"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ"

"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ"
"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ" according to Bishop Athanasius Schneider: 1. Mass versus populum. 2. Communion in the hand. 3. The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers. 4. Disappearance of Latin in the Ordinary Form. 5. Liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women and ministers in lay clothing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013



12 Realistic Reforms the Church Could Implement Right Now

We all have our own opinions about what ought to be happening in the Church. "If only the Pope would do this," or "If only Bishop so-and-so would excommunicate this guy," or "If only they'd make a rule about this." You know what I mean; our wish-list of things the Holy Spirit would get done to help move the Church along a little closer to where it needs to be.

In this post, I will share with you twelve realistic reforms the Church could implement right now that I believe would make a world of difference. I say twelve realistic reforms; I have intentionally omitted things that are so improbable that they will most likely never happen (abolishing the Novus Ordo, Pope firing every bishop in the world, and, sadly, the Consecration of Russia). The twelve reforms I am proposing here are very realistic and could theoretically be implemented at any time without too much of a shake up. These are things we could reasonably hope for.

I offer them in no particular order, but I do invite you to share your own ideas for realistic reforms in the combox.

1. Eucharistic Fast and Manner of Reception

The pope ought to issue a motu proprio regulating certain aspects of how Holy Communion is received. The first part of this motu proprio should extend the Eucharistic fast to three hours. The current one hour fast is so easy that, if you drive more than 25 minutes to get to Mass, you can pretty much eat right up until the moment you get in the car and still technically keep the fast. The fast ought to be extended to restore some discipline and remind people that reception of the Eucharist is something that needs to be intentionally prepared for.

The second aspect of the motu proprio should deal with the manner of reception. It should highlight abuses that have crept in due to irreverent reception of our Lord and proceed to revoke all the indults for reception standing or in the hand, regional episcopal conferences notwithstanding. Reception in the hand has only been the norm for thirty years or so, and it would not be a stretch to say that the experiment has failed and mandate the return to the older practice, with no concessions granted to any episcopal conference or region (though of course with personal concessions for the very elderly, handicapped, etc).

2. Latin

Rather than just saying that Latin is to be "retained", the Pope should mandate that Bishops see to it that every diocese provides at least a full two years training in Latin for all seminarians without exception to region. Furthermore, the language in Sacrosanctum Concilium about Latin being "preserved" should be strengthened and supplemented with another motu proprio that specifically says that Latin is to be exclusively utilized for all fixed parts of the Mass and for the Roman canon especially. There needs to be no ambiguity here, no phrases like "the use of the Latin language is to be preserved"; this motu proprio should say, "Latin is to be the exclusive language of the Mass", at least for the fixed parts.

3. Restoration of Chant (Again)

Pope St. Pius X famously restored Gregorian Chant with his famous motu proprio Tra Le Sollecitudini. Unfortunately, it needs to be restored again, since the "pride of place" envisioned for it in Vatican II has clearly no materialized. Basically, another authoritative instruction like Tra Le Sollecitudini needs to be issued, which specifically says Gregorian Chant is the official music of the Roman rite and simultaneously bans certain instruments by name, including and especially drums and guitars, but also keyboards and pianos. This document needs to not only say what the ideal is, but say what is forbidden as well. The Pope should also ask bishops to take the lead in implementing this directive in their cathedrals and encourage them to generously assist priests who need help implementing Gregorian Chant. For more on Tra Le Sollecitudinisee here.

4. Location of Tabernacle and Posture at Mass

A general instruction should go out giving every parish one year to move the tabernacle back to a central location, and this central location should be unambiguously identified as the center of the altar, preferably a high altar. The purpose of this should be stated as to encourage greater devotion to our Eucharistic Lord, but also to facilitate the ancient and venerable practice of offering Mass ad orientam, which the instruction should heartily encourage and declare to be the norm for the Roman Rite.

5. Reaffirm Episcopal Authority in Cases of Private Revelations

In 1978, the CDF under Pope Paul VI issued a document entitled "Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations." This document laid down the norm that "the competent ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to authorize and promote various forms of worship and devotion" within his diocese, and that "the foremost authority to inquire and to intervene belongs to the local Ordinary." This has generally been taken to mean that a Bishop is the final arbiter of the legitimacy of a private revelation within his diocese, unless he petitions the Vatican to investigate. Still, this instruction is much ignored and does not have real teeth. A reaffirmation of Paul VI's teaching should be issued with a greater emphasis on the role of the local Ordinary. I've even taken the liberty of composing the wording it should incorporate. The document ought to say, "The foremost authority to inquire and to intervene belongs to the local Ordinary, in such a manner that what the Ordinary approves is considered approved, and what he condemns is considered condemned by the Church." This would take the wind out of the sails of Medjugorje, Garabandal and a lot of these other false movements.

6. Cease Interreligious Events

This would be the easiest reform because it would simply entail that the Pope do nothing. In order to stop confusing other religions about how we view them, as well as to stop confusing the faithful and scandalizing other Christians, the Pope and Bishops should cease participating in any interreligious events. No more Assisi gatherings. No more messages from the Pope on the occasions of Hanukkah of Diwali.  No more visits to non-Christian shrines. The Pope should set himself off as the pastor of Christians alone and refrain from attending any more of these sorts of functions. If he insists on having representation at them, an official of Vatican City representing the Pope in a diplomatic sense as a head of state would be more appropriate.

