Saturday 28th January 2023

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Taking God Seriously In Life And In The Sacred Liturgy

July 19, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES MONTI

The concept of a sense of the sacred both within the liturgy and outside it embraces several closely interrelated dispositions — reverence and solemnity are two of which we have already spoken in previous essays.
A third that warrants our attention is the disposition of “seriousness,” the perception of that which is so important that it must be treated with circumspection, sobriety, attentiveness, discretion, care, and reserve — a matter that cannot and should not be trivialized, banalized, or profaned. Seriousness is a face-to-face confrontation with reality, in particular the realities that touch upon our eternal destiny.
We inhabit a culture that scarcely knows how to be serious anymore. In her 2016 paper “Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” the philosophy scholar Dr. Margaret Hughes cites as a symptom of this mentality the fact that a pop song proclaiming both life and death to be nothing more than one big joke was the most widely selected musical piece for funerals in England (“Contemplative Sorrow and the Culture of Life,” in Life and Learning XXVI: Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth University Faculty for Life Conference at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2016, ed. Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ, Bronx, NY, University Faculty for Life, 2016, p. 181).
Young people are being intoxicated with music and other forms of entertainment that deny reality, that imprison them in the delusions of false and spiritually lethal pleasures, accompanied by a barrage of tasteless humor crafted to keep them from seeing anything above and beyond these transitory chimeras.
It is because of this that when faced with tragedies — a grave illness or death of a loved one or even the prospect of their own — they are totally unprepared.
The Roman soldiers’ way of dealing with Christ, of steeling themselves against Him and His teachings, was by mocking Him, by making a joke of Him. It was thus that they resisted the seriousness of Christ. For the seriousness of Christ makes those who do not want to change their lives very uncomfortable.
There is a correlation between seriousness and truth. For absolute truths require a serious response of assent. But in a culture such as ours deformed by rampant relativism, with absolute truths declared to be unknowable or uncertain, almost nothing is taken seriously. All too many modern Scripture scholars of the “higher criticism” variety have fostered a biblical relativism that has undercut the certainty of the Word of God, creating the impression that the Sacred Scriptures are little more than a “nice” collection of edifying fables and sayings.
It is our duty and our calling to take God seriously, to take His words and His Commandments seriously, to take His Church seriously. To do so, we must bear in mind who God is, who we are, and where we are going. Each human life is an epic drama, a battle for a man or woman’s soul fought against the backdrop of salvation history.
Our postmodern world would have us believe, as the villainous Shakespeare character Macbeth did, that life is nothing more than “a tale/Told by an idiot…. / Signifying nothing” (Macbeth, act 5, scene 5).
But life does have a definite and serious purpose imparted by God. In his philosophical classic Christian Ethics, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) observes, “A new seriousness, a new realistic character, a breath of eternity pervades the moral order in which the great drama of human existence displays itself coram Deo, in the confrontation with God” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, New York, David McKay Co., 1953, p. 460).
While the evangelists record our Lord in a quite wide variety of social settings, from meals and personal conversations to huge outdoor events, settings that are quite human, and not without moments of both tenderness and gentle humor, in all these circumstances we never see Christ engaged in wild frivolity.
In all His words and actions there is always an undercurrent of seriousness, of deep and profound purpose, of keeping the eyes fixed upon concerns that are spiritually a matter of life and death. This seriousness is likewise to be seen in the examples of the saints:
“To be sure, the saints always avoid behaving in a loose or free or easy way. On every occasion their bearing reveals them to be a ‘property’ of Christ,’ shaped and contained by His holy law. . . . ‘Sacral’ reserve . . . means setting ourselves at a distance from the world” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude of Mind, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1948, pp. 227-228).
God has bestowed upon man the capacity to transcend himself and ascend to “a consciously experienced ‘dialogue with’ God” (Von Hildebrand, Christian Ethics, p. 221). This dialogue finds its supreme expression in the sacred liturgy. The liturgy is inherently serious, for it directs our inward gaze “toward the great things that are eternally and invariably important” (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality, Manchester, NH, Sophia Institute Press, 1986, p. 99).
