Sunday, June 07, 2015

Clerical Narcism

I have long thought that the 4th Commandment: Honour your father and mother and you will live long in the land, was a key to many of our problems in the Church. I mean why are we no longer living long in the land, is it possibly that we do not honour our past and the things of our forefathers, in brief our mothers and fathers. Why are places that were once flourishing and Catholic, no longer so; this is the question Pope Benedict put to Roman seminarians just before his retirement, when he spoke of the "Council of the Media", the Council of Rupture, "this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized ,,,"

Benedict's liturgical teaching, the 'liberating' of the Old Rite, his attempt to find 'roots' for the New Rite, which he considered rootless and his promulgation 'the hermeneutic of reform within continuity' are all signs that he wished to restore harmony to the Church, to somehow exorcise the idea that the Church of today is not the same Church as that of the past, in fact that which Jesus founded. The idea that that which earlier generations called holy is still holy for us today, is very much about restoration, as is the encouragement to read its documents of the Council and to read them in the light of Tradition.

There is an interesting article by Paul Vitz & Daniel C. Vitz about priestly narcissism, it is aimed primarily at explaining liturgical abuse but it might also give an insight into theological abuses, sexual abuse and the abuse of power. Do read it, it is worth the effort.


Woody said...

That was a great article. Thank you for recommending it, Father.

JARay said...

I too read the article and learned from it. Thank you Father. I have witnessed several of those narcissistic faults being exhibited. The procession from the altar after Mass where the priest high-fives members of the congregation particularly irks me, with the priest only halfway up the aisle and I am back in the sacristy. This sort of thing has happened time and time again.

viterbo said...

Benedict had to 'liberate' the old Rite from the tyranny of revolution/attack-on-what-has-preceded. "Hence the importance [Saint Teresa of Avila] attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer and as the heart of the liturgy. Saint Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae” in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time." - Benedict XVI 'Holy Men and Women Of the Middle Ages and Beyond'. The sensus ecclesiae - something that is handed to us from a Tradition protected by the Holy Ghost, surely.

Very intersting article, Father. From the article: "Given the tendency toward "ego renewal", self-esteem and self-aggrandizement, priests and seminarians (and laity!) should be made aware of the danger of inserting one's personality into the liturgy. This tendency toward narcissism needs to be addressed especially in the context of the Mass celebrated versus populum — facing the people. Regardless of one's view with regard to the respective merits of the mass being celebrated ad orientem or versus populum, there can be little question that the temptation to grandstand is much greater when the celebrant is facing the congregation."

In the 'Short-story of the Antichrist' by Vladimir Solovyov (Russian Orthodox, though some say he converted to Catholicism before his death), the 'narcissim psychology' list mentioned in the article fits the 'Antichrist' Solovyov fictionalised very well.

Anonymous said...

So true, Father, Thank you. Why do so many priests have "to prove" that they can compose liturgy better than that laid down? Inadequacy? Lack of appreciation of what priesthood means? I offer a monthly Mass for all priests, those who are happy and faithful, those who are struggling and for those who have walked away

Nicolas Bellord said...

Our Bishop in Viseu, Portugal recently extolled the virtues of traditional religious fiestas as being a cure for individualism.

Pelerin said...

The blog 'Offerimus tibi Domine' also links to this article and has another link to a video of what looks like a nuptial Mass which left me speechless! Readers should not click on if they can't bear to watch Priests who entertain in this way - it could seriously damage their health! However it did make me laugh when the Priest presented the happy couple with a dustpan and what looked like a packet of crisps.

The sound was indistinct but I guessed by the exuberance of those present that it was in South America although one commenter has given a town in Italy as the venue. Another commenter writes 'Were they all on crack?!'

It is interesting to note that not all those present join in with the clapping - presumably some are more used to a dignified wedding service. If the Priest had entertained at the couples'reception in this way it would have been fun as he is obviously a talented performer - but during Mass?

Jacobi said...

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church in the West has been in steep decline. That is fact. Clerical Narcissism has been a factor but by no means the only one.

Imposed constructed liturgy, abandonment of RE and Apologetics, false ecumenism, all led to a collapse of certainty amongst the clergy which has been transmitted to the laity, hence decline in Mass attendance and the empty seminaries.

The forces of Modernism and Relativism have swooped, and the Church's reaction to these has been, as we now see, quite mistaken.

Many in the Church seek to compromise with relativised society, hence the current attack on the Sacrament of Marriage and the efforts to make sodomistic practise acceptable.

There are signs of reaction amongst the few younger priests we now have. The Mass as the centre of Catholic life, (as opposed to a protestant-style communion service), is slowly being re-emphasised. But Narcissism persists and is in some ways growing. At my Mass on Sunday last , a re-emphasis on the Mass by the priest, went alongside prolonged applause for other matters.

It came across to me at least as a very mixed message.

We have a long way to go yet!

Gregkanga said...

I know the narcissistic abuses of the Mass in the article by Paul and Daniel Vitz only too well. And just like the sexual abuse problem in the Church, it all points to the inadequate and poor formation of priests, and the necessary ongoing formation in the form of accompaniment that has been non-existent. The real tragedy for the Church is that it highlights a generation of bishops and priests who have failed to truly love Christ and His Bride.

Gregkanga said...

The article by Paul and Daniel Vitz gives us great insight into why the level of holiness among the priests and bishops are so low and why the level of sterility is so high in the Church in the West. Until this narcissism is addressed in psychotherapy, these priests will never learn the secret of a fruitful priesthood, of standing at the altar not only as the one offering the Sacrifice, but as the one who is being sacrificed, becoming one with the immolated Lamb.

Cosmos said...

An interesting question, which seems to completely cripple some conservative Catholics who otherwise might contribute to a reform, is whether the desire to "fix" the liturgy is just part of the same psychosis (the ancient liturgy is just one more extension of self).

I think it is not. If I there were no ancient tradition, this might be the case. But I can't see how the desire to reconstruct or preserve something ancient and beautiful can be compared with the desire to replace the ancient and beautiful tradition with one's own vision of what "modern man" requires.

Many conserative Catholics will say that this is not really the choice. The choice is betweeen taken what God has offered through the legimate authority he created, or rejecting it. It's as simple as obey or disobey. Humilty requires obedience.

I think that this too is an over-simplification. Many of the changes do not actually follow VII, and were imposed in a manner that did not respect the very authority that is appealled to (like following an unjust law that was promulgated illicitly). Do I really respect the Council Fathers by honoring a liturgcal rennovation that seemed to ignore their counsel? Do I really need to respect an authority that is so completely disdainful of its own foundations, and often contradicts its own teachings?

It's as if we have dismissed everything about the middle ages accept the obligation of filal obedience!

And while the desire to obey the current temporal authority is honorable, I think there comes a point where one is faced with the question "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" It is one thing to blindly obey the prudential judgments of the powers that be in 1965, when there was no emperical way of judging the prudence of the course of action they were chosing. But at this point, the failure of the modern program has been demonstrated for all to see. Plus, the character of so many in charge was demonstrated through the sex scandals, the jettisoning of Tradition, and the embrace of foreign philosophies. To embrace the liturgical and theological innovations of the 20th Century at this point--which were justified in order to better reach modern man--seems just naive and anti-intellectual. It feels like embracing propoganda.

Nicolas Bellord said...

If you find that in your Parish Church all the statues except that of Our Lady have been removed apparently on a permanent basis what do you do? Has a Parish Priest the right to do this on his own or does he have to get some faculty from the Bishop? What is the thinking behind such a move?