15 January 2016

Fr. Cipolla Responds to Ross Douthat

Full piece at Rorate Caeli.  In response to the "crisis of conservative Catholicism", as Douthat frames it, Fr. Cipolla points to the battle between Catholicism-- "Tradition"-- and "the selfishness and darkness of the world".  The full article is well worth reading, and it concludes thusly:


But above all, Mr. Douthat, you do not understand that the deepest problem of the state of the Church today is the destruction of her liturgical life.  That blindess you share with the Neocons, who have been blind to this for so many years and who refuse to see this because of their inability to even consider that the Church can make serious mistakes despite her indefectibility.  The Panglossian attitude towards the post-Vatican II developments in the liturgy on the part of those who style themselves as conservative Catholics is not only an affront to reality but has contributed to the shocking (never admitted by the bishops) decline in Mass attendance to the point where less than 25% of Catholics go to Sunday Mass on a regular basis.  Any rational person would want to sit down and discuss how we got to this point and at least consider that bad decisions were made in the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium by the Consilium entrusted with liturgical renewal.  It is a remarkable fact that Pope Paul VI thought that he had the power to change the liturgy of the Mass.  As I said before, even Pio Nono would have been amazed that he had this power.  But then comes Benedict XVI who declares that what was sacred then is sacred now and that the Traditional Roman Mass was never suppressed.  Ahem.  There may a contradiction somewhere in all of this.

We who love the Tradition of the Catholic Church rejoiced in Benedict’s Motu Proprio—Summorum Pontificum that freed the Traditional Mass from the tyranny of the post-Vatican II liturgical establishment.  But Benedict did this by inventing the fiction that there are two forms of the one Roman Rite:  the Ordinary and the Extraordinary.  What this means is, to say the least, not clear, perhaps not cogent.  But he could not say explicitly that what Paul VI did in imposing the Novus Ordo on the Church was wrong—because Popes do not make serious mistakes.  And so that whole fiction about if a small group in a parish want the “old Mass”, they should go to the pastor and ask that it be celebrated in their parish, and if the pastor refuses (why would he?), they could go to the bishop.  What does all this mean?  The great majority of bishops are inimical to the Traditional Mass, and this animosity is true even more of pastors of parishes and seminary officials.  Those of a certain age have a vested interest in the de-sacralization of the liturgy that occurred after the Second Vatican Council.  And, Mr. Douthat, what you see happening in the doctrinal life of the Church is a direct consequence of the unmooring of the liturgical life of the Church from its foundation in Catholic Tradition.  This is not conservatism.  This is foundationalism, grounded in the Tradition of the Apostles.

But this is not a time for gloom and doom, nor is it a time for Pope-bashing, nor is it a time for circling the wagons. No.  Next Sunday’s gospel in the Extraordinary Form as always is the first miracle of Christ: the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, as part of the Epiphany of the Lord. And, mirabile dictu, because it is "Year C in the Ordinary Form", our people at the masses celebrated according to that Form, will also hear this Gospel. 

And how wonderful that is! For this first miracle of our Lord is a miracle of pure largesse, a miracle not to heal, or to exorcise, or to raise someone from the dead.  His first miracle was to help make people happy at a celebration of hope and love that is a wedding.  And so let us all raise our glasses in happiness and thanksgiving that we are blessed by our Catholic faith.  And let us, yes, toast the Pope, but conscience first.  And let us toast each other, whoever we are, and let us toast this whole messy world in which we live that whether they know it or not,  the world has been redeemed by Jesus Christ.  And with a smile on our face let us thank God that He has loved us so much that He sent his Son to die for us; and that he continues to love us so much despite our ungratefulness and sin-- and let us thank God that we know the beauty and the truth of the Catholic faith.


Anonymous said...

Q: "Deepest problem of the Church is ..." Answers:
a) Trying to recover from the sex abuse crisis where one could see about a 15% drop in Mass attendance.
b) Like before the Spanish and French revolutions, the Church is seen as trying too hard to be accommodating to the rich, i.e. trying to justify raw capitalism (or socialism, for that matter.)
c) Having priests continue to preach about first half of life moral issues versus helping individuals in communities grow in deep faith. I.e. sites like this that confuse the black and white moral judgments we learned in grade school with an adult, personal relationship with Christ that is challenging, rewarding, motivating and other-centered. One that focuses on condemnation and judgmentalism rather than mercy, compassion, and deep gratitude for Christ's presence in our lives. Hint - we can't secure a higher place in heaven by bashing others - this isn't a presidential debate!
d) having the Mass presented in the language of the communicants, rather than alienating people from a dead language. (Okay, I must admit that Vatican II's changes should have been slowly introduced over a generation so the fullness could have been introduced.)

