Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diversity in Unity and the Extraordinary

Diversity, or at least diversity in unity, seems to be a problem for Catholics of a certain generation, I don't think it is just writers of the Tablet who want paint everything in the dullest of beige hues, it extends to most Catholics, we want to make the Church in our own image and likeness. Traddies want the Church of the 1950s and Liberals the Church of 1970s.

Both are golden calves, and both rather dishonest, both are betrayal of the present. The Church has always been diverse, the East has always had a different expression of the One faith of from that of the West. Even in the West we have always had different schools of theology, Thomism and Scotism are obvious examples, we have had different schools of sprituality, marked by different devotions and formed by different "Rites" of different religious orders and localities, before Trent these were even more marked and often quite spectacular and the local Gallican rites that lasted until the French revolution contained various odd peculiarities. Such differences formed a strong local Church that was obviously part of the Catholic Church.
The danger today is that the theology of the local Church can so easily develop its own momentum, as we see in Ireland and Austria.

Christianity, Catholicism, depends on legitimate tensions, unity in diversity; in the past these tensions depended for a large part on religious orders; yet their own numbers and distinct charisms have diminished greatly since the Vatican Council. The parish was always supposed to provide the bread and butter of religious life, religious communities added something extra, specialising in particular works  and ministries, as diverse as caring for lepers or teaching in universities, giving retreats or missions or evangelising nations.

 Today the "new movements" offer what the religious orders previously offered. Under Bishops like Dominique Rey in Frejus Toulon were such groups have been welcomed the Church has flourished the Church grows. Indeed where there is legitimate diversity the Church seems healthy. In England we seem quite suspicious of such "new movements", and to those who are members of the them there seems to be an impression that those in authority seem to want to suppress or drag them into ordinary diocesan life. Rome, or at least the Pope, wants to encourage them, the whole point of establishing the Roman Rite under two forms is part of this, so too the founding of the Ordinariate.

These are not for everyone but they exist for a particular function within the Church, not just serving the needs "of those that like or want that sort of thing".  They have a prophetic role,  to challenge the blandness of ordinary parish life, to force us to be open to the extraodinary, to expand our sense of what is truly Catholic. The absence of this diversity, invariably means an absence of self-evaluation and criticism and a self-perpetuation of magic-circalism.


Anonymous said...

It's nice to be diversely united in the "ordinary" too..

pelerin said...

Interesting point on diversity in unity and the comment that many of us might want to stick to a certain time.

There is comfort in familiarity certainly but even the gradual changes noticed in the early years after the Council did not shake us too much. I remember when the Canon became audible - still in Latin - and to be able to hear the Priest say 'Hic est enim corpus meum' was an innovation I for one welcomed. It was the later changes that became more difficult especially when they were not uniform in different parishes.

Father Ray mentions the Bishop of Frejus-Toulon. I understand he belongs to the Emmanuel movement and the Church is indeed flourishing in his diocese. I received an email this morning pointing out that his diocese will have 11 new Priests soon whereas the Paris area will only have 12 - a similar number yes but when you compare the population of both dioceses it is obvious where the enthusiasm lies. Having attended a couple of ordinations in Notre-Dame I noticed that many of the ordinands came from overseas which help to make up the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Godd post, and so true, Father. The bigger problem, imho, is that some prejudices are sometimes expressed claiming the authority of the Church. Then it is not merely a problem, bur a danger to unity and to legitimate diversity,

Fan of the 50s said...

'Traddies' want the Church of the 1950s because in most respects it was the Church of the 1850s, 1750s, and back through the centuries. The 1950s bit is irrelevant; it is what the Church was in the 1950s that is what we truly want. Check out the old films and see the respect that the Church engendered in those days.

Liberals want the Church of the 1970s because it conforms to the spirit of the age where there is no discipline, are no standards, and there is freedom of choice. Do what you want as long as it suits YOU. Reject authority and petty rules. The consequence? Anarchy. Check out the new films and see the contempt in which the Church is held these days. I know which I prefer.

I wonder what happened in between?

Jacobi said...

You are right to say, Fr., that there has always been diversity of rite and movement, but the great danger now after the 50 chaotic and inglorious post VaticanII years is widespread heterodoxy. Unchecked this can only lead to disintegration as after the Protestant Reformation.

The solution lies in re-sanctifying the liturgy (The Reform of the Reform )to clarify those doctrines which have been challenged by the Relativists in the past 50 years, namely, the Mass as a Sacrifice, the Real Presence and the Ordained Priesthood.
Catholic education and apologetics must be re-established.

I personally believe that sooner rather than later a Syllabus of Errors covering the "Spirit of Vatican II" mis-interpretations of the Council will be needed.

Tonia Marshall said...

I heard a talk given by a young man with cerebral palsy who went to WYD last year with a group from Sydney. He described the Catholic Church as the Internet of Humanity. I thought this summed up brilliantly both the unity, the diversity and the global nature of the Church.

Lautensack said...

As someone who is pretty 'Trad' I would politely disagree that 'Trads' would like the Church to go back to the 1950s. For me (and I am not alone there), being Traditionalist means rediscovering the riches of the Church's tradition, and it seems that the 1950s were a period when many things had already been lost (I remember being told that a sung Ember Saturday Mass was merely a liturgists' fancy and not part of authentic Tradition, because they were usually not observed in urban parishes in 1950s England).