25 May 2015

Memebots of Gramscian Marxism

On this Memorial Day, we need to take some time to reflect on the direction and trajectory of the Republic. Maybe I read too much about the fall of the Roman Republic (corrupt elite, rise of lawyers, deficit spending, etc), but it seems to me that we are Swirling the Bowl.

Here's an excellent post from 2006 on the scourge of Cultural Marxism that is crippling us:

[. . .] Another consequence of Stalin’s meme war is that today’s left-wing antiwar demonstrators wear kaffiyehs without any sense of how grotesque it is for ostensible Marxists to cuddle up to religious absolutists who want to restore the power relations of the 7th century CE. In Stalin’s hands, even Marxism itself was hollowed out to serve as a memetic weapon — it became increasingly nihilist, hatred-focused and destructive. The postmodern left is now defined not by what it’s for but by what it’s against: classical-liberal individualism, free markets, dead white males, America, and the idea of objective reality itself.

The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant. [. . .]

If you don't know who Antonio Gramsci was, go here for a quick education on how economic Marxism became cultural Marxism in the West. Gramscian Marxism was the foundational theory of my grad school years. . .but I got better.

I pray that our culture does too.
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24 May 2015

The boundless gift that is the Holy Spirit!

NB. Being of gimpy knee and puny countenance, I am unable to preside or preach at a Mass today. So, here's a decent-enough rerun.

Pentecost Sunday (C) 
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP 
St. Dominic Church, NOLA 

 The Lord our God keeps His word! Through His prophets He promised the gift of a Messiah who would suffer as a servant for sinners and die at the hands of his enemies for the sake of the world. The long-awaited Messiah came among us as a child: born of a virgin; raised on the Law; and anointed by the Holy Spirit at the River Jordan. During his three- year ministry, he reveals the power of God by healing the diseased and injured; raising the dead to new life; feeding thousands with food enough for only a few; liberating souls held captive by unclean spirits; and teaching the word of spirit and truth to anyone who would listen. He is opposed at every turn by jealousy, greed, ambition, and ignorance; and, finally, he is betrayed by one he calls a friend. Falsely accused, illegally tried, he is found guilty by a mob and executed by the Empire. But he makes a promise to his disciples: “. . .the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. . .” The Lord our God keeps His word! To his disciples he promises the gift of an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to renew the body and soul of his Church. 

The Lord our God kept His promise to send among us a Savior to suffer and die for our sins. That Savior, Jesus the Christ, promised that the Father would also send among us an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to remind us of everything he had said and done. Gathered together in the Upper Room—terrified, despairing, anxious—the disciples wait to be discovered. Do they remember the Lord's promise? His warning? Do they have any idea what's about to happen to them? “Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind. . .Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. . .” One Holy Spirit roars into the Upper Room. Divides. Then descends all at once upon each one of the disciples. Not a different spirit to each. But One Spirit to each, all at once. The same Holy Spirit given to every disciple. And though each disciple receives the same Spirit, each one manifests a different gift. When all of these different gifts are brought together with one heart and mind and the freely given in service to preaching and teaching of the Good News, the Church is born. The Lord our God keeps His promises; He keeps His word. 

Before he begins his Passion, Jesus says to the disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Whoever loves Christ will make good on his promises. And whoever makes good on Christ's promises will be loved by the Father. Jesus says “we will make our dwelling” with those who keep the Word. We. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost—the birth of the Church—celebrates the day, the moment when the Holy Spirit came to dwell with us and remain with us. With the Spirit among us we are not only capable of keeping Christ's word, we are do so with all the strength and integrity of the Blessed Trinity. Through our varied gifts we—each one of us—manifests the Spirit for the glory of God, drawing in and teaching anyone who longs for God's mercy. Our gifts are made purer, stronger, holier in their work for the kingdom, and we are made more perfect in love by sharing God's love. The Holy Spirit is sent to be our Advocate, the one who defends us against the dark accusations of the world. But we are not permitted to simply hide away in a room and shake ourselves silly in fear of the world. The Spirit enlivens, empowers, ignites, and He pushes us out in the world as witnesses to the freely given mercy of God.

Think about it. What do the disciples do the moment the Holy Spirit endows them with His gifts? “[They] began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Different languages? Yes. Though all of the disciples were Galileans they were understood by Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Asians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs. They were also understood by “both Jews and converts to Judaism.” In other words, not only were they speaking different languages, they were speaking in a way that anyone who heard them could understand what they were saying. How is this possible? They were given the gift of being able to speak to the deepest longing of every human creature, the desire of every man, woman, and child to love and be loved by their Creator. The gift of the Church—then and now—is to be the Body and Word of Christ, the living sacrament of God's mercy to all of creation. With the Holy Spirit, the Church—all of us—speaks the language of divine love when we are united in heart and mind in the service of the Gospel. We keep His word, and He dwells among us. His spiritual gifts are boundless. 

His gifts are boundless. But are we ready to receive them and put them to their proper use? Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit. . .To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” For some benefit—the benefit of the one who receives the gift and all those for whom the gift will be used. The Holy Spirit does not give private gifts, gifts to be used for one's personal benefit. All gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the benefit of the whole Church and her mission. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body. . .For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . .we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” One Holy Spirit given to and received by many different parts to make up on Body in Christ. This means that whatever spiritual gifts I might possess, that you might possess, belong to the whole body not just me or you. And b/c our gifts belong to the whole body, our use of them influences the whole body. Good, evil, indifferent. How we use these gifts colors the Church, leaves a mark on the Body of Christ. How we use these gifts determines whether or not we are keeping Christ's word, fulfilling his promise. 

We sang along with the Psalmist, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” If we are to be servants of this renewal, we must also sing, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the body and soul of your Church.” And if we are to be servants of this renewal, we must eagerly step forward and offer ourselves in service to the Gospel. Pope Francis urges us not to become a “baby-sitter” Church. We could add: do not become a museum, a social club, a something-to-do-before-the-Saints-game. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit is among us, if we truly believe that Christ our Lord is here with us right now, how can we even think about not leaving this place and shouting about the mighty acts of God. How do I think of anything else if I truly believe that the Creator-God of the universe loves me? How do I wake up in the morning and not immediately give Him thanks for the gift of life and my freedom from sin? The renewal of the Church will not come from Rome or D.C. or the archbishop's office. It will come from the pews of St Dominic, Our Lady of the Rosary, from the parish; from your homes, your schools. But it must start with the family. With you. Use the gifts you have been given to renew the body and soul of the Church. Fidelity, strength, perseverance, humility, and above all: love, divine love. You have them all. Put them to work for Christ, keeping his word. Put them to work for the Church, and dwell forever as a mighty act of God.

