The Flying Buttress: What Inquisitors' Minds Want to Know

An archive for issues of The Flying Buttress newswire, whose purpose is to comment satirically on dissent within and relating to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Disclaimer: These publications are works of satirical fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, but it all depends on what you mean by the word "is." May the Lord bless you and keep you!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Marianist Mumbo-Jumbo

+This week we publish a letter from one of our original subscribers, a cantankerous, obstreperous, and vociferous defender of the Faith. His letter is in response to a May 5th Letter to the Editor in Cincinnati’s (Occasionally) Catholic Telegraph, from Marianist Brother Joe Barrish of Dayton, OH.

+Br’er Barrish, it seems, considers himself quite fortunate NOT to be living in the Diocese of Arlington, VA, where Bishop Loverde has just expanded the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Barrish claims that this “unfortunate” decision violates how Vatican II “changed or(sic) way of thinking about the Church,” because the old Mass was “an action mostly of the priest,” who “fac[ed] God, not us, and…was addressing God for us.” “The spirituality it encouraged was more personal than communal. It was ‘me and Jesus.’”

Barrish, expanding on his pious modesty and sagacious insight, goes on to instruct Bishop Loverde on the need for a proper catechesis regarding the “renewed liturgy,” the quality of the homilies preached, the theology expressed in the hymnody, and the preparedness for the proclamation of the Word. All this, sermonizes Barrish, is the obvious preference over the resurrection of a mere museum piece.

Our subscriber, who might also have inquired whether Brother Barrish was himself running for bishop, responded as follows:

“Dear Brother Barrish:

Although you are entitled to your opinions about everything, including the Catholic Church and its culture, I have to tell you that I was deeply offended and disturbed by your letter in the May 5th issue of The Catholic Telegraph. As a lifelong Catholic who was raised in the culture of the pre-Vatican II Church, I have been a personal witness to the frequently bitter divisiveness that has arisen since the close of that Council. Your attitude typifies the intolerance and triumphalism that I have seen manifested among those who cloak themselves in the supposedly superior truth and wisdom of the “spirit of Vatican II,” from which self-described spiritual and communal summit you feel compelled to correct the rest of us benighted pre-Vatican II old-timers.

Were you to read Austin Flannery’s book containing the 16 conciliar documents of Vatican II (including the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which you attempt to quote), you would find very specific evidence disproving the things you state “changed” our way of thinking about the Church. For example, the 1962 Latin rite was not abolished; in fact, the Council Fathers directed quite clearly that it was to be preserved. Neither was it ordered that the vernacular was to take pride of place in the liturgy. Its use was clearly limited. The communion rail was not abolished, nor was “communion in the hand” or “communion under both species” made the norm. Those are only a few of the misconceptions people have about what Vatican II actually “directed.” Your letter will serve to further reinforce those misconceptions, because it is an unfortunate fact that many people who claim to speak in the name of (or the “spirit” of) Vatican II are not even familiar with its documents.

While you seem to be repelled by the notion of a revival of the Tridentine Mass, keep in mind that many good Catholics (especially including the younger generations) deeply revere that liturgy. In fact, as a member of a religious community, you are no doubt aware that Pope John Paul II called for a “wide and generous” use of that liturgy in his “Ecclesiae Dei.”

Your own personal reaction to the pre-Vatican II liturgy should not be seen as defining what is “right” or “wrong”, or most appropriate. While you might have felt that the old Mass was mostly an action of the priest, I myself felt very much a part of the rituals. I also remind you that the sacrificial action of the priest, the alter Christus, on our behalf is in fact the very heart of the Mass.

You also ridicule the notion of the congregation being obediently lined up in the pews like “good soldiers.” There was a time when the idea of being an obedient good soldier was considered a virtue, not a shortcoming.

I do not question the validity of the Second Vatican Council. I merely question the attitude of those who go far beyond the scope of the actual 16 documents of that council when they claim a superior understanding of what was directed in them. There is an underlying assumption that what took place in our Catholic churches prior to 1962 was somehow deficient.

Do not misunderstand my intent. I do not quarrel with the Church. How, I do take offense to your attitude: you are clearly convinced of your own superiority. I am also disappointed by the fact that Cincinnati’s archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Telegraph, predictably prioritizes opinions like yours, while suppressing or delaying the publication of opinions that are orthodox.

Those who prefer the Tridentine Mass – and they are numerous – are also a part of our Catholic “community.” Why is it that you, a proponent of “community,” cannot treat them with respect?

Odds and Ends

+Sign an American Family Association pledge to boycott Ford Motor Company, in response to their considerable support for militant homosexual activism.

+A liberal activist judge has ordered the city of San Diego to remove a cross from Mt. Soledad or be fined $5000 a day. Judge Gordon Thompson, Jr., ordered the cross removed because, he said, it violated the separation of church and state. For over 50 years this site has been recognized by the public as a place where war veterans, most of whom are from greater San Diego, are recognized for their service to America. Last summer 76 percent of the city's voters (197,000) approved keeping the cross. E-mail President Bush asking him to sign an executive order transferring the property to the federal government, thus taking the case out of Judge Thompson’s hands.


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