Thursday, July 19, 2012

Genesis - ground zero

The polarization within the Church between traditional and progressive is arguably most visible within the context of her liturgical life. On the one hand are the die-hard traditionalists who reject most, if not all of the developments (organic or contrived) in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. They view it, at best, as a misguided attempt to modernize the Church that was derailed by lack of adequate caution and diligence in the implementation of its decrees and provisions. At worst it was a schismatic, even heretical event that invalidated the authority of the Holy See by exchanging the clarity of the faith for Cultural relevance which turned out to be thirty pieces of silver. At the progressive end of the spectrum we find those who think that Vatican II put but a small crack in the stone edifice of Church structure and that it was left to successive generations to continue the program of dismantling the archaic liturgical and ecclesiological structures that have kept true Christianity in bondage these two millenia.

While this dichotomy is most obvious in the liturgical arena, it is no less prevalent in the Catechetical one. Religious education suffers the same polarization. At one end we find those who would rely exclusively upon a 19th Century model of Catechesis, which suffers not in a defect of content but of pedagogy. Memorizing the answers to Balitmore Catechism questions fails to fully engage the mind of the student in critical thinking or application of the material. Again, at the progressive end of the spectrum we find educators who want to eliminate anything distinctly Catholic from the content of their teaching - either in an attempt to relate to students without fear of alienating them with all that "church jargon", or out of a rejection of the principles which underlie the terminology. Likewise, the pedagogical approach is one that focuses more on self expression and "faith sharing" than it does on comprehension, analysis, application, etc.

Fortunately the last decade has brought some tremendous strides toward bridging the liturgical divide, not the least of which was the promulgation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, a translation commissioned by the Blessed Pope John Paul II to provide a more accurate and faithful translation of the Latin original. Worthy of mention too is Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, by which  greater liberty was granted for the celebration of the mass according to the liturgical books of 1962.  Taken together, these measures mark a move toward retaining and living the liturgical heritage of the Roman Church while embracing the authentic reforms called for by Vatican II.

An excellent chronicle and contributor to this New Liturgical Movement has been a website by the same name. Its articles and authors demonstrate a great appreciation for traditional forms of art, architecture, and music, while fully embracing the notion of organic development in each sphere.

This website strives to make a similar effort, in the catechetical realm, of embracing the intellectual and catechetical heritage of the Church and passing that heritage on to the next generation utilizing the best of contemporary pedagogy. It is my hope that fellow Catechists will join in these efforts and I welcome submissions and contributors.