Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Church As Hobby

Part of my personality likes formality, rules, ritual, order, ceremony, rites, pagentry. I really don't know why; perhaps the draw is that these are my guideposts leading to God. Having never assisted at a Tridentine Latin Mass in my life, I think I would be attracted to the pomp and circumstance. But, I also don't like show for the sake of show. Make it meaningful, make it reverent, make it appropriate.

So, in the great liturgical debates about what is appropriate within the Mass, what should our attitude be? Anthony Esolen provides a frame of reference:

Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, reminds us always that the Church is something we receive as a gift. It is not a human work but God's work, and only insofar as we unite ourselves to it can it be said, through God's grace, to be our work, too. Only then can we claim that our work in the Church does indeed have merit, not because it is ours, but because it is the work of Christ alive within us (Gal 2:20). Even the work of worship we must see as a gift of God's grace, lest any man should boast; and if any should be inclined to boast, says Paul, "Let him boast in the Lord" (1 Cor 1:31)....

So when our good Pope Benedict sets his sights on the liturgy, on making sure that Mass is reverent and its celebrators obedient, regardless of the cries of hobbyist or lobbyist, my heart will be with that sinner who wanders into church one day. I don't know what his name is--Adam, I suspect it is, like mine. The man may be sin-laden, desperate, crying out for something not of man's invention, real healing for his all-too-painful evil, not a shrug and a pat on the back. He seeks a Savior, not a hobby-partner; for his hobbies are all smothered with the stale old smell of his own will. He longs to lay that will at the feet of One worthy to obey--and who sets man free by obedience. Instead he finds silliness, narcissism, self-indulgence: a hobby all over again, and no interesting one at that. His head clears; no Savior there. He leaves. The hobbyists will not miss him.

Benedict will. (Source.)

The entire article speak well of what happens when "dabbling in a hobby" is not done for the right reason.

(Fedora Doff to MJA of Southern Appeal.)

(UPDATE: Additional paragraph added 10/19/05.)

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