Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Consequences of Liturgical Abuse
This is an excerpt from a homily entitled “The Importance of the Liturgy in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”; you can listen to the entire homily at the link. The excerpt also appears at the link (my emphases).
It is fair to say that the liturgy directly forms our notion of the holiness of God. Look at Sinai. Look at the tabernacle. Look at the sanctuary. God has designed the structure of reality in such a way that the liturgy repairs and restores Creation. It re-establishes the limits and restores the damages unleashed by sin.
What goes on in the Divine Liturgy determines what goes on out in the world. The graces that were lost by Adam, the terrible offences that have been offered to God, the liturgy makes amends for this. The liturgy reorders our fallen world. And once we realize that the liturgy reorders all of creation, we can begin to understand the horror of liturgical abuse. What is a priest saying when he deliberately abuses the liturgy?
Symbolically, liturgically, he is re-enacting the Original Sin right in God's face. Instead of order, he is bringing disorder; instead of grace, he's bringing sin; instead of spiritual health, he's bringing spiritual sickness; instead of everlasting life, he's bringing spiritual death. Instead of keeping the serpents out of the garden and away from his people, he's turning to them and inviting them to come on in. In effect, the priest is saying, “I will not serve; I'll do it my way. I will dictate liturgical relationships to God. I will set myself apart from His Law. I will be a law unto myself. I will exalt myself”. He's imitating the sons of Aaron, and unless he repents, he'll get the same kind of punishment.
But it isn't just the priest who's going to suffer, we're all going to suffer. All of us. What goes on in the Divine Liturgy determines what goes on in the world – that's reality. That's the way it is. So what're we saying? We're saying that when massive numbers of the officially appointed ambassadors who represent the Church Militant before the Divine Court, when massive amounts of these divinely appointed ambassadors – that is to say priests – are constantly and consistently re-enacting Original Sin right in the face of God, we're gonna get exactly what we got the first time: sin, suffering, nakedness, disorder, despair, death, and the reign of Satan.
We're saying we're gonna get exactly what we are getting: this culture of death, this present darkness, this new paganism. The culture of death is the natural result of massive liturgical abuse. [I repeat: the] culture of death is the natural result of massive liturgical abuse. The most important aspect of the solution to the problem – of all these kinds of societal problems – is liturgical. It always has been, and it always will be. St. Alphonsus says,
The Lord commanded the priests of the Old Law to tremble, to reverence, when approaching the sanctuary, and still we see scandalous irreverence in priests in the New Law when they stand at the altar in the presence of Jesus Christ.
St. Teresa of Avila used to say,
I would give my life for a ceremony of the Church and will a priest despise the ceremonies of the Holy Mass?