Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | April 2, 2008

Self-Edification and the Liturgy, not a good combination.

I was on the NLM Blog and found this interesting entry about self-edification and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, I decided to take a crack at this topic since well, I’m a person who is in love with proper Liturgy and all that.

For those of you that have not read Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Now Pope Benedict XVI) Spirit of the Liturgy, I recommend that all of you read it. I know that I’m going to be hit very hard for this entry, but as all of you have come to know about me and my style, I could care less. Emphasis mine.

“In the Old Testament there a series of impressive testimonies to the truth of the Liturgy is not a matter of “what you please” Nowhere is this more dramatically evident than in the narrative of the golden calf (strictly speaking..”bull calf”). The cult conducted by the high priest Aaron is not meant to serve any of the false gods of the heathen. The apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to the false gods. Outwardly, the people remain completely attached to the same God. They want to glorify the God who led Israel out of Egypt and believe that they may very properly represent his mysterious power in the image of a bull calf. Everything seems to be in order. Presumably even the ritual is in complete conformity to the rubrics. And yet it is a falling away from the worship of God to idolatry. This apostasy which outwardly is scarcely perceptible, has two causes. first, there is a violation of the prohibition of images The people cannot cope with the invisible, remote, and mysterious God. They want to bring him own into their own world, into what they can see and understand. Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God into one’s own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be the kind of God that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God. This gives us a clue to the second point. The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. When Moses stays away for too long and God himself becomes inaccessible, the people just fetch him back. Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in on itself eating, drinking, and making merry. The dance around the golden calf is an image of this self-seeking worship. It is a kind of banal self-gratification. The narrative the golden calf is a warning about a kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship. Ultimately, it is no longer concerned with God but rather giving oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one’s own resources Then liturgy really does become pointless….or worse it becomes an apostasy from the living God, an apostasy in sacral disguise.” (Spirit of the Liturgy 1, Paragraph 9)

I know I practically quoted a paragraph of the text, so let me outline what’s important.

  1. Liturgy is NOT “do as you please”
  2. The apostasy is subtle, the turning away from God isn’t obvious
  3. Outwardly, the people remain attached to the same God
  4. They want to glorify Him and believe his mystery is properly represented by the calf.
  5. They want to bring God into their own world into something they can see and understand
  6. Worship is no longer to God, but drawing him into our world
  7. Man is using God, and even if not obviously, he is placing himself above God.
  8. The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult
  9. Worship becomes a feast a community gives itself, self-gratification.
  10. Worship can become about oneself, through its own resources.

In a post on the NLM I said something that the modern golden calf is now in the form of LIFETEEN MASSES. Yes, that’s right, let me say that again, since you probably don’t believe I’d say such a thing “The modern golden calf” is in the form of LIFETEEN Masses” (Yes, you may quote me on this)

So, how in the world am I able to say such a thing with such confidence? Let’s take a look at the analogies between the golden calf and the LIFETEEN Mass.

1. Liturgy is not “do as you please”. (By changing the texts that are used during the Liturgy, this is exactly what’s happening By using songs that don’t reflect Catholic Doctrine, this is exactly what’s happening)

2. The apostasy is subtle, the turning away from God isn’t obvious. (By adding the extra external gestures that aren’t in the rubrics, by teaching implicit heresy, this is exactly what’s happening. The “God loves you” without “God hates sin” you slowly turn them from God)

3. Outwardly, the people are attached to the same God. (Better known as liberal Catholicism, those that say they love God, but internally, there is much lacking)

4. They want to glorify Him, and think the mystery is properly represented by the calf. (By using these non-Liturgical instruments, it’s called glorification to God, but does glorification to God involve self-edifying rock music? The Music is supposed to lead you deeper into contemplation, NOT make you want to dance like a freak)

5. They want to bring God into their world, something that they can see and understand. (By surrounding God with secular music, this is exactly what you are doing)

6. Worship is no longer to God, but drawing him into our world. (Rock music, guitars, drums, examples of bringing God into our world, instead of us going Him)

7. Man is using God, and even if not obviously, placing himself above God. (That’s right every time that we have these “special” liturgies, eg: Lifeteen, in one respect, we are using him for self-edification. Why is it at every “teen” mass that I go to, they’re always guitars, in a way, is it not stereotypical? Like African Americans and “Spirituals” I don’t know any “Spirituals” but I know my way around a Roman Graduale better than a lot of people. Self-edification, that we must bring the ways of the world in order to glorify God. (and no, the work of the day is different as in the sense it is outside the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass)

8. The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. (Honestly, this one is self explanatory. If you don’t see how the LIFETEEN Mass plays out here. Just read the above passage from Pope Benedict’s book slowly and carefully)

9. Worship becomes a feast the community gives itself, self-gratification. (hence the half hours worth of applauding, and the insistence of using guitars and such in Mass, people only coming for the music, and not the substance of the Mass, is also a form of this)

10. Worship can become about oneself through its own resources (hence, I am the bread of life, and other heretical songs)

Think about it which song is going to bring you closer to God?

a. Evanescence: Bring me to Life.

b. Handel’s Messiah?

One is going to make you start dancing (or turn the station if you don’t like rock music as I do). The other is going to draw you into the mystery of Christ. The Mass is NOT about us. It’s NOT about us being “pleased” with the music (although I happen to love chant and traditional hymns). It is scientifically proven that classical music will draw you into a different state, than rock music. This is precisely the point. The Mass is supposed to make Calvary anamnesis. (That is to say present) to us. It is impossible to do with rock music at Mass. I was at a “LIFEEEN” Mass, and absolutely no one was singing besides the choir. and maybe a couple of people tops. The Mass is supposed to bring you outside of time. Don’t think of me slamming rock (P & W) music, as I like much of it, but not in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Church does not need to be brought down, but we need to go it, especially Liturgically. It is out of arrogance that people try to bring in secular music to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as if to say the Mass itself doesn’t have enough Or that the graces that flow from being in Mass are not good enough. Mass is about the adoration due to the Trinity, not the worship of us. It is about God, not us. It not about self edification, but for the greater glory of God. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum. Amen!

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