Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W Hudson

1/23/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Our renewal must begin with the act of worship, with our liturgy. What will it take for the Liturgy to become an encounter with the Beautiful once again?

[T]he most convincing demonstration of [faith's] truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful. How much lost "connectedness" would be recovered if more attention were paid to encounters with "the Beautiful" in the liturgy, so that it was never perfunctory, listless, or offensive to the ear and eye? - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Highlights

By Deal W Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/23/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: beauty, Liturgy, culture, enthsuiasm, renewal, reform, Catholic Culture, rubrics, worship, Holy Mass, Divine Liturgy, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - In a recent column, I suggested that Catholics need to be more welcoming to each other and to parish visitors. It's not the first time I have made that observation, and it's not the first time much of the response has been negative.  Why? I'm accused of forcing evangelical habits on a Catholic parish, of endorsing the expression of enthusiasm.

My critics respond with their preference for silence, solemnity, even privacy.  All this, they argue, is the appropriate attitude towards the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass.  There is sometimes the sly insinuation that I still bear the stamp of my evangelical past, now 30 years past this month. 

No doubt there is some truth in that, but the kind of truth that Catholics should pay attention to.  Evangelicals are constantly aware, and desirous, of witnessing to their faith.  To put it crassly, they are selling. By contrast, Catholics are hoarders, a practice arising from any number of sources, the first of which is simply stated - the pious habits of one generation handed down to another. 

The critics also reject what I described as a lack of "connectedness" with other worshippers.  Either they called it unnecessary, a distraction, or trivial; the only connection that counts is that with Christ and His Body. In order to avoid this sort of buzz saw, I should remember to avoid any allusion to what is felt by Catholics. I'm after a much larger fish, and I employed the word enthusiasm for what that might be.

Judging the present usage of any word or concept by comparison to the distant past is problematic. But the roots of the word in the Greek language and culture is instructive: The original meaning derives from the Greek enthousiasmos, derived from enthousiazein; to be inspired, specifically to be inspired by God, en/theos. The Greeks regarded such men and women with awe and fear, and for good reason, they were often dangerous. 

Taken in this way, one can see that generic enthusiasm is a state that exists in tension with the tradition and practice of the Catholic faith - recall what the saints, true enthusiasts, often passed through on their paths to sanctity. 

I spoke about the lack of "connectedness" that many non-practicing Catholics report when they are asked why they have stopped attending Mass. I limited my interpretation of this to their sense of rapport with other worshippers - that is, I think, what elicited the criticism. It gave the impression that Catholics should primarily nurture an emotional connection among the members of the parish community to evangelize. Personal recognition is a good thing, but it is not the primary thing, at least among Catholics.

What makes Catholicism distinctive among other Christian groups is its historic institution, hierarchy, and preference for objectivity. Real Presence makes the claim to be objectively true.  Papal primacy, the authority of bishops and priests, the universality of the Church, the Magisterium, and the sacraments provide hierarchy and institution.
All of these qualities, it would seem, quash the kind of enthusiasm that concerned Msgr. Ronald Knox in his famous book from (1950) of the same name. He was well aware of the ancient background to enthusiasm:

" the emphasis lies on a direct personal access to the Author of our salvation, [thus] at the root of it lies a different theology of grace. Our traditional doctrine is that grace perfects nature but leaves it nature still. The assumption of the enthusiast is bolder and simpler; for him, grace has destroyed nature, and replaced it."

The question of enthusiasm, for Knox, leads directly back to the Protestant Reformation debate over the effects of the Fall on human nature, the extent to which nature is corrupted, and the relation of grace to our fallen nature. 

Thus, I must conclude a recovery of enthusiasm is not the best way to address the process of renewal in the Catholic Church. The language must be found elsewhere, at the heart of what it means to practice the Faith. How then is renewal to be pursued? This is where I think the "logic" of being Catholic sends us on a different course than that followed by other faith groups. There is the tendency to assume this renewal should be summoned up from within, based upon prayer, rosaries, or some sort of spiritual exercises. These are all good to do, of course, but that leaves aside the most obvious place to look for renewal: the Liturgy itself.

Let me offer the following example: Have you ever prayed in a great cathedral when the organ was playing or the choir was singing a Gregorian chant, a Mass by one of the Renaissance greats - Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, or Byrd - or some form of music that moved you? Did you find it easier to pray? Did you find yourself going deeper, praying longer, and rising to leave with a rare sense of joy at having knelt?

I know that the local parish is rarely a great cathedral, or even a building of architectural distinction, and I know that most parish choirs are not schooled in either chant or Renaissance polyphony. But, I would ask, how much effort are we, both laity and religious, putting into the beauty of our liturgy? After all, isn't it the beauty of the music, architecture, stained glass, images, homily, and the liturgical gestures that engage our senses and focus our minds on divine things?

