|The Catholic Charismatic movement will prove to be a corrosive force in the Catholic Church|
As we approach the great Feast of Pentecost in which the Church makes the great Novena to the Holy Spirit, it is worth spending a little time examining the phenomenom of what has become known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal otherwise known as the hybrid movement of 'Catholic Pentecostalism'. We should do this because the Novus Ordo clearly lends itself to abuses that are closed 'doors' within the Sacred Liturgy presented to the Faithful by the Extraordinary Form.
Firstly, it needs to be remembered that the variable success and penetration of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal into the Church owes its entire being - and its very origins - to the Church's cultural and liturgical revolution borne out of the Second Vatican Council. If the Second Vatican Council's ambiguity had not been so enthusiastically exploited, nor its 'Spirit' blown wherever it was blown by whoever was blowing it, then the 'renewal' (note well that due to its novelty within the Catholic Church it could never be called, as it is in Pentecostal circles, 'revival') would not have touched a single parish in the entire world. Without the removal of the fortress of the Latin Mass (fortresses are there to protect the city from an enemy btw) this would never have happened.
Secondly, it should be noted that what is seen now at events, such as, Flame 2, which was held in London at the SSE Wembley Arena in 2015 would horrify most, if not every single canonized Saint recognised by the Catholic Church, with perhaps the modern exception of St John Paul II, who suggested that the fruits of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal may represent a manifestation of the New Pentecost for our time. On the issue of the Sacred Liturgy, however, I hope readers will not mind me saying that St John Paul II was not as intellectually well-equipped as his Successor. His strengths lay in other vital areas.
|There are good reasons why the Church has preserved this liturgy for hundreds of years|
I have heard it said that in regions of the World - especially in Europe, a small number of Bishops are friendly both to the Traditional Latin Mass - and promote it - and also to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal - and promote that too - but for the reasons given below I really wonder how intellectually coherent or logical, or sustainable that position really is. Those places, it is said, are producing vocations, notably in France. Not that this 'dual' promotion is a huge probem, mind, because it is very unusual for Bishops to promote the Mass of Ages anywhere.
However, where the traditional liturgy is not promoted - but the Charismatic renewal is promoted, we should by now be able to make some kind of assessment of whether the Charismatic movement incorporated into the Catholic Church has produced the kind of fruit hoped for by even its most conservative of admirers and it should be noted that while St John Paul II made statements that publicly lauded the movement in its various forms, primarily for the enthusiasm which the movement has generated, his Successor Benedict XVI withheld such statements of praise. I expect - though I do not know - that those small parts of the World in which traditional liturgy and 'contemporary' charismatic liturgy are promoted and in which vocations arise, this may well be despite of, not because of the contribution of the Charismatic movement.
CCR website which lamentably fails to communicate 'Catholic' because traditional sign and symbol have been erased. All is 'new'.
That doesn't mean that the Catholic Charismatic movement in its variety of manifestations cannot and does not display great faith and belief in the Church's teachings, the supernatural, or that its enthusiasts would disregard the Catechism and throw it on the pyre, nor that there is no Eucharistic Faith within the movement, nor that devotion to Our Lady is obviously lacking within it, though some will argue that these are all possibly problems within the movement in parts. No, the obvious problem with the movement is that at a time when events like 'Flame 2' are aimed well and truly at the 'youth' of today and as its liturgical celebrations celebrate 'youth' and 'young, vibrant Catholicism' the Archdiocese of Westminster that collaborates in such mega-events for youth is unable send a single man to the seminary this year. Read that again. Not a single man. That speaks of a huge crisis. Why cannot young men be inspired to lay down their lives to become for God, for men, Alter Christus in the Mass? At some point, if it wants priests, every Diocese in the UK and beyond is going to have to ask serious questions as to why we aren't producing them.
The crisis of faith and the crisis of the priesthood has emerged because there is such little authentic love for the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass
That's only my opinion but its not only my own. A widely circulated quote of Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger is as follows...
'What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.'
My take on the Charismatic Renewal is that its endemic weakness is precisely in its attempt to generate faith. It fails because, in my understanding the Charismatic Renewal within the Church represents fabricated liturgy on steroids. Fabricated liturgy and fabricated worship cannot bring us closer to Christ but to a fabricated Christ even if the liturgy works directly on feelings because liturgy is not fabricated or invented by man for man. It has been handed down, preserved intact for the Glory of God and the Salvation of mankind. The only concession to man that the Latin Mass grants is the Gift Himself, the Priest, the Offering, the Sacrifice. It is God-centric. For feelings, after all, like inspiration, come and go. Love for Christ and His Church comes through devotion and reverence in particular for the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of the Church's life and prayer. With the Charismatic movement, no matter how 'in touch with the Holy Spirit' its enthusiasts claim the movement is, fabricated liturgy is given a new prominence within the Church, because we're no longer talking about a quiet 'Low Mass' for the Novus Ordo, but instead a 'Charismatic Service' in the Novus Ordo which may or may not involve Mass. The 'Charismatic Catholic Mass' has, in fact, become, in various parts of the World, what a Sung High Mass is for the traditionalist.
