Friday, January 15, 2016

"What's the problem?" Evangelizing from the ancient rite perspective

***One F-bomb in the video... you are warned***

So what's the problem?

Evangelizing is not a traddie specific issue.  The whole Church struggles with this because She no longer knows who she is or what Her mission is.  Her leaders are content and willing to forgo truth all too often to appear good in the eyes of men.  We don't mention the necessity of the Church, or we play word games like "well, maybe so and so is called to the church, but such and such will be ok if God wills he remain outside the Church." What are we doing here guys?

We shot ourselves in the foot from the start.  Until the Church and her leaders and even people (the sheep that will have sheep) are desirous of bringing people into the fold in general for a real reason other than feelings or preferences we are only kidding ourselves.

I don't think anyone ever said introducing the ancient rite would be a quick fix to all the Churches ills.  Or that attendance would just magically be there.  Or even that effort to evangelize would be better in the ancient rite parishes.  Lets be real, most parishes are organ donors for the rich protestant sects that will sell magic zippers and strings to fulfill fuzzy warm feelings and attract people. 

How will the ancient rite not just survive but prosper?  I don't have a crystal ball.  Evangelize, sure but there is more than one way to skin a cat in the evangelization game (I know its not a game, but oh well).  We will be realistic in the matter of growing the parishes but most people don't know that the ancient rite often faces different barriers to propagation, and therefore evangelization, than the ordinary form.  I will list a few below:

First realize that Summorum Pontificum has not even reached its 10 year mark.  What exactly were the expectations that people had for the ten year mark?  If it doesn't meet so and so's thinking then its demise is at hand?  I'm confused.  What are we talking about here?  Ten years in and there is still much resistance or just complacency on the ancient rite as a whole by the hierarchy and their staffers.  Sure you may get one or two dioceses that are welcoming, but elsewhere you are almost lucky to get a lukewarm reception.  Ten years in and somehow we think that if we don't have thousands of parishes and hundreds of thousands of Catholics in the ancient rite pews somehow we are failing and we will meet our end soon?  Its been less then ten years! Where was St. Francis de Sales less then ten years into his counter cultural crusade?

Most of the parishes that get designated as latin mass sites are in the ghetto. Not to say we don't love a challenge of reforming a broken area (look at how long it took to fix up St. John Cantius in Chicago and the area surrounding). However, it is a challenge in that people that are quite justly concerned with crime might be put off by the location.  Its convenience to them as being a safe place is an issue.  Think of the FSSP apostolate in Arizona that witnessed the death of Fr. Walker last year.  Location matters, and the only way to make things better is to set up shop and roll with the punches that are sure to come with patience as Cantius did and we have.

Time is another issue.  Sure you might have a Latin Mass only parish in your diocese that offers Mass daily, but this is very limited. If, instead, you have a diocesan priest saying Mass its not likely that the Mass time of the ancient rite will be convenient for those interested.  Even Fr. Z mentioned this in his take on the article.  If the priests don't make the effort along with the laity we might as well be doing the hokey pokey.  Does the ancient rite matter?  Or is it just some oddity we can make room for once a month or around 3pm on Sunday?

The "holier than thou" stigma is another battle that is consistently fought. When people are asked if they are interested in assisting at the ancient rite generally there are two responses but one is that the people there think too highly of themselves and are hypocrites.  First, duh people are sinners, if they didn't screw up they wouldn't need the Church to avoid Gehenna. Second, sure there are goofy people that go to the ancient rite, people are people, odd - note: I for one am odd admittedly. But you can find bad actors everywhere with intentions that are holier than though, or even worse indifferent to truth (speaking to the normalists here).  Most people are just like you and me, screw-ups trying to get better one day at a time, Thanks be to God!

Language is another barrier, but this can be triumphed by explaining that Mass is not said to us but to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.  Its an act of supreme dignity befitting an exulted and proper and prized language as the Jews continue today to learn and use Hebrew in their rabbinical studies.  God is worth the exception to the mundane in everything!

Beauty is not prized in a rotting culture. Only sex sells in the culture we live in unfortunately.  You need to rewire minds by challenging the mundane. Sure we can have the beauty but if Mass is a matter of entertaining ourselves its not the new show on Fox or Netflix this week or next. The patient nudge helps here, but it takes time.

