Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, would be your run-of-the-mill gray-haired, 60-something, Call to Action, We Are Church, militant feminist "religious" whose efforts to destroy the Church from within have run their course. Scratch that -- Chittister is 71 years old.
And like those who have made the attempt before her, Sister Joan has failed. All there is left to do now is stand by and witness the wailing and writhing of her activism death throws. For death, while imminent and weighing upon us all, is all the more so upon failed activist septuagenarians.
Her July 10 article in the leftist National Catholic Reporter provides for a good case in point. Here she bemoans the July 7, 2007 Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI granting wider access to the Traditional Latin Mass.
But why the concerns? If some people prefer a Latin mass to an English mass, why not have it?
The answer depends on what you think the Mass has to do with articulating the essence of the Christian faith.
These lines could have been penned by the Holy Father himself. Not so the following:
The Latin Mass, for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people, in a foreign language -- much of it said silently or at best whispered -- makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it.
"Foreign language" has the desired negative connotation. Latin is the sacred language of the Church; not the "foreign" language of the Church. (I wonder if Sister Joan would employ such terminology in a debate about the use of Español in America?)
Chittister's misrepresentation of Latin I can stomach. Her misrepresentation of those attending a Traditional Latin Mass, I can not. (This is not a self-defense argument; I have attended a grand total of two Latin Masses in my lifetime.)
It is true that participation at the Novus Ordo Mass appears different from the TLM. But the misjudgment based on appearance, while entirely understandable for non-Catholics or even lax-Catholics to make, is a gross error and in all likelihood a purposeful act of deception for someone as versed in Catholicism as Chittister.
In the Traditional Rite, most everything is indeed done by the priest. But we do not measure participation in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass by how much we, the laity, are doing...or swaying...or pounding on drums.
Full and active participation can be had by simply uniting our own hearts to that of Christ on the Cross; Christ whose death on Calvary Hill is made present for us at every Mass -- Old Rite, or New.
Back to Sister Joan:
The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process, the special human being, the one for whom God is a kind of private preserve.
The symbology of a lone celebrant, removed from and independent of the congregation, is clear: ordinary people have no access to God. They are entirely dependent on a special caste of males to contact God for them. They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof."
That's exactly right.
The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process (as opposed to the congregation) because the priest is acting in persona-Christi. He acts in the person of Christ. We see with our eyes a man, 5'10", dark hair, no beard, mounting the steps of the altar. We should see with our eyes of faith Jesus Christ, mounting the hill of Calvary. And seeing Christ with our eyes of faith is made much easier when the celebrant is not "on stage," facing us as an actor who entertains; but at the altar, as a priest offering sacrifice on our behalf.
The symbology of a lone celebrant -- who is both Priest and Victim -- is precisely the way God has ordained it: unus enim Deus unus et mediator Dei et hominum homo Christus Iesus. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim 2:5
Until Christ, the ordinary man had remote, distant access to God. Heaven itself was shut to all of mankind, ordinary and extraordinary alike.
With Christ, ordinary men have regained intimate union with Our Lord; in some ways, beyond that which even Adam and Eve had before The Fall. But the union comes to us through the Sacraments, and therefore through those ordained members of Christ's priesthood.
Oh, and we will always remain unworthy to receive the King of Kings. For we are sinful creatures. And he -- he is God.
H/T: Lord That I May See