I stare at the destruction of the Faith, in Ireland, as throughout the West. For a dozen years, at least, I struggle with different answers as to the reason for this tragedy.
Is it the liberal answer – that the Church has failed to adapt to the spirit of the times?
As an erstwhile liberal Catholic, I once took that very seriously indeed.
Is it the New Age answer – that a new dawn of Aquarius now arises, one wherein religions from the ‘Old Age’ of Pisces (e.g. Christianity) will inevitably fade away?
I confess it shamefully, dear Reader: I was duped by that answer for many, many years – like many, now, are duped.
Or does the answer lie with secular globalisation and the media? Is the culprit the cultural transformation inaugurated by transistor radios and television from the 1950s onwards? And now followed by DVDS, the Internet, Gameboy and God knows what else …?
But with every passing year, one answer speaks increasingly to my soul – above all others. Now, Joseph Ratzinger came to the same answer, I believe, many, many years ago. And so we quoted him last time:
When the liturgy is something each one makes by himself, then it no longer gives us what is its true quality: encounter with the mystery which is not our product but our origin and the wellspring of our life … I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy [Italics mine].
Yes, my heart accords ever more with Ratzinger’s view. Still, it is by no means easy to explain why this answer has assumed such importance in my soul.
Certainly, I see that zeal disappeared from Catholicism after the 1960s’ liturgical changes. The Catholic faith, once so animated by passion, became instead passive, lacklustre, flaccid … (But, again, one can argue many reasons why that might be so.)
The real reason for my conviction is interior: It lies in my ongoing day-by-day experience of the new liturgy over years and the ongoing experience of the Latin Mass.
For unlike some traditionalists, I go to the Novus Ordo – a lot. I need the Mass, every day. But alas, I cannot have the Latin Mass every day! So for years I have suffered all kinds of zany Novus Ordos, knowing that however zany they are, He is there, He is there …
He is not gone. He has simply been buried, buried by zany mediocrity …
Still, this experience, often woeful, affords something in my soul: the ongoing comparison of the Novus Ordo with the Latin Mass. Year by year, living and travelling in France, Spain, England and Ireland, I have been enabled to compare the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Mass.
For the grace of God gave me many things in these different countries. For example, I have experienced the apostolates of the Institute of Christ the King in all those countries (as well as Switzerland).
And in several French locations, I have had the privilege of going to Masses and confession with the Fraternity of St. Peter.
I have also experienced noble parish priests trying to restore tradition in their devastated parishes.
And I have long followed the noble efforts of local networks – such as the Latin Mass Society of Ireland.
It should be added that I have also seen noble Novus Ordo priests celebrating the new rite with great dignity and reverence. And how I thank you, noble Novus Ordo priests!
But my real point is that an interior process of comparison forms many of the convictions in this weblog.
There is no way, then, to defend these contentions. They will either resonate with the readers’ own experience, intuition, prayer-life etc – or they will not. In other words, dear Reader, you will find me worthy of listening to – or not. I must simply speak my heart and not try to compel you …
This is part of a series of posts centred on Ireland, but I hope of interest to a wider group of people on the web, seeking answers to the same burning questions as I do.
In this series of posts, we are building towards something – a recognition of the importance of the Institute of Christ the King in Ireland.
For the Institute is far more established here than any other traditional society of Priests. (Indeed, they are established in Limerick in a church of the Sacred Heart that I know well, having studied at Mary Immaculate in Limerick years ago.)
This Institute – it seems so very important to me. Why this is so we shall explore in more depth soon.
But let us say clearly that we likewise heartily salute the noble efforts of parish priests and local networks.
Nonetheless, my years of living in France – the world centre of Catholic traditionalism – offered me, as I say, significant experience of the main societies of traditional priests. This is to say: the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King and also the recently established Institute of the Good Shepherd.
That experience, as I shall elaborate, tells me those societies have been vital to the restoration of Catholic tradition in France.
I believe they will also be vital for the restoration in Ireland. For it has to be said that, despite very dedicated work for decades, the work of restoration in Ireland lags far behind many other countries, such as France, America – even England, I think.
Now, there must be reasons for this – just as there are reasons that the world centre of Catholic traditionalism is indisputably France. And among those reasons is certainly the extensive work of the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King and the Institute of the Good Shepherd.
Moreover, these societies are simply equipped to achieve more than the noble local networks can usually accomplish by themselves.
At least, this is what my experience tells me as I consider what I have seen in France and what I see in Ireland.
There will be more to say of this personal experience soon.