Quo vadis: What is the future of the Church?

From Commonweal via Fr. Z:

There was never silence or stillness at Mass for me growing up…

“…Then, three or four years ago, on a whim, I attended Latin Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Austin, Texas. Just a block from the State Capitol, St. Mary’s is modest, with bare wood pews and a sanctuary set back from the congregation. I paged through a blue book that had Latin text on one page and English text on the facing page, with stage directions and illustrations in the margins.

My faith is not certain, and my doubt leads to questions. The Latin Mass welcomes me into the silence that allows me to seek the answers.’

Despite Catholic school and all that CCD, I didn’t realize until then the Novus ordo wasn’t just a straight translation. The Latin readings confused me; I couldn't tell, for example, just when the transubstantiation was occurring. But I knew without looking at the translation when we were saying “Lamb of God” and the Lord’s Prayer. I watched these strange ways of doing familiar things. The priest faced away from us. We knelt to take communion on the tongue. All the altar servers were male. I bowed at the priest during the recessional, incense still in my nostrils. Then I did something I'd never done after Mass. I sat in a pew, and I felt it: peace…

“…I don’t think (the Latin Mass) is the future of the church, even though I’ve noticed the pews are filled with fellow Gen X-ers and their children. (My nine-year-old daughter has been to more Latin Masses than English.) The English Mass is too easy; the unfamiliarity of the Latin Mass requires me to quiet my mind, to focus, to attend to my faith in a way that Mass in English does not. It isn't a refuge from a changing world, but a base from which to engage it. My faith is not certain, and my doubt leads to questions. The Latin Mass welcomes me into the silence that allows me to seek the answers.” (my emphasis)

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has an excellent piece on why one should continue to bother to be Catholic here. It’s worth taking the time to digest.

What is unusual about our time is not opposition to or rejection of the truth of this revelation. Adversaries have been found in every era. What is new is the worry that radical changes have been made in an official way that would cause us to doubt the integrity of the original revelation.”

To indulge in the use of the perpendicular pronoun for a moment, I became Catholic, essentially, because the Church is either what she says she is – the temporal, physical, visible Church, founded by God albeit run by woefully imperfect men – or she is nothing more than the biggest pack of lies, con men and outright criminals the planet has ever hosted. That, to me, is the stark choice; there is no middle ground. I must keep reminding myself of this.

I do not know whether the Extraordinary Form is the "future of the Church" or not, although I think that is is. I also suspect that the Church will, in the future, be smaller and far more orthodox. However, I know, for sure, that for the past fifty years the Church has been dying the death of a thousand paper cuts, and that to continue “business as usual” as it has been conducted for the past fifty years leads only to oblivion.


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