Going Backwards En Route to God


Imagine for a moment that there is a tried and true route that you’ve always driven.  It gets you to your destination without fail.  It has for as long as you can remember.

Now imagine that someone recommends a new road.  It’s sold as being quicker and more scenic.  The only problem?  People keep getting lost.  The signs aren’t as clear.  Far from being a better way, it would seem to be the wrong way.

Common sense tells you to go back to the old route, the one that is clearly marked, the one that always brought you to your destination without fail.  Could we call this going backwards?  Absolutely. Is that bad?  Of course not.

Here’s something else to consider: your child’s education. 

For decades you’ve seen public schools fail to properly educate kids. Memorization, secular indoctrination, and what to think replaced a classical education curriculum that taught young boys and girls how to think.  Wanting what’s best for your children you either seek out a private school, or choose homeschooling, as a means of giving them a traditional education that has stood the test of time.

Could we also call this going backwards. Sure. Is it wrong?  No, of course it isn’t.

And yet, transfer this same analogous discussion to the ongoing restoration of the sacred in the liturgy, and what you too often hear is the same tired refrain: “We can’t go backwards.”

We hear this when liturgical orientation is discussed.  Let’s return to the traditional practice of the priest and faithful all facing the same direction at Mass. 

“We can’t go backwards.”

We hear this when it is suggested that greater reverence and devotion is shown for the Holy Eucharist when the traditional practice of receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling is restored.

“We can’t go backwards.”

We hear this when someone has the audacity to advocate for a greater use of the liturgical language of Latin in the Mass.

“We can’t go backwards.” 

Those who know better and who continue to labor for a return of the sacred, the transcendent, and the traditional to the Roman Rite have to oppose this intellectually bankrupt assertion.

Instead, we should ask if our liturgical practices lead us toward God or away from Him. It’s as simple as that, and it doesn’t matter how many baby boomers complain that we are going back to those “terrible” pre-Vatican II days. Please understand that if you are part of the generation that made “ex-Catholic” the second largest denomination in the United States, your argument lacks credibility.

In the liturgy, the wrong way will never be the right way to encounter God.  It isn’t simply a question of what is valid or licit, but also what is best. 

Going back to the road analogy from the beginning:  if the signs aren’t as visible on the new route, and people continue to get lost, it’s time to stop settling for what we have and instead turn toward what is best.  After all, when our destination at the end of the road is heaven, getting lost means an eternity in hell.

Posted on June 3, 2016, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Agreed! I think the current version of the mass is why so many Catholics are experiencing what once used to be a distinctly secular proven: Losing a sense of spiritual reality. We find ourselves sliding into being CINO (Catholic in name only), and many go as far to claim they are “spiritual,” but “not religious,” by which they really mean they are neither. Without a mass in which the solemnity, reverence, and seriousness points to the reality of Christ the King, we fall out of the habit of seeing all things through Christ.

  2. Treasa van Ommen Kloeke

    Searching on TV for road conditions report (amazingly none) I chanced on a 6 am Mass from Victoria. It took a while to convince myself that it was ‘Catholic’. It was stilted and bland and a mini version of Mass. How sad, how Protestant, emotionless… I thank God for our beautiful Latin Mass at Lewisham, for our dedicated priests (FSSP). I am sad I cannot get there today due to the road conditions. The Latin Mass is bringing younger people back to the Church. Deo Gratias.

  3. Fully agree except for what you say about education. Memorisation was an essential ingredient of a classical education, and in fact now is a lost art. So several generations now have been deprived of their cultural inheritance – and are fair game for the radical social re-engineering we’re seeing now in the West

  4. As a newer Catholic (2 years) who has, over the past year, fallen in love with the Latin Mass, I fully agree with all that you’ve written in this and many other posts about how we need to get back to the reverence, and perhaps holiness, of the Extraordinary Form. Unfortunately we live in a diocese where there are none available (with no change to that in sight). I gladly make the 2.5 hour trip to the nearest FSSP when it’s feasible, but what other options do I have? I’m only aware of one diocesan priest that knows TLM, so I’m sure the bishop is hesitant to even begin to establish a Latin community for lack of options in moving priests around. My heart and soul long for TLM (and breaks when we travel to diocese such as Amarillo where you’re not sure if you’re in a Catholic church or a methodist one!)

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