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23 May 2015

Criticizing Vatican Two

Drew Christiansen at America Magazine has a post up titled, "What Critics Get Wrong About the Significance of Vatican II."


He quotes Georgetown University church historian John O’Malley, S.J., “If, indeed, we look at the number and importance of Vatican II’s teachings [. . .] Vatican II is not Council Lite but the very opposite.” 


Though some in the Church criticize the Council as "merely pastoral," implying that its teachings are somehow less binding on Catholics for being so, my sense is that most criticisms of the Council aren't actually criticisms of the Council's teachings per se. That is, what seems to be most troubling about the Council is the way in which its teachings were interpreted and presented to the People of God. 


Fr. O'Malley lists what he sees as the significant teachings of the Council:


-- what God has revealed is not a set of propositions but (Christ’s) very person;


True. However, because we understand and communicate truth in propositional form, it is incumbent upon the Church to make sure that not-just-any-old statement about the person of Christ is taught as true. The sentence, "God revealed the person of Christ not a set of propositions" is itself a proposition.    


-- Sacred Scriptures is inerrant only in what “serves to make the people of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith”; 


True. However, post-Conciliar interpreters often begin with human experience and then go to Scripture looking for support for predetermined conclusions, thus elevating shifting cultural norms over the eternal truths we need to grow in holiness and increase our faith. 


-- the purpose of church is to promote the holiness of its members; 


True. However, what counts as "holiness" post-VC2 is often framed in purely political/social justice terms and fails to give proper place to: the reality of personal sin, the necessity of personal repentance, and the possibly of excluding oneself from heaven. . .all of which are given attention in the documents of VC2.


-- the "people of God" is a valid, crucially important and, moreover, traditional expression of the reality of the church; 


True. However, post-VC2 many interpreters chose to understand this title in purely liberal-democratic terms, framing what is clearly "family language" as a sort of ecclesial democracy that undermines the intrinsic hierarchical nature of the Church. . .which VC2 teaches is essential to understanding our mission.


-- the church has “the responsibility of exerting itself for the well-being of the world”; 


True. However, again, many post-VC2 interpreters understood "well-being" in purely material or political terms, framing the Church's social responsibilities as a partisan political agenda without reference to the Kingdom, or collapsing the Kingdom into an obtainable material utopia brought about through socio-political revolution. . .a possibility that VC2 explicitly rejects.


-- “the dignity and excellence of political freedom”; 


True. However, "political freedom" came to mean something like "no political position taken by a Catholic can be criticized as unfaithful to the Church b/c Vatican Two said we are free to be political." This is a tragic and far-reaching mistake in understanding the true nature of our freedom in Christ. . .which VC2 teaches is essential to our human flourishing and eternal life. 


-- freedom to follow conscience in choice of religion;


True. However, some post-VC2 interpreters used the natural human right to choose one's religious beliefs as a bludgeon against Catholic doctrines that they found objectionable, thus turning an observation on the natural law into a device for dissent against their own faith. 


-- the dignity of conscience, ‘that most secret core and the sanctuary of the human person."


Again, true. However, conscience was re-defined post-VC2 to eliminate any natural connection to revealed truth, leaving it to mean little more than "this is what I want to believe is true." Conscience is now understood by many Catholics to be an absolute defense against any and all objections to believing a falsehood. Conscience discovers The Truth; it cannot create My Truth.


So, we must be vigilant in distinguishing between the actual teachings of VC2 in its documents and what came to be thought of as its teachings. Both those who misinterpret Vatican Two and those who unjustly criticize the Council regularly fail to make this crucial distinction. 


Read the whole thing.


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21 May 2015

Prayers please. . .

 This is me. . .if I were a Derpy Husky.

This morning during my province's provincial assembly my left knee decided to stop working. 

I came within seconds of busting my head open on a big wooden chair.

Going to the doc tomorrow.

Can't walk much. Hygiene upkeep should be. . .interesting.

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16 May 2015

Hear it!

Audio file for my homily: 6th Sunday of Easter.

(I'd completely forgotten that I had recorded it!)

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14 May 2015

Iraqi Dominican Sister on ISIS atrocities

Dominican Sister Diana Momeka from Iraq has urged US congress to do more to help Christians displaced from her country “go back home”.

Sister Diana, a Dominican Sister of St Catherine of Siena of Mosul, was speaking at a congressional committee hearing on Wednesday. 

“We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home,” she told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Link to the whole article

Transcript of her testimony here.


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10 May 2015

Lurve is not Love

6th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

We are commanded to love. To love God. To love one another as God Himself loves us. This is no easy command to obey. That we must be commanded to love is evidence that we do not love God or one another easily. We do not love God or one another as a matter of course. Love of this sort – divine love – is given to us to distribute so that by distributing it we can be made perfect in it. God loves naturally; that is, as John says in his first letter, “. . .God is love.” Love is what God is and who He is. For us, the matter is more complicated. We are created to love and for love, but b/c we are fallen, our loves get tangled; we too often love the Smaller Things of This World instead of loving Love Himself. When this happens, rather than becoming more and more like Love Himself, we become more like the Smaller Things, growing smaller and weaker and falling into sin. What help do we have in loving as the Lord commanded? How do we prevent ourselves from loving the Smaller Things instead God? With Divine Love always comes Divine Truth. No truth, no love. Without the truth of the faith, we will always fall into loving that which cannot make us perfect; we will always fall.

