Liturgy for the American Church Making Worship the Hostage of Ideology

Liturgy for the American Church
Making Worship the Hostage of Ideology

Frank Morriss

The purest worship is adoration of God as He has revealed Himself to us and as our highest abilities respond to that revelation. Prayers of petition, recognizing God’s providence, are also legitimate worship, speaking our utter dependence upon our heavenly Father and our recognition of Him as the only good and only source of goodness.

However, submission or the attempt to submit worship to our own purposes, to make it as it were an instrument or weapon in support of our subjective concerns and desires, amounts to religious perversion, a kind of blasphemy and sacrilege. It is also pretense at worship rather than true worship, and is thereby sham and fraud in the name of worship.

Christ dealt with such attitudes in the harshest terms. Certain of the Pharisees and priests had arrogated prayer and piety to themselves in service of their righteousness and position. They had enlarged their phylacteries and the tassels (representing the laws) of their tallithim (prayer shawls). They prayed ostentatiously to reinforce their high positions or reputation for religious roles, rather than singleheartedly in worship of the only High One, Yahweh. Even worse, they held inferior and degrading the simple prayers of repentance beseeching God’s mercy of those like the publican spoken of by Christ.

A similar vandalism to worship was done when early Protestants submitted the Mass to their heretical theological views and their subjective epistemology. Thus the pure and acceptable Sacrifice of the Mass became adulterated with the concepts of faith alone. Scripture only and individual inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Priest was replaced by teacher, consecrating power by personal faith, chant by emotive melody and subjective lyric, Eucharist by bread and wine, Divinity by symbolic food, Hierarchy by congregation. In the end there was nothing but a “service,” of word and music and a memorial Communion meal.

Nowhere was that more apparent than in England, where crypto-Protestants did away with Latin as a first step in a manipulation directed at removing the essence of the Mass from the lips and minds of worshippers:

In England, so late as the first Prayer-book of Edward VI, it (the word Mass) remained one of the official designations of the Eucharist, which is there described as ‘The Supper of the Lorde and holy Communion, commonly called the Masse.’ This, however, like the service itself, represented a compromise which the more extreme reformers would not tolerate, and in the second prayer-book, together with such language in the canon as might imply the doctrine of transubstantiation and of sacrifice, the word Mass disappears. That this abolition of the word Mass, as implying the offering of Christ’s Body and Blood by the priest for the living and the dead, was deliberate is clear from the language of those who were chiefly responsible for the change. Bishops Ridley and Latimer, the two most conspicuous champions of ‘the new religion,’ denounced the Mass with unmeasured violence…. This language is reflected in the 31st of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England: ‘Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in which it was commonly said that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain and guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits’.

Walter Alison Phillips, entry “Mass,” Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Refer also to that edition’s entry under “Prayer, Book of Common” for references to “King Edward’s” (actually Cranmer’s) prayer books. see note 1 below.

This and subsequent revisions of the liturgy of the supposed Catholic Church in England were the work principally of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, including the second prayer-book of the boy king Edward. In the revision of 1552 the historic words of consecration and Communion were removed, and this was substituted: “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving,” and “Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.”

Cranmer’s own personal rejection of the Real Presence through Transubstantiation had been injected into the liturgy of what had only short months before been the Mass. The liturgy thus became means of converting the English in their own language to a new religion, that one begun by Luther and the other continental reformers. The new liturgy became compulsory until the accession of the Catholic Mary Tudor, and was returned to in substance under her successor the Protestant Elizabeth. By parliamentary act the people attending and receiving Communion were told that by the attitude of kneeling inherited from Catholic times “it is not meant hereby that any adoration is done, or ought to be done, either unto the sacramental bread and wine there bodily received, or to any real and essential presence there being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood.” The excuse was that without these changes and new understandings the liturgy would not have scriptural warrant and would too closely resemble the now outlawed Catholic Mass.

This was a blatant use of liturgy to end the worship left to the Church by Christ and developed and determined by the Church with His authority. It was a capture of the liturgy by adherents of a new religion and architects of a new Church, the same Church that now pretends to ordain women as priests of the very liturgy used to establish itself as worthy and valid.

