Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The spiritual "thinness" of Catholicism thickens.

Father Longenecker writes:

The historic ritual of Catholic religion is rooted in an acceptance of the metaphysical. In other words, we believe that through the ritual we are making a transaction with the other world. The supernatural impinges on us at all times. We are at the threshold of heaven and on the doorstep of eternity. Most AmChurch Catholics don’t understand this. I am convinced that it is simply not a part of their world view. Why should it be? They have been educated in a culture and by a system that is essentially materialistic, utilitarian and secular. There is no sense of the immanent, no sense of the awesome presence in life. The Protestant founding fathers weeded out all that “nonsense” and the deists and materialists finished the job. Such poetic and otherworldly ideas are not even dismissed by the typical American. They are not even misunderstood. They simply do not exist in their vocabulary.
Worship has become for most American Catholics therefore a mixture of civic duty, a way to inculcate good values into their children, a matter of family tradition which is presented in a way that is comfortable, easy going and entertaining. The idea that we are in touch with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the pillar of fire and the burning bush, the idea that we are on the threshold of a life changing mystical experience is utterly foreign to their imagination.
The desire for the mystical, however will not die, so instead of finding this mysterium tremendum et fascinans in the ritual, music, architecture and art of ordinary Catholic worship or in the religious traditions of contemplative prayer, monasticism and devotions the American Catholic is most likely to wander off into the misty mystical mess of New Age practices, Eastern religions or the occult.


Gail Finke said...

I am going to leave an actual comment, not one of the spam ones that keep showing up here. Fr. Longenecker is RIGHT. I don't think many Catholics understand sacramentality at all -- the idea that what we do on the physical plane is reflected on the metaphysical plane. This is alien to most people because no one ever bothers to tell them about it,

Lauran said...

I agree with Fr. Longenecker's point--however, aren't we all fully equipt with sharply-tuned consciences that inform us, either by discontent or other proddings, that we're missing something?

Mine did, even though having been raised in the same "materialistic, utilitarian and secular" system as most other Catholics.

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