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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Protestant Cartoons on Catholic Websites

This cartoon has been making the rounds - it is especially popular among Catholics who pretend to be traditionalists:

Now, let's make this perfectly clear, so no one can mistake it.

Both are perfectly and superbly accurate. In the top version, the priest acts as High Priest, leading the people to God. In the bottom version, the priest acts as Christ Physician, representing the Crucified Christ to the people.

Asking "Which Makes Sense?" sets one against the other. Liturgy cannot be set against liturgy, Magisterium cannot be set against Magisterium. If you think you have read an encyclical that contradicts Scripture, you are wrong. If you think the Universal Catechism contradicts a papal bull, you are wrong. Both must be interpreted so that there is no contradiction. Liturgy cannot be set against liturgy, Magisterium cannot be set against Magisterium.

Catholic Faith is "both-and" it is most assuredly not "either-or". Forcing someone to choose between two choices when both are perfectly legitimate Catholic choices, forcing that choice is the work of a Protestant, not a Catholic.

You cannot say "Which Makes Sense?    2+3=5 or 5=3+2  ?"
Both are correct. Some may prefer their answer to the left, others to the right, but both are fine.

You cannot ask "Which Makes Sense? Franciscan spirituality or Jesuit spirituality?" The question is stupid. Both are correct. They are different. They are BOTH correct. It isn't "either-or".

Promoting this cartoon is promoting Protestant theology.
The great irony?
It is the "traditional" Catholics who are acting the Protestants. 
Pope Francis has them pegged.


Andrew said...

Greetings Steve, So was Cardinal Ratzinger acting like a Protestant when he asked the same question as the cartoon in Spirit of the Liturty? What's lacking in the cartoon is clear idea of which part of the liturgy they are talking about. The appropriate direction to face for the consecration may very well be different from the one to take when proclaiming the Gospel. But to ask those questions and make an argument for the answers that make the best sense is not being protestant. Pax Christi.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Yes, insofar as Ratzinger asked the question to create an exclusionary "or", he was acting like a Protestant to pose the question.

Remember "or" is an equivocal word.
In logic, it can mean one of two things:
A) at least one of the following propositions is true, although both of them may be true
B) exactly one of the following is true, and the other is then necessarily false. (the XOR sense)

Mode "A" assumes the possibility of "both and" - it is possible to use it in a Catholic sense.

Mode "B" denies the possibility of "both and" - it is not possible to use it in a Catholic sense.

So, saying "Which makes more sense: A or B?", if posed as a XOR statement, is not Catholic. If Ratzinger used it in that way, he was being Protestant.

S said...

Did St. John, The Blessed Mother and Holy women face the cross at Galgotha or did they put their back to it?

Also could you please direct the reader where they can find in Tradition, Doctrine or the written majesterium where the Priest facing the 'audience' is found?

Jordanes551 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jordanes551 said...

Protestantism's distinctives setting them apart from orthodox Christianity are the heresies of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. Though a Protestant religious mindset shows a tendency to posit false dichotomies or to propose false choices, that is not a distinctively Protestant tendency. It's quite silly to say that promoting that cartoon is promoting Protestant theology -- unless, that is, one of the theological distinctives of Protestantism is an insistence that ad orientem liturgy is preferable to versus populum liturgy. . . . Hmm, well, actually it turns out that Protestant liturgy and worship is almost always versus populum. This raises the question of whether promoting versus populum liturgy is promoting Protestant theology . . . .

Now, in "The Spirit of the Liturgy," chapter 3, "The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer," then-Cardinal Ratzinger did not ask, "Which makes sense?" (Even if he had, he certainly would not have been acting like a Protestant -- rather, he would have been acting like an orthodox Catholic theologian who loves the liturgy.) Rather, he explored the ancient liturgical custom of ad orientem worship and the now prevalent custom of versus populum worship (which is also ancient, even though it was always a minority custom and, contrary to liturgical antiquarians, cannot be traced back to the apostles). He showed the meaning and significance of each. He indicated the advantages of ad orientem worship and pointed out some ways that versus populum worship leads to problems. But he did not call for a wholesale return to the ancient tradition, which is still maintained in the East and even among certain strains of Lutheranism and Anglicanism. Rather, he proposed placing a crucifix on the altar, with the corpus facing the priest, to help the priest "turn to the Lord" and offer the Sacrifice to God, to help remind him that most of the words that he must speak in the liturgy are in fact directed to God. (This has become known as the Benedictine altar arrangement, because it is his practice to place the altar so in Mass, and as pope it was seen that he did so -- which is why many priests and bishops do it now.) What is important isn't the direction the priest is facing per se, but that he and the assisting congregation recall at all times that the liturgy isn't essentially or chiefly something we do for God, even less for ourselves, but something God does for us.