What is serious inhabits a higher plateau. To turn to what is serious, we must put aside and turn away from what is trivial, from whatever distracts us from the attention that seriousness demands. What is serious often requires time and effort for thought and reflection. Often it requires preparation, and demands silence, an inward silence and frequently an outward silence as well.
All these dispositions are necessary for a fully fruitful celebration of the sacred liturgy, and a fully fruitful participation in it.
When a priest is going to celebrate Mass, the Church has him put on sacred vestments, communicating to him the message that he is stepping out of what is ordinary into a sacred realm, and that he will be entering the Holy of Holies. He is entering upon what is most serious in life, and his thoughts and actions during the Mass must be cast in this light. The laity too, as participants in the liturgy, also need to make a comparable transition to the sacred in their thoughts and actions when they attend Mass.
The era of the 1960s was marked by a deep and aggressive hostility to the supernatural. Some within the Church allowed themselves to be intimidated by this secularistic culture to the point of believing that the Church should make her peace with it by bringing some of the manifestations of pop culture into the sanctuary.
Since the 1960s there have been recurrent efforts to produce supposedly “youth-oriented” liturgies, rationalized as an attempt to meet young people on their own terms. In many parishes, a casual, “recreational” approach to the liturgy set in, an approach that purposefully excluded seriousness, with traditional crucifixes, Gregorian chant, dark-colored vestments and incense rejected as too gloomy, too serious for the new “happy” style of Catholic worship.
Yet the pop culture approach to the liturgy is inherently flawed in three ways.
First, there is so much in contemporary pop culture that is diametrically opposed to the faith — the glorification of lust, vulgarity, pride, and selfishness — that invoking its spirit in the liturgy threatens an authentic communication of the Gospel.
Secondly, imitating the pop culture in the liturgy blurs the distinction between sacred worship and recreation. It thus feeds into the modern mentality (so aptly first identified by Dietrich von Hildebrand) that work is the only serious pursuit in life and that everything else is a matter of recreation and relaxation (Von Hildebrand, “Efficiency and Holiness,” in The New Tower of Babel: Essays, Burns and Oates, London, 1954, pp. 220-221).
This, I believe, explains at least in part the phenomenon of people coming to church on Sundays in sports clothes or beach clothes. And indeed, the pop culture approach to the sacred liturgy almost explicitly invites people to “come as they are,” in the casual clothes they would wear to a rock concert.
As Von Hildebrand observes, “Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that ‘we go unto the altar of God’ as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering” (Von Hildebrand, “The Case for the Latin Mass,” Triumph, volume 1, n. 2, October 1966, Internet version accessed from the Internet Archive — archive.org).
Addressing this same issue, Pope Benedict XVI observed, “The Sunday liturgy . . . will come off badly if it wants to enter the competition of show business,” for “A pastor is not an emcee, and the liturgy is not a variety show” (“Weekend Culture and the Christian Sunday,” in Joseph Ratzinger: Theology of the Liturgy: The Sacramental Foundation of Christian Existence, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2014, p. 206).
Thirdly, the assumption that the pop culture style of worship is necessary because the only way to reach young people is to “meet them where they are” virtually denies man’s capability to transcend himself, to rise above himself, in his encounter with God. Moreover, a craven conformity to pop culture will never satisfy the highest aspirations of the human heart.
Our Lord’s parable of the king who invites his people to his son’s wedding feast (Matt. 22:2-14) is very instructive in this regard. The parable unfolds as a two-part narrative, beginning with a number of those invited making light of it and choosing not to come for a variety of trivial reasons (Matt. 22:5).
In the second part of the parable the king discovers among those who have come to the wedding feast a man improperly dressed for this solemn occasion (Matt. 22:11-14).
In both cases the king responds with great wrath, for in both cases he encounters individuals who have not taken him and his son’s wedding seriously. Those who disregard the king’s invitation treat the wedding as less important than their own trivial pursuits and the man who does come treats it as unimportant by dressing casually, recreationally. They are all guilty of the same attitude of not taking the king’s invitation seriously.

