Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oscar Wilde and The Power of Orthodox Liturgy

This is reposted with permission from my fellow neophyte and good friend NotMyOpinion:

A Catholic friend of mine and I were discussing Oscar Wilde, an Irish playwright from the 19th century. He was born into a Protestant family and later became a Freemason. He lived quite a vicious life. However, throughout his life he was constantly called to the Catholic Church, thought it wasn't until his final moments that he finally sincerely came home.

What I really found interesting in this biographical summary, is how many other vicious writers and contemporaries of Oscar Wilde ended up becoming Catholic before their deaths. Despite their attraction to the deepest sins (homosexuality, drug abuse, public obscenities, etc.), they were always drawn to the Mystery of the Mass and the aestheticism of the Church. I couldn't help but imagine the Liturgies by which they were so charmed. Today, our Liturgies have become so watered down, our parishes stripped of Holy statues and icons, our priests have taken the roles of entertainers rather than solemn witnesses of the Word, that there is hardly anything Mystical about it. There is nothing immediately transcendent in most American Masses today. Only when we strain our minds to imagine the transcendence is this possible, and that is as Catholics in a sincere search for Christ. I have to imagine icons on the bare walls of the Church. I have to imagine the heavens opening above and the choirs of angels singing the "Gloria". I have to imagine being present through time and space at the sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross. I am ashamed to admit it, but on most days I find it hard to truly concentrate properly at Mass. Sometimes I am guilty of losing that sense of the spiritual because of the lax nature of the Mass and because I am distracted by little things such as people waving to each other during the Liturgy, people around me breaking my concentration by interrupting the Mass to tell me that my son is cute, smiling and greeting each other in the line to receive Christ (I am guilty of this but it is only because I don't want to be rude to the people greeting me), the "kiss of peace" that has turned into a superficial community hug and hand shake session that has changed from the original sober and sincere look and offer of the "peace of the Lord" that once existed, the holding of hands during the Our Father that interrupts personal thought of the prayer to God the Father and introduces a superficial sense of communal prayer, the distraction of the Oran's posture of those who have been seduced by a charismatic movement that cries "Here I am, Lord, your sanctified servant, ready to be accepted into Your Kingdom" in the most ineffectual and pretentious way completely void of the humility and sense of unworthiness that was once observed at the solemn Mass (the sense that we aren't saved yet, as we have yet to bear our cross to the end and are in desperate need of His divine help, which is why we are there in the first place; not to declare our own personal victory over our sinfulness), and many more things that show the lack of reverence and mystery of Christ's perfect sacrifice for the Father. Many of these things are done in active opposition and disobedience to the requests of the local Ordinary and the Successor of St. Peter.

Imagine what the Mass used to be like. A Mass that could draw active homosexuals and the most vicious anti-Catholics to become receivers of the healing power provided only by Christ Himself. The Mystery that drew them in, captured their minds, and never set them free until they left their former worldly gods behind them to follow the One True God with sincerely. The Mystery that ultimately led them to conversion.

Obviously, things have changed. There are homosexuals in the Church now who see no need to change their lifestyle. There is no mystery to the Mass anymore because our Liturgy has been watered down in most parts of the country to a Protestant "feel good" community gathering. The need to convert is no longer apparent. They obviously don't see what Oscar Wilde and his contemporaries saw. I think that reading about Oscar Wilde's conversion and his spiritual struggle, and that of his counterparts, shows just how much things have changed. A century ago, outspoken sinners steeped in sin, vice, anti-Catholicism, and misery, fell prey to the Mystery of the Mass and the search for the keys that would unfasten the chains of sin that restrained them from the happiness they sought. Now, outspoken sinners of the same type find no mystery in the Mass. The mystery escapes them so much that they feel they can change it to fit their lifestyles. You see, if we want to evangelize the sinful world full of homosexuality, drug use, secularism, and other forms of human degeneration, we must return to orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is what attracted these poor souls to true repentance, not acceptance, a coaxing pat on the back, and special ministry groups designed for their counseling. It was the Holy Spirit that emanated from the orthodox Liturgies that wiggled into the creases of their brains and could not be purged by their sinful lifestyles, not the multiple gay and lesbian lay ministries available today. There were homosexuals a century ago that weren't counseled back into the Church, they were led their by the Holy Spirit and orthodoxy. Let's put the Holy Spirit back to work in the Church and get rid of all of this liberal garbage that has turned the Mass into a weekly community gathering rather than the Mystery of Christ's sacrifice "for many".


TheGodFearinFiddler said...

"A century ago, outspoken sinners steeped in sin, vice, anti-Catholicism, and misery, fell prey to the Mystery of the Mass"

Yea and these days the mystery of the mass has fallen prey to outspoken sinners.

NotMyOpinion30 said...
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