In 2002, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger delivered a sermon, "The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty," where he said:

"[T]he most convincing demonstration of [faith's] truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful. How much lost "connectedness" would be recovered if more attention were paid to encounters with "the Beautiful" in the liturgy, so that it was never perfunctory, listless, or offensive to the ear and eye?
Don't misunderstand me. Beauty in the liturgy isn't just a matter of better music and homilies; it requires its proper form (i.e., rubrics ) as prescribed by the Church."

This is precisely the kind of "connectedness" I wish was encountered more often in our Church. The beauty of liturgy, emanating from the Eucharistic sacrifice, has been marred by misguided liturgical improvisation and horrid, or silly, music. Dumbed-down liturgies have only increased the distance - created an obstacle to connectedness many Catholics feel from their Church, whatever their good intentions. Our renewal must begin with the act of worship, with our liturgy. What will it take for the Liturgy to become an encounter with the Beautiful once again?

Summary:

1. Calls to Catholic renewal are often judged as an invitation to ignite religious enthusiasm.
2. Enthusiasm has an historic meaning deeply at odds with the Catholic faith and tradition.
3. Benedict XVI suggested the way of renewal lies in the beauty of the Liturgy.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Rick Santorum Announces His Candidacy saying - It is Time to Take Back America Watch

Image of Rick and Karen Santorum

By Keith A Fournier

There is something which many in the main stream U.S. media do not know, here it is - not many people are listening to them anymore. However, they will listen to this song. And, they will understand it. The sentiment it captures will encourage the heart of a ... continue reading


Treasure hunters claim to have uncovered $2 million of missing Confederate gold in Lake Michigan shipwreck Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Treasure hunters claim they discovered $2 million worth of gold, originally stolen from the Confederates after the Civil War, in a Lake Michigan Shipwreck. The hunters, Kevin Dykstra and Frederick J. Monroe said they discovered a 19th Century tug boat off of Frankfort, ... continue reading


Woman finally meets man with her dead brother's transplanted face Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Transplant recipients do not normally meet the families of their donors. An exception was made in the case of Rebekah Aversano, who met the man with the transplanted face of her deceased brother for a strange, touching homecoming. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


President Obama meets with ISIS executed journalist Steven Sotloff's family during Florida trip Watch

Image of Steven Sotloff had reported from across the Middle East and covered events in Libya for Time Magazine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President, Barack Obama met with the family of slain American journalist Steven Sotloff during his trip to Miami. Islamic State militants beheaded Sotloff last year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Obama met with Sotloff's parents, Art and ... continue reading


Michael Jackson's 'Neverland Ranch' up for sale for $100 million Watch

Image of Real-estate investment firm Colony Capital bought the note in 2008 for $23 million and put the title into a joint venture it formed with the pop star.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Late pop music superstar, Michael Jackson's famous retreat, Neverland Ranch is now up for grabs at $100 million. The former fantasyland currently lives under the name "Sycamore Valley Ranch." Located 40 miles from Santa Barbara in Los Olivos, the property spans ... continue reading


ANTHRAX IS BACK: U.S. Military accidentally ships live anthrax Watch

Image of Anthrax contaminants taken from building in Trenton, NJ in 2001. (Times staff photo by Jane Therese)

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some samples negligently sent by the U.S. Military contained live anthrax. Four lab workers from the United States and about 22 overseas, who come in contact with the shipment, are placed into post-exposure treatment, according to a defense official. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Baltimore bloodshed continues with unbelievable violence over the holiday weekend Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

May has proved to be the most dangerous and deadliest month Baltimore has witnessed in more than 50 years. There were more than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone; city police have never been busier. Community leaders hope the members will come ... continue reading


BACKWASH: California water officials consider repurposing sewage into drinking water Watch

Image of Unlike non-potable reuse, where treated sewage is used to irrigate crops, parks or golf courses - direct potable reuse takes treated sewage effluent and purifies it so it can be used as drinking water.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While it's "doable," few people in California are actually voicing any enthusiasm. Stricken by a crippling drought, water officials are going through some highly popular alternatives - and repurposing sewage water into drinking water is one of them. LOS ... continue reading


Gallup poll shows that one in four Americans not gay Watch

Image of Only 3.8 percent of Americans self-identify as gay, lesbian or transsexual.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Gay rights movements continue to disrupt society and political life, poll reveals that gay and lesbians are not as common in the United States as previously perceived. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new Gallup poll conducted in early May has revealed that ... continue reading


World's oldest woman reaches 116-years-old! Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World's oldest woman, Jeralean Talley has added another year to her life - the world declared she turned 116 last weekend. Talley and her family, friends, the Inkster mayor and Congressman Conyers, delivered a message from President Barack Obama, celebrating her ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 9-13
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2015 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle worker. He was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter