Monday, May 24, 2010

Filling the holes

Suprisingly I now realise that my USA seminary training was slightly deficient as far as Catholic social teaching goes. It was my own fault. I didn't register for the right options within the course structure or something like that. Strange considering that for most of my adult life, before traditional worship had dragged me back, I'd reduced the Catholic faith to nothing but social teaching, or more specifically, social action. I'd taken the cafeteria approach to the faith hook, line and sinker. I'm still catching up as you can probably tell. For traditionalists it is an issue as it touches on a least one aspect of the important discussions going on between SSPX and the Vatican at the moment.

A 'doff of the hood' to Fr Tim Finegan (see here) who has brought to wider attention what seems to be a very good blog on Catholic Social Teaching, Paul Mallinder's The Catholic Whistle.  A thread has opened on the connection between liturgy and the social teaching of the Church (see here). I've added it to the blog list at the right of this page.

Now I'm a 'low Mass' man. I don't have the skills to manage the more complex forms of our liturgical heritage. I admire those that can do it but I don't want to get caught up in much that seems to go with it. At times I wonder if we traditionalists have to take a reality check and invest more resources in the practical application of our beliefs, to spend a bit more time on blogs of this sort rather than trawling for the latest tatty sensation or salacious bit of churchy gossip.


  1. Food for thought, Father. In the aftermath of Vat II – and the 60s demonstrations – many in the Church saw ‘social issues’ as the dominant (or only…) goal of Catholicism. Thus we had a proliferation of ‘Peace and Justice’ parishes which proclaimed with gusto their commitment to the cause and busied themselves with meetings, initiatives, ‘ad-hoc’ groups, demonstrations and so on. While these endeavors are undoubtedly commendable, for many something got lost in the process. They came to be seen as ends in themselves, rather than as means to an end.

    It was as if this was something new arising out of the Council and unknown prior to it. But long before we had Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium or Apostolicam Actuositatem, we had Rerum Novarum, Quadrigesimo Anno, Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris.

    And long before those we had The Sermon on the Mount and the Corporal Works of Mercy – which should be the real purpose behind social endeavors in the Church. The Holy Father has repeatedly spoken about our Catholic witness in the world, but always with a view towards eternity. Yes, we should combat injustice, fight for human rights and succor the weak and impoverished, but understanding that there is no perfection in this world and that eternal salvation is the final end.

    Social work uninformed by faith, love of God and neighbor is mere socialism and, taken to the extreme, becomes atheistic communism. If we are made to “know love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him for eternity in the next” that should be the motivation in all we do for ourselves and for others. And it cannot be done without prayer and God’s help, which He has made available to us through the Sacraments.

  2. Now I'm a 'low Mass' man. I don't have the skills to manage the more complex forms of our liturgical heritage. I admire those that can do it but I don't want to get caught up in much that seems to go with it.

    Wasn't this the sort of attitude in the 50s that gave the reformers (or deformers) an excuse to carry out their designs? Because high mass was a relative rarity, many priests viewed the reform initially as a welcome bridge?

    Perhaps the blog should be renamed "Love the Tradition, loathe the Clergy who caused the crisis in the first place"

  3. Catholic Social Teaching (and "Christian right living" in general) is intimately connected in my mind to Liturgy, especially Eucharist. As I wrote in a(n otherwise unrelated post) about Quality in Catholic Music:

    It is in the sacrifice of the Mass, dwelling in the sacrifice of Jesus, that we hear our calling to sacrifice ourselves. Recognizing Christ in the Eucharist, recognizing Christ in the assembled family of believers, gives us the eyes to recognize Christ in His “disturbing disguises” out in the world. We know how to clothe the naked because our God has clothed us in the garment of Baptism; we know how to feed the hungry because our God has fed us with His very body; we know how to comfort the dying because Our Lord has died in our midst; we know how to visit the imprisoned because God has visited us in the prison of our sin; we know how to care for orphans because our God has given us a spirit of adoption…

    Read the full post:

  4. ”Now I'm a 'low Mass' man.”

    Me too, Father! While a Solemn High Mass with all the trappings can be an uplifting experience, give me the quiet reverence of a Low Mass any day. In the ‘old days’ it was the more common experience for most people and focused the mind on what was important.

    I often wonder if some of the people who have just lately been exposed to the TLM, and are only familiar with it in its most solemn form, are not more attracted to the accidents than the substance – the spectacle rather than the sacrifice. A Low Mass celebrated in an empty chapel is no less efficacious than a Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated in a great cathedral.

    Just as in NO Masses where the celebrant and the myriad ‘ministers’ cluttering up the sanctuary often become the focal point for many and Mass is seen as a ‘performance’, there is a similar danger with too much emphasis on High Masses. As the Holy Father pointed out awhile back, the real and only actor in the Mass is Our Lord Himself. That is where our focus should be.


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