Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An Uncultured Response

Welcome back, my friends! I hope that you had a wonderful Easter and were able to take some time to relax with family and friends. I must apologize for my lack of posting an Easter reflection and an entry on Monday. I too was busy spending time with my family and friends. However, I am back in action in the tiny chair of the Coding Catholic and am ready to pontificate once again.

There is a dynamic by means of which liturgy and culture are linked, a dynamic which simultaneously enriches the liturgy and, more importantly, lifts up the culture beyond that which it could attain on its own. In the past fifty years, we have seen the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church undergo many changes to its liturgical style, many good, and some bad (in my opinion). At the core of this movement, which really had its roots even before the Second Vatican Council (and truly even before the Liturgical Movements in Europe and the U.S.) is an affirmation which has been at the heart of the Catholic Church in the existence of various Rites.

While the structure and acceptance of varied Rites has changed throughout the years, they have remained a vital component to the liturgical formation of the Church as a whole. They have brought cultural experiences (with their profound cultic links) to the Church. Each with its own liturgical and theological style, these Rites truly show how distinct communities, in a specific geographical locations, can contribute to the Church as a whole.

However, we come to America, where the Roman Rite is predominantly the Rite of Catholicism. While one may argue that an American Rite might indeed make sense, I will shape my brief thoughts on the American Church with the larger context of the Roman Rite. In America, there are two distinct (although not unrelated) cultures at play. If America is to help the Church (and world) at large, one must discriminate between these two threads.

Thread one is that of the high ideals upon which America was founded: Government must allow for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, in accord with the dignity of the individual, yet not forgetting the necessity of a degree civic unity at a federal level. Thread two is that of Paris Hilton, MTV, and (to a degree) the ACLU, in many ways that which could be defined as “popular” culture. It is precisely this second thread that frightens me when it comes to the liturgy. I would much rather “batten down the hatches” and completely close the liturgy off from dialogue with a culture that has no desire to dialogue with goodness. I therefore do not see any imperative to mix and mingle the liturgical experiences of the Church with anything which has its core in the decadent portion of American culture. It is only when the pluralism of thread two becomes like that of thread one that we should be willing to have a true dialogue.

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