Hierarchy use of the rite may well be growing slowly, and thanks be to God for that gift! But this is so, so limited in its application.  If the hierarchy does offer it there is some legitimacy provided to the rite that many often use to play it down with. It would be great if a Pope would say the rite not just privately as JPII and Benedict did, but publicly so it wasn't given the stigma of being a weird or odd antique only to be dusted off from time to time, but a living rite approved and offered even by the Pontiff, who along with his brother bishops are of the Roman rite so they should be able to say the ancient Roman rite as Archbishop Sample has said in the past. [Yes thats a run on... its a blog]

Time to evangelize correctly is also important.  We don't want to rush conversion.  Voris said something a while back on this that was important in that even if someone is convinced and then walks into the parish what are they walking into? When you assist at the ancient rite you not only have to explain to prospective converts God, Jesus, and the Church, but you have to go a step farther and talk about the importance of liturgy in the Churches life and that takes time. Going once to the ancient rite is a start but it is often confusing and frightening especially if you are alone. So yes people should be made available to help with the new comers to some extent, but they need also to be willing to challenge themselves to take in the ancient rite for a period to become acquainted with it.  Try it for two months and then make up your mind is a good rule of thumb (I still need to write that book).

Its existence is hardly known to many of the faithful out there.  Don't assume that the majority of Mass going Catholics know about the Extraordinary Form since most have no access to it or it is not given much if any publicity on an archdiocese wide level.  Now to be sure its the same for the Eastern rites who receive little to no publicity, but we are talking about the Roman rite.  How much publicity does it deserve in comparison to other parishes is a matter of prudence and I don't know exactly what to say on this other than its existence is still hush hush to some extent.

The preference idea is another issue.  Until this idea of I prefer X Mass to Y Mass because of subjective reason A, B or C we are only wasting time chasing Giambi for the long ball draw, while our fundamentals suffer. Selecting one Mass over the other should solely be a matter of what is the most important thing and the focus of the Mass?  Is the glory of God the most important thing or the community?  Is the mass dependent on the community therein or the worship given to God in the prayers, supplications, architecture and reverence?  There is some improvement in the regular ordinary form parishes that deserves attention, see the Provincial Emails on the St. Alphonsus chapel restoration for more.

A not welcoming atmosphere is a common concern as well. How you fix this is tough. Some people like myself come to Mass, not for chatting or donuts but for God.  I like it quite and I like to be left alone to commun with the Trinity for that hour and a half.  How do you make it more welcoming?  Smiles perhaps?  I guess we could do better, but if the focus gets scewed from the purpose of being there there is a danger in confusing the worship of God with the placating of mans feelings.  Time and place, but thats just like my opinion man.

Only old folks go there stigma or that such people are not enlightened.  This is just a foolish take and if people take the time to actually come they will see its not so.

TLM only parish for all diocese. Controlling the spreading of the ancient rite is a concern, but perhaps its a matter of prudence.  As always pray for the Archbishop and his staff that they do the Lord's will in all things no matter what. (Even if its not helpful to us at the moment)

We also do become comfortable and thus complacency sets in because we do have a nice community that is growing the old fashioned way. I would like to start an evangelization group to go out to the peripheries like our Holy Father has asked to call back in the lost sheep and comfort the flock now-in. Groups like the St. Paul street evanelization teams are an idea that could be helpful, but there is a language barrier that exists in the areas that the ancient rite generally finds itself so that has to be taken into account.

Emotionally charged experiences (subjectivism) are a hallmark of Protestant communities and frankly this entertainment factor is hard to beat because what they call a religious experience is at best the first step in the life of a soul called home to Christ and many are like crack addicts wanting that to continue.  The saints tell us otherwise, that we must decrease and He must increase. We should expect the warm feelings to fade and our reliance on Christ to increase without the comforts we once experienced.  The ancient rite fosters the aesthetics but it also reminds that creature comforts like an easy going liturgy are not the focus so much as God is.

In all I dont think people should feel persecuted for being part of the ancient rite. Whether the Shrine in Chicago should be knocked down or not is not a matter of a conspiracy.  Fires happen, so too if it is not God's will that the ancient rite should thrive then we should be grateful to God that His will be done first.  Do what you can with the resources you have and let God take care of the rest.  Work with your brothers and sisters in the ordinary form and the eastern rites, they have perspectives that will prove helpful.

Well that was a long post and probably not helpful in the least, but I thought it fun to write and thank Msgr Pope for his real concern and call on all to bring the Catholic faith to the ends of the world.

Love it when good things come together!


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