Friday, October 07, 2005

Part 2: "I have no obligation to obey that which you have no right to command."

So anyways, the Peco Doctrinaire would ask: What's wrong with the peasants in Yorkshire or Prussia who rebelled against the parish priest or the bishop when the Mass was replaced with the Anglican common prayer or a German order of worship? What's wrong with the modern Linz or Brisbane Catholic who makes recourse to Mass by an irregular priest when he's faced with clown masses and biker masses and feminism and paganism at his canonical parish? What's wrong with the Los Angeles Catholic who kneels in thanksgiving and quiet prayer, as he has always done before and since Vatican II, as after receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? What's wrong with the Johnson County Catholic who is the only member of his congregation who takes communion on the tongue? What's wrong with the midtown Kansas City Catholic who chooses not to turn his back on the sacred species give the "Holy Howdy-Do " to everyone within a 20' radius at daily Mass? What's wrong with me when I present myself to the priest for communion when visiting relatives at attending a rural novus ordo parish, kneeling, after switching lines so I can receive Our Lord from consecrated hands instead of from the buxom "Eucharistic Minister" wearing a low-cut blouse beside Father, or the EM in the back of the chruch, who's wearing his masonic lodge ring and who's known to have been sleeping with his sister-in-law?

So, the Gaidawg Schooler says--there are different things going on in each of the questions you raise, and a different resonse. You're muddling and confusing issues, says the Gaidawger. Yes, well, there is. Yes, I am. But such is life. That's my point.

So, who do we obey, "the Church" in the abstract, or the men who happen to be managing the Church (or mismanaging the Church) at the moment? Lots of people don't understand the question or fail to make the distinction between the two. I think a lot of the tradition-loving Catholics understand that there is a distinction, but it's difficult to put into words and to draw the line. It's obvious that many have failed to so draw it and find themselves outside the Church (Google "Pope Michael" or "Pius XIII" or "Pope Gregory Palmar de Troya" and see for yourself). But there are some who've refused to try and draw it, and they've found themselves outside the Church as well (the Yorkshire or Prussian peasants noted above). There are certainly more of the latter than the former, aren't there?

For me, the answer isn't entirely clear, but it seems if I hold fast to Catholic tradition (even as I rediscover it), and I follow my without question religious superiors insofar as they're leading me in accordance with tradition, and I give respectful and prayerful consideration (without automatic obedience) when they're leading me somewhere new, I'm probably less likely to find myself outside the Church than if I adhere to the Gaidawg School.

A much more thoughtful exchange on this question recently appeared in The Latin Mass magazine. If you endured reading this to the end, I would encourage you to find a copy and read it--it's much more readable than these last two posts.

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