Thus, today one of those women “priests” of the American Episcopal Church, the Rev. Susan Harris, has good precedent for conceiving even Scripture itself as subject to ideological purpose: “… We can’t add to Scripture but we can manoeuvre it with women’s experience to include us.” 2 (emphasis added) Dr. William Oddie appreciates well the implications when he comments that such manoeuvring had its eye on the Scriptural uses in the liturgy for purposes of itfeology.3

Linguistic Engineering of Ideas

Perhaps Dr. Oddie had in mind something quoted by Michael Davies (Liturgical Revolution, Vol. II, p. 298):

… Since many centuries we know that the preference given by all heretics to Holy Scripture, over Church definitions, has no other reason than to facilitate making the word of God say all that they want it to say and manipulating it at will . . .4

Catholics, of course, should reject out-of-hand such sacrilegious manoeuvering of worship through capture of Scripture and liturgy. That unfortunately is not the case. Ideologues of egalitarianism and ecclesiastical Congregationalism, particularly in the cause of feminism, have already laid hands upon the Scripture itself, through revisions of the Lectionary for Mass, made up largely of material from both the Old and New Testament. Approval of a new “inclusive Lectionary” by U.S. bishops in fall of 1992 was called “linguistic engineering” by Bishop Francis George O.M.I. of Yakima, Wash. ‘ He compared this to unnatural genetic engineering as having morally dubious aspects.

The ideologues, in close affinity with the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (which has a monopoly of “translations” – more correctly revisions – of the Mass in English), see this engineering and manoeuvring as necessary for the Church to stop “sinning” with “exclusive language,” even though that be the language of Scripture:

… My impression is that Catholic congregations sin more boldly with exclusive language than do mainline Protestant ones. 6

Thomas H. Groome, who wrote the above in his Language for a ‘Catholic’ Church, is a theologian and religious educator at the Jesuits’ Boston College. He is the well-known Sadlier religious educator, an expert in language “whose animosity toward Catholic doctrine and stated views on ‘Shift in Understanding the Priesthood’ led to his own abandonment of the priesthood and engaging in constant propaganda for the ordination of women priestesses.” (James Likoudis, “… Observations on the Guidelines for Inclusive Language,” The Wanderer, Jan. 28, 1993). The very title of his book, using the article “a” rather than “the” and stressing the word “Catholic,” tells exactly what is planned. New language is to serve a different “Catholic” Church than the historic and traditional Church. Further, he misinterprets the word “Catholic” to mean demanding equal participation by everyone, rather than the dictionary meaning, “universal,” that is, world-wide. He is equally blunt in the book itself, saying the new language is to provide “an event of faith education.”

This dramatically (and ominously) confirms what Archbishop and Cardinal Roger Mahony told the liturgy planners for the U.S. Bishops:

. . .I get the impression that translators and staff have determined on their own initiative precisely what the Roman Catholic Church is to believe now, and they have rearranged the wording and the texts of the prayers to reflect ‘their’ own theology and ecclesiology.7

Cardinal Mahony’s comments will be treated later in this article. At this point, however, it can be said Groome justifies the Cardinal’s impression about certain liturgical meddlers. The liturgy is intended for the same purposes the apostate reformers of the 16th century intended it, to provide “faith education” in a different religion. It should be noted with great concern that Groome in his preface thanks “Peter C. Finn of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) for a number of very helpful conversations and suggestions.” It is reasonable to conclude that at least that member (Finn) of ICEL is an advocate of what Groome is trying to do to the liturgy – namely, take it hostage to a subjective ideology.

Groome also reveals just where the egalitarian or proletarian aspect of this “reform” originates. He cites (Paulo) “Freire” for the concept of a “generative” theme, in this case that of “inclusive language,” by which is intended that liturgy use language not indicative of gender, or at least not indicative of the male gender. Freire was the Chilean Marxist disciple of Gramsci who conceived the necessity of using “consciousness-raising” to suborn Western peoples (particularly Catholics) into accepting Marxism. (See Forum Quarterly, “An Unholy Alliance – Catholic Educators and Marxist Ideology.”)

