Liturgical Battle

The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy teaches that “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows.” (SC, 10) and necessary for catechizing the faithful that Christ Jesus may fully work in them in transforming them. If this is so, and it is, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger got it right when he noted that the “disintegration of the liturgy” is behind the crisis of faith that confronts the Church at present, for when man falls from worshipping God in the way the He want to be worshipped “In favor of the powers and values of this world” he loses his freedom and returns to captivity through loss of the moral law which governs true humanity.” (Spirit of the Liturgy) — from a book ms. I have been sent–The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God– by Timothy Wallace

This has been for me, a chicken or egg question. Did modernism in the Church make the liturgy disintegrate or did the disintegration of the liturgy produce modernism in the church? I think modernism produced the disintegration of the liturgy, but the disintegration of the liturgy helped promulgate and distribute the modernism.

In a similar way, the new liturgical movement on its own cannot reverse the modernism in the church. Modernistic assumptions, for many Catholics, have become the air they breathe, and a restoration of liturgy alone will not correct their assumptions. However–it will help. Whenever the modernist assumptions clash with the a restored liturgy there is chance for correction. The liturgy then becomes the battleground, and the new liturgical movement the means of waging a war which, at it’s heart, is theological and philosophical.

We are talking about basics here: is worship about us or God? Do we worship the community or Almighty God? Are we focussed only on ourselves or first on God. It is fine to love our neighbor, but this is the second commandment not the first. The first it to love God. How we celebrate the liturgy, therefore, really does matter. It is not simply a matter of taste–it is a matter of orientation. Are our hearts and lives oriented toward God or toward ourselves?

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