Reductio ad pharisaeum seu haec et illa

“There is no love in you! You are like Pharisees!” – these callings have become such a permanent element of Internet discussions in the question of preserving the rules and the spirit of the liturgy that in fact one only waits to hear them. There are only few exceptions to the rule and the rule is simple: the longer a conversation lasts, the more probable it is that finally writes it. Thus, reductio ad pharisaeum could be a Catholic counterpart of reductio ad Hitlerum and finish the given discourse. Until now it has not happened and these words only arouse the overwhelming joy of the alleged Pharisee faction, whereas the other side completely does not understand the essence of the matter. Where is the source of the problem, then?

It lies in lack of knowledge. Having participated in many debates, I may say that liturgical liberals not only do not know the regulations and their meaning, but also they do not understand the Holy Scriptures. They see the modern defenders of ceremonial correctness as devoid of love, obdurate and arrogant, quite similar to those who constantly plotted against Christ during His earthly life. But the point is that the Saviour rebuked Pharisees for something else, not for abiding the law. If we take a look at the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we will find an utterly emphatic speech of Jesus, which however includes the true reason of criticising those people:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint and anise and cumin and have left the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and faith. These things you ought to have done and not to leave those undone.

(the excerpt taken from the Douay-Rheims Bible)

The defenders of liturgical abuses and crumminess seem to know only a part of the quoted excerpt because the second sentence somehow disappears in their interpretations, which allows them to label people as Pharisees freely and makes them feel satisfied, which is typical for  people who believe in a job well done. Seeing that our Lord Himself proved the relevance of the external manifestations of the internal attitude of a man and the Church supported it with solemn teaching, hedged even with excommunication, so why it is so difficult to explain people that when someone criticises liturgical ignorance he is led by the love for the holy? Why one is straightaway suspected of caring only about “the outer side of the chalice and the bowl”?

And here we reach another aspect of this reflection: what these “mean traditionalists” cavil at and with whom they have to quarrel? Beginning with the second question, we will receive a partial answer to the first one. The most common adversary in the Internet discussions are members of various communities, especially of academic chaplaincies. And if these are chaplaincies of this kind it is obvious what may be the source of the argument – the inseparable element of all hiking trips, namely Backpack Mass: celebrated wherever and on whatever that is found, but of course it is justified by the atmosphere and the desire to come closer to God through nature.  There is no point in citing the regulations, quoting theological works or even suggesting more practical solutions – all in vain. Who is not with us is a Pharisee and may he keep away from “our” liturgy. Somehow those people cannot notice that the fighters for the proper cult of God fight, instead of them, for something with which they usually do not have immediate contact: for the new Mass. Most persons who highlight the errors of a liturgical nature attend Masses in the old rite and have a sporadic contact with the new one. It turns out that it is the traditionalists who care about the NOM the most, and its cruellest executioners are priests and youth who have an everyday contact with it.

What else, apart from regulations and the Holy Scriptures, do not understand the proponents of rubbish and common violating of the rubrics? Their meaning and, what follows, the reason of their emergence. And it is not about historical circumstances but about a simple rule which has been obeyed: love to God, Church and its liturgy, seasoned with a lot of pragmatism; it is clearly visible in the old rite where the regulations are not only to secure the value and beauty of the celebration – they are simply logical and, therefore, natural for a human. When one understands that the liturgical regulations are not to oppress the priest but to orientate him properly, that they are like rails which allow one to reach the destination, then all reasons to quarrel will disappear and between persons attached to the old and the new form of the Roman rite the common ground will be found which will bear fruit in the future and maybe contribute to the restoration of the lost sacred, and also become good foundations for the reform of NOM which is essential.

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