Friday, May 10, 2019

Eastern Christian Books: Nicholas Denysenko on The People's Faith

Eastern Christian Books: Nicholas Denysenko on The People's Faith

Venice in the East

Ecclesial Survival of the Fittest

From a comment by Fr. Augustine Thompson over at Fr. Z's blog:

I lived through the 1960s and it was the rapid and authoritarian way the liturgical changes were imposed that drove people out—and they had been trained in a “culture of obedience”! The act of imposing a novel form of worship on them undercut the people’s faith, and so remotely lies behind the later long-term loss of practice and faith.

A similar imposition of mandated changes today would be met with an even greater exodus, especially if the changes were in the traditional direction. (It would be hard to think of further “liberalizing” changes as causing any great disruption, save for the small group of traditionalists who have already fled to traditional or traditionalist parishes / chaplaincies.) The idea that a top-down imposition of Pre-Vatican-II forms of worship will bring people back to the Church is disproved by this very article.

Mary Douglas, the great Catholic anthropologist, brilliantly analyzed the religiously destructive nature of massive changes in religious ritual and culture imposed by elitist authorities in her book Natural Symbols—which should be required reading for all involved with liturgy.

I agree: liturgical reform should not be imposed by Rome, though Rome should provide an example to the other local Churches using the Roman rite. Liturgical reform must be handled properly through local action by bishops and presbyters. (Should bishops impose their vision on their collaborating presbyters? Probably not.)  But what do we do if one bishop undoes the good work done by his predecessor? Hence we must have active laity and presbyters who will defend their "canonical rights." Even for liturgical reform to be handled well at the local level, there must be ecclesial reform that makes the institutional Church more accountable to the laity, and protection of presbyters from bishops who are opposed to orthodox reform. In other words, to protect orthodox reform (liturgical and otherwise) requires that reform include institutional practices of authority.

This is what is reasonable -- but I don't see what is reasonable happening -- what will happen is that there will be a competition between churches of different traditions for members, and those who are most responsive to the orthodox faithful will flourish, while those that are not will die out. Not only that but liturgical reform, while important, is only one part of the crisis in Christian spirituality and living that must be addressed. A feminized institutional Church that makes its liturgy better but does not address the reasons why men are not interested in "practicing religion" will still fail.

A Right to Have a Child?

Even if it is understood through the Natural Law as a restriction upon political authority, can we say that such a right or freedom is absolute? (Or even any right or freedom?)

With respect to the right to have a child -- even if a political authority cannot directly prohibit one from exercising it, can one say that this means that the authority is obliged to ensure that it is fulfilled or exercised without difficulty, or that there will be no negative consequences? For example, if there is a people fleeing or migrating to a new land, a journey that will take some time, one might say that it is a reasonable thing to suggest that the members of that people not engage in sexual relations, lest they be burdened with a pregnant woman who will prevent the group from traveling. And if such a woman gets pregnant, in extreme circumstances or danger, the people may be justified in leaving her behind in order to save the others.