Saturday, April 19, 2008

Need for conversion

“My impression is that Christianity today suffers to a great extent from a lack of readiness for conversion. People are eager to receive the comfort of religion; they are also aware that they cannot give it to themselves; but that it needs to be supported by the community of believers and its authority. But they shrink for the binding nature of Church teaching and Church life and reserve for themselves to choice of what they consider to be religiously useful and understandable. Committing oneself – that is, accepting the whole package, including those elements which at the moment do not seem to be either evident or useful – appears as too large a step. The obligatory doctrines and life of the Church are transposed into the invective “official Church” and are thus declared to be something bureaucratic and superficial. On the other hand, people are then surprised that no energy for supporting life and the community issues from the nonbinding Christianity of private choice.”

“A New Song for the Lord,” Ch 9, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 1996.

In this fascinating and insightful book, the Holy Father (while still prefect of the CDF) explains why creativity in the Liturgy is actually the antithesis of "active participation" - creativity makes "active participation" impossible.

Another fascinating insight is that we are currently told that individual confession didn't exist in the early church; rather, public confession in the community, and the Irish monks brough individual confession to Europe and started the tradition as we know it today. Pure polemic balderdash (popularized by Rahner). Private confession existed before the time of Jesus, was practiced by the Jews, by those who went to John the Baptist, and is well documented through early Church history.

Jesus often admonished to "do penance" but today, that is such an unknown quantity in our culture, that Ratzinger saw great promise in the communal penance services (followed by private confession and absolution) in restoring the public sense of sin, contrition, and penance.

Yeah, big HAT TIP to Fr. Speekman for recommending this book, I'd suggest it to anyone, especially in concert with "Spirit of the Liturgy" if you are interested in understanding why Liturgy has been turned on it's head (self worship) and what it will take to turn it back towards God. Perhaps that is why the pope has been making such a big deal of turning towards the Lord. On the other hand, if you think the pope is regressive and trying to "turn the clock back" these books will help you understand why your clock is off.


  1. I'm on my third reading of Spirit of the Liturgy and can't wait to acquire A New Song for the Lord. Think I'll head off to Amazon and get that right now!!

  2. New Song on the way!!! What in heaven's name did we do before Amazon??

  3. I used to use BIBLIOFIND.COM which got bought by Amazon who shut it down. Now I use ABEBOOKS.COM; I buy used books and it's great to get recent titles for a dollar or so.

  4. Mark, this picking and chosing of the 'bits' of religion we find useful is so sad because only the (whole) truth can save. It's like the 'Make me better doctor but don't change me' syndrome. We USE religion like a spiritual aspirin .. it has to suit US .. or it's no good .. and in the end none of it works for us and we wonder why. Thank God for my parents and my school who taught me the whole faith.