Our good friend Scoop, whose patience with some of what is written here amounts to proof of Godliness (and must surely be subtracted from his time in Purgatory), countered some of what I wrote here yesterday with one of the best statements of the conservative position you will ever be privileged to read. You can find the whole statement by following the link, but I quote extensively here because his words deserved it:
In the Church I find the heterodox view that demands change in the Church to accomodate their particular favorite sins or desires to be of the same mindset. It is why the arguments in the Church are so similar and are often spoken of in terms of politics: liberal against conservative.
To remove the transcendent character from our Church and Her mode of worship is to destroy the entire principle of the Church. If we think that we can mold a new religion that will serve to transform men and women into “a new man” then we have destroyed that which was handed to us over the millennia. If we need not transform ourselves and we no longer have the duty to try to live by the moral teachings then we have effectively stopped the nursery from which saints and martyrs of the Church have sprung. Instead we have false saints and martyrs in a political rebellion that seeks to remake the Church into something of their own image.
I joined the Church for what she is . . .not for what I thought I could change Her into. Likewise I joined the Church to abide by its counsel and transform me from my former self.
I would cast those who oppose the Church just as I would cast those who oppose the framework of this country as enemies; in the first instance of the Church and my soul and in the second of the State and my liberty and freedoms. Satan has many unwitting abettors in this war; some secular and others religious and a good number who are operatives in both.
Now such an excellent setting forth of the principles from which Scoop proceeds is not only to be respected because he is a good and thoughtful Catholic (though he will blush), but also because he articulates what others feel but perhaps lack the words to express; that is the duty of a good apologist. Neither is this the soft-soap prelude to an attempt to undermine what he says; he has said what he has said, and it is hard to disagree.
Certainly, if the motive for change is to persuade the Church to accommodate one’s own sins, then that is indeed, heterodox; but is not too broad a brush being employed here? In my response, I cited the example of the time when the Church used to believe in handing over those it thought heterodox to the secular arm for punishment which could, and did, include burning at the stake. This is no longer the practice of the Church; the Church has in this respect been reformed – and I would urge the view that here it is a jolly good thing. After all, what, in the teaching of the Lord Jesus, suggests this is the way He thought one should deal with those who fell short? It was certainly a view current in society at the time burning at the stake happened, and it seems to me there is a good arguments for saying that the Church, in aping secular society, went astray from the spirit of its Founder, and so those who pushed for such reforms were quite right. Are these other areas where, on examination, the Church needs to reform its practice? If so, it is not per se heterodox to suggest changes. Will all such demands for change be so clear-cut? No. Will some such demands be heterodox? Yes.The process of debate and discussion will determine which category demands for reform fall; but in this fallen world, reform there will, and must be.
Scoop raises the point of the loss of the transcendent, and it would be very hard to argue that in our everyday worship, this has not happened; the one caveat would be that when talking with much older Catholics, I find some wry smiles when they tell me about the Masses they attended when young when the people in the pews would more or less get on with whatever it was they were doing whilst the priest performed the sacrifice of the Mass; as one old-timer once said to me: “Don’t run away with the idea that we all sat there in a state of transcendence; the best would pray the Rosary, the worst subtract their mind and think o’Tom Thumb’. It is easy to juxtapose an imagined golden age with a very obvious current age of brass, but the temptation should be resisted.
It may simply be a sign of age and growing softness of the brain that I recoil from the notion that there are many in the Church who are actually its enemies. They may well, I remind myself, be inspired by the same motives that inspire all of us – the greater good of His Church. They may be wrong, but then of course, it occurs to me, so may I.