Monday, May 07, 2007

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi Continued...

A fellow board member from the NFP board made a blog post about a recent trip to an Orthodox Church entitled Don't take a disgruntled Catholic into an Orthodox Church. I thought this part was especially penetrating:

Modern Catholic churches have abandoned this separation between the nave and the sanctuary, and it is not accidental. Church designs have been driven by a true change in belief, at least of the architects. Church design promotes inclusion, not separation. I understand the drive, in Christianity God is, in a way, both immanent and transcendent, both here and not here, both Same and Other. However, it was folly to abandon centuries of tradition without care or thought. The loss of a "holy space" in the Church has been followed by a loss of a sense of the Holy, in general. There has been a dramatic change in the understood nature of the priesthood. Priests are now counselors or leaders, rather than individuals set apart to represent the whole of humankind to God, and to represent God to their congregation. I can't help but think that the crisis in the priesthood (priests leaving, "the scandal," drop in number of vocations) is intimately connected to this change in belief.

12 comments:

Cheryl s said...

That's an excellent thought.

There's a fine balance between God as the Almighty Creator, and God as our loving Heavenly Father. It's hard to find where the proper balance is - it's the same struggle that many Protestants/non-Catholics (and I know you'll know what I mean) go from hellfire/brimstone to love and mercy and back, usually with every couple of generations.

There is a sense of sacredness in separation; Sunday has lost something as it has become just another day of the week in which we can do almost anything we did on any other day.

Familiarity breeds comtempt...

La Mama Loca said...

Thanks for your link to my post! I'm glad that you liked it.

jdavidb said...

The loss of a "holy space" in the Church has been followed by a loss of a sense of the Holy, in general.

Is it possible that it was the other way around?

Stephanie said...

I think that's certainly possible, jdavid, although I think it's probable that it's so entwined as to be nearly indistinguishable which came first!

Mariana said...

Although my dad, growing up pre-Vatican II, reported plenty of suspected abuse in his school growing up by certain priests. The whole "set apart" mentality can exacerbate the idea of secretness, power, etc which can cause abuse to go undetected for a long time.

I'm always hesitant to idealize times past, because what remains of it tend to be the "exceptional" examples, not the common examples.

I do agree that the crisis in vocations (both male and female) is related to an increasing role of the laity making the role of the consecrated less set apart. But it is up to us to make things better, by treating even our shabby worship spaces with due reverence, showing respect for our priests even when they need correction, and encouraging vocations from among our own.

Stephanie said...

All good points, Mariana!

Cheryl said...

Something DH brought up when I mentioned this post to him:

Losing a sense of sacredness (especially in communion/the Eucharist) is nothing new. Paul wrote about it to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:20-22)

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

Even so close to the beginning of the church, they lost sight of what was sacred (and according to vs. 30, paid dearly for it).

If it happened then, it can certainly happen now.

Pup said...

Sorry if I've posted this more than once but it doesn't like my long posts...
Hey, you know how I thought the Bible was like Star Trek that got out of hand or just a fancy story? Well I started going to a study of the Bible, it's like a seminary class a few weeks ago and I'm learning all kinds of stuff about the Bible!!! (and in signing up for it I found out about the job at Sylvania) But we were talking a few weeks ago and they said Catholics don't read the Bible that the priest has to interpret it for them so... do you read the Bible?
I hope all is well, am I Aunt Hollie yet? I still want to babysit!

Stephanie said...

Oh great...Hollie I wish I could tell you to run far far away from someone who talks smack about Catholics like that...but if you're enjoying the Bible class it's all good :-)

Catholics do believe that the Church is the authority God put on the Earth to interpret the Bible (cuz look what happens when people try to do it on their own, you end up with alllll kinds of crazy stuff!) But that doesn't mean we don't read the Bible or are told not to read it. I remember being told "Catholics don't take their Bibles to mass because they don't read them." Well guess what? They don't take their Bibles to mass because the missallette in every pew already has the scripture that is going to be read in it, lol!! I was shocked to go to mass and see an old testament reading, a psalm, a new testament reading, and a reading from the gospel all read, that all tie into each other somehow, because I had always been told "Catholics don't read the Bible." Puh-leeze, the Catholic Church put the Bible together, of course we read the Bible. ;-)

No kidlets yet :-P I'll email you about that...

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Not to mention, historically it may have been a protective thing to have folks avoid reading the Bible - if you've seen any older printings, you'll see that some included their own interpretive footnotes and such right in there with it. It would be hard to ensure that the congregation were reading copies that were accurate translations to begin with, and then ones that didn't include their own interpretation. I can definitely understand that there may have been a historical period where it would have been a toss-up as to whether or not the members would have been reading worthwhile copies. It can be hard to unteach false doctrine based on passages that may seem to support more than one interpretation.

It's hard to remember that in our current times of being able to go to any bookstore and pick up a reasonably good translation.

Plus, let's face it - the reason so many non-Catholics seem to think that Catholicism doesn't encourage reading/studing the Bible is because Mass is not a Bible study (whereas, for most of us non-Catholics, that's in essense what our services are -- a Bible study on a particular topic or passage). Mass is focused on worship.

Stephanie said...

Yeppers!