January doldrums are setting in, along with the grey skies that induce them. Festivities of the Christmas season seem already well behind us. Yet these were splendidly celebrated here, as I think all will agree, with the generous participation of our parishioners whose reward was to have been a part and witness to the ceremonies of this most joyous season of the year. My thanks to everybody who put forth much effort in assisting to make these days happen. As Easter comes early this year, we will soon be entering the Lenten season, which always seems to be just the needed thing after the excesses of the holidays. I look forward to this greater concentration of spiritual energies in order to ready myself for the demands of Holy Week.
I have been doing reading once again on the period of the Reformation in England. It’s more evident to me now that the liturgical changes that were decreed for the universal Church in the wake of Vatican II mirrored the cruelly imposed demands of the Reformers. In nearly every respect what the sixteenth century revolutionaries foisted upon the people of England were adopted and forced upon the laity of the Catholic Church by the framers of our new liturgy. Could this have been mere coincidence, when so very many features of the Protestant liturgical change were replicated in our experience of the new liturgy? The gradual and near unending series of innovations we witnessed included the ruination of our churches, the barbarous removal of much sacred art, the replacement of tables for altars, the alteration of time-honored prayers of the Roman Missal dating from earliest Christian centuries, the modifications of language and church music, the reduction (but not, however, entire extrication) of words which affirmed the sacrificial nature of the Mass–by these and many other things, the laity were made to feel disorientation, confusion, and suffer much in being forced to swallow much a good deal of impiety along with the legitimate and reverently introduced liturgical changes.
It was unthinkable for a loyal Catholic to have criticized these measures that were mandated by the Church in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, until sometime in the 1990s then-Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, made his own appraisal of the liturgical fallout which deeply and adversely affected the entire life of the Church. While it is true that the liturgy was not the only change that came forth after Vatican II, it was the most consequential thing that affected all else. We are in many areas now recovering from the vertigo of these revolutionary times, but we have also far to go to restore tranquility and well-being of the Church in many ways that were formerly known to us. I have always managed to remain hopeful, even in the midst of critical moments, because of the divinely-implanted gift of faith which assures me that Christ promised to remain with His Church–not apart from it–until the end of time and that hell’s gates would not prevail against it.
Let hope then be the dominant theme to carry you through this new year, and over the slump of post-partum (referring to the Lord’s birth) depression you may be feeling. “God is our refuge and strength; therefore we will not fear...though the mountains be transferred into the heart of the sea.... The Lord of Hosts is with us, our Protector is the God of Jacob” (from Ps. 45).
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, January 17, 2016):