Love in the 21st century is a terribly diminished passion. Without much fanfare at all, love has been reduced to little more than what my teenaged nieces call lurve. Not being as hip an uncle as I should be, I had to resort to the on-line Urban Dictionary to get a decent definition of lurve. Here's what I found. First, lurve can mean “more than love.” Apparently, Woody Allen coined this usage in his movie, “Annie Hall.” The less we say about Woody Allen the better. Second, lurve can also be a mocking term one uses to suggest that a friend has a crush on another friend. Not helpful. Third, and I haven't confirmed this, lurve is the way Celine Dion pronounces love when she sings. OK. I found 30 different definitions. But here's the one that best fits my point: lurve is being in the limbo between like and love; a giddy/butterfly feeling that arises from mere physical attraction. This is what love – real love – has been reduced to: a merely physical sensation that claims all the rights and privileges of divine love, all the rights and privileges without any messy truths or limits. When I assert my love for X, it is inviolable, total, and deserving of universal attention and absolute respect. No one may question or suggest in any way that my love of X lies outside the truth. To do so is obviously motivated by nothing more than hatred and fear.

What Catholics know and must never forget is that love – divine love – abides with truth. Jesus says to his disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” To understand this passage, we have to see it as a circle. Notice: the Father loves the Son. The Son loves us. Stay with the Son in his love by keeping his commandments. The Son keeps the Father's commandments, thus, remaining in his Father's love. By loving God and one another as Christ commands, we keep his commandments and remain in the Father's love. It's simple! So, where does truth come into play here? The truth is found – as always – in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We cannot – as followers of Christ – claim to love in a way that does violence to his commands; that does violence to our growth in holiness; that does violence to our redeemed human nature. When we claim to love that which inflicts such violence, we deny the truth and love cannot survive in a lie.

With love being defined as lurve in our culture, and accorded all the rights and privileges of divine love, it is more important than ever for us to bear witness to truth of Christ's love. It's not necessary for us to march or protest or organize boycotts. It's not necessary for us to form Catholic ghettos and keep the world from polluting the purity of our truth. Christ's love and truth do not need our protection. We need his protection, that is, we need the protection that divine love and truth afford us. Not protection from the world. But protection from our own inclinations to borrow trouble and beg for compromise. We need to be protected from our own base longings to be included, to be applauded, to be honored by the world. The temptation for us now – right here in 2015 America – is to avoid being seen as backward-looking, ignorant, knuckle-dragging rednecks who just won't “get with the times.” The more colorful the names we're called, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The heavier the fines, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The longer we spend in the jail, the harder we must love as Christ loves us. The bloodier the violence (if we ever come to that!), the harder we must love as Christ loves us. We don't love God and one another as Christ loves us in order to win the fight. The fight is won. We love b/c Christ loves us. And by loving him – even imperfectly – we become more and more like him.

Jesus says to his disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” He tells us to love God and one another; to remain in his love; to keep his commandments; he tells us all this so that his joy may be in us and that our joy might be complete. Joy is an effect of love. By loving as we ought, we experience joy, and our completed joy is seeing God face-to-face in the Beatific Vision. Whatever happens “down here,” whatever evolves in our culture, our nation, our response is always, always the same: love harder! Pour out mercy. Proclaim hope. Live in the faith. Our citizenship is with the Lord at his wedding feast. And we are his Bride. There is nothing, no one who can separate us from the love of Christ. . .if we but love as he commands.

27 April 2015

Fathers, Support Traditional Marriage & Family!

CREDO PRIESTS is asking all U.S. based Catholic priests to sign a petition, calling on the Holy Father and the Synod of Bishops to reaffirm the Church's ancient teaching on the indissoluble nature of sacramental marriage. 

Go here to sign.

I am pleased to see so many Dominican priests on the list!

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19 April 2015

Philip Neri: the Virtue of Joy (NDS talks)

St. Philip Neri: the Virtue of Joy

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA
19 April 2015

“Men are generally the carpenters of their own crosses.” – St Philip Neri

Part I
It is early February in the year 1590. Philip Neri – Pippo Buono – is 75 years old and long a saintly figure in the streets and courts of Rome. Confessor and confidant to cardinals, statesmen, thugs, and fishwives, Pippo stands with the entire Oratory community of the Chiesa Nouva and eleven cardinals, waiting for the solemn procession to arrive. Relics of the ancient martyrs, Papias and Maurus, had been discovered in the titular church of Agostino Cardinal Cusano earlier in the year. Cardinal Cusano, a penitent under Pippo's spiritual care, wanted to bestow on his confessor and friend a singular honor. He had ordered the newly discovered relics to be transferred to Pippo's home, the Chiesa Nuova. When the procession arrives, the Papal Swiss Guard comes to attention and forms an aisle for the relics into the church. As the relics pass by Pippo, a familiar buzzing begins in his heart. An old friend, Joy, rises in his soul and Pippo does what he always does when the nearness of holiness threatens him with ecstasy. He does something foolish. Where most of us would drop to our knees in prayer, or shout out praise and thanksgiving to God, Pippo does the unexpected. He walks up to one of the stoically serious Swiss Guards and begins pulling on his beard!1 For St. Philip Neri, for Pippo Buono, the joy that love demands of us is best expressed in humble acts of apparent foolishness.

And about his apparent foolishness there is much to say. Reading Pippo's biographies is like reading a catalog of schoolboy pranks. Attending vespers at a fashionable parish, he would dress like a beggar and loudly mispronounce the Latin. He would send penitents on public errands with their clothes turned inside-out. He would demand that the young dandies who came to him for advice shave half their beards. He was once seen skipping like a child inside the church of St Peter in Chains. And another time, during Mass at the Chiesa Nuova, he had a barber cut his hair!2 Many thought he was simply an addle-minded old man. Others thought he was a saint entirely lost to ecstasy. Pippo saw himself as a sinner tempted by pride to embrace the power and glory that his closeness to God afforded him, a temptation that – on a much larger scale – had corrupted Rome and exiled godly humility. Pippo's antics were not attention-seeking, or foolishness for the sake of foolishness. His ridiculous behavior kept his joy grounded in humility. He feared the lightness of his heart at the merest thought of God would lift him away – literally, allow him to fly – and he feared that his people would come to believe that only those so lifted in flight could be said to be holy. His life, his work, his death all point us toward the truth of joy: Joy is love in action. Human joy, our joy, is divine love, God's love for us, in action.

