Sunday, March 16, 2003

A lot of St. Blog's types hate what many people do to the modern liturgy (I won't go as far as to say they ahte the modern liturgy, however much they strive to give that impression.) But it occurred to me today in Mass that the real problem is different from one of catechesis, though that plays in to it. The real problem is twofold: most moderns have no sense of the sacred; and we worship emotion.

Wise people understand that emotion is transient even when real, and that our brains and hearts can trick us into thinking we are feeling an emotion when in fact we are merely experiencing a chemical reaction. It's not that emotion is false, simply unreliable. But an entire generation raised itself on the notion that the emotional aspect of love was "all you need," and then they sought to transform the liturgy to reflect it. At the same time, they rejected piety and sacredness as hypocrisy, or at least less authentic than "love." (I am not interested here, by the way, in blaming anyone for this. Many people too young to have been a part of the Summer of Love have played a significant role, and our culture was heading this way long before Woodstock.)

It therefore occurs to me that rather than wagging fingers at people about what is appropriate or inappropriate, we could most readily solve the problem by helping people gain a sense of sacredness, so that they might begin to police themselves. Hijacking the parish retreat program to create authentically sacred experiences, rather than emotionally manipulative ones, might be one way to do this. Another would be to create "Theology on Tap" nights that offer an understanding of sacredness. At the end of the day, people can hardly be expected to do their duty who do not understand it, and education, rather than scolding, will pay better long term dividends.


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