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Friday, July 06, 2007

To be a Worker like Day, tradition is the only way

This blog fills a small niche in that not only am I writing about the Catholic Worker Movement, it's issues and it's founder Dorothy Day, I am also of the "traditional" persuasion. Usually, the the two are viewed as mutually exclusive. I hate that I have to identify myself as 'trad' or even 'practicing' because to me, it should be enough to say Catholic. Would it be too much to have universal beliefs held by all? But, alas, current divisions in the Church require me to identify my allegiances, confusing as they might be to some. Thankfully, I'm not alone with my split personality. Perhaps the best mix of 'trad' and rad is found in Day herself. Her love for the poor was driven by her love of Jesus, and His Church on Earth. Her daily routine included helping the poor, yet she made time to read the bible, attend Mass, attend retreats, study the saints and meditate over her missal. Can you still find her faith today amongst most Catholic Workers? Can you still find such faith amongst most Catholics? Where has all the love, devotion and reverence gone? Why do so many from the inside try to change the Church and the message Jesus sent rather than obediently serve Him? The key to the renewal is the Mass. The Mass that nurtured Day was the Tridentine Latin Mass. She wasn't holding hands, clapping, singing pop tunes and chatting it up with the Jones before and after Mass while our Lord sat ignored in a tabernacle off to the side in some dim chapel. The Mass is the summit of our faith. When we treat It like a social gathering and consider our Lord to be some hippie who loves everyone no matter what, we make a mockery of almost two thousand years of tradition. And for what? Why bother? What's the point? With the misinterpretations and abuses that came out of the Second Vatican Council we've distorted everything that nurtured people like Day and centuries of saints before her. When you put God in His proper place, as in the Tridentine Mass, your life finds immediate direction. The Mass represents the ultimate sacrifice, and your life should be a sacrifice. The Novus Ordo has become about accommodating and giving everyone what they want to hear. The fruits of such an approach are apparent. If Tridentine was good enough for Day, it's good enough for me. The Next Worker welcomes Summorom Pontificum and hopes the feeling is universal.

"This is probably my last chance, this issue of the Catholic Worker for me personally to write about some things that are in my heart about the Mass, for instance, that holy sacrifice, which is the heart of our life, bringing us into the closest of all contacts with our Lord Jesus Christ, enabling us literally to "put on Christ," as St. Paul said, and to begin to say with him, "Now, not I live, but Jesus Christ in me." With a strong consciousness of this, we remember too those lines, "without Me, ye can do nothing," and "with Me you can do all things."

The New Man

We know through long experience how hard it is to think in these terms, and only through constant exercise in the works of love and peace, can we grow in faith, hope and charity. Only by nourishing ourselves as we have been bidden to do by Christ, by eating His body and drinking His blood, can we become Christ and put on the new man.

These are great mysteries. Most of the time we do not comprehend at all. Sometimes the Holy Spirit blows upon us and chases some of the fog away and we see a bit more clearly. But most of the time we see through a glass darkly. Our need to worship, to praise, to give thanksgiving, makes us return to the Mass daily, as the only fitting worship which we can offer to God. Having received our God in the consecrated bread and wine, which still to sense is bread and wine, it is now not we ourselves who do these things except by virtue of the fact that we will to do them, and put ourselves in the position to do them by coming to the Holy Sacrifice, receiving communion, and then with Christ in our hearts and literally within us in the bread we have received, giving this praise, honor and glory and thanksgiving.

How inadequate words are to say these things, to write them. [snip]
But the Mass begins our day, it is our food and drink, our delight, our refreshment, our courage, our light. [snip]

With this recognition of the importance of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, still with us in the bread and wine of the altar, how can any priest tear through the mass as though it were a repetitious duty? This is the impression they give people when they do this, like the children at Fatima who used to say only Hail Mary, or Our Father, and think they had said their prayers, and perhaps they had if they realized the holiness of these words. The priest often says the first words and slides through the rest in meaningless mutter. And some of the best priests I have met do this, abusing the prayers of the Mass in this way.

I am begging them not to. I am begging them to speak as though the words were holy and inspired and with power in themselves to produce in us the understanding--the participation that should change our lives."

"The Council And The Mass"
By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, September 1962, 2


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

Well said. Your words echo my thoughts (that should make you nervous!). A rightly ordered Mass, with all action moving from God's people up to God, is the only way to prepare us for the work at hand.

I found your blog through a search for Day's words on the importance of ritual from The Long Loneliness, which you posted last December. I'm just discovering Day's work and life, and I will have to keep checking in on what you have to say about trying to live like a Catholic.