With Pippo's living-admonition to remain firmly grounded in humility ringing in our ears, we can move – cautiously move – toward a less animated exploration of the virtue of joy and how joy must enliven a priest's ministry. I say “cautiously move” because joy is an effect of love and we do ourselves only a little good by simply pinning joy to a specimen board, splaying open its belly, and dissecting its parts. Examination is good and necessary, but it is also woefully insufficient. Joy is best known in being joyful. Not by knowing the names and functions of all its parts. That said, we turn to the Great Dissector himself, Thomas Aquinas, for the better parts of understanding where we are intellectually with joy.

According to Thomas, strictly speaking, joy is not a virtue.3 It is not an operative habit, nor does it incline us to perform any specified acts. However, the virtues (theological, moral, intellectual) do tend to produce “several ordinate and homogeneous acts,” or effects. In the case of the virtue of charity, joy is one such ordinate and homogeneous act, making joy an effect of charity. Thomas writes, “Hence [charity] inclines us to love and desire the beloved good, and to rejoice in it. But in as much as love is the first of these acts, that virtue takes its name, not from joy, nor from desire, but from love, and is called charity. Hence joy is not a virtue distinct from charity, but an act, or effect, of charity. . .” 
How are these scholastic distinctions even remotely pertinent to our exploration of Pippo's apparent foolishness? Philip Neri studied philosophy at the Sapienza in Rome and theology with the Augustinians just short of a decade after Emperor Charles V paid mercenaries to sack the city in 1527. In his biography of Pippo, Paul Turk, notes, “. . .it is well testified that he read St. Thomas Aquinas throughout his life and that later on he was capable of discussing intricate problems with learned men of his day.”4 Though Pippo always downplayed his intellectual prowess and education, the influence of Thomas in Pippo's day was pervasive and unavoidable. Pippo often sent young men to the Dominicans and maintained friendships with the friars at San Marco in Florence. The fiery friar-preacher, Savonarola, was a life-long inspiration for Pippo. So, it is a safe assumption that the fine scholastic distinctions found the Angelic Doctor's work made their way into the saint's humble heart and mind, and were given an exaggerated expression in his apparent foolishness. Pippo fully understood that his antics were both a means to humility and a way to be loving. In other words, he wasn't just acting crazy to be seen acting crazy. When the fire of joy overflowed, Pippo – always mindful of the temptation of vanity – let loose in the streets of Rome a circus of God's love and drew to Him Who Is Love crowds of sinners to be welcomed and washed clean. For sinners, foolishness was Pippo's hook. For himself, it was a penance.

If we take Pippo's life as a dramatic reading of Thomas' notion of joy, we can better see not only why Pippo lived as he did, but also how we have so misunderstood joy. Assuming that Thomas is correct concerning joy – and, of course, he is! – then we must admit that we've been “doing joy” wrong for quite some time. Like most of our traditional philosophical and theological vocabulary and grammar, joy has been stripped of its transcendental referent – de-transcendentalized, if you will. The modernizing project of the so-called “Enlightenment” demanded that our language submit itself to the grubby paws of naturalized reason and bow to the harsh judgments of empirical science. Any attempt to reach above human reason and grasp at the transcendent was ruled out of order. Rather than reinvent an entirely new language for the modern project, our Betters took the languages they had on hand – traditional philosophy and theology – and began re-writing the dictionaries to scour them clean of the natty influences of silly supernatural superstitions. The virtues were re-paganized into merely human attributes, laudable behaviors with nothing above them to strive toward and nothing beneath them for support. If the virtues suffered such a barbaric treatment, then their “ordinate and homogeneous acts” and effects suffered as well. Desire and joy as effects of charity – de-transcendentalized – became little more than human longing and momentary delight. Nothing above, nothing below. Nothing to move toward, nothing to stand on. 

The current best definition of joy? “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” A feeling. Not an act of love or an effect of charity. But a feeling. A feeling of what? Pleasure and happiness. How defined? No idea. With nothing as a referent, pleasure and happiness are defined by nothing more than the individual expressing joy. Do the ISIS terrorists who are beheading Christians in Iraq feel joy? Sure, why not? If it makes them happy – and they certainly look happy – why not call it joy? Would Thomas and Pippo call it joy? Is beheading another human being in order to instill terror in others a loving act? Hardly. Yet we can rightly describe these terrorists – using our modern dictionaries – as joyful.

My purpose in rehearsing the fall of our traditional language is to bring into focus the depths to which we have fallen in allowing our words to become bastardized by nominalism. That is, by not challenging the underlying assumptions of the modern world's use of language, we immediately surrender the field to nihilism and chaos. When we use words in the way that our Betters demand we use them, we sign away our natural freedom to speak as Christians. Pippo may not have understood the problem of nominalism or even knew that the problem existed; however, he understood all too well the temptations inherent in allowing words and concepts to remain merely marks on a page. Over and over again in his sayings, his letters, his strange antics in the streets of Rome, Pippo acted out the fires of joy. Not simply speaking about joy but acting joyfully; loving sinners; acting as a flesh and bone avatar of joyful repentance. Turk notes that Pippo never gave a penance that he himself failed to complete. He was as demanding of himself as he was of his penitents. And in this way, Pippo embodied the joy that our Lord came to us to complete.

