Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Loss of the Supernatural

One of the worst aspects of the Spirit of Vatican II, not the Council itself, is that it tends to breed horizantalism, it stresses a "theology from below" and downplays the supernatural.
What Gaudium et Spes calls the "modern world" tends by its very nature to want to shake of the supernatural. 
I think it is significant that the various Protestant superstitions that sprang up in the 16th century all seemed to want to seperate God from Man, they are a form of Arianism. They all deny the significance of the Blessed Virgin, deny, or at least minmise the Real Presence, the play down the importance of miracles, the intercession of the Saints and the Church Militant. They deny the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church (until somehow we have his outpouring on Luther, Calvin, Zwingli et al). It is no surprise that by early  20th century so many Protestants denied even the veracity of scripture and began suggesting that it was not God who created Man in his image and likeness but Man created God.

To be honest it is what I love about the Mass of Ages, it emphasises the supernatural. To conteract the various Protestant heresies the Counter Reformation emphasised its more Catholic elements: that human beings could approach God in prayer, that God did come and change our lives in the regular use of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. Devotions like the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts took the place of Christ the Terrible Judge, which dominated pre-Reformation Catholic church decor, I find it fascinating that that dissappeared almost over night despite being the major western iconography for almost 500 hundred years.

Protestantism emphasised scripture read in one's "personal lights" whilst Catholicism emphasised an intimate relationship with Christ and his mother understood whilst "submitting all to our Mother the Church. 

If one reads publications such as The Tablet or listens to their Rome Corespondent or reads the demands of various "Priests Initiatives" from Austria, Ireland or even this country, Catholics like me are left wondering whether there is any sense of the supernatural behind their thought. Do these people really believe that God has been made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and that Christ rose on the third day in the flesh and that we too will rise again and be judged by God and go to Heaven or Hell? Do they really believe God rests in the hands of a priest under the form of bread at Mass? Are they left in open mouthed wonder at the sight of the Lord in a monstrance?

It strikes me that at the heart of Pope Benedict's Papacy is an attempt to restore the supernatural, that's the purpose Summorum Pontificum and everything else he has written on the liturgy, of his writings, especially his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy (there is a good review by William Oddie), as well as both the Year for Priests and the Year of Faith. Past Popes have condemned Modernism and Liberalism, Pope John called a Council to address it. John Paul wrote encyclical after encyclical against it, but it strikes me it is Benedict (and the John Paul/Benedict generation of young priests) who is making the most impact.


Jacobi said...

The supernatural world as, Waugh points out in "Brideshead Revisited", is the real world.

That is obvious, or should be, to any believing Catholic, but what interests me is that developements in fundamental physics increasingly tend to this. After all we now know that time is relative, may not be necessary (entanglement), and may be reversible. As we probe deeper into the essence of matter, e.g., a steel frying pan or the proverbial sack of potatoes, we find ever and ever smaller "particles" until we approach the concept that everything ultimately is "force"

I leave the rest to faith as well as to the fundamental physicists.

Robert said...

Take a look at this article Father. It's about the BCP in the Anglican Church. But it basically says the same thing had happened to the anlicans and their Liturgy as well. It is very interesting to see the parallels. The 60's was really not good time period for any of the Churches.

Православный физик said...

Resident physicist here...all order points to the Truth in Christ Jesus.

nickbris said...

I don't suppose I shall live long enough to really get the hang of the changes that have been made in my lifetime.

From the age of 5 our lives were governed by the Catechism and the Commandments;we were taught to be kind to one & other and be more well behaved than non-catholics.

Providing we went to Mass every Sunday and took the Sacraments then we could call ourselves Catholics.

If one wanted to learn more about the Mysteries & Supernatural we could go on retreats or pilgrimages..or go to Seminary to become a Priest and then teach others to understand the Catechism

BJC said...

Try as I might I just can't imagine Bobbie Mickens, Tina Beattie or Catherine Pepinster praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Nor can I imagine them praying the rosary or going to confession. I see nothing of the supernatural in what they write at all. It might be interesting to find out when was the last time they did any of these things or indeed if they've ever done any of these things.

Their 'religion' ( or 'my religion' as they might put it) seems to entirely consist of criticising 'the hierarchy' and wondering why their 'religion' doesn't look more like New Labour.

Nicolas Bellord said...

One of the things I like about the new translations for the Mass is that it is putting the supernatural back in. E.g. "and with your spirit", "my soul will be healed" etc.

Something still needs to be done about the mistranslations of the New Testament (deliberate?). Surely people know the difference between the word "blessed" and "happy". Just contrast "she is very happy to have had a baby" with "she has been blessed with a baby". And the bit about "suffering the loss of one's soul" where the whole point of the saying is lost if you translate the Greek "psyche" or the Latin "anima" as "life" rather than "soul".

