I much enjoy Scoop’s robust comments here, and fear they tend to get lost on those, perhaps the majority, who do not frequent the comments section. So let me engage with this comment he made on my post on ‘Flame 2017‘:
I have no earthly idea about all the conclusions you are drawing only that it is easy to tell a Rembrandt from a Pollock and a gourmet meal from a happy meal at McDonalds. As to what results from the changes in regards to the salvation of souls will only be known in the next world. But the impoverishment of the faith has undergone the same impoverishment of our tastes in music, art and cuisine and thereby we have lost perhaps the best means of communication of the spiritual life that ever existed. Sadly, most people these days have never seen or witnessed what they have lost. So you won’t see folks clamoring for that which they don’t know . . . just like I wouldn’t ask a restaurant owner to put an item on the menu if I had never tasted it. You seem to think that once you make a turn there is no way to correct course. The experiment has largely failed and Benedict XVI wanted us to integrate the older Rite into the New Rite . . . but he ran into resistance from bishops who apparently have no taste for doing so and folks like yourself who rather than trying to make things better are satisfied where things are clearly not working out as intended. And if these radical changes are working out as intended, then what does that say about the intentions themselves?
I am not sure the ‘Rembrandt/Pollock’ juxtaposition helps, as there are many people who like both; the notion that one could only like one form of art seems a trifle rigid. I love Bach, but I also like Johnny Cash, they serve different functions for me, and the notion that only one of them is’real’ art seems to me a false one.
As Scoop acknowledges in another comment, the Church once banned polyphony; how short-sighted that was. Some of the most soaringly beautiful music ever written was written to accompany the Mass. The Scoops of the day didn’t like or understand it – Gregorian Chant was their tradition and they didn’t see any need to change. Am I in danger of making the same mistake in my own (negative) attitude to ‘worship music’? I think not, but then those who opposed polyphony thought they were right too. No doubt those used to the beauty of the Greek Mass found the Latin version a little leaden, but now there are those who seem to think one form of the Latin mass is the only possible one. The Catholic tradition is richer and broader than one, relatively late, for of the Mass in a language better suited to warfare and engineering than theology. Having once attended a Mass in Aramaic, I’d be happy to say it was the most sublime Mass I have ever been to, and Jesus would have understood it more readily than Tridentine Latin; does that mean pone os superior to the other, or simply that we can have both>
When Scoop writes:
So diversity is the key word here for your money. Unity, which was the hallmark of the Christian message is now a type of relativist institution that offers to God the best that men have to offer as well as the schleppy stuff that we hear in most parishes?
He makes a judgement call no one is competent to make. Whose taste is so sublime that it can dictate what ‘the best that men have to offer’ consists of? So, the great guitarist cannot offer his best to God, except by becoming a great organist? Now, as it happens, I detest, abhor and loath organ music, but would not, on that account, say that it was not fit to offer to God. We each offer God what we can. We should all bear in mind the final verse of In the Bleak Midwinter:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Would anyone really say: ‘your heart is not of the calibre that God would appreciate, take it away’? No, so by what standard can any of us say that our own preferences are what God wants? Did we ask Him, and did I miss the memo back? God created mankind in great diversity, so it seems fair to assume that in so doing He was not wanting a uniformity – if that was His desire, He is omnipotent and He would have done that. We should not be looking to do it for Him.
On the one hand Scoop, objecting to any modern things in Church (perhaps we should get rid of electricity too, and tallow candles might be more traditional than modern wax one, oh, and whilst we’re at it, can we get rid of all those pews, a ghastly late addition to tradition? – and as for steeples on churches, don’t get me started, it was all so much better when we met in homes or catacombs), and on the other Bosco objecting to imagery and anything which offends his iconoclastic tendencies. In between, the lived reality of the Catholic Church which encompasses everything from the Tridentine Mass to the Folk Mass. What will survive is what men and women want – God made us to love Him and to serve Him – let no one say that there is only one approved way of so doing in a Church, or anywhere else. What God has made multi-coloured, let us not make monochrome. A Christianity which cannot embrace everything from high art to folk art would be a poorer one. After all, if someone brought up on the sublime beauty of Cranmer’s Prayer Book can adapt himself to the banalities of the current Roman Catholic Missal (a text of such lumpen prose that it must have been composed by a committee) then anything ought to be possible.