If St. Philip Neri embodies genuine Christian joy, then what does the opposite of Christian joy look like? Thomas tells us that desire and joy are the “ordinate and homogeneous acts” or effects of the virtue of charity. Sorrow is opposed to joy, and sorrow is an effect of the vice sloth. So, what is sloth? Thomas, referring to St John Damascene, writes, “Sloth. . .is an oppressive sorrow, which. . .so weighs upon man's mind, that he wants to do nothing. . .Hence sloth implies a certain weariness of work. . .a 'sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good.'”5 He goes on to argue that sorrow – as an effect of sloth – is always evil because it is an intentional rejection of joy, or a refusal to experience the effects of love, especially divine love. That's the definition. But what does sloth, oppressive sorrow, look like in a person? We are quick in the 21st century to point out that sloth sounds an awful lot like clinical depression. And the two probably share some of the same observable traits. But we would miss the point of defining sloth if we simply shoved it into the clinical category of depression and left it there. Perhaps the difference that makes the difference between the two is that sloth – as a vice – is a bad habit. Not a condition or an illness or a psychic wound. But a bad habit. Sloth is the deliberate rejection of joy, the calculated refusal to allow the effects of love, esp. divine love, to touch the soul. This means that the slothful man has been shown divine love, received it as a gift, benefited from its promises, and yet refuses to exhibit any of its effects on him. In this way, sloth is the bad habit of ingratitude and the added sin of failing to bear witness to the generosity of Christ's gifts. What we normally think of as slothfulness arises out of this spiritual laziness: I can't be bothered to participate in the divine life except as it directly benefits me. The slothful man knows that he is obligated by baptism and his gifted share in the divine life to go out and proclaim the Good News of the Father's freely offered mercy to sinners. He himself as experienced this mercy. Yet! He refuses. That refusal, that bad habit of ingratitude and spiritual stinginess, produces an oppressive sorrow that only compounds and amplifies his sloth. 
Pippo Buono stands against sloth by living joyfully. He bears witness to divine love by acting, speaking, thinking joyfully – all as the direct result of getting and receiving the Lord's mercy for his sins. And lest he become prideful of his spiritual gifts and take too seriously the accolades that cardinals and fishwives are heaping upon him, he dresses like a clown, dances around the streets of Rome, and tells corny Latin jokes in choir. And not only does he do all these silly things out of love, he demands that his penitents and followers do them as well. Why? Because the joy that love demands of us is best expressed in humble acts of apparent foolishness.

Part II

Joe is the sacristan at St Dominic's parish here in NOLA. He's in his late 60's, a very humble, hardworking man who loves the Church and cherishes his job in the sacristy. Joe is also Barber to the Friars. He buzzes Dominican heads all over the city. And he loves it. Joe also has a gift for making this particular friar (me!) feel just a little self-conscious, and that's OK because he does it in a way that perfectly reflects his charity. Every time I see Joe, he says, “Fr Philip! It's always so good to see you! You have the best smile and you always brighten my day! Just being around you makes me feel better about the world! You're the smartest guy I know and I hope those guys at the seminary know how lucky they are to have you!” And he goes on and on in this vein for quite some time, and then he'll pause and say, “But I don't want you to get a big ego, so I'm gonna stop.” All I can do during these moments of praise is smile, nod, thank him, and wait for the inevitable conclusion. Why do these praise-sessions make me self-conscious? Because I know something about me that Joe doesn't: I am not easily given to being joyful nor am I always ready with a smile. In fact, I can be quite cynical and prone to the temptations of despair. Thanks to Augustine and Calvin I make a natural idealist living in a world that will never meet my standards. Thankfully, that's my dark side, and it doesn't win out very often. But this is the Fr. Philip Show not the Dr. Phil Show, so why I am telling you all this? For one simple reason: I chose “Philip Neri” as my religious name not because I am like him, but because I need to be more like him. 
Pippo exuded joy in his silliness. He wore humility like a crown, never taking it off. He was unafraid of being embarrassed; nonplussed by his social and ecclesial Betters. He took formal social events as an opportunity to remind himself and others that we are all going back to dust someday. Pippo understood the need for social order and formality and he respected authority as any good priest would; however, he never allowed any of that to overwhelm his ultimate goal, his final end: union with God. And he never allowed bella figura – good form – to ruin a chance to show sinners God's freely offered mercy. In fact, he wholeheartedly believed that his joyful silliness was the best way to reveal our Lord's mercy to those most in need of it. Pippo's antics made it easier for sinners to approach the throne and receive the gift from his consecrated hands. What he did over and over again is what all priests must be able to do when necessary: he made the Lord directly accessible when he seems to be at the most inaccessible. 
Joy – real joy, the effect of divine love and our charity – makes the Lord accessible to others through us. More specifically, your joy makes the Lord accessible to those whom you serve. And they need the Lord more than you will ever need your self-defined dignity. 
Our people live in this world, but they are not of it. This world demands constant sacrifice, constant praise. It harangues us to pay attention, spend, consume, waste, hurry up, demand, complain, be outraged, and whine. It demands that we do and say whatever it takes to Get Mine and hang on to it into the grave. Our sacrifices to the gods of this world can never be enough because they – the gods – know that they are finite creatures just pretending to be gods. If they ever get their fill of our misery, they will have to confess their finitude and abdicate their altars. So, to perpetuate their reign, they multiply our miseries and await our offerings. Unfortunately, our people will stand in line to make the proper sacrifices and then turn to us and wonder why their lives are a mess. And when they turn to you, hoping to see the Lord and some way out of their misery, who or what do you show them? (Your answer to that question will define your ministry). What do they see when they turn to you? A way into a life of grace? Or just another obstacle to overcome? Do they see a means of achieving freedom in Christ? Or a man too deeply committed to his clerical role to bend down and help? They could also see you as an easy source of cheap grace, or as a mark upon whom they can perpetuate a spiritual fraud. Maybe you're the one who will eagerly tell them what they want to hear, thus relieving them of a cross they choose to carry. Or maybe you will be the priest who agrees with their dissent and gives them permission to sin. 
What will they see when they turn to you? Better yet: what should they see when they turn to you? To answer this question fully would require me to start and finish a lecture series in pastoral theology and practice. I'll leave that burden to Fr. Krafft. Instead, looking over at my patron, Pippo Buono, I'll offer a short answer that requires some unpacking. A priest of Christ – lay or ordained – should always and everywhere appear to those in need as one who embodies and lives out that great Catholic ideal: veritas in caritate. That low groan you just heard came from the seminarians of second theology who are currently enduring my homiletics practicum. Veritas in caritate will populate their nightmares until the Reaper comes for them! Nonetheless, I would argue that this simple phrase – packed as it is with portent – should be engraved and gilded on the doors and walls of every rectory, priory, convent, monastery, and Catholic home on the globe. It contains all things necessary for carrying out one's ministry as a bearer of the Good News. It also has the distinction of being the adage that Pippo Buono lived out in all of his humble silliness. If you want to know why Pippo was so successful as an evangelist in Rome at a time when ecclesial corruption and licentiousness ruled, think: veritas in caritate. 
Earlier I noted Pippo's affinity for the Dominicans of his time. He was especially fond of Savonarola, the friar who ruled Florence and ended his life on a pyre as a heretic. Pippo admired the friar for his skillful preaching and zeal for the conversion of sinners. Savonarola went to deadly extremes in carrying out his program of reform, but Pippo nonetheless saw in him a soul burning with a desire for the truth of the faith to prevail., Pippo took to Savonarola's severity and, along with his knowledge and appreciation for Friar Thomas, tempered both with a practical wisdom that pushed him out into the streets to gather in the Lord's sheep. Without wavering from the truth of the faith, he cared for God's people in whatever way they needed. Because he loved, he clung to the truth. And because he clung to the truth, he loved. In Pippo, there wasn't a sliver of difference between preaching on the damning evils of sin and immediately absolving sinners in confession. When he needed to confront sinners on the street, he did so in way that brought them into the confessional – with genuine love for their souls. He was never above begging for others – food, clothes, jobs. Nor did he place himself below any man because of his station. To Pippo, all men and women were equally sinful and equally forgiven. And all of them deserved the attention of his Lord's servant. 
Embracing the phrase veritas in caritate as your pastoral motto can only lead to one, glorious effect: joy! Charity, as a virtue, produces both desire and joy. Desire and joy are effects of charity. If you preach, teach, and minister veritas in caritate then you will experience and exude the fires of joy, drawing to yourself those who most need to hear the Good News. But there's a significant danger here, one Pippo himself brushed against more than once. With great joy comes great temptation. After Cardinal Cusano had the relics of Papias and Maurus transferred to the Chiesa Nuova in 1590, Pope Gregory XIV tired to sneak a cardinal's biretta onto Pippo's head. Pippo leaned forward and whispered something in the pope's ear, persuading His Holiness to hold off making him a cardinal.6 Pippo endured and resisted many attempts of this kind to elevate him to the episcopate and even popular movements to declare him a living saint. A large part of his antics were meant to dissuade others from seeing him as a man of classical saintliness. The danger here, of course, is pride. At a time in the Church when hierarchy, station, money, and power were the daily currency of Rome, Pippo knew too well how easily it would be for him to be entombed in the layers of silk, brocade, silver, gold, and jewels. He wanted no part of an imperial Church. Whatever work he had left to do would be done as a beggar or a clown. . .not as a Prince of the Church. 
The dangers we face as priests and ministers in the 21st century are not exactly the same, but they rise from the same cardinal sin: pride. Success in ministry – successes like the ones Pippo managed – would draw the attention of the world. And with the world comes applause, prestige, wealth, and even power. How many bishops and priests have we seen in the last fifty years fall because they forgot to embody veritas in caritate? Books, speaking tours, websites, CD's, interviews with the press, requests for comments on current events – all fine in themselves, but also ways for pride to inflate the ego and the ego to become to a god. 
Even if you were to become a god only in your own mind, you would still fall into idolatry. How long would it be before your bishop becomes a meddling fool? Your brother priests jealous clerics? Your parishioners whiny know-it-alls? Looking back on your days at NDS, you would see the deep and cavernous flaws in your professors and formators. Safe to discard all that nonsense now. Because before you would be a wide-open road and clear-blue sky just waiting for you to make your next astonishingly brilliant move. And the only thing holding you back would be the drudgery of daily parish ministry and all those whinging sheep who can't seem to wash themselves more than once a month. You have a career to build! Important people to meet! Important meetings to attend! A golf game at 3 and drinks with the mayor at 5. . .OK. OK. You get my point. I hope. Being a successful spiritual father opens you up to the particular temptations of fame and fortune. So, the truly successful spiritual father never allows himself to forget that he is first and foremost a father. And a father cares for his children by telling them the truth in love. And by making sure that he himself is told the truth in love. Even when that truth stings.