St. Francis Of Assisi

A serious disposition requires us to give God fitting worship, and to recognize the deeper meaning of the everyday events in our lives, to perceive the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) of what God is saying to us through these events.
Who can calculate just how deeply human history has been changed for the better by the decision of a young man of Assisi named Francis to turn away from his superficial world of frivolous pursuits to perceive and respond to the seriousness of Christ?

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

House Republicans approved 2 #ProLife measures.

The first measure would ban #Abortion on babies born alive and require the babies be given medical care and treatment. The other measure condemned a spurt of growing attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.

House Republicans Pass Pro-Life Bills

House Republicans on Jan. 11 approved two pro-life measures. The first measure passed by the House would ban abortion ...

www.theepochtimes.com

"I'm afraid that the West will die. There are plenty of signs. You are invaded,still,by other cultures & peoples,who will progressively dominate you by their numbers and change your culture, your convictions, your morality."~ Cardinal Robert Sarah

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

Today . . .

Catholic journalist George Neumayr dies in Africa

COTE D’IVOIRE (LifeSiteNews) – George Neumayr, an author and journalist who fearlessly exposed corruption in the Catholic Church, died of malaria last night. He was 50. He had been in Africa since December 26, 2022, studying Christianity there and “what the Church in the West could learn from it, both good and bad,” according to his journalism fund updates and several articles he wrote from the former French colony.

Cardinal Müller slams Pope Francis’ ‘political’ laicization of Fr. Pavone

ROME (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller strongly defended Fr. Frank Pavone and slammed Pope Francis’ laicization of the renowned pro-life priest in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews. Cardinal Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the top Vatica

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies at Age 95

Funeral Mass to be held January 5.

Cardinals block appointment of Heiner Wilmer as Prefect of the DDF

Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, the prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith who was still in office, had received his mandate in an unexpected way in the summer of 2017. Until then, the Spanish Jesuit had been secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, i.e. the right hand of the prefect. At the time, the prefect was still Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former bishop of Regensburg, whom Pope Benedict XVI had appointed…Continue Reading

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Bold Steps Needed To Address Illegal Immigration

By STEPHEN M. KRASON One of the ways in which the rule of law has been utterly flouted by the Biden administration has been its unwillingness to seriously enforce U.S. immigration law. In fact, the current crisis at the southern border is largely due to Biden’s signaling, as soon as he took office, that people…Continue Reading

McCarrick’s Lawyers Say He’s Not Competent To Stand Trial

By JOE BUKURAS MDEDHAM, Mass. (CNA) — Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in “significant” mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss…Continue Reading

Pregnancy Is Not A Disease… No One Could Observe This In Contemporary America

By R.T. NEARY “Follow the science” has been the mandate since 2019 in this once-united nation that is still officially entitled The United States of America. “Experts” have been featured on TV screens voicing this as Gospel.Public dialogue has centered on the reality of a threat posed by a living organism present in our environment.…Continue Reading

Death Of Cardinal George Pell

By RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE With the sudden death of Cardinal George Pell, the Church has lost the earthly company of a wise, loving, joyful, and courageous shepherd. I have lost the earthly company of a good friend and example in the Sacred College of Cardinals. Having visited at length with Cardinal Pell on the afternoon…Continue Reading

Joining The Communion Of Saints

By DONALD DeMARCO Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was truly a Renaissance woman. She won a seat in Congress and held an ambassadorship. She was the managing editor of Vanity Fair. As an author, her writings extended from drama and screen scenarios to fiction, journalism, and war reportage. As a pro-life stalwart, she wrote for The…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. When Joseph and Mary came to the inn in Bethlehem, the innkeeper said that there was no room and told them to “go on.” That night an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in his dream and said, “It is you who shall go on and on.” Is this true? — J.B., Pennsylvania.A. Not according to the Gospel…Continue Reading

New Book By Ganswein On BXVI

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Part 2 Upon his death we shared the witness that Pope Benedict lived in the words he uttered. Archbishop Georg Ganswein’s book Nothing But the Truth recounting his life with the great Pope is now out in bookstores. Here I share some vignettes of that volume from an advance unofficial English translation.In October 1978 the…Continue Reading

Basics Of Christian Anthropology

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on January 13 and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + Anthropology is, most simply, the science or study of human beings through time and space. Different specialties focus on the analysis of biological/physiological characteristics and the examination of societies/cultures. In the religious sense, anthropology…Continue Reading

Grace And Humility

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Zeph. 2:3, 3:12-131 Cor. 1:26-31Matt. 5:1-12a In the first reading today, the Lord calls all the humble of the Earth to seek Him. Interestingly, He then calls them to seek justice and humility with the hope that they would be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. See the contact information at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 11) Following the path of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Damian

By DEB PIROCH For those in search of a night free of insomnia, it’s said those with a clean conscience sleep blissfully. Yet, many of us know it is not quite that easy to vanquish insomnia and in truth, the longer one tries, the less one is inclined to fall sleep. At the least it can be exhausting, at the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Dunstan

By DEB PIROCH Before St. Thomas Becket, the saint most likely to be invoked by an Englishman was St. Dunstan. He was successively appointed the abbot of Glastonbury, the bishop of Worcester, the bishop of London, archbishop of Canterbury and later, the bishop of Winchester. Additionally, he was related to at least one archbishop and three bishops; perhaps being a…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)