February 24, 2008

“Desolation is a file, and the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.” — St. John of the Cross

The Lenten feast for the senses I wrote about last week continued today (Saturday) at St. Anne Catholic Church, but it occurred to me during today’s Mass that what I find most comforting and reassuring about the Roman Catholic way of doing things, as opposed to the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, non-denominational, and yes, even Episcopal liturgical and worship practices I have experienced in the past is how the Mass brings together into one tight bundle the history of the Church in all the right ways.

Let me explain. Oh, but before I do, notice that in the list above I didn’t include either Orthodox Catholic or traditional Anglican forms of worship – for the elements that I am about to write about can be found to various and marvelous extents in those churches as well.

The calendar of the Church Year says that it is Lent. And Lent is supposed to be all about contrition, self-examination, penance and fasting, and, above all else, reverence and humility in the face of God’s inestimable love in Christ’s death upon the Cross for our sins. How that is conveyed in the various forms of Christian worship vary, of course, and far be it from me to proclaim judgment on what denomination does it best – after all, everyone has their own preferences and likes and dislikes.

For me, however, it’s all about the theology, and in today’s Mass, where you have a sermon that (at least in my mind) boldly illustrates the various thirsts we all have in life, both horizontally (i.e., worldly desires) and vertically (spiritual desires) by recalling writings by one of the premier Doctors of the Church (St. Augustine), prayers that invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Trinity, and the Saints of the Church, and liturgical prayers steeped in our waywardness and desperate need for God’s mercy and forgiveness, that’s doing Lent right. Top it off with announcements that include, among other things, prayer and outreach groups that are either affiliated with religious orders (the Carmelites) or invoke various saints (St. Preregrine, St. Maria Goretti, etc.), and I’m all over it.

You see, unlike today’s Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Church of England, and so many “mainline” Protestant denominations – and yes, consider this a definite tweak of disapproval! – in Roman and Orthodox Catholicism, and traditional Anglicanism the Church’s history, theological teachings, and traditions actually mean something. Because the former have discarded (enthusaiastically, in some cases) the foundational tenents of Christianity as laid down in the Gospels and by various saints and doctors of the Church in favor of post-modern thought, a de-emphasis on the doctrine of sin, and, above all things, worship at the altar of that dreaded triumvirate of Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Tolerance, is it any wonder these churches are FUBAR?

This is not to say that Roman Catholicism is not without its own issues – I’ve often said that in its various excesses of power and corruption over the years that is it is “great theology practiced badly”. But in the end, great theology still trumps lazy and arrogant intellectualism as practiced by the oh-so-“progressive” forces currently leading the churches mentioned immediately above over the cliff.

And in this holy season of Lent, where we are called upon to look at ourselves and upon our own spiritual deformities, to practice a faith that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, yet comfort us in the knowledge that the whole Communion of Saints and those who have gone before us in the faith and love of the Lord are there for us, to be prayed to for guidance that leads us towards that new life in Christ that can quench any thirst, well that’s religion done right.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:17 | Comments (0)
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