Shifting gears a bit. Jesus says to his disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” What is this? What did Jesus say to his disciples so that his joy may be in them and their joy may be complete? Right before this statement, Jesus was giving his disciples a metaphor for how he sees his relationship with them: the vine and the branches. He is the vine; we are the branches. As long as we remain with him, we will grow and thrive, producing much good fruit. Then he says, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” How is his joy given to us and our joy made complete? By bearing much fruit and becoming his disciples. More than that, actually, he adds, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” Then he promises to complete our joy. But what does “complete our joy” mean here? We do all these things and then we find our joy complete. If joy is an effect of divine love, then our completed joy is an effect of completed divine love; that is, perfect divine love. In other words, if we remain in Christ, loving as we ought, bearing much fruit, and following the Father's commands, we will receive the effect of perfect love called perfect joy. We will find ourselves gazing upon the Beatific Vision. 

Pippo knew this well, so he lived his life as if he were always, already in sight of the Beatific Vision. What we might call his silliness was a means to an end: humility. Others saw his humble silliness and rightly identified its source: his joy. And Pippo knew the source and summit of his joy: his love for God and his Christ. In every way that matters, Pippo's ministry to sinners was an expression of his love for Christ and Christ's love for him. Without guile or boasting or weariness, he gave himself – sacrificed himself – to the holy cause of making known to sinners the Father's freely offered mercy. He died May 25, 1595 firmly attached to the vine of Christ.

1 Turks, Paul. Philip Neri: The Fire of Joy. Alba House, 1995, 99.
2 Ibid, 99.
3 ST.II-II.28.4
4 Turks, 13.
5 ST.II-II.35.1
6 Turks, 99.


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13 April 2015

12 April 2015

Just the beginning of our surrender

2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Lay Carmelites/Our Lady of the Rosary

The Easter scene – one week later – is fraught with tension and trial. The disciples are frightened and disbelieving, maybe even on the razor's edge of freaking-out and abandoning the Gospel altogether. And who can blame them? For three years they've followed the man Jesus as he wandered the countryside teaching and preaching the conquering power of the Father's freely offered mercy. Healing the sick, exorcising the possessed, multiplying bread and fish to feed the thousands, the disciples had every good reason to trust that their teacher was exactly who he said he was. And then Judas sold him to the temple priests and the Romans nailed him to a cross. At the expected moment, when the Son of God should have come down from the cross and laid waste to his enemies, at that moment, he instead cried out to his Father – Why have you forsaken me? – and died. Now his body is missing from the tomb and no one knows where they took him. Hunted as traitors and heretics, the disciples hide in fear, wondering what went wrong and why. To their surprise and shame, the resurrected Lord appears in their midst, and says, “Peace be with you.” Despite their lack of faith, their abandonment of hope, the Lord shows them his mercy. 