Making Words Into Weapons

I have said Groome misinterprets the word (and mark) identifying the Church as Catholic. This is proved by his own words:

The issue of inclusive language goes to the very heart of our ‘catholicity’ and sacramentality as the Body of Christ. It tests our conversion to a community that welcomes all and includes everyone, and symbolizes as much in the very language we use of ourselves and of God in our prayer, worship and catechetics.8

Obviously that is Groome’s subjective understanding of the catholicity and sacramentality of the Church. It is wholly detached from the traditional understanding of the Mystical Body, particularly as explained by St. Paul, where we are all members, but with our differences, about which we are not jealous or contentious, but rather accepting and content.

Groome quotes James Joyce for this eccentric understanding of the term Catholic:

Perhaps James Joyce (in Finnegan ‘s Wake) captured best the meaning of this word as an adjective; he said ‘Catholic means here comes everybody’.9

Unfortunately, Joyce went from the Catholic Church to outside it, the exact opposite of St. Paul. In any case it is purely subjective to present the meaning of the adjective “Catholic” as describing a mob of proletarian and egalitarian qualities. Joyce was a leading “explorer of the subjective.” 10 Further, like many of these liturgy “reformers,” he was a brash and arrogant egotist. On First meeting the great poet William Butler Yeats, Joyce, twenty years Yeats’ junior, is alleged to have said: “We have met too late; you can learn nothing from me.” So apparently do the liturgist periti regard traditionalist, stubbornly Catholic, critics – as unable to learn from them. They will, therefore, force that learning upon our children and grandchildren by use of the liturgy, in the exact manner the Mass was removed from once-Catholic England.

The very work from which Groome has taken his understanding of the meaning of the word Catholic (Finnegan’s Wake), has been described thus:

The language is virtually a new language; it is a kind of associational shorthand – the word is not so important for its objective meaning as for the image or images it can evoke in the author’s mind because of some previous experience he underwent in association with that word.11

Misunderstanding the Art of Liturgy

A same sort of subjectivism undoubtedly explains Groome’s fallacious understanding of art – specifically the art of liturgy, which embraces, of course, the art of literature and music.

First, let us establish that the art of words flows from the perceived reality to readers or hearers via the vision of the artist (writer, musician). Thus the truth – objective reality – is communicated. It is the nature of what is perceived that determines and controls the presentation.

. ..the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature … (Hamlet, Act III, scene II)

The artist’s vision is the silvering of that mirror, but cannot distort or betray the thing reflected, without failing the artist’s vocation.

We are made to see reality . . . and literature can provide for us perhaps the most satisfactory natural vision of reality we can obtain. 12

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins compliments R. W. Dixon for that writer’s “so clear an inward eye to see what is in visible nature . . .” 13 For Hopkins “all words mean either things or relations of things.”14

Even the inescapable element of subjectivity resulting from the individual artist’s vision “enters in to embrace (not to smother) the objective work of art, and in that embrace of contemplation each lover finds something new and different in the same old object.” 15

Liturgy Shows Christ’s Sacrifice

The object of the art of liturgy is Christ and His sacrificial act of Redemption. The Church and its Mass are, as it were, the gallery where that art is treasured, preserved, and presented for our participation. Indeed, the Church makes us present at every Mass, in our unity in the Mystical Body of Christ with the priest. The liturgy, however, which we see, hear and to some extent say and/or sing makes us conscious of the object – the represented divine Reality:

The liturgy is God’s way par excellence of transmitting Christ-consciousness. It is the chief place where it happens. It makes use of ritual to prepare the minds and hearts of the worshipers. 16

Liturgy thus might be described as a sacred art form, on a far higher level than profane art, but not alien to art’s rules and operation. It mirrors, and must do so, Christ and Calvary.

