I found this article by reading the well-situated blogging priest Fr John Zuhlsdorf (Fr Z) over at What Does the Prayer Really Say? who wrote about Philip Kennicott’s essay “America’s Orchestras are in Crisis” (New Republic online, 25 August 2013). The essay identifies the crisis found in music today as a radical change in Western culture. Music as a necessary component to the health of the soul is being radically altered for the negative. Reading Kennicott is a good examination of conscience, especially if you are trying to honestly ask the essential questions of art, faith, society and Christian living. Mr Kennicott is the Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post.
Fr Z writes, “The deadly erosion of the vestiges of decorum continues apace. With the erosion of decorum comes the erosion of beauty and of truth.” And he’s right. In view of adult faith formation, the new evangelization, and the Year of Faith, we have to look at how we propose and re-propose the faith as beautiful, good and true. Many have settled for Christian immaturity, versus being an adult Christian.
More precisely in my mind, what Kennicott says about the crisis in the orchestra (and he speaks about the Church since Vatican II in the article) is rightly said about the Church: secularism (not to be confused with secularity) is infecting the whole life of Catholic faith today: praying the Liturgy, scripture study, pastoral authority, discernment of spirits and conscience, social concerns for those who illiterate, poor, sick the elderly, vocations, etc. In short, everything is affected. We’ve moved more-or-less from the bunker mentality to cultural marxism; in many ways we’ve fulfilled what Friedrich Nietzsche said of God being dead. In my mind God is dead for those whose hearts and minds are closed to grace; for those in open rebellion to Divine Revelation, the sacraments, wisdom of the Church Fathers & Mothers and saints, and the pastoral authority of the Church. And I am thinking about this on the feast of two great saints: Saint Hildegard and Saint Robert Bellarmine.
When I read Mr Kennicott’s essay I found that you can replace the terms for the artistic world with the appropriate ecclesial terms and get a similar conclusion.
I’ve read George Weigel’s recent book Evangelical Catholicism and I am in the process of reading Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter (by Fr White and Tom Corcoran).
I have to say, I am impressed by Weigel’s analysis and hope, and the White/ Corcoran approach to what and how the parish ought to educate the heart and mind of the Christian. I think we’ve come to the point in dealing with the problem having a Catholicism be treated as a bureaucracy and as a commercial enterprise and not a community faith walking, building and confessing Jesus Christ.
I would recommend this exercise: closely read what Pope John Paul, Benedict and Francis have said about the nature of the Church and the ministry of priests coupled with Christifidelis laici AND then read the Weigel-White-Corcoran books.