Monday, February 24, 2014

Lex Orendi Lex Credendi

 In a 2012 interview with Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Tonight show host Jimmy Fallon  talked about his childhood experience of Catholicism:
GROSS: So you went to Catholic school when you were young.
Mr. FALLON: Oh yeah.
GROSS: Did you have…
Mr. FALLON: I wanted to be a priest.
GROSS: Did you really?
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. I loved it.
Mr. FALLON: I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling.
GROSS: Do you still go to church?
Mr. FALLON: I don’t go to – I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was kind of struggling for a bit. I went to church for a while, but it’s kind of, it’s gotten gigantic now for me. It’s like too… There’s a band. There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that. You know, I mean, it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.
GROSS: Mm-hmm.
Mr. FALLON: Now, I’m holding hand – now I’m lifting people. Like Simba.
Mr. FALLON: I’m holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.

(Speaking) I’m doing too much. I don’t want – there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just MassMass.

In The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God, I take up the story of how modernist thought influenced the pre-Vatican II Liturgical Movement, which was a driving force behind the Council’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. Specifically, I recounted neomodernism’s attempt to effect a man-centered, humanistic society in which individual experience is the norm, wherein the greatest good was to be sought in the “here and now.” This immanentist impulse viewed religion as an expression of human emotion, and strove to reduce or eliminate the importance of tradition.
How did such thinking impact the Mass, the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross? Given the importance of subjective human experience in neomodernist thought, in the field of the Liturgy we detect a de-emphasis on the Liturgy as the worship of Almighty God in favor of a community celebration of one’s own life experience. After a high of seventy-four percent of Catholics who attended Mass in the United States in the post-WWI era, by 1965, sixty-five percent attended, compared with twenty-five percent in 2000. What is more, the data reveal that only twenty percent of the generation of Catholics born after 1960 attends Mass once per week. One major reason for this decline was the collapse of the Liturgy after the misimplementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, with the resulting harm to the faithful’s understanding of dogma and morals over time. As the Latin phrase goes, lex orendi, lex credendi!