How distant from and contradictory of this is Groome’s understanding. For him, Christian language is to serve “the purposes of our ministry and the commitments of our faith … ” The stress of language, for Groome, is socio-political. He quotes one Hardesty (Inclusive Language in the Church):

On a human level, any effort to use more inclusive language makes us aware not only of our sexism, but also of our racism, elitism, nationalism, classism, ageism, homophobia, and all our other prejudices. 7

Thus language, including that of liturgy, becomes reinforcement for the agenda of various ideologues and special pleaders, some of which might be worthy , but all of which is a substitute for the art of worshipping God and reflecting the Redemption of the Cross. He accepts the philosophy of Dale Spender (Man-Made Language) about words: namely, that “one of the crucial factors in our construction of ‘reality’ is language.” Spender finds agreement on the part of Groome:

In consequence, we don’t ever ‘grasp things as they really are.’ but we. see them instead as our language enables us to name and reflect them.18

This Platonic idealism and nominalism is deadly both to genuine art but particularly to an art related to a necessary and governing divine Reality. Religion no longer is being bound to that reality in duties of expression and worship; it is the determined human reaction springing from within the human head and breast. Its expression is a result of lingual manipulation. Thus it is quite proper to Groome and his fellow periti to manipulate it to fit their concepts and subjective visions:

The task is to inherit and appropriate the revelatory potential of sacred scripture without repeating its cultural limitations and social biases.19

Anyone who thinks the present moves for “inclusive language” in Catholic prayer and liturgy are simply to right an injustice against women should consider Groome’s quotation from radical feminist Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza (In Memory of Her):

That this is aimed at the ending of hierarchy and the male priesthood is borne out by other of Groome’s observations, intended for enactment by “faith education,” or in his own words, “consciousness-raising educational process.”

.. .The continued exclusion of women from the ordained ministry in the Catholic Church is seen by fair-minded scholars as without theological or biblical warrant. 21

Groome cited Karl Rahner (Concern for the Church) as authority for that conclusion. Note, however, the vicious and fallacious tactic used – fair-minded scholar see non-ordination of women as bigotry and bias; any scholars who disagree are perforce not fair-minded. That kind of argumentation is worthy of a slick and unscrupulous college debater, not of anyone claiming objective reason and scholarship. The fact is many fine, fair-minded scholars do not agree with Groome and Rahner on the question of ordination of females, one such scholar being the Holy Father himself.

Groome frankly admits the push for “inclusive language” is “one symbolic and thus not inconsequential step in this direction . ..” (i.e., the direction of women’s ordination. )” This proves that this segment of liturgical “reform” is not for purposes of worship or of improvement of the traditional Mass, but is for an ideological purpose, and in service of an ideology rejected by the magisterium itself.

Groome, of course, maintains that the change is in support of “what we believe and teach.” He thus applies, or truer, he attempts to apply, the dictum lex orandi, lex credendi to the change to inclusive language. But by his own admission that is on the assumption that women’s ordination is what the Church teaches, or perhaps should teach, since use of “inclusive language” is by his own claim a movement in the direction of women’s ordination. But as Cardinal Mahony has said, supra, this is a case of liturgical engineers trying to bring about what they think the Church should teach and do. It is an unjustified appropriation of lex orandi, lex credendi to support their ideological agenda for a new Church reflecting “their” views, not the Church’s.

ICEL Used by Change Agents

It is significant that Groome relates the operation of ICEL to this ideology:

We . . . can take heart that the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the agency which represents as many as 14 bishops’ conferences and supervises the translation of all official liturgical texts from Latin to English, made a commitment as early as 1975, to inclusive language in the liturgy . . .

Now as throughout the history of the Church, by building upon what is possible today, the vox populi can help nudge Church officialdom to new ways of acting tomorrow. Comments on each of the central linguistic components of the mass (sic) – a) readings, b) order and propers, and c) hymns – will indicate some instances of opportunity.23

Obviously, these engineers are using the Mass as presenting “instances of opportunity” to nudge the Mass as traditionally defended against fire, sword and heresy out of Catholic sanctuaries and out of the understanding and love of Catholics.