"Grounded in the Tradition of the Apostles" Perfect. So that means the Mass should still be celebrated the way they did:
* Mostly in Greek.
* Either in synagogues, in catacombs, or under open skies.
* Probably no musical instruments, no gold, no silver.
* Real bread and probably bad wine in either clay or wooden cups.
* Informal, with people standing or sitting on the ground circling the priest/rabbi, male or female.
* A dining celebration centered on experiencing God in their midst, an incarnational event focusing on the God within the community.

Oh wait, you're talking about a mid 1600-type European setting of an external God far removed from the common person, adored in the quiet privacy of one's heart, where God can only be spoken to in an unknown language by extraordinarily dressed priests in the most ornate attire.

"Catholic" means "universal." There certainly is room for both Masses. There are many types of spirituality. Unfortunately, using terms like "Battle," "war," and "Selfishness and darkness" add nothing to one's spirituality. Fr. Cipolla's last paragraph is the first time I've seen anything written on this site that hints at the blessings of a true faith: rejoicing and celebrating Christ's presence in our midst, and gratitude for Christ among us.


JBQ said...

I have been going to the website "Rorate Caeli". It has an interesting and independent perspective. Recently, I attended Sunday Mass at Seven Holy Founders in Affton. They recently replaced their Servite pastor who was "larger than life" at 6 foot 5 and 300 pounds Father Donald who went to California. There was an overflow crowd always and I would have to stand. In this case, a liberal archdiocese priest was transferred in. The Mass attendance two weeks ago at 11:00 AM filled half the church if that.

thetimman said...


What is the color of the sky in your world?

Every one of your suppositions is erroneous. The most telling one is your view of the Mass as beIng "presented" to the communicants. It is the propitiatory sacrifice offered to God.

Hence, you live in the worldview common to liberal Catholics and other Protestants. Orient yourself properly to the liturgy, and your historical and political errors will fall away too. Good luck.

bill bannon said...

It's not about Latin versus English. At some point the fear of the Lord vanished from sermons, vanished from Popes ( both St. JPII and Benedict opined that we couldn't be sure Judas was in hell)....Augustine and Chrysostom were sure because they noticed that Christ implied repeatedly that that was where he was going. Scripture says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It vanished from sermons long ago and then yes...4% of priests abused young people came next...but more like 70% of Church authorities reshuffled those priests which told the laity they did not count one iota as parents with right to know. All the talk about the nobility of parenting looked then like hogwash if Monseignors need not inform parents that he just reshuffled a priest offender near their children. Fear of the Lord? Pope Benedict just wrote in Verbum Domini sect.42 that God had nothing to do with the massacre of the Canaanites but rather they were sins of Old Testament man. In 2014 the Pontifical Biblical Commission went way further...they said the herem never happened so long after them were the accounts written. The Bible? It says God ordered them about five clear times. Almost the entire Chuch flees from fear of the Lord under one topic or another. Ergo...few are worried about it really being mortal sin to miss Mass....especially since sincere people of every religion can reach heaven now. What do I think? The Church is wise to place mortal sin on Mass obligation except she should excuse all elderly past a certain age. Some Catholic hermits in the contemplative orders are excused for purposes of infused prayer.

Anonymous said...

IF a holy person's spirituality isn't exactly like yours, its erroneous. Got it.

One's view of what the Mass is clearly shows ones spirituality and relationship with God. For YOU, the Mass is "the propitiatory sacrifice offered to God." You offer a sacrifice to God as if He needs to be appeased by your piousness. There is indeed goodness in that. We ARE indeed only here by God's grace, and we adore the God who is so distant from our weak human nature.

God is also immanent - he is here with us. He is wherever we are gathered in His name. Yes, He is with us in Latin Masses at the Oratory just as He is with us at Mass at Seven Holy Founders.

The Mass is a BOTH/AND mystery, not an either/or. We err when we think we can control God by how pious we act - God doesn't act that way. We also err if we presume God is with us no matter what we do. It is a heresy to go to the extreme of thinking God is purely transcendent, or the extreme of thinking God is purely transcendent. It is a heresy to think that by our actions or piousness, we can make God like us more or approve of us more. Simultaneously, it is a heresy to think we can follow only our own hearts because God is within.

What is unconscionable is having someone pose as a Christian taking every chance they can to condemn over a billion Catholics because they are not following the rubrics and rites of "the one and only correct Liturgy," the Latin one developed over 1600 years in western Europe. Step back a second - do you think Jesus and His apostles and disciples would even recognize this? They spoke Aramaic and Greek - why is Latin the ONLY language that 'should' be used?

The Catholic church is alive and thriving in the poorest countries of the world. In my mind its because the true message of Christ rings deeply within their hearts - a God who understands their sufferings and who dies daily in their poverty with them.

I personally think that our capitalistic, commercial world with its emphasis on 'happiness through possessions' and 'instant gratification' is far more damaging to the church than what rubrics are being used in the Liturgy.

Final thoughts: Jesus came to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable. In my relationship with God, this is both/and.