Tuesday 21 December 2021

Magister 3


The relationship between the Church and the world has always been a dynamic and a variable reality. Often the Church has had to adapt the ways in which she relates with the world. We saw this take place, for instance, during the English Reformation, when the Church was refined in a most remarkable way. Then, throughout the Modern era, we saw the Church seeking to enable the Christian life in decisive ways. Today, the world (at least in the West) is trying to emancipate itself entirely from the legacy of the Gospel. Not surprisingly then, the Church should not today seek to follow the way of the world, but rather has sought to embrace a new evangelisation. What has also happened is that the world's current struggle has entered into the Church in ways that we have not seen since the Reformation. Within the Church there is a now a polarisation, between being an un-Enlightened Church and being an Enlightened Church, together with the whole range of accommodations that exist between these two poles.
For me, the Second Vatican Council was a intentional endeavour by the Church to re-embrace and to witness to the light that she has received from God - she sought to enable a new evangelising and formative relationship with the world. "Gaudium et Spes", which was the central Decree of the Council about the relationship, is very understandable from the perspective of the Council Fathers, the vast majority of whom were firmly grounded in the Tradition. It was from that perspective that they called the Church to act, rather than to act from a correspondence with the world, in which the Church adopts the attitude of the world.
However, the principal movement which took place following the Council, was the movement of an Enlightened attitude, which sprang from latent and somewhat hidden ranks of the Church, and which took hold of many executive positions within the Church. This attitude then sought to take hold of catechetics and also of new an un-mandated forms of liturgy. In this way, a Modernist agenda appears again in the Church.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Magister 2


In Sandro Magister's magnificent post about the virus that has infected the Church, the virus that he is speaking of is the attitude of the Enlightenment, and the vaccine that the Church needs to counter this is to reclaim the Christian life.

To better understand what is taking place in the Church today, it is good to understand what flowed out of the Kulturkampf in Germany between 1872 and 1878. Essentially this Kulturkampf created two wings to the Church in Germany: a Church which corresponded with the values and attitude of the Enlightenment, and a Church which, rather than do that, sought to reclaim its native identity and vision.

This division was present in the background at the Second Vatican Council, and is apparent today in the Church Universal. This is the issue at stake today. The Enlightenment has been allowed to enter into the Church and now we have a full-scale dichotomy on our hands:

1. For the Church to approach the world, as the Council intended, from a renewed understanding of her Faith.

2. For the Church to approach the world from a shared position of Enlightenment, where we all agree the Ts and Cs.

This all takes some time and understanding to see. The more time, reflective reading, and conversation that we give to this, the more we will see it. We need to step back and see the big picture.

Today, it is becoming clearer to me, that the two attitudes or projects which flowed out of the Kulturkampf in Germany, are now present in the Church:

There is an un-Enlightened Church, which seeks to claim anew her Faith and Teaching, and so build up her life and mission. In other words, a Church who wants to allow God to act.

And there is an Enlightened Church, which seeks to appropriate much of the world's criteria and self-understanding, and to accommodate herself to its ways. In other words, a Church which is a human endeavour, based on human resourcefulness.

To be continued.

Thursday 16 December 2021

My notes on Magister


A recent post on Sandro Magister's blog was entitled, "There is a vaccine for the virus that infects the Church." This post is so good that I had to read it three times, back to back, and then made my own summary notes of what he is saying. Here goes.

The secular movement in the world is advancing while the Church diminishes. This is happening in tandem with the eclipse of the conservative paradigm in the West (which promotes duties before rights.)
This eclipse has also entered into the life of the Church. But whereas conservatives has sought to reinvigorate this paradigm, the pandemic has revealed that it is not simply the form of Christianity that is at stake, but much more fundamental issues.
Looking back to the time of the Second Vatican Council, we saw the secularising agenda imposing itself on the Church through all its issues, contraception, divorce, homosexual union, feminism etc. In other words, secular values and issues took centre stage in the life of the Church and pushed the Christian life to the margins.
JPII and B16 tried to save the key issues of the Council (Revelation, the Church, Xt in the Liturgy, and seeking an adequate anthropology) and also of the Enlightenment (human dignity and freedom.)
B16 was aware of how Christendom (9th to 15th Centuries) provided the best context for the Enlightenment. That the organic unity of faith and life enabled Christian values to flower. What then happened was that the culture took those values and re-established them on the basis of reason, and left the Christian life behind. This was the Enlightenment.
B16 spoke of how "Gaudium et Spes" was the Council looking specifically at the correspondence between Christianity and the Enlightenment, revisiting the Enlightenment to seek a new relationship with the world (presumably for an evangelising and formative purpose.)
B16 also spoke of how, in putting God into the purely subjective realm, the Enlightenment actually wounded human reason - reason eventually gave up on itself - in spite of the historical fact that the search for God is the foundation of any good culture.
So, in ancient Greece God was unknown, yet people searched for him. Today, following the impact of Christian revelation on humanity, much of it has given up on God and itself!
Pope Francis, on the other hand, has set aside both Christianity and the Enlightenment; we are all the same, without God or Christian values. All we need to do is be brothers to one another.
Even so, Francis supports the subjectivisation or impoverishment of reason, by promoting the Church's focus on issues (rather than the Christian life.)
Magister notes that the conservative wing of the Church is actually in tune with the Enlightenment, through its support of individual freedoms.

The result of all this is that Christians are again a small minority, as they were in the first centuries.
He specifies that today's Christian minority has the same options as those in early centuries:
1. To conform to the dominant culture.
2. To close yourself off from it.
3. To escape to a new homeland.
4. To enter into a strongly critical relationship with the world and exercise a cultural influence on it.
The 4th approach is the one that the Church took in the early centuries.

In history, he says, we can see 'metaphysical mutations' (radical transformations of the collective vision of the world): 
1. Christianity asserting itself in the strongly pagan Roman Empire.
2. The dissolution of Christendom in favour of a secular and materialist culture.

How, he asks, will today's dominant culture proceed? We don't know.
What we do know is that we need to keep the Christian heritage intact, so that we can re-propose it in the modern empire and regenerate it from the teaching of the first Christians and the Fathers of the Church. End.

This article is so extraordinary that I will post my own comments on it next.

Friday 3 December 2021

Days with the Martyrs


1st December is the feast of St Edmund Campion and companions, who were captured at Lyford Grange in July 1581.  Edmund was executed at Tyburn, London on 1st December 1581.

What an immense privilege and joy to be part of a pilgrimage in his honour at Lyford Grange on Wednesday of this week, and to have celebrated the Mass there in one of the medieval barns.

Particular thanks to the proprietor of Lyford Grange for graciously allowing us to celebrate Mass on his premises, and to all the pilgrims who took part in the day. St Edmund Campion is one of our great saints and he continues to inspire and to draw the crowds. He was a great leader for us then; he is a great leader for us now.