Cardinal Mahony has pointed to the use of these “instances of opportunity” by the liturgical engineers at this very moment.

One such opportunity is to suggest, via the liturgy, that no distinction should be made between priest and laity; thus the present ICEL proposal that prayer no longer be made for “universo clero” (all the clergy, i.e., all in Holy Orders) but for “all whom you call to your service.” (See Cardinal’s letter, cited supra.)

The plan to in all cases translate peccata (sins) in the singular, “sin,” serves the modernist theological theory that personal sin by individuals does not exist, but that rather humans live in a sinful environment, or that mankind as a whole is in a sinful situation for which persons are not responsible.

Planned deletions of the word Father in regard to the First Person of the Trinity are, surely, feminist attacks upon qualities of fatherhood that Christ Himself testified to in He whose Ambassador Christ was.

This liturgical engineering is distant from, or more correctly contradictory to, what Dietrich von Hildebrand uncovers in his monumental Liturgy and Personality:24

What is necessary is the growing into God through value-responses valid in themselves, demanded as such and not intended as means.

It is along this path that the Liturgy leads us. In opposition to certain forms of extraliturgical piety, in which transformation is sought through the formation of a technique of the will, the Liturgy unfolds before our spiritual eyes the glory of the Lord.25

If Groome and his circle intend any piety at all, it is clearly extraliturgical, not unfolding the glory of the Lord, but advancing subjective ideological agenda.

Treating Their Subjective Cramp

Von Hildebrand has discussed this phenomenon with prophetic vision of what is happening these six decades after he wrote his thoughts on the liturgy in 1933:

The classical man is concerned with genuine problems. He acknowledges the danger of sin, realizes his need of salvation, knows the weaknesses of and frailty of his nature, is filled with the longing for truth, communion and love, feels the insufficiency of that which is created, and is ‘restless until he rests in God.’ The un-classical man is absorbed in illusory problems, problems which originate in a subjective cramp; he is tormented by self-engendered problems. 26

It is clear that the current liturgical periti, or at least the majority which has so far prevailed and threatens even further liturgical vandalism, suffer the subjective cramp. These “unclassical” individuals are determined we will suffer the same subjective cramp that afflicts them.

… What an unclassical leveling of the world is revealed in the modern conception, what a denial of the essential and the original, of the true features of the world.

It is also unclassical to accent the interest in why a person has spoken, in his psychological motives, instead of in what has been said and whether it is true or false. No less unclassical is the widespread attitude in philosophy according to which only immanent criticism is applied to great thinkers instead of verification of their thoughts from the point of view of objective truth. . . .

What an unclassical modern conception, to take another example, is contained in the self-styled “functionalism’ which reduces the cosmos, irradiated by values, to a mere tissue of aims. . . .27

Von Hildebrand correctly summarizes by reminding that:

In the fulfillment of the Liturgy, which (more than anything else) breathes the classical spirit, man is placed in the truth; he achieves the true, valid relation to God and the world; and by this he becomes free from all hogging-down in the dead-ends of useless thoughts and illusory problems . . . he does not live in subjective illusions.28

And though this author would offend Groome and his party by the so-called exclusive use of the word man (by which Von Hildebrand certainly means the human, man and woman), he says something instructive if the present periti could approach the question objectively:

How classical is the Liturgy’s attitude also toward the sphere of sex. It speaks quite openly of the birth of man in the Ave Maria, . . . ‘Blessed the womb which carried the Son of the eternal Father; And blessed the breasts which gave suck to Christ the Lord’…. 29

And he adds, prophetically in relation to the subject of discussion these sixty years later:

What a contrast to all prudishness, to the pretense that the sphere of sex does not exist…. 30

Can it really be a sort of prudishness that refuses to admit that there is an ontological meaning to the word “man” that embraces both man and woman, somewhat in the way man and woman become one flesh in the act of love? It cannot be denied that some of the most insistent feminists who object to “exclusive language’ ‘ are not inclined to that act of love with vir, humans of the male sex. Readers may pursue all this with the help of Von Hildebrand in the chapter on the “classical spirit” in the work cited.