Unfortunately, the 'Charismatic Mass', while perfectly able to generate lay enthusiasm and to support Faith in those who attend, cannot possibly give adequate glory to God in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and is therefore deprived on essential ingredients that bring man closer to Christ. This is because the work of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is entirely the work of God condescending to us and making that extraordinary condescension, the sublime Gift of the Sacrifice visible and tangible through the Priest, not through the laity, through action, sign and symbol. During the Mass, the Priest himself is not in the Mass an ordinary man even 'beckoning God down' but rather the Priest is acting totally in Persona Christi, standing in Christ's place, obediently allowing himself to be united to Christ's self-offering at Calvary to the Eternal Father.
Said Pope Pius XII, and affirmed by his Successors...
“It is one and the same victim; the same person now offers it by the ministry of His priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner of offering alone being different.” The priest is the same, Jesus Christ, whose sacred Person His minister represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ's very person.
The Catholic Charismatic movement misses the essential ingredient that the traditional liturgy is able to supply in abundance and that is, quite simply, the sublime glory of the Priesthood. Pope Benedict XVI saw that the new liturgy and the fabricated, banal liturgy that so often comes with it, is a corrosive element within the Church for the priesthood -- not just for those who may be attracted to it, but to those who are already priests and who celebrate liturgy that is unable to communicate the ineffable Mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And, quite frankly, he should know, since he saw the collapse in faith in the clergy, was witness to it all with his own eyes, as well as to the deformation of sound theology, the clericalisation of the laity and its attending secularisation of the clergy. In terms of communicating what the Church really believes, even if the Catholic Charismatic movements have Eucharistic Faith, devotion to Our Lady and the Saints and a great deal else that is Catholic, without the Latin Mass handed down to us, the reason to become a Priest is entirely lacking and a malformed Faith is - though you're of course free to disagree - entirely likely.
Presenting a Catholicism fit for 'your personal taste'
Now it so happens that from your average parish priest to the Pope, the Catholic Charismatic Movement is very much promoted while it is obvious that the small number of Bishops who promote the Traditional Latin Mass are regarded as maverick. So therefore, it is not likely that the 10,000 young people exposed to Flame 2 last year will be exposed to the Traditional Latin Mass. Nor will they be encouraged to be. The reason is of course that with the Traditional Latin Mass comes Traditional Catholicism. With traditional Catholicism comes an inevitable rejection of 'modern Catholicism' when it is embraced because it is discovered that we cannot invent new truth and we cannot invent worship, that God is always the first mover, that we discover God in silence, that holy prayer requires reverence, that we cannot innovate God into Being, He simply is. In time, we shall have to see whether Catholic Bishops begin to see sense and to look at the Fraternity of St Peter and the success in gaining vocations to the Priesthood and religious life that traditional orders are having, including within the SSPX and think of literally 'turning around'.
The same cannot be said of the Charismatic movement, which could be brought to blend so very easily with other denominations in the spirit of ecumenism and brotherly love. It is my personal opinion that a great many 'reformers' in the Catholic Church like the Charismatic movement because it would make a useful vehicle for the transformation of the Catholic Church. Not because it produces fruit. Largely it is undoctrinal, it is stimulated and sustained by fabricated liturgy, the Priesthood is undermined by it and it cannot - of itself - produce vocations to either the contemplative life or the secular priesthood. For these same reasons the Traditional Latin Mass is feared by reformers and for these same reasons, are those devoted to the Sacred Liturgy - be they lay or clergy, are similarly feared.
Finally, there are a lot of very good people often with great faith and with love for Christ in the Charismatic movement in the Church. This blogpost is not aimed at denigrating their Faith, or their Hope, or their Love. This blogpost is concerned with the Glory of God made visible and tangible in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, how the Church can begin to address the crisis in the priesthood (and the laity) and asks serious questions as to whether the fruits of the Charismatic movement are as positive as they have often been presented to the Faithful. I do not think that the 'Charismatic' Mass and the Traditional Liturgy can exist side-by-side, or enrich each other or present to the Faithful authentic, cohesive Catholicism with integrity because quite simply the Charismatic movement, even when it contains Catholic elements is not Catholic in a traditional understanding of the term. It is today what it in essense has always been - Protestant in root, and unCatholic therefore in flower - and as yet I have not even mentioned the movement's distorted understanding of the holy influence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in Christian worship.
A House divided will fall. It does not assist the Church to have a 'traditional' theology and liturgy and a 'charismatic' theology and liturgy. Nor can the Church with integrity present 'a choice' of liturgical styles that are 'diverse' and radically different. These two understandings cannot hold together because they are divergent and the well-supported 'charismatic' movement and the less well-supported traditional movement together will always give the impression that we can choose a form of Catholicism that is in harmony with our 'personal taste'. In the end, one of them will be chosen. Which one will it be? The one that produces fruit, or the one that produces 'the desired effect'?