksop religion of smiling at one another and doing good works followed by sadly self righteous and earnest people who were blind to where their apostasy had taken them, and sincerely believed that they had created a new Christianity when all they had done was resurrect a bundle of old heresies.
Well, bless them. Their felt banners are frayed, their polyester vestments are faded, and all they have left are the rainbow banners of homosexual activism and the bland bleating of tired feminists whose rage, like their lava lamps, has almost burned out.