7. Encyclical on Catholic Missions

An encyclical on Catholic missions is direly needed, as Catholic missions are in a terribly sorry state today, mainly because Catholic missionaries have no idea what they are out there for. This encyclical should emphasize three main points:

1) The Church has a universal missionary mandate that is still valid today. This was taught at Vatican II, but it needs to be reaffirmed, as well as expanded on, so as to say that
2) There is no people, no culture, no religion on the planet that is excluded from the Church's universal missionary mandate. This applies to Jews, Muslims, Orthodox, Protestants, whatever, and
3) The primary purpose of Catholic missionary activity is to win souls for the kingdom by formal entry into the Church through baptism as the normative means of salvation. This need no go back on anything the Church has taught prior about baptism of desire, invincible ignorance, but is should reinforce the traditional teaching of formal membership in the Church as normative for salvation.

8. Exorcists

Another encyclical should be written on the angels and the devils, affirming the literal existence of each as personal beings who are pure spirit. This encyclical should serve as a primer on classic angelology and should call for each Bishop to maintain not one but at least five exorcists per diocese and to have recourse to them when diabolical influence is discerned.

9. New Orders

I am not sure about the best forum for introducing this, but given the mass apostasy of the traditional orders, the Pope should make a sweeping call for a new generation of religious orders. He should emphasize discipline, celibacy, devotion to the Church and the Pope, and the wearing of traditional habits. Such a request from the Pope would result in thousands of new vocations in dozens of new orders and most likely reforms or reformed spin-offs of existing orders. When Vatican II and John Paul II called for new lay movements, we got a whole slew of them; a similar upsurge of enthusiasm would happen if the pontiff were to make an impassioned call for new religious who were faithful to the Pope and wore their habits. This call could even take place within the context of the encyclical on missions mentioned above.

10. Reinstate the Oath Against Modernism

Or at least some other kind of oath in which seminarians, theologians, pastors and anyone involved in teaching or theology pledge to avoid certain specifically defined errors endemic in modern Catholicism.

11. Bring out the Triregnum

Some may place this in the realm of the implausible, but I am not suggesting a full and immediate return to papal coronations, the sedia gestatoria and all that - not because it wouldn't be awesome, but because it just wouldn't happen like that. The Pope should begin wearing the triregnum on certain occasions just to bring it back into people's minds; perhaps the Feasts of Peter and Paul, the Chair of Peter and a few other select occasions. This would not be too controversial, and would in fact be quite appropriate and could set the stage for a hearty dialogue within the Church about the papal tiara. Ideally, its use would gradually be extended after the Pope had brought it out a few times.

12. Interpretive Norms for the Documents of Vatican II

I do believe this is probably the most important of all. Benedict XVI identified the hermeneutic of rupture as a major problem in how the modern Church views Vatican II. Towards the end of his pontificate, he even said that the true Council had been swallowed up by a "Council of the media" that obscured the true vision of the Council Fathers. If this really is the case, then why not issue some interpretive norms for the documents of Vatican II so there is no room for theologians to posit theories of rupture? The CDF already did this in their 2007 document on the phrase subsitit in from Lumen Gentium (see here). The purpose of this clarification was to ensure that Lumen Gentium was interpreted in continuity with previous teachings on the Church, such as Mystici Corporis.

Sadly, interpretive norms are needed not only for one phrase in one document, but for the entire Council. Dei Verbum on biblical inspiration. Gaudium et Spes on the Church in relation to the world. Dignitatus Humanae andUnitatis Redintegratio especially need to be clarified in a manner continuous with pre-Conciliar teaching, as doesSacrosanctum Concilium. Or what about Ad Gentes on the Church's missionary mandate? There needs to be a series of norms for reading these documents that say, "If you construe Dignitatus Humanae to mean X,Y, or Z, you are missing it." It is so obviously needed, and it is extremely frustrating that this has not yet been done, since Benedict XVI stated very clearly that the Council has basically been hijacked since day one. Such interpretive norms would provide pastors, bishops and everyone else the firm Magisterial standing they need to permanently lock up the Spirit of Vatican II with all the other evil spirits in the underworld.

And the Extraordinary Form?

I was hesitant of including anything about the EF Mass in here, frankly because I am just not certain how realistic it would be to expect anything more from the Magisterium in the near future about it. But, if I were to add something about the EF Mass, I suppose I would say that the Pope should ask bishops to see to it that every Catholic parish has an EF Mass made available at least once per month. With the average parish offering anywhere between 35-45 Masses per month, mandating that one of those be offered in the EF is not a very radical gesture. It would introduce many more people to the riches of the old Mass and would undoubtedly bear fruit.

What realistic reforms do you think could be implemented right now that would help Holy Mother Church? Remember, they must be realistic - things you could actually imagine a real Pope implementing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also dispensing with EMHC!