Thursday, July 26, 2007

True Churches

If communities born out of the Reformation . . . cannot be called Churches in the proper sense, consider this:

Never before in history have so many churches been built as during the years immediately following the Second World War. The majority of them were utilitarian structures not designed to be works of art, yet they often cost millions to build. From a technical standpoint, they are well equipped: they have good acoustics and superb air conditioning; they are well lit and can be easily heated. The altar can be seen from all directions.

Sitll, they are not houses of God in the true sense: they are not a sanctuary, they are not a temple of the Lord that we can visit to adore God and ask for His grace and assistance. They are meeting facilities, places nobody wants to visit at any time other than when services are bing conducted. They are designed like apartment silos or people’s garages, as we refer to the housing complexes in our modern suburbs — church buildings which in colloquial terms are soul silos or Pater noster garages.

In constrast, the pilgrimage church of Ronchamp has been used as a model for all those church buildings designed and built specifically as works of art. Yet, it did not turn out to be a church after all! At best it is a place to pray, to meditate. Yet the church of Ronchamp has become a model and meeting place for subjectivist architects. This development in the design of church buildings could only result because of a growing conviction that there are no such things as sacred spaces that are (or should be) different from the profane world.

— Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, English translation, 1993, p. 122–123.

Earlier in this book Msgr. Gamber wrote:

Great is the confusion! Who can still clearly in this darkness? Where in our Church are the leaders who can show us the right path? Where in are the bishops courageous enough to cut out the cancerous growth of modernist theology that has implanted itself and is festering within the celebration of even the most sacred mysteries, before the cancer spreads and causes even greater damage?

What we need today is an new Athanasius, a new Basil, bishops like those who in the fourth century courageously fought against Arianism when almost the whole of Christendom had succumbed to the heresy. We need saints today who can unite those whose faith has remained firm so that we might fight error and rouse the weak and vacillating from their apathy.

We cannot and must not leave the fight for the preservation and re-establishment of the traditional liturgy of the Mass to a small group of fanatics who reject outright even those liturgical reforms demanded by the last Council, reforms which are justified, such as the use of the local vernacular in some situations.

We can only pray and hope that the Roman Church will return to Tradition and allow once more the celebration of that liturgy of the Mass which is well over 1,000 years old. Why should it not be possible to have two rites, the traditional and the new rite, coexisting peacefully, just as in the East where there are many different rites and liturgies, or even in the West where there still exist particular rites, such as the rite of Milan? And in any case, if the new rite is to be continued, it must be improved.

We are living in a time when there is little faith left. The call grows louder and louder to save what we can. As strange as this may sound, the truly modern forces in our Church today are not the so-called Progressives, who want to abandon customs developed over time and replace them with experiments of uncertain value, but rather the conservatives who recognize the value of Church tradition and are sensitive to pastoral needs.

In the final analysis, this means that in the future the traditional rite of the Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic Church, and not only as a means to accommodate older priests and lay people, but as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change.

— Ibid., pp. 113–114.