Engineering a New Tower of Babel

Helen Hull Hitchcock aptly calls the result of present liturgical engineering a modern Tower of Babel:

Our contemporary version of the Tower of Babel is the attempt to construct a ‘new structure’ – one which is liberated from the limitations and ‘oppression’ of the past – whereby man attempts to assert his power over everything which inhibits him from becoming ‘as gods’.31

She correctly sees in this attempt “great peril” to the future of the Catholic Church – and to all authentic worship of God, and she identifies among the builders of this Tower of Babel elements in the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and in the ICEL commissioned and mandated by that Conference. In the book she has so fortuitously edited Mrs. Hitchcock gathers a great force of scholarly authority sufficient, if it were heeded by the Bishops, to destroy the tissue of false argument relied upon by the feminists and their liturgical sappers, who are even now doing foundation work for the new Tower like that which so insulted God in the Biblical account.

Dr. Suzanne R. Scorsone, for example, in this book reminds readers:

What is being called ‘inclusive language’ is not truly inclusive; it is rather a highly exclusive construct which cuts away meaning-bearing words and the vitality of both masculine and feminine images. It thereby impoverishes the language. It also impoverishes our culture, as the vast majority of our works of literature are falsely dismissed as ‘male chauvinist,’ and our Scripture and liturgical texts with them.

This social anthropologist makes telling attack upon the non-classical mentality that is devastating our liturgy for its own purposes:

Male and female are not meant to be joined in a struggle for power, acting out some ideological model of class conflict rooted in biology. Our biology is meant, rather, to be rejoiced in, to be a unifier and to be transcended, both in this world and the next. Class conflict between the sexes, therefore, is fundamentally foreign to the Christian vision. 33

Also in Mrs. Hitchcock’s book, Fr. Paul V. Mankowski, S.J., bears up the same thesis by reaching with demonstrated scholarship this theological proposition:

The position I wish to defend is that a Christian is obliged to acknowledge God as masculine, as a “he,” in the fullness of the Godhead and in the conviction that it is heterodox to picture God as neuter (as do the authors of the bishops’ pastoral) or as hermaphrodite, or as feminine. Without straying from the Creed, we can find a number of contrasts whose correlative pairs are given or implied, each of which is crucial to our understanding of God; thus, he vs. she; father vs. mother; father vs. son; right vs. left; light vs. darkness; ascent vs. descent; above vs. below. It is absurd, as I have suggested, to reason that, because none of these notions can be predicated of God in a ‘physical’ sense, we are equally correct in predicating either correlative of Him. If a contrast is invoked in the first place, there is at least prima facie ground to think that there is a point in using one member of the contrast-pair in our doctrinal formulations to the exclusion of the other. 34

By the end of his excellent exercise in logic and historic and linguistic expertise, Fr. Mankowski can modestly understate:

. . . I have attempted to knock apart for your (the readers’) benefit four grandiose but harmful constructions: that the masculinity of God was a cultural imperative, that the sacred authors were theologically naive, that the OT (Old Testament) shows us a hermaphrodite God, and that the idea of God as Father is a feature of late Galilean piety.35

Those who wish detailed evidence of Fr. Mankowski’s reasoning and accuracy should read his essay for themselves in Mrs. Hitchcock’s book. It is an expose of the shallowness of the positions of those who have, nevertheless, succeeded in hoodwinking a portion of the U.S. Hierarchy, while bullying or persuading others into silent acquiescence.

Using Sham Theology in
Support of Liturgical Change

A pseudo-theology is being created, published and promulgated to support the success of liturgical engineering. This “theology,” however, is fatally flawed in its beginning, since it is based on the Platonic idea that what is known is purely subjective and internal. Consider this statement by a leading spokesperson of one of these “emerging” theologies:

As human beings we shape our lives by our own wills through the expression of our desires and intentions in acts and words. . .

