Living in our world, we breathe the toxic air that surrounds us. Even within the most sacred precincts of the Church, we witness a loss of the sense of the sacred. With the enthusiasm that followed the Second Vatican Council, there was a well-intentioned effort to make the liturgy modern. It became commonplace to say that the liturgy had to be relevant to the worshipper. Old songs were jettisoned. The guitar replaced the organ. Some priests even began to walk down the road of liturgical innovation, only to discover it was a dead end. And all the while, the awareness of entering into something sacred that has been given to us from above and draws us out of ourselves and into the mystery of God was gone.
Teaching about the Mass began to emphasize the community. The Mass was seen as a community meal. It was something everyone did together. Lost was the notion of sacrifice. Lost the awesome mystery of the Eucharist as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The priest was no longer seen as specially consecrated. He was no different than the laity. With all of this, a profound loss of the sacred.
Not one factor can account for the decline in Mass attendance, Church marriages, baptisms and funerals in the last years. But most certainly, the loss of the sense of the sacred has had a major impact.
Walk into any church today before Mass and you will notice that the silence that should embrace those who stand in God’s House is gone. Even the Church is no longer a sacred place. Gathering for Mass sometimes becomes as noisy as gathering for any other social event. We may not have the ability to do much about the loss of the sacredness of life in the songs, videos and movies of our day. But, most assuredly, we can do much about helping one another recover the sacredness of God’s Presence in His Church.
On the first day of this millennium, the Prince of Wales struck a strong note of optimism for the recovery of the sacred. Paraphrasing Dante, he remarked: "The strongest desire of everything, and the one first implanted by nature, is to return to its source. And since God is the source of our souls and has made it alike unto Himself, therefore this soul desires above all things to return to Him." There is one place where we can begin to rediscover the sacred.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The illustrious Fr. Z points out this wonderful article (apparently the first of a series) by the Bishop of Paterson, NJ on the topic of the loss of the sacred. Below are some excerpts with some underlining and such by yours truly. If you want the full effect, however, read the whole thing.