19 July 2008


Just looking at the final WYD Mass images brought to us by the Vatican Television Center (CTV) and the New Liturgical Movement Blog.

In the image below, Aborigines bring the Book of the Gospels to the deacon. I have to catch the video of the Mass when EWTN re-airs it... but I read that the deacon chanted the Gospel in a solemn tone. Somehow, the half naked to 90% naked procession and the reading of the Gospel just doesn't seem to mix.

I'm hoping to study inculturation and its licit implementation, as well as how we should view inculturation as traditional Catholics. Just because it is a common practice and accepted, doesn't mean it is necessarily good. (For example, standing and receiving Holy Communion in the hand.) Open to comments, though remember that these people probably don't know any better, and it may even be currently licit. I'm not an expert, though my Catholic-sense is tingling. Hmm.

I wonder what the Holy Father thinks of the matter?
Ah, that'd do it.


Anonymous David Ketter said...

In the same way that the first Council of the Church did not demand that Antioch not become Hebraic in practice (btw, there exists to this day a Hebraic rite), so also should there not be a demand to become Latin in rite. The Gospel is unchanging from culture to culture, but if it is to be meaningful to the people of God in other places, it shouldn't offend or deny the culture that God has created for them (yes, God, not sin, created culture).

July 20, 2008 9:05 AM  
Blogger Gerald Lamb said...

I agree Jonathan, this is definitely a topic worth exploring. For the time being, though, I'm more immediately concerned about the people who show up for Mass half-naked to 90% naked in our own parishes. You could call that the product of inculturation as well, and it is definitely not licit.

July 20, 2008 9:30 AM  
Blogger Cliff Notes said...

Yes, consider the etiquette we require for people at Mass, not that anyone really follows it in the US. But if you ask me, Australia is fairly urbanized enough for Aboriginal people to know the standard for Western dress. This smells of deliberate display of culture. At least Benedict would never wear a Native American headdress.

July 20, 2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

I've been obsessed with the question of the place of culture throughout college and it has brought me to the question that you've asked. It is tempting, considering our very open and increasingly globalized age to see all cultures as 'good' and each possessing merits. This may be true to an extent. But we have to agree on what is good and then to decide what aspects of which cultures are good. Words we have grown to not like using include "backward", or perhaps even "primitive". However, if we will not make any admission of backwardness or primitiveness, we would not hesitate to say that a cave drawing has the same degree of beauty as, for example, the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I think it is important to note that while the Catholic Church is international and universal, it contains within in itself a 'culture', if you will, which over time has been accepted as good, holy, and conducive to its ultimate purpose, which is to serve God. Some say that it is just an instrument of Western culture. I hear few people say the reverse. After all, it was the Church that indisputably built Western civilization and made it great. So we have to take care before saying that if the Church does not permit such and such behavior that it is imposing Western values on other cultures. No, it is demanding conversion in the way we live and view the world along the lines of its structure, which has been inspired by God. To allow the manifold ways of mankind to permeate the Church we are letting the world dictate how the Church is to function, rather than the other way around. Christ did not come into the world to learn from it. He came to teach mankind, to obtain our conversion, and to mend our broken ways.

July 20, 2008 5:58 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

One of the most fascinating texts on culture that I've read is a chapter in the book by Allan Bloom: The Closing of the American Mind. He argues that the idea of 'culture' is very recent and to a large extent, artificially constructed. People never thought of their culture before. They just lived their lives the way they were taught to and gave no thought to different ways of doing things. Of course with this way of thinking came ethnocentrism, which Bloom argues is totally natural and essential if a society is to survive. For a person to deny the value of their own way is perverse and unnatural. With regard to the Church, we really have to trust that the Church is indeed the perfect society, the best society, and that it is wholly and universally Christ's. Otherwise, we are nullifying our own Faith.

July 20, 2008 6:03 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

David, I'm not saying we should totally disregard others' cultures. Though Anthony does bring up a good point- the Church has picked what is good out of each culture and allowed it to survive (in most cases.) There are however, "civilizations" like those found in Latin America- who performed daily human sacrifice. Anywho, since this was a celebration of Holy Mass in the Latin rite, it's not an issue of diversity of ritual.

July 20, 2008 9:53 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Gerald and Cliff- excellent points. Immodesty and general inappropriate clothing at Mass is a definite problem here in the US. What happened to all the men in suit and tie? I find it funny (in a bad way) that the Baptists dress better for their service than Catholics do for Mass. Yikes!

Did Pope John Paul II wear a headdress? Pleeease say it isn't so. I'm hoping Benedict might adopt a new (old) 'headdress' sometime. ;)

July 20, 2008 9:59 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Anthony, I think this backwards idea of culture informing the Church instead of the other way around is behind a lot of the mess we've seen in the past 40 years. Good points.

You know all, when I read more, I found out that these Aboriginal dances have a lot to do with 'cleansing the area'. Reminds me of Pope John Paul's visit to Mexico in 2002. Aztec and Maya Indians danced while some women brushed herbs on the Holy Father to cleanse him. Hmmm. He is the visible head of the Catholic Church. Why does he need Indian (occultic) purification?

Rorate Caeli has some pictures of the Aboriginal dance/procession.

July 20, 2008 10:05 PM  

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