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

the whole idea of a 'retreat' apparently comes from a time when the Church understood life in the world to be one broad spiritual battleground and that as such, weary soldiers needed a 'retreat'.

the 'retreat' however from the supernatural might have something to do with a movement away from the spiritual realities of Christ the Judge. After all, if there's no need for spiritual justice, what's the point of spiritual battle? Our Lord apparently mentions the place of the damned some 90 times in the Gospels, and Heaven only 27. I wonder if that's how the cut will go.

Long-Skirts said...

nickbris said...

"I don't suppose I shall live long enough to really get the hang of the changes that have been made in my lifetime."

"Change" doesn't necessarily equal Truth. May you never live long enough to get the "hang" of these changes.


The Holy Mass that cannot die
Was said amidst the oaks
While pin-oak leaves came floating down
Around the simple folks

Who knelt upon the acorn floor
All dotted nutty brown
The acorns cracked and old knees snapped
Yet still there was no sound...

But the tinkling of the golden bells
As the White Host Son rose high
On priestly limbs like mighty oaks
They branched up to the sky

And in that wood I laughed with joy
Amongst the souls bowed down
For the mighty oak was once a nut
That merely held it's ground.

So Christian souls like acorn nuts
Must burrow all around
And be the seed that sprouts new oaks
On consecrated ground...

Where the Holy Mass that cannot die
Is said around the oaks
While pin-oak leaves come floating down
Amidst the mighty folks!

GOR said...

Some of the things I miss from the Ireland of my youth are the expressions in common use that acknowledged the presence of God in our lives.

One never spoke about future events or plans without either prefacing or adding: “Please God”, “God willing…” or “With the help of God”.

Upon hearing of a death, it was always: “Lord have mercy on him/her”.

When things turned out well or some success was experienced, it would be: “Thanks be to God” or “God is good”.

And so on…

While some may have looked upon this condescendingly as ‘quaint’ or ‘simple peasant faith’, it bespoke a deeply-felt conviction that our lives were in God’s hands – all of the time – and that without Him we could do nothing.

Despite modern ‘sophistication’, worldly wisdom and the miracles of technology, we are still in God’s hands.

parepidemos said...

Father Blake, I am puzzled as to why you have a photograph of an Anglican service to illustrate your point of view about the Catholic Mass.

Robert said...

parepidemos, maybe he should have post a picture of the dancing deacon, at the Catholic Mass in Los Angeles (LA Religious Education Congress) a couple of years back. Or the "Techno/Rave" Mass with the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna presiding. Same difference! :)

Genty said...

I feel cheated. The picture should have been the balloon Mass. Such fun.

Anonymous said...

The picture should have been the balloon Mass

Nah. The Puppet Mass takes the cake.

Frederick Jones said...

Are they playing pat a cake?

Ivan said...

If the Holy Father's pontificate was really about restoring what was lost to the Catholic faith in the 1960's, he could simply promote the Five First Saturday devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, requested at Fatima throughout the world, as THE remedy to stop people falling into hell and we'd get a guaranteed period of peace into the bargain.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No Catholic is bound to believe in an apparition, ultimately they are part of "private" not public Revelation.
It would be a very foolish Pope who imposed doctrines gleaned directly from such apparitions on a skeptical Church, even if he himself is convinced of the truths contained in such private revelations.
Such revelations might be a strong influence on the Church's acceptance of a particular doctrinal stance, through the persuasion of individuals but they are never the basis of it for the whole Church.

momangelica said...

Dear Fr. Ray, So that is why the Vat2 decisions included the removal of the St Micheal the Archangel prayer as it came from a "private Revelation". Thankfully, We still say it at our church after low Mass.

Fr Ray Blake said...

And we also say, and as you raise the point, it is from a Private Revelation.
Of course because of that, that is one of the reasons why some "Traditionalists" do not say it, and have never said it.

Ivan said...

Father, you have given me two responses and I thank you! You have a wonderful blog. Let me try once more to state my point.

The Sacred Heart attempted to make an alliance with the French Kings. One hundred years to the day, after the proposal was not acted upon, the French Monarchy was dissolved, the King was imprisoned and the French Revolution wreaked havoc upon the Church.

At Fatima, the Immaculate Heart of Mary offered an alliance with the Holy Father. This July 13th will be the ninety-sixth anniversary of the "revelation" of the Great Secret of Fatima. The Popes have failed to act so far. Do we have to get bogged down in the private revelation thing? Would not the Pope be smart to give it a go even at this late date?

Remember what Cardinal Ratzinger said back in June of 2000, "Fatima seems to belong to the past." Our Lady of the Rosary promised to return to Fatima a seventh time. Saturday, July 13, 2013 would be a real stunner of a date for the skeptics. I read somewhere in the Bible, that the period of trial would be shortened for the sake of the elect.

Fr Ray Blake said...


I am sure that you might be right but evidently for all their devotion to Our Lady of Fatima the Pope's since the apparitions have for some good reason decided not to do so.

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