Sunday, May 21, 2006

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Squirming theology

"There are fashionable objections that would try to talk us out of this silence at the Consecration. The showing of the Gifts, it is said, is a medieval error, which disturbs the structure of the Eucharistic Prayer, the expression of a false and too grossly materialistic piety. The argument is that the elevation is out of keeping with the essential direction of the Eucharist. At this moment, so it is claimed, we should not be worshipping Christ - the whole Canon addresses the Father, to whom we pray through Christ. We do not need to go into these criticisms in detail[...]It is correct to say that the Canon has a trinitarian structure and consequently as a totality moves "thorugh Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to the Father". But the liturgy in this respect knows nothing of rigidity and fixation." (from The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger)

What I find more exasperating than flatly dissenting theologians, are those who
raise all such nitpicky objections. I confess that the Orthodox often drive me to distraction in this way, when they inform us of all our subtle mistakes in emphasis - but at least when the Orthodox say such things, they are avowedly not Catholic and are attacking Catholicism. When Catholic theologians make these ever-so-subtle criticisms of medieval piety and so forth, it is different - especially as their nitpickings always seem to favor impiety and skepticism, or else a Protestantized piety (which often amounts to the same thing). Never do they nitpick the old Mass for being insufficiently Catholic; never do their objections have, say, a Thomistic feel to them. After a while it starts to seem like more than a coincidence that their criticisms all cut in one direction.