Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is It Only A Matter of Perspective?

Happy Camper
Pope Francis made the New York Times two days running.  Both articles were pretty positive.  There was another article—far more ugly—about clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the grossly insensitive handling of many cases.  Two faces of Catholicism—or, more accurately, two differing perspectives on the Church.  These represent the old and the new: the old boys network and the same old same old and the new approach where the doors are open and all get a hearing.  I do think that is a somewhat overly generalized way of describing the situation, but it does reflect the popular imagination. 
I grew up in the old system.  I was never victimized by it.  Sure I got my knuckles wrapped by a nun or two, but give me a break: there is much greater suffering in this world than a dealing with a seventh grade teacher with PMS.  I had a Jesuit scream at me and threaten that he would “knock your block off,” but I knew he wouldn’t unless I cracked and took the first swing—and I wasn’t that stupid.  I have no grudge against the old system, but it wasn’t the spiritual wonderland that so many neo-trads would make it out to be.  I carried more than one priest friend of my Dad’s back to the rectory dead drunk and then served his Mass the morning.  I have had no illusions that these men were all saints (though I knew a few who I think may have be.)  I knew my Latin—and still do—after six years of it, but it never made sense to me to “pray” in it—or in any other language except my native one (American English).  I know all that blather about how the “old Mass” was the “most beautiful thing on earth.”  But I remember that most of the time it was a priest standing at the altar huddled over and whispering words from a book, not unlike Merlin casting a spell.  And I remember that they got a new purificator once a week and by Wednesday it was little more than a wine-stained rag.  And I remember that the altar cloth was marked with soot from extinguished candles and the occasional dead fly.  Albs too often stank of the priests who wore them and vestments were stained with sweat.  O sure, Sunday noon a parish choir of four men and a dozen ladies tried to struggle through the Ave Verum Corpus and Father proceeded down the aisle in a cope splashing a tarnished aspergillum at us before “High Mass,” but it was never “the most beautiful thing on earth.”  Give me “the new Church” any day.  
Here are two looks at Pope Francis and his altering the direction of the Church.   One is our old pal Michael Voris with his pandering to the desperate unhappiness of his fellow neo-Trads and the other is the more positive take George Stephanopoulos had on ABC some weeks back.  Of course, George isn't on the Catholic Team so he doesn't really get a vote.   But then I am not sure Mr. Voris is on the team either: certainly not if you apply to him the neo-Trad standard of accepting everything the Church teaches.  But then I have always been willing to sit at the table with cafeteria Catholics, so in the famous words of you-know-who: Who am I to judge?  Just paste the addresses into your search engine and you can see the two differing views of Francis and today’s Church. 

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