From the Remnant: An Encouraging Reminder

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Monday, May 15, 2017
PLAN B: The Fall of the Novus Ordo Seclorum
Written by  Anthony Mazzone

Editor’s Note: There’s nothing sensational about this article…no breaking news, no new & improved papal scandal, no dirty laundry. On the Internet clickbait scale, it’s a 1.  But, please, do yourself a favor — read it. From first paragraph to last, it positively exudes the sensus catholicus. It is filled with hope, and it puts all the scandals of our day into proper perspective — mere footnotes of history, jotted down by someone long after the Novus Ordo has been recalled, the Spirit of Vatican II exorcised, and the traditional liturgies and teachings fully restored to the life of the Church.  Especially if you think this won’t happen anytime soon– please read on. MJM 

Christianity would not have enemies if it were not an enemy to their vices. ~Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663-1742)

The Rossinian Moment

Unless I really know what I’m talking about, I prefer to keep my mouth shut. That’s enough to keep me quiet most of the time, but lately I’ve been further reduced to an almost Carthusian-like silence. That’s because I’m constantly finding myself in the midst of a Rossinian moment. Let me explain.

Most have at least heard of the Italian composer Giochino Rossini (1792-1868), or of his opera The Barber of Seville. Probably everyone would recognize his theme William Tell Overture. Rossini seems to have been something of an epicure, not given to hard work if he could avoid it. He was certainly among those people for whom payment in advance removes all incentive to performance. The story goes that an impresario who had been foolish enough to pay ahead of time for a new opera finally had no other option than to shut the composer up in his villa on meager rations. Within 24 hours the overture to Otello was delivered from the window, signed by a chastened composer, “senza macheroni”!

I’m only thinking of this because there comes a time in many of Rossini’s operas when the characters stop what they are doing, look around in amazement, and pronounce themselves absolutely flabbergasted by some new discovery or twist in the plot. Traditional Catholics know exactly how this is. In these absurd times, when girls can be altar boys and prelates can be potty-mouthed, when free speech is banned from college campuses, it feels like we are all stuck in a never-ending state of stupefaction: Rossinian moments.

I’m sure each of us could produce endless examples, but allow me just one. The other day I was looking at a rack of CD’s in the back of a nearby parish church. One of these is an introduction to the Theology of the Body, extolled on the cover as the “revolutionary theological work of Pope John Paul II.” You got that right: the word “revolutionary” is actually used as a term of praise by a Catholic firm that otherwise takes pride in its orthodoxy. What’s going on here? The idea of a theology being “revolutionary” should make any Catholic head for the hills. After all, it wasn’t long ago that certain prelates were praised “for the purity of their doctrine.” Today that would stand as nothing less than an indictment, an indication of “rigidity” if not mental illness.

The Catholic Church is the safe Inn to which our Lord the Good Samaritan has carried wounded humanity. But it continues in a state of accelerating decomposition. To Traditionalists at least it’s obvious that this crisis is not limited to liturgy or even governance, but is a deeper one of purpose and identity. Unfortunately the faithful members of the Church, too, are further divided into tribes: mainstream Novus Ordo, Reformers of the Reform, traditionalists who hold to the 1962 Roman Missal and those who hold to the 1920 Roman Missal with or without the changes in the 1950’s. Can’t we just pray together? Hell’s bells, we can no longer even say the rosary together. Some Catholics will insist on publicly reciting the Luminous Mysteries because they are new, while others resist for basically the same reason.

Switching realms, it sometimes looks as if Christians have lost every battle in the sphere of public life and morality. Oh, if we only had one more Republican Congressman, one more conservative Supreme Court Justice, we will be able to turn things around! I’m sorry, but what ails us as a country simply isn’t curable by politics. The political scientist Harold Lasswell has defined politics as being about “who gets what, when, how.” While this is not an Aristotlelian definition, I think it is true.

The point I am making is that you are not alone in feeling you are riding a roller coaster in Bizzaro World. Things have been wrong for so long that we are forgetting what is normal. It is not normal for laymen to parse the spontaneous utterances of a Pope to divine their implications, much as Roman augurs read the flights of birds. It is not normal that the liturgy is among Catholics not an expression of unity but a constant cause of strife and division.

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