Inca said...

S, I have no idea which way Mary and John faced at Golgotha. I wasn't there. I imitate the attitude of St. John of the Cross and tend to ignore apparitions. Thus, I have little confidence that anyone knows precisely what they did or did not do.

As for Tradition and Magisterium, the Magisterium, as Jordanes points out, Benedict's book lists the orientation currently in use in the NO Mass as part of the Magisterium and the Tradition of the Church. If you disagree, I suggest you take it up with him.

Andrew said...

As Steve states in his original post, some people prefer ad orientem, others prefer versus populum. Many others have never really considered the matter, because they don't know there's any other way then what they have always seen done. But if you are going to have a preference, surely you have a preference for a reason. A reason cannot be arrived at without asking the question "which makes sense?" The alternative is making arbitrary decisions, where the priests flips a coin before each Mass to figure out which way he'll face that time.

The cartoon, didn't "force" anyone to adobt any position or to modify their behavior. It simply asked a question, and it's a very valid one.

Pax Christi

Inca said...

Jordanes, I think S answers your question about the Protestant theology embodied in the cartoon.

The people who post this cartoon and treat it seriously simply assume, as S does, that the Popes don't know their business. They ask "where is that in Tradition and Magisterium?" with the same hostile attitude that a Protestant asks about the location of doctrine in Scripture.

If we put up a cartoon that asked a similar question about Franciscan vs. Jesuit or Dominican spirituality - "Which makes more sense"? - would that be a valid question for a Catholic to ask?

The answer is simple: no, it wouldn't. You may prefer one spirituality to the other, but you can't ask "which makes more sense?"

The very essence of the question implies a XOR, it implies that one is "better" than the other.

Insofar as that "better" can be answered in today's modern world, the Popes have already told us which is better - the Ordinary Form. If they didn't think that, they wouldn't celebrate it to the exclusion of the EF.

So, implying that the EF is "better" is implying that every one of the Popes since Vatican II is wrong, it implies that I know better than the Popes what the best thing for the Universal Church is. That doesn't sound like humility to me.

S said...

I love you. Why are you mad?
Benedict coined the phrase "the extraordinary form". I feel very confident that the Popes know their business, indeed probably 240 of them offered the Holy Sacrifice facing the alter.

I can ask what makes more sense anytime I want.

I prefer a quiet Mass in the language historically used to one on the beach with the bikini clad. Are you cool with that or did I offend you?

Patrick Button said...

Different types of liturgy and spirituality may be valid, but that does not mean that they are all equal. I don't think that the artist is really trying to say that ad populum is some sort of pagan worship of the congregation, he is just using hyperbole to argue for the superiority of ad orientum.

Andrew said...


I think you are making a couple of common mistakes.

1) You are seeing Ad Orientem as an EO thing and Versus Populum as an OF thing. While this may very well be true in our day to day experience it is not true in principle. The OF is written with default orientation of the priest being Ad Orientem.

2) It seems that you have an exaggerated view of what papal infalliblity entails. Why is it so unthinkable that the last few popes may have tolerated or even promoted some less than stellar ideas? As long as they're not formally teaching error in matters of faith and morals, there's no problem with infalliblity. If things like saying Mass versus populum, female servers, or communion in the hand are all necessary parts of the faith, then there were LOTS of popes who are "wrong" by your standards throughout Church history. Why apply different standards to popes based on whether they ruled in the 800s or the 1980s?

3) Of course someone can look at the Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans and ask "Which makes sense?" How else would someone ever decide which one to seek admission to? As I stated earlier, the alternative to making rational decisions, based on how much sense different options make, is making arbitrary irrational decisions. That every person may not reach the same conclusion is not a good reason to ban asking a question.

4)Implied in your and Steve's comments is the idea that if two alternatives are good, they are both EQUALLY good. That is false. There is such a thing as a hierachy of goods. For example, marriage and religious life are both good. Religious life is better.

Pax Christi

Aquinas Dad said...