… The point is that we shape ourselves and our world by our intentions and desires which we bring into reality by expressing them, in one way or another, so that they can be understood and accepted by others. 36

Obviously, anyone who so believes and attempts to thereby weave a theology is using the loom of desire and intention, rather than perception of the objective Reality who is God, and the content of His revelation and commands. The same imperative that is behind and correlative of all real theology – the need to know God (not self) and knowing Him to love him and serve Him – is lost, or so submerged in the subjective that it can be shaped in any way “meaningful” to us, but not necessarily in recognition of the divine Object of that study, or in the case of liturgy, of our worship.

So Hamlet dealt with (or more correctly, refused to deal) with reality:

. . . for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. . . “(Act II, scene ii).

Hamlet, in Shakespeare’s imagining, attended Wittenberg, a nominalist university both when Catholic in Luther’s years and later as Protestant. Sr. Sandra M. Schneiders IHM, is (or was when she wrote the book cited above) staff member of the Institute for Spirituality and Worship at the Jesuit School of Theology, and on the doctoral faculty in scripture and spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Calif. Hamlet used violence to attempt his “reforming” of Denmark, as Sister Sandra and her friends are using violence to Catholic understandings to “reform” the religious life and liturgy.

No wonder, then, that Fr. G. H. Duggan, S.M., calls another of her books that has just appeared. Beyond Patching, a “revolutionary manifesto.” 37

In this second book, five years after New Wineskins, Sr. Sandra is more explicit about what she advanced in that work, according to Fr. Duggan. In a revival of the errors of Joachim of Fiore, Sr. Sandra foresees a new, non-hierarchical and egalitarian Church:

The present hierarchical Church is a dilapidated ‘hovel unfit for human habitation,’ an ‘interesting historical fossil’ which has to be dismantled in order that the new feminist Church may rise from the debris. As a feminist theologian she is working to bring about this change, using the tools which the hierarchical Church has provided, viz., her theological training and the academic authority that gives credibility to her views . . . ‘The reign of God,’ she writes, ‘is by divine institution not a hierarchy, but a discipleship of equals. …’

In Schneiders’ new Church, the spirituality will be feminist and so will the ritual. It seems that in this ritual, witchcraft and the worship of a Goddess, the original divinity, will be combined with Christian elements, to provide a form of worship that will appeal to all. Nor will there be any prohibition of contraception, homosexuality, or abortion. 38

Joachim of Fiore died as the 13th Century was arriving (March 30, 1202). He left a pernicious movement based on his works, especially among the extremists of the Franciscan fringes. His writings were condemned in the middle of the 13th century. The disaster that would bring about the end of “the Church of the Son” and issue in that of the Spirit failed to happen as he predicted it would in 1260. Thomas Aquinas refuted him, and St. Bonaventure suppressed the Franciscan Joachists of that order’s spiritual party.

Liturgy for a Formless Church

Today we have a new sect with its “theologians” such as Sr. Sandra, followed apparently by those of the Jesuit extreme progressive wing. They see and work for a formless, non-institutional Church.

They are already influencing the liturgy to fit the “theology” and ideology of such a Church. We cannot presume or wait for their official condemnation. We must, each loyal Catholic among us and with us, resist this invasive, revolutionary movement, dispute its claims, make known its pretensions and fallacies. Whether this new revolution of subjective thought, opinion and desire will be overcome by history, as with the Joachistic one, we cannot foresee. But that does not relieve us of the duty to resist. We cannot presume it is too extreme and radical to prevail. We cannot underestimate its possible influence, or out of charity encourage any of its activists or dupes by excusing their intentions and purposes.

We must refuse to relinquish what the Church has given us, what is traditional and fitting. We must educate our children and grandchildren not in the novel and the culturally correct, but in the traditionally validated and the authorized and mandated. We must speak loudly to the Bishops against what the revolutionists subtly infer and insinuate into their ears and minds.

In a word, we must remain Papally Catholic, Roman Catholic, in both doctrine and prayer, in sacrament and liturgy, even if we have to inconvenience ourselves and draw insult upon ourselves by those who are either revolutionists themselves, or their “useful idiots.”

