Daily Archives: March 17, 2013
They Can’t Be Both Right
After the events of the last days, it might be good to refresh an elementary principle of logic that is, if you ask me, all too often forgotten: the principle of non-contradiction. The principle states that contradictory principles cannot be true in the same sense at the same time. It seems obvious, and it is, but one would be surprised at reflecting how often it is neglected.
Pope Francis, as we all know, refused to wear the Mozzetta and the golden cross. His new attitude found, we are informed, many friends among Catholics, to whom “simplicity” is suddenly so appealing, particularly now that a phenomenon completely unknown during the history of the Papacy (I am obviously referring to the poor) has appeared. Perhaps we should stop a moment and reflect on what is happening here.
As you all know, Catholicism is very rich in symbolism. It is, in fact, so densely populated with it, that a typical trait of Protestant denominations is either the toning down or the outright abandonment of the extremely rich Catholic traditions.
The sedia gestatoria wasn't the way the Church prevented a Pope from muddling his shoes. The Tiara wasn't conceived so that he Had to keep his head straight. The ermine Mozzetta isn't there because Popes are old and need to keep warm. They are symbols of Papal authority, a sensorial way (visual, in this case) to remind one in a simple but effective manner of a supernatural reality. Of course, it is not the Tiara that count, it's the Papacy; but every attack to the symbols of power symbolises, nay, it literally invites, a weakening of this power.
In past ages, everyone understood this, and this symbolism found application everywhere. When Kings had real power, they had real crowns, and real sceptres, symbolising their position; symbols of power whose use in real life has almost disappeared, together with their power. Similarly, when Priests wanted to be recognised as such they wore a cassock; when they started to be “one of us”, they started to wear priestly suits; and when they started to be ashamed of being priests, they started to wear plain clothes. You can think of further thirty examples of this elementary logic for yourselves. Symbols are powerful.
Some of the symbols of Papal authority are now – if we are honest with ourselves – under attack. After the sedia gestatoria and the mitra, the Mozzetta, golden cross and red shoes are now supposed to go. Make no mistake, this attack to the symbols of the Papacy is, whether willingly or not, a weakening and banalisation of the majesty of the Petrine Office.
Which leads us nicely to the initial argument: this abandonment of the traditional symbolism of the Papacy can find you in agreement or not, but not both at the same time.
It can't be that Benedict was right in recovering aspects of Catholic tradition, and Francis is right in demolishing them. One of them must be wrong, because they are at opposite poles of the way to understand the art the Papacy must be perceived. Again, this here is not about not liking red shoes, or thinking the Mozzetta is too warm; it is about wanting that the authority of the Papacy is clearly, immediately, unmistakably perceived. This desire, cultivated for centuries and so very typical of Catholicism, cannot be right and wrong at the same time. You either are with with Benedict and his predecessors, or with Francis.
Why, then, so many commenters around many blogs, who were all in favour of Benedict's red shoes, are now enthusiastic fans of Francis' black ones? Because they aren't thinking, they are merely emoting; which latter also avoids the embarrassment of having to think “the Pope is wrong”, apparently a taboo among so many that I begin to think the Protestant mockery of “Papolatry” certainly applies to a good many simple Catholics.
Imagine a new, young queen appearing in low-cut jeans and t-shirt, and the crowd saying “how beautiful! How simple! How humble! So long, useless pomp of the past! She is one of us, why shouldn't she dress like one of us?”. The answer obviously is that she shouldn't, because she isn't. But if she starts to dress like one, at some point she'll certainly be.
Thinking of which, why is the red Mozzetta not in order, but the white cassock is? Why should the “bishop of Rome” not dress like every other bishop? Everyone knows he is the Pope, right? And why a cassock? How many priests wear cassocks? Would not be more “humble” and “simple” to wear a simple priestly suit? What about trousers and sweaters? Why not jeans? He is one of us, right?
So long, shoes! Welcome, sandals!
“But, no, Mundabor, he isn't! He is the Pope! Successor of Peter! Vicar of Christ!”.
Exactly. He is the Pope, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, and out of respect for the Holy Office with which he was entrusted he should have the humility to dress accordingly and appropriately, whether he likes it or not.
I'd say this respect for one's office is fitting for everyone, but most of all for a Pope.
Liturgy, Ecumania, First Commandment
I have already mentioned the beautiful words of the Holy Father concerning what happens when one builds on sand.
I am certainly not being in any way original or innovative when I say exactly the same concept applies to the Liturgy.
One of the many concepts V II never understood (or willingly demolished) is the absolute centrality of the Liturgy in the life of the Church.
If the Church is the engine, the Liturgy is the motor oil. Exactly in the same way as the motor oil is absolutely indispensable for the life of the engine and a cheap oil will gravely impair the ability of the engine to work properly and lead to increased wear, bad liturgy will seriously impair the Church’s ability to function correctly.
One may think that a Pope with wrong liturgical ideas is half so bad if he is still orthodox on many Catholic issues, but this reasoning does not consider that in the same way as an engine can never work properly if the motor oil is mediocre, the Church will never work properly until she repairs her liturgy.
Bad liturgy leads to bad theology. This might not be immediately evident in the one or the other, but it is certainly evident in the life of the Church, and the fact the devastation of traditional Catholci thinking went hand in hand with the devastation of traditional theology is a chilling example of this.
Nor can we say that the Holy Father is a paragon of sound Catholic thinking, but with the idiosyncrasy of liking Pinocchio Masses.
If one can even think of celebrating a Pinocchio Mass, there’s an awful lot already wrong with him, and this wrong will come out however orthodox one may sincerely be – and I am sure the Holy Father is – in other matters.
Look at the video above (courtesy of Ars Orandi, another blog it is very difficult to praise enough), and see what the then-Cardinal made of the authentic Church teaching on religious liberty. His personal Gospel seems to read “Go ye therefore, and teach no nations, wearing a yarmulke in the name of Peace, Inclusiveness and Inter-religious Dialogue”.
In this case, bad liturgy not only led to the wrongest possible ecu-mania, but even to forgetfulness of the First commandment.
You see very clearly that one can be sincerely moved to be a good Catholic, but if one’s liturgy is awful his theology will not be much better.
The video above, besides being utterly ridiculous in itself (“Umbanda”? Seriously?), shows what happens when “it’s possible to leave in peace” comes before “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
If you liked Assisi I, II and III, you will love this Pontificate.
Please keep your seatbelt securely fastened.
The “in South America live 40% of Catholics” reblog.
This comes courtesy of Rorate Caeli,and one must say these Episcopalians have most certainly lost their senses…
Thank God they aren’t Catholics. Considering what is happening to holy and orthodox people like the SSPX priests, they would have the Vatican steamroller driving over them in no time…
OK… forget that…
Let’s try again….
A beautiful Mass in the Spirit of VII in Brazil…. Extremely solemn Novena….
Don’t get me wrong, I think the tune is fantastic, fantastic! But I wonder whether it might be… perhaps… not totally appropriate?
To stay in tune with the youth without losing sight of our beautiful liturgical tradition, I would suggest a couple of spirited Brazilian tunes which would, with their reverence and solemnity, give a solid contribution to the great flourish of the “spirit” which we now see happening all over the world after…
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