For example, after he finally declared it safe for the congregation to remove their masks about a year ago, he stated that he would only distribute the Eucharist on the tongue. The announcement caused considerable consternation and confusion among my fellow churchgoers, most of whom had more or less gotten used to the priest treating them like permanent, irredeemable bio-hazards.
A few months after that, my priest proclaimed that he expected all able-bodied parishioners to kneel before receiving the Eucharist on the tongue. During the mass, he ceremoniously instructed my son and the other altar boys to haul out an old prie-dieu and place it at the foot of the dais before the altar. The parishioners did as they were instructed.
The reversion to more traditional forms during Mass is my priest’s response to the liberal bishops and cardinals in Germany calling for a change in Catholic teaching on homosexuality and women priests. I know this because he informed us of it himself. As far as he is concerned, the Church is on the cusp of yet another schism, and it was his sworn intention to ensure that my little village congregation remains on the right side of Church history.
Though I respect my priest for his stance against the QWERTY agenda, I would respect him much more if he had shown a similar level of doggedness during the birdemic. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Litmus Tests, when you fail one, you pretty much fail them all. And my priest failed the birdemic Litmus Test miserably.
Failed and passed litmus tests aside, my priest’s reaction and subsequent actions against the ominous liberalizing threat seeping in from the West made something eminently clear to me. The more traditional elements within the Church have not sufficiently acknowledged the reality of the evolution of consciousness. Consequently, the only response they can offer against the mature vices, evil, and sins of modern consciousness is to fortress themselves in the past and tradition.
The impetus to barricade behind tradition arises from the belief that past Church teachings form an eternal criterion of truth from which it is impossible to stray without consigning the world and everyone in it to damnation.
Attached is the conviction that the Church, the world, and men are finished. Spiritual authority is external to the person; authority must be recreated to sustain that eternal criterion of truth ensconced in 2000 years of history.
How far will my village priest go to stem the prevailing evil trends? How far back will he reach into those 2000 years? How many rituals will he reintroduce to ensure we all remain on the right side of Church history? Time will tell; unless, of course, another birdemic hits the world. Then I suspect he might close the church doors again in an effort to keep everyone safe.
The tradition my priest is trying to defend is fixed, static, and external. I wonder how things might be different if he viewed tradition as eternal creativity.
What if he understood God as continuously creating and expecting eternal newness?
What if he embraced the notion that Christians must play a role in this eternal newness by answering God’s call to conquer the giveness of the world and enrich divine life through co-creation?
Well, things would probably be quite different indeed.