“The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated… Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate.” (Pope Benedict XVI, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 64)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Go Fish

The "Spirit of Vatican II" (or SVII for short[see update below]) takes a blow in the diocese of Steubenville. The American Papist has details:

Okay, technically, Catholics in the US are only allowed to dispense from the year-round Friday abstinence from meat if they substitute a comparable penance for it ... but in practice, the vast majority of Catholics have forgotten to even do this. Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, however, has dispensed with the substituting ... and has instead brought back the simple Friday abstinence from meat in his diocese. I especially respect that he ties this sacrificial abstinence to witnessing for the unborn and providing them with concrete assistance:

"I am inviting the Catholic people of the Diocese of Steubenville to resume the practice of abstaining from meat on all Fridays throughout the year, but with a twist. I am asking that this be not only a penitential practice but also an experience of prayer and service. This can happen by connecting abstinence with our witness to the sacredness of human life. (In another section he says: Abstinence can also be service if we eat simple meatless food and donate the financial savings to the poor or to pro-life efforts.)"

I've heard detractors of Friday abstinence say that it's not that much of a sacrifice. In fact, this is true. But neither is saying three Hail Mary's after confession. It doesn't have to inflict pain in order to be a sacrifice. Man cannot make a sacrifice of his own worthy of our Creator. God takes small sacrifices, like plain bread and wine, and gives us Himself in return. What's good about Friday abstinence is it reminds us that we're Catholic. It's a devotion that causes one to make different choices, to plan in advance, and to have to mortify one's appetite from time to time. One does not disrupted something as routine as eating without recalling why, and it becomes an offering, small as it may be. Additionally, it reminds others that we're Catholic. Just today, I had a person at work count me out of pizza for tomorrow for this reason. He informed me that Lent was over despite being certain that I already knew that.

I know the dispensing of Friday abstinence had little to do with Vatican II, at least officially. But this is clearly one of the fruits of that SVII. Most of those fruits seem to be directed toward the shedding of our Catholic identity, be it liturgy, music, prayer, devotions, vocations, theology, or attitude. And like all the other dominoes that fell, it leaves those of us who grew up in the post-conciliar years scratching our heads. After all, they didn’t really dispense with Friday abstinence. They allowed it's dispensing only in the case of a willful substitution of penance. But no one knows that! Well, some people know that, but if you will allow me to generalize, this amendment to Friday abstinence was universally misunderstood. I guess my annoyance at liturgical abuses is misplaced when we can’t even get a simple precept of the Church correct. How could the shepherds of the Church allow this ignorance among the faithful?

Well, maybe they had other fish to fry.

Good for the Diocese of Steubenville! I pray that the faithful get behind this. If they do, other episcopates may follow Bishop Conlon's lead.

UPDATE - For clarification purposes, I'm not an advocate for ignoring Vatican II.  Quite the opposite.  So I am clear - Vatican II was guided by the Holy Spirit.  The term "Spirit of Vatican II" is what is coined by liberals to do and to advocate anything they want.  It is a spirit of infidelity, and has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. 

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