That liturgy is Catholic which, as the late Father Cornelius Hagerty, C.S.C., points out, makes us “delighted with God, happy in His presence.” 39 It must invite us to “Taste and see if the Lord be sweet,” not learn what is being peddled as ideological or sociological truth, especially when what is promoted is not what is fit and proper or availing to salvation, if having any truth at all.


1. Walter Alison Phillips, entry “Mass,” Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed.). Refer also to that edition’s entry under “Prayer, Book of Common” for references to “King Edward’s” (actually Cranmer’s) prayer books.

2. Quoted in What Will Happen to God? by William Oddie (Ignatius Press, 1988) p. 105.

3. See Oddie, ibid., especially part Three, 14 and part Four, 18, 19.

4. These words, so prophetic of the neo-modemism of today, are from Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Institutions, vol. I, chapter IV, first published in 1840. Even more prophetically, Gueranger says in the same document . . . “Every sectarian who wishes to introduce a new doctrine, finds himself, unfailingly, face to face with the Liturgy, which is tradition at its strongest and best, and he cannot rest until he has silenced this voice . . .” (Beginning, p. 297, Davies’ book).

5. Wanderer, Dec. 3, 1992, quoted by Paul Likoudis, “Bishops Approve Inclusive Lectionary With 190-29 Vote.”

6. Thomas H. Groome, Language For A “Catholic” Church, published by Sheed & Ward, a service of National Catholic Publishing Company, 1991, p. v.

7. Letter from Cardinal Mahony to Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, given by Paul Likoudis in Wanderer, Dec. 31, 1992.

8. Groome, op. cit., p. vi.

9. Groome, ibid., p. 3.

10. Anderson and Walton, This Generation.

11. Ibid., p. 502.

12. Robert Boyle, S.J., Today, December 1959.

13. Letter, June 13, 1878, given in A Hopkins Reader, John Pick, editor, Image Books.

14. Essay, Feb. 9, 1868, given by Pick, ibid.

15. Boyle, cited supra (note 12), in Jesuit Educational Quarterly, as given in Regis College English Handbook, 1962.

16. Abbot Thomas Keating in The Mystery of Christ – The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience, Amity House, 1987, p. 8.

17. Groome, op. cit., p. 6.

18. Ibid., p. 13.

19. Ibid., p. 19.

20. Ibid., p. 20.

21. Ibid., p. 31.

22. Ibid., p. 31.

23. Ibid., pp. 55, 56.

24. Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, N.H., 1990 2nd printing.

25. Von Hildebrand, op. cit., p. 155.

26. Ibid., p. 163.

27. Ibid., p. 166.

28. Ibid., p. 167-8.

29. Ibid., p. 168.

30. Ibid., p. 168.

31. The Politics of Prayer, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1992, p. 1viii.

32. Ibid., p. 235.

33. Ibid., p. 245.

34. Ibid., p. 153.

35. Ibid., p. 169.

36. Sandra M. Schneiders, I.H.M., New Wineskins, Re-Imagining Religious Life Today, Paulist Press, New York, 1986, p. 58.

37. Noted by Fr. Duggan in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, January, 1993.

38. Quoted by Fr. Duggan in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, as cited, note 37; supra.

39. Cornelius Hagerty, CSC, The Holy Eucharist, Lumen Christi Press, Houston, 1971 2nd printing.

This article, Liturgy for the American Church Making Worship the Hostage of Ideology is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

Avatar photo

Frank J. Morriss, J.D.

Frank Morriss was a board member and frequent contributor to the Wanderer Forum Foundation. He was a well-known name in Catholic journalism. After obtaining his J.D. in 1948 from Georgetown University, he was an associate editor with the Register system of newspapers, 1949-1960, and 1963-1967. During that time he also taught English at Catholic colleges in the Denver area. He was a founding editor of Twin Circle in 1966. He has been a freelance writer since 1967 and a contributing editor to The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly newspaper for over 25 years.

Get VIP Notice

Have new blog posts delivered right to your inbox!
Enter your email: