Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enlightenment thinking and "the Spirit of Vatican II"


Present in an analysis of the Enlightenment are the three themes which played an integral part in the disintegration of the liturgy: the denial of the transcendent, the resulting apostasy, and the exaltation of the community. That the movement was hostile to revealed Christianity is beyond debate. At bottom, the Enlightenment was hostile to Christian revelation for its teaching that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. In its stead, the Philosophes substituted a rational religion which emphasized the universal moral law shared by all men by virtue of their reason, not what they regarded as the untrustworthy historicity of the life message of Jesus. They saw this rational religion as a refining of, not a repudiation of Christian moral teaching.
For example, the Mass, which celebrates the revelation that Christ’s sacrificial death reconciles us to the Father and each other, making present to the believer the same sacrifice of the Cross, was reduced to the mere celebration of a good man’s death. In like manner, Enlightenment thinkers eliminated doctrines fundamental to Scripture and tradition in favor of an equating of revelation with the dictates of the individual conscience. As these subjective principles were common to all religions, they believed all men had it in their power to make themselves acceptable to God. We may detect the fruits of this thinking in the way in which our present liturgy as a celebration of the core mysteries of our Catholic faith — especially the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist — means less and less to the people in the pews.