I am afraid that I do not understand how a discussion of the potential impact of liturgical changes is to 'promote Protestant theology'. Changes in rubrics and the liturgy are not either uncommon or irreversible; they change over time and very often the changes do, yes, involve questions of 'which of these make the most sense for the participants?' be they the celebrants or the participants.
Yes, the Church currently has ad populorum within (many of the) rubrics. To say that a discussion of it is inherently heretical or improper is to beg the question; if questions about changes in the rubrics are inherently 'bad' why was ad orientem ever changed?.
Indeed, Mr. Kellmeyer, if such questions are ''promoting Protestant theology' how did the change in orientation ever occur? Or do you contend that the change was the result of 'promoting Protestant theology'?
Further, I would argue that Mr. Kellmeyer is actually missing the real question - the question is not 'which makes sense (within the confines of liturgical and historical theology)?' the question is 'which makes sense (to the lay participants in such a way that their attentions are properly directed to the divine)?'. After all, the theological discussions that lead to the increase in use of the vernacular were predicated on the hope that more use of the vernacular would lead to an improvement in the focus of the participants in the divine.
[wait - was *that* set of questions 'promoting Protestant theology'?]

Aquinas Dad said...

that should have been "...celebrants or the laity"

David Werling said...

"In the bottom version, the priest acts as Christ Physician, representing the Crucified Christ to the people."

And your sources are?

Uwe Michael Lang actually came to a startlingly different conclusion, and his sources were exhaustive.

And, no I don't like the cartoon. It amounts to a stupid neo-conservative, Vatican II Catholic, argument that is unnecessary at best, since the organic development of the liturgy over the centuries is the ONLY argument required.

God bless!

Jordanes551 said...

"Jordanes, I think S answers your question about the Protestant theology embodied in the cartoon."

No, he doesn't. The comments of S do not exhibit any Protestant theology, no more than the cartoon does. Protestants do not seek to base their beliefs and praxis on Catholic Tradition and the formal teaching documents and liturgical law of the Catholic Church.

It takes a LOT more than questioning the fittingness or prudence of a changeable liturgical custom to make someone a purveyor of Protestant theology.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"Protestants do not seek to base their beliefs and praxis on Catholic Tradition"

That turns out not to be the case.

Protestants often DO base their beliefs on Catholic tradition and praxis. Witness the "7 sacraments" that Anglicans think they have.

Or that Pentcostals are beginning to endorse.

And, of course, we also have the example of the essentially schismatic Lefebvre and the bishops he consecrated. Although the four are no longer in schism, they certainly DID base their schism on "...Catholic Tradition and the formal teaching documents and liturgical law of the Catholic Church."

In fact, most heretics and schismatics have done this. Your assertion has no particular basis in fact.

Jordanes551 said...

Um, no. As I said, Protestants do not seek to base their beliefs and praxis on Catholic Tradition and the formal teaching documents and liturgical law of the Catholic Church. They do not consult those sources as authorities for their religion. Thus, Anglicans claim seven valid sacraments not because they think Roman Catholic teaching is true, but because they think *their teachings about the sacraments* are true. Protestants may either consciously or unconsciously agree with certain parts of Catholic Tradition and certain teachings expressed in magisterial texts of the Church, but they never seek to base their beliefs and praxis on Catholic Tradition and the formal teaching documents and liturgical law of the Catholic Church. If they did that, they'd be Catholic, not Protestant.

As for the example of Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops, they were not and are not "Protestants," so their case is not relevant. One may level charges of schism or even heresy against them, but even if they are schismatic and/or heretics, their heresy is not the Protestant heresy, which primarily involves Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. Far from being animated by a desire to conform themselves to Tradition and Magisterium, Protestants reject Catholic Tradition and abhor the formal teaching and juridical documents of the Church, and their founders even burned them.

That Protestants exhibit many of the same traits or habits as other heretics and schismatics is not sufficient to establish your proposition that positing a false dichotomy, or have a tendency to do so, amounts to promoting Protestant theology. There's a lot more to Protestant theology than "either/or."

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Jordanes, the people asking "Which makes sense?" are implying that the Church is doing something that is non-sense.

And it isn't just that She's doing something prudentially wrong, but something liturgically non-sensical. The very question puts into question the highest and most central work of the Church.

That is a Protestant meme, a Protestant worldview.

You can try to dance around the issue by emphasizing side-points, but you can't escape the central problem - the question is not a Catholic question. You can't look at liturgy that has been used constantly for a half-century, promoted by multiple Popes and declared to be the Ordinary Form of worship and declare that it lacks sense without promoting an essentially Protestant worldview.