Friday, June 26, 2015

On Environment and the Troubles that the Church is Having

Last week I put up a post about the Byzantine rite and what it was like in the ideal, what we all needed to strive for. I went and re-read the post, and realized that my point really wasn't communicated. So I'm going to try again.

The Church has one goal, and only one: salvation of the human race by being wrapped up into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. There is nothing else more important, for if we all know the Trinity then paradise would happen. That is the most important goal of the Church, to bring paradise to earth and help earth ascend to paradise.  We have lost sight of that as a Church. Instead we think of the Church as a place to teach right doctrine, to have charity outreach, and to make sure our families continue in their viewpoints, unchanged. Nothing could be further from the truth, because those things I just listed (and so many more!) are just symptoms of the central reality, which is the the face of God. If we can give people access to God then all would change.We have Christ, we must show Him to the world and convince the world that receiving Him is the only way.

But how do we do this? By beauty. You cannot argue people into it, except by assuring them that the beauty they see is real and to help them get the courage to take the plunge into the darkness of God. But you must help them experience that beauty first. Not everyone is a Scott Hahn, who can walk into Mass and realize that it's the book of Revelation enacted. No, you must be able to show them how beautiful and awesome God is. That beauty and awesomeness is called the Liturgy, which is so special that it must happen in it's own house, called a church.  The church shows what heaven is like, in signs and symbols, since none can go to heaven yet. The Liturgy is the place where Heaven and Earth literally meet and time stops even as it keeps going.

Now, that's all well and good, but humans are not overly mental creatures. We can't just make up essences in our minds or see the face of God peaking through reality or all the angels and demons fighting over us while the saints intercede to get us home. We are not built like that. So, in order to help us get to a point where we can see the face of God imprinted in creation we need to actually design a liturgy and a church that help us focus on this truth. Nothing else is more important.

The first requirement of a liturgy is that it be born of the mystics. Only the people who can see the face of God peaking into our world can actually design something to help us do the same. It's a design that requires as much care as mathematics and an intuition that only the deepest artist could feel. They must be together and whole. Only a mystic could do that.

The second requirement of a liturgy is that it must emphasize the nearness and otherness of God simultaneously. The transcendent God comes and exchanges Himself for meager bread and wine. There's an awesomeness and an intimacy to that action that cannot be understated. You cannot  emphasize the nearness of God because then you lose fear of Him and you cannot emphasize the majesty of God without forgetting that He is like a lover in His closeness.

The third requirement is that scripture be used as the primary inspiration and source. God's words are the easiest way to get into contact with God Himself. Become one with God in words and you will become one with God in mind as well.

The fourth requirement is that all hymns not scriptural must be written by saints, people who have seen the face of God and have written down what they said to Him when they saw Him. To be with God you must know what to say to Him and the saints know how to do that.

The fifth requirement of liturgy is that the passing of time and the timelessness of eternity must be remembered. Remember who the saint is of the day while outside of time, because both are valid and true.

The sixth requirement of liturgy is that the people must be able to edit it as time goes along. Liturgies usually gain complexity over the centuries and develop meanings of their own, separate from the meaning intended by the original liturgist.

A liturgy must happen in a church. The church is a building which helps the minds of the faithful enter into the mystery of eternity by putting their bodies into something as close to paradise as possible. Churches have their own criterion as well.

A church must be other. It must communicate that Someone is here, Someone who cannot be transcribed or controlled while assuring one that this Other is to be trusted. A church must also communicate who this Other is: the Holy Trinity revealed in the Incarnation of Christ. It must show His message and that it is most important this message be received. A church's ambiance must have an identity in and of itself. It cannot feel like a school, or a hospital, or a gas station, or even your own bedroom. It must be complete in and of itself.  It must have it's own interior logic, dictated by the mystical experiences of the liturgy that it houses. The liturgy must be the ultimate authority on what goes into a church. And, like the liturgy, the church's initial designs must be done by mystics, people who can see God peaking in through creation a bit more easily.

Without liturgy we cannot accomplish our mission as a church and, as a church ,we have lost sight of what is most important. We cannot change the world, only God can. Our job is only to get out of the way and allow God to act. Liturgy is how we do that.