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Brining Back Religious Mystery

LETTERS to The Leader indicate that many Catholics are still coming to terms with the changes initiated by Vatican II.

This is understandable, as the changes have been many and varied. Different interpretations can exist within the same diocese.

The first point that needs to be made is that there is no going back to pre-Vatican II days.

Change and tradition must co-exist, as no living tradition is ever static. The main objective is Church renewal and this means, not only the changing of structures and ways of celebrating the liturgy, but also refers to personal renewal.

Many of the changes, such as the vernacular in the liturgy or different styles of music, are all subordinate to the main aim of community and personal renewal.

Neither does frantic activity on the part of the laity necessarily imply a greater involvement in the mystery that is being celebrated.

David Tacey in a recent publication says: “My own view is that demystification of church services, the reduction of ritual, and the emphasis on plain language and simple moral lessons is a huge mistake. This tends to throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

He goes on to say: “The only true way that religion can claw back authority and meaning is not to shed its mystery, but to show a new way into its mystery … I would suggest that rather than being ‘modernised’ in the sense that is synonymous with demystification, the people want the churches to be ‘monasticsed’ – turned into local monasteries that teach reflection, prayer and meditation, offering a transformative, inward experience of the sacred.”

I think he is making a very valid point. We also have the experience of the Eastern Churches which are far more comfortable with mystery than we in the West are.

The growth of small groups within parishes is evidence of this deeper form of spirituality.

JOHN COUNIHAN Bethania, Qld

Written by: Staff writers
Catholic Church Insurance

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