Or maybe he shows them his mercy b/c of their lack of faith and abandonment of hope? When Thomas the Twin returns to their locked-tight hide-out, the other disciples bear witness to the Lord's appearance. He refuses to believe their testimony; he refuses to believe that the resurrected Lord appeared to them, showing them his execution-wounds. In defiance and with all the arrogance of a modern American, Thomas announces, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” One week later – this week – the resurrected Lord appears again in their midst and again shows them the Father's mercy, “Peace be with you.” And rather than punish his arrogant disciple, Thomas, the Lord does the unexpected again. He relieves Thomas' disbelief in the only way that Thomas could accept: “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” The Lord's gift of Divine Mercy moves Thomas to an act of faith. He shouts, “My Lord and my God!” 

We can sympathize with Thomas' disbelief. We can sympathize with his faith. No doubt each one of us have lived through days and weeks of despair, and days and weeks of vivid faith and hope. We can even sympathize with the frightened disciples, locked away in their hide-out. Over the centuries, the Church has thrived in hiding and barely survived out in the open. We've ruled empires and been ruled by them. We've shaped whole cultures and allowed ourselves to be shaped by them. Whether we are hiding in fear of the State or openly thriving in the marketplace, there is one constant that never fails us: God's enduring and freely offered gift of mercy for the forgiveness of our sins. That offer, this gift never changes. Our Lord always appears in our midst and says, “Peace be with you.” The stillness of that hope and the constancy of that faith pulls us to belief in him and belief in him gently lays us down with love. Thomas' arrogant demand for physical proof is born of fear. If what his fellow disciples tell him is true, then he is obligated to act, to change, to become someone wholly given-over to the power of Spirit who is Love. That commitment is more than just frightening; it's dreadful, filled with the possibilities and promises of giving testimony to an event he himself did not witness. Can he bring himself to live as a follower of Christ and die as his witness when he does not/cannot know if Christ is truly risen?

That's a question we must ask ourselves. Can we? Can I live as a follower of Christ and die as his witness when I do not/cannot know if Christ is truly risen? It's one thing to live as a follower of Christ, to live using his words and deeds as my measure. It's a whole different kind of thing to die b/c I live according to his words and deeds. Think about our brothers and sisters in Iraq right now. Christian boys and men are beheaded in the streets b/c they are followers of Christ. Christian girls and women are herded like animals into cages and sold as sex slaves at auctions. In Nigeria, our brothers and sisters are blown to pieces while attending Mass. Whole Christian villages are macheted for no other reason than that they follow the Christ. In China, the gov't regularly arrests and jails Catholic priests and bishops and leaves them to rot. In Mexico, the Priest Murder Capital of the World, there have been some 47 priests murdered in two decades. Though no where near this level of violence, the U.S. and Europe are seeing a rise in anti-Christian bigotry and the soft-totalitarianism of political correctness. In some ways this sort of soft pressure-to-conform is more dangerous to the faithful than machetes and car bombs. One small surrender at a time eventually amounts to total surrender.

And we will end in total surrender to the secular culture if we do not surrender first to Christ. Our surrender to the culture will not be the end of the Church. The Church will endure, always endure. What will come to an end is the life in Christ for those who give up, for those who – like Thomas and the disciples – choose despair over hope, choose hiding-in over going-out. When Thomas sticks his hand into Christ's wounds he shouts, “My Lord and my God!” What went on in his head during those second btw feeling our Lord's worn flesh and his confession of surrender? Maybe he realizes his mistake and repents. Maybe he feels ashamed of his doubting. Maybe he is convicted in his heart that his mind is wrongly closed to believing what he cannot see. Maybe, just maybe his fear is given rest and his anxiety is appeased by the knowledge that his fellow disciples have testified in truth: the Lord is no longer in his tomb! Thomas is made faithful by the radical truth that his Lord and God is truly risen! Knowing the Risen Lord and believing in the Risen Lord makes Thomas a man-sent-out, an apostle. A man who is what he does and does who he is.

Each one of us is made faithful by the truth of the Risen Lord. If you come forward to eat his body and drink his blood, you are putting your hands into his wounds. Do not be unbelieving but believe. Do not be unknowing but know. And ask yourself: if I can live as a follower of Christ, can I die as a follower of Christ? To say yes to this question is the beginning of your surrender.

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05 April 2015

The Liturgical Revolution: failure and collapse

A post from five years ago. . .now that I am directly involved in the education and formation of seminarians into priests, I can see how the reaction to the Poundians is faring. It's not going well for them. Seminarians and religious students are almost universally rejecting the Poundian liturgical revolution. Thank God and All the Saints! Now, this doesn't mean that they are eagerly embracing the Extraordinary Form. . .though many are. . .it does mean that we will likely see the complete collapse of the "Spirit of Vatican Two" liturgical revolution by mid-century. We'll look back at the 1980's, shake our heads, and ask, "What were they thinking?!" 
Though there is almost no chance that our young priests and religious will plan a Clown Mass or wreckovate a beautiful old church, there is another temptation hovering over their enthusiasm for tradition-oriented liturgical worship: the means of achieving tradition-oriented liturgical worship
Having lived through Fr. Hollywood's abuse of pastoral discretion to denude his parish church of any and all Catholic iconography, Fr. Youngster has in mind a restoration to Full Roman Catholic Glory. Good for him. How does he do it? If he looks to Fr. Hollywood's example of pastoral abuse, he will simply decree that It Be Done. . .and do it. Without consultation, without catechesis, without any sense at all of what his people need or want. . .he will decree Make It So. . .and then make it so. This is a HUGE mistake. Correcting small liturgical abuses can be easily done, but re-orienting a modernist, suburban parish toward a more formal, traditional style of worship takes time, energy, and tremendous amounts of patience and love. To rush such a reformation on nothing more than the word of the pastor is authoritarian and counter-productive. In the minds of parishioners, tradition-oriented liturgical worship is associated with the abuse of clerical power and poisons any chance that the reformation will take hold organically.
Fr. Youngster, remember: "Gentle as doves, wise as serpents." Patience, love, wisdom, and then a lot more patience and love.
The Post:
In the early 20th century, the American crypto-fascist ex-pat poet, Ezra Pound, issued a three word manifesto that came to define the modernist movement in poetics:  "Make it new."  Reacting to what he saw as the calcified conservativism of formal verse in the West, Pound urged poets to strike out into unexplored poetical territories and bring to the art of the image and line the perpetual revolution of novelty for novelty's sake.

