The wonderful, insightful and much-appreciated Father John Zuhlsdorf, or Father Z as many know him from his internet presence, like me, inspired this post because of what he wrote on his blog yesterday. This began as a comment to his post, but I didn’t want to clog up his com-box.
When I was a child soon after the introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass, the response to the prayers of the Faithful was “We beseech You hear us.” Then it became “Lord, Hear our prayer.” We went from begging Him, supplicating Him, to hear our prayers, to ordering Him to hear them. 40 years later I am still disgusted by this. I have never heard an explanation for this change, but I know it has everything to do with all the other man-centered orientation that has taken place. If I remember right, it was around the same time we went from kneeling at the Communion rail and receiving the Blessed Sacrament with a paten under our chin, to standing and taking the “cookie” in our dirty hands and “feeding” ourselves.
These postures and the words we use have contributed to the great loss of reverence we all see at Mass in nearly every Church, and are how the great majority of Catholics now speak to the Lord. Isn’t it striking how so few people, how so few men, genuflect when they come into the Church or before they enter a pew? I have come to the realization that most Catholics do not believe that Jesus is the King of Kings; that’s just what we say. After all, if this was actually true, why would so many just blow off going to Mass? If this were true why would so much of the music be about proclaiming how wonderful we are instead of singing the praises of God’s glory and thanksgiving for His blessings?
Maybe so many blow off going to Mass because they got the message that was so drummed into them by the “spirit of Vatican II” that swept through the Church in the ’70s and ’80s that turned them off by its feminized, protestantized changes. “We don’t believe that anymore.” “We don’t do that anymore.” “We don’t pray in Latin anymore.” Or when they heard priests mocking “cookie worship.” These were the answers I got as a youngster when I asked about changes I noticed. What we got instead was wimpy Jesus, girly-man Jesus, Who just loves us and doesn’t expect anything from us except an occasional outcry of “pain” and Who would then “heal” us because He loves us, instead of Rex Tremendae Maiestatis, the Creator and Savior, the Just Judge. That Jesus, the true Jesus, wasn’t “nice”, was too “mean”, too . . . “judgmental”.
Our problem is and was that we left our understanding of the Faith to be taught and guided only by these simpletons, that we let them make these stupid changes without barely a whimper of protest, when we ought to have turned to the Magisterium and Scripture instead, and pointed out that the cake they offered was only half-baked, lacking in real butter, and had much too much saccharine. What many of these “well-meaning” folks should have gotten was a swift kick in the butt, a punch in the nose, or loud continuous open mockery, and a refusal to accept their insipidity and triteness.
But too many men just silently walked away and left the pansies in charge or deferred to the women, who in practice are much more open to these things, the concern for how every one “feels”. Our fathers and grand-fathers let us down. They may have thought they should just be “nice”, and that meant “silent” for many of them, and even if they were seething in disgust, they took that pent-up anger and let it be played out vicariously in watching Sunday football games instead. And they stayed away from Mass.
Those who remained for the most part demanded that the Church become a democracy, that Jesus be reduced to a nice president, who could be vetoed and even removed from office when He became too discomforting, and Who did not require supplication or any posture that indicated any kind of supplication, like falling to one’s knees and bowing one’s head in prayer. And He no longer could demand the full compliance with the Commandments and the precepts of the Church, but only those that individuals found to their liking after “following their consciences”. The rest could be put out the door with the communion rails and statues or stored away out of sight along with the other quaint and no longer useful relics of by-gone days.
Of course, this is not everyone, but most. Many stayed true, and silently wept for the destruction wrought around them, for the disrespect and sacrilege given to our Lord, and refused to stay away, making the innovators and keepers of the new order very uncomfortable, still clinging to their rosaries, kneeling for Holy Communion and holding up the cue, praying their devotions, demanding Adoration, and that the Tabernacle be placed in the Sanctuary prominently where it belongs and which the Church actually requires. Because of them, the Church is still recognizably different from a protestant assembly hall in most places, but, alas, not all though. Have you seen the footage of the Bergoglio Pinocchio
Mess Mass? Or this kind of crappola?
Thinking men and women must make a conscious decision about Jesus: is He God or was He just a nice guy? Is He resurrected and alive or was He, but is no longer? Is He the Son of God or just a nice, hippy kind of guy who walked around in the forerunner of Birkenstocks kinda telling the people they might want to follow His advice, but could ignore it if they chose, and without anything to do really with the much more advanced and progressive human creature walking the Earth these days that He just couldn’t possibly have understood? Is He speaking to us in the Scripture or were those just made up dialogues and soliloquies? Is He truly and really present in the Eucharist or was that something said symbolically? Is he a liar? Misquoted?
And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.
He does not say, whoever saw me, or will see me, but sees me, in the present. How does one see Him today? In the Most Blessed Sacrament. If you don’t believe that and deny it, then be honest with yourself and everyone else, and leave the Church; the Unitarians and protestants would love to have you. You can see how prosperous those sects are today, and they really need you to fill the seats and their coffers. Or go make up your own Church. There’s always room for one more fake religion.
If He is God, then how ought we to act in His presence? Actually, what we must do is respond to God’s Grace that allows us to be drawn to Jesus. And when, and if, that happens, then we cannot be lukewarm. We cannot remain defiantly standing and giving Him orders, but must fall to our knees and try as hard as possible to do His Will, following the Commandments completely, obeying and accepting all of the precepts of the Church, acknowledging Him as King and the Church as a monarchy and not a democratic republic.
I know He is present in the Eucharist, He is my King and Lord and Savior. I have taught my children that we kneel or at least genuflect and then be reverent in the presence of our Lord. I have particularly taught my sons that men kneel during the Mass, as the Missal instructs, even if it’s on the floor or in the snow or in the mud if need be. A man never stands as tall as when he kneels in the presence of the Lord.
For many years, our parish Masses in the alternative Chapel/meeting room with only chairs and no kneelers had just about everyone standing when they should have been kneeling. I and a few others knelt. Quite frankly, it was awkward for me particularly if I was in the middle of a row, so I would take a place in a back row where I could not even see Jesus when the priest elevated Him.
The altar “servers” also stood. My sons were not instructed to kneel when serving by those who “trained” them. I explained that this was important whether the others did or not but I didn’t force them to conform to me. But as they’ve grown older, they have begun to kneel on their own, even if no one else did. Over time, I became also aware that others in the congregation were kneeling, but no more than 20 out of 200 I guess. However, earlier this year, our priests began to ask everyone to kneel after the Sanctus, and most now do, even though we still have no kneelers, and the priests have stopped asking. There are still several who refuse and remain standing, but now they are the awkward ones in their defiance. If kneeling is so painful and they cannot because of a physical problem, then they ought to sit and bow their heads.
I have begun to think that these people who refuse to kneel have been so indoctrinated by the man-centered arrogance that has taken over at Mass for so long now, and so used to giving God His marching orders, that they have become convinced that they have a vote on whether to do as the Church does, or that they do not believe. Yet, I knew unconverted men who come with their families and who kneel out of respect for the Church and those who do believe. That’s how real men behave in a Catholic Church.
It’s time to speak again about Rex Tremendae Maiestatis, Christus vincit, Christus Regnat, and Christus Imperat, for the good of the Church, the world, and to give Catholic men back their patrimony.