This series is to consider the theological/spiritual disease that has gripped our Church. It could be called many things, but Pope St. Pius X identified it as Modernism when he formally condemned it in 1907. As we go through the ideas of Modernism it will become apparent how profoundly we have been effected both in the Church and in society. It is an ideology that is not specifically anti-Catholic or anti-Christian. It is quite simply, anti-Religion.
Modernism is anti-Religion because it infects (or hijacks) Religion to make the individual’s subjective experience(s) the norm for religious belief and practice. Therefore, the object of Religion is not God, but whatever makes the individual feel fulfilled. As this ‘whatever’ changes over the course of time, then the religious beliefs and practices must evolve to remain relevant.
Following the principle of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, any change to the way we pray manifests in how we believe. For instance, changing how we perceive, interact with, and behave in church changes our belief in the other-ness of God in general and the sacredness of the Eucharist in particular. “Come as you are” may sound inviting and inclusive, but it has a very dark side. It leaves us as we are and not better.
Last week, I began to share a recent realization. Praying Mass with the Altar between me and the congregation puts me at the center of everyone’s attention—including my own. As the priest, all eyes are on me. If someone is well catechized and disciplined, then it is possible that they look past me to Christ. However, that is not easy to do. It must be consciously practiced with the understanding and knowledge that it should be done.
As the priest, there are worse temptations. They run the gamut from the natural inclination to function as a host and make sure everyone is having a good time to being the orchestra leader or even being the entertainment itself. The Holy Mass in this format most naturally becomes what a friend of mine refers to as the “Joe Show”. This doesn’t have to happen, but if we are honest, it is the default.
Neither is everything about this format bad. With my eyes closed, during the Consecration, I find it lends to being able to allow Christ to ‘step forward’ and re-present His once for all sacrifice to His people through me. At that point, it is quite natural really to ‘own’ that part of the priesthood that is union with Him.
It also means that it is easy not to remember, that as for me personally, I belong on the other side of the Altar with everyone else. Next week, we will consider the psychological/spiritual consequences of the priest facing God with everyone else.
Please pray that those who hold the Catholic Faith stand up to the current Modernist attack that is hiding behind subversive and ambiguous language and ideas in the Amazonian Synod!