Pound's orders were faithfully followed by his loyal troops and the hydra-headed monster of modernist poetry laid waste to traditional versification.  The influence of his revolution of novelty was not limited to the arcane practices of poets.  Novelists, dramatists, artists, musicians, dancers, architects, all heard the call of "make it new" and went about deconstructing centuries of subtle, complex beauty with the fierce simplicity of the single, powerful image. 

As any Catholic who has witnessed the dissolution of our faith's liturgical heritage can attest, Pound's revolution had no respect for the Church or her treasures.  The central document outlining the Second Vatican Council's plan for liturgical renewal, Sacrosanctum concilium, was snatched by Poundian revolutionaries in the Church and used to dismantle the 500 year old tradition of worship in the Catholic faith.  Pope John Paul II, and to a much greater degree, Pope Benedict XVI, have mitigated, if not yet entirely reversed, the lasting damage done to the liturgical heritage of the Church by insisting on the organic development of liturgy and the need to read the Council documents with a hermeneutic of continuity.   What remains of the Novelty Revolution lies mostly in the misplaced creative efforts of priests and religious who, for whatever reason, see it as their vocation to make sure that the Church's worship remains "relevant" and "up to date." 

By placing relevance and novelty above organic development and continuity, liturgical Poundians ignore the historical and ecclesial nature of the liturgy and privilege their subjective cultural assessments above the real spiritual needs of their charges.  The widespread phenomenon of liturgical abuse is an insidious form of clericalism that encourages those with clerical power to use that power to inflict their private preferences, political agendas, and ideological quirks on congregations powerless to stop them.  Though Catholics have seen a dramatic decline in liturgical abuse in the last twenty-years, abuses still occur, and in some places, abuses are the norm.

Liturgical abuse comes in three varieties:

1).  a misplaced emphasis on the immanent at the expense of the transcendent
2).  the elevation of the purely intellectual at the expense of the affective/experiential
3).  an emphasis on the local at the expense of the universal
(NB.  there is absolutely nothing wrong with the liturgy expressing the immanent, the intellectual, or the local.  The problem is an emphasis on these aspects at the expense of their balancing opposites.)

Immanent vs. transcendent

In reaction to the over-clericalization of the medieval liturgy, Poundians worked hard to redirect our liturgical attention to the presence of the divine among us.  Initially a necessary reform, this redirection quickly became a foil for all-things-transcendent.  The most notable example of this abuse is the almost-disappearance of the notion of the Mass as a sacrifice.  In order to displace the over-hyped role of the priest, Poundians turned the Mass into a communal meal, distributing the larger portion of the priest's role to the community and making Mass all about bringing the community together.  We still see this happening in the unnecessary use of communion ministers; the priest refusing to use to presider's chair; folksy language used to replace liturgical language; and the illicit use of gender-inclusive language.

Intellectual vs. affective

Many older Catholics lament the demise of traditional devotions after Vatican Two.  In an effort to bring our undivided attention back to the celebration of the Mass, Poundians waged war against devotional practices.  Seen as private, affective luxuries, devotions were railed against as willful acts of rebellion against the need to build community through individual "active participation" in the Mass.  Modernist innovations in the secular arts always required some knowledge of the theory that produced the art.  Pollock's paintings only make sense if you understand what he is trying to do in the context of traditional painting techniques.  Poundian liturgical revolutionaries were quick to dismiss criticisms of their innovations with ringing calls for more catechesis--more education would somehow diffuse the overwhelming discomfort most Catholics felt when confronted with disruptive, alien liturgical practices.  We still see the intellectual being privileged over the affective in abuses like monologues on the meanings of liturgical symbols; an insistence on equating stark, barren sanctuaries with "noble simplicity"; the deconstruction of traditional church architecture as a way of embodying ideas about the nature of community; and the dumbing down of liturgical language so that immediate cognitive understanding trumps the more profound experiences to be found in elevated language and ritual.

Local vs. universal

As part of the effort to undermine a universally told story about the faith, Poundians began emphasizing the need for more and more local options in the celebration of the liturgy.  Citing the Council's call for inculturation, the "Make it new" crowd attacked the notion that our liturgical worship connects us to a historically-bound narrative of God's Self-revelation; in other words, their novelty revolution would not tolerate a liturgy that privileged tradition as the clearest lens through which the Church understands her historical relationship with God.  Building on the growth and spread of subjectivity and relativism, the Poundians latched onto a rarefied notion of the local church ("this church-community") and opposed it to the universal Church as the most authentic expression of catholic identity.  This move allowed them to argue for more and more specificity, more and more idiosyncratic innovations in how the liturgy was celebrated at the parish level.  It quickly became commonplace for parishes to be identified by their "worship-style," and even Masses celebrated at different times within the same parish were described in terms of style.  This abuse is most clearly seen in so-called ethnic parishes where attempts are made to accommodate the dominant culture of the parishioners (Latino, African-American, Vietnamese) at the expense of the universal story of our faith. (NB. not all cultural accommodation is necessarily an abuse; abuses are always perversions of allowable uses.)

Liturgical Poundians are on the decline.  Like their counterparts in literature, the excesses of novelty for novelty's sake have proven that the revolution has no underlying principle of restraint, no intrinsic limits.  What counts as "new" is itself subject to the whims of those deemed avant-garde enough to define the term.  Poundians have been rightly criticized for becoming staid, predictable, and highly orthodox in their privileging of a late-20th century liturgical aesthetic. Anyone who has clashed with a professional liturgist knows that the principles they espouse are as plastic as they need to be to justify the preferred worldview of the liturgist.  Rubrics, magisterial documents, liturgical law, tradition, all form a  repugnant canon to those who see it as their sacred ministry to shape the liturgical lives of the less enlightened.

Though it is not entirely clear that young Catholics will embrace the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church in large numbers, what is clear is that the age of experimentation is over.  Novelty for the sake of novelty is an exhausted project.

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