An Attempt at Clearing Things Up

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mt 13:44-52 

Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Fellow bloggers, I have been blogging here more frequently, and I think it is because of how I am praying for enlightenment in the light of the different liturgical abuses in the Church today. I have been confused for quite a time this week because of how we worship today and assist at Mass. I consider the Mass a central part of the spirituality I am attempting to adopt, and I am really praying for the grace to maintain its sanctity, to preserve its richness, to maximize its holiness.

All along something within me has been telling me that only the Traditional Latin Mass can keep up with such a description of an ideal Mass: sacred, rich, holy. But after thinking and meditating it quite at length, and after reading today's Gospel, I am led to believe in the following things I am about to write.

Many Catholics may consider this generation a very rebellious, secular, modernist society. One need not look deep within this society to find how things are gradually secularized. Personally, I am studying in a university where secular values predominate, in keeping with a spirit of equality with other groups of students who may believe in other gods or do not believe in the divine altogether. People of today's world may have turned into what we may consider a modernist society, in such a way that even our religious values are slowly being made to disintegrate.

We are living in an era where choices seem too depraved and immoral, where pleasure and indulgence take the place of sacrifice and self-giving, where love and peace are turned into hatred and violence. All of these may be happening at too much a degree that many people consider our times to be the last days. Only God may confirm the truth about this assumption, but nonetheless, we may choose to conclude: we are living in a society that necessitates renewal, especially in how we now approach spirituality and Christian responsibility.

This phenomenon, already recognized in the middle of the 20th century, may well be considered an impetus for the Church to reexamine its perspective on contemporary society. I personally believe it is not a question of relevance to the demands of society. Rather I prefer to believe that it is a question of how the Church can bring Christian spirituality to a world in which new forms of an ancient spiritual hunger have been created within our hearts. Thus, the Second Vatican Council.

This is what I believe to be the thrust of the Second Vatican Council: an attempt guided by the Holy Spirit in discerning the role of the Church in contemporary society, an attempt that aims to deliver the Christian message more effectively yet in a manner faithful to Apostolic tradition.

One of the reforms brought about by the Council were the changes in the liturgy. It may still be debatable on whether these changes truly conform to the spirit of the Council and effectively carries out the Council's thrusts.

And the fact remains that the changes in liturgy, which we now name the Novus Ordo Mass, may have served as a starting point for differences in putting the edited liturgy into practice. Here in the Philippines, many of these diversions abound. But somehow, at the end of the day, one may think about how these diversions served their purpose. Did these lead the people closer to Christ? And more importantly, did these differences in liturgy properly pay respect due the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ?

The reformers of the Mass put forward provisions aiming to maintain the solemnity of the celebration and the honor and adoration it must give the Eucharist. These reforms, I am sure, were prayerfully thought out while considering the lifestyle of today's Catholic. But how is the Mass being said today?

Many of the changes in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council have left some people confused. Some may have chosen to leave the Church altogether, and some claim to remain while being in a stance against the Council.

With my discovery of the Traditional Latin Mass, I was tempted to think that this form ought to be used universally within the Church, with all restrictions to its use in parishes be lifted. I think that sentiment wouldn't be changed so far.

But I think the reason why I love it so much is this: the Latin Mass so much shows reverence to the Eucharist in a way very different to how current Masses are said. And this is not to downgrade the Novus Ordo, since from its inception I believe the reformers tried their best to preserve the spirit of the Mass within it. I believe it is the manner itself by which Masses are held today. I believe it is in how people are made to behave in the Mass. I believe it is in how we are faithful to the General Instructions to the Roman Missal, a product of the Council, that we truly see how much honor and adoration we are putting in the Mass.

Therefore I am writing this not only to proclaim a personal stand but in order to help me further believe: that I believe in the Novus Ordo Mass as well as how I believe in the Traditional Latin Mass. I believe that both of these are different yet equally valid expressions of One Reality that is the Eucharist. I believe that the Council, from which the Novus Ordo derives its inspiration, is inspired by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and rejecting such a Council would entail rejecting the Holy Spirit.

But this is also what I believe, that abuses in the Novus Ordo Mass ought to cease, and that all Masses be offered while being faithul to the General Instruction to the Roman Missal and all documents of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, join me in praying for a holier and more worthy celebration and assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

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