Tuesday, April 30, 2002

An American Rite?

Mark Byron posted the idea that maybe an "American Rite" should be created to allow for a married priesthood. (Mark, I take, throws the idea out there in the spirit of a "there-are-no-stupid-ideas" brainstorm session.)

I'm intrigued by the different rites and have tried to learn about them. In my view, they may help explain the idea of the Church being united and yet still diverse. My investigations have led me to read Cardinal Ratzinger's book, The Spirit Of The Liturgy. I think Cardinal Ratzinger would point out that "rite" most directly relates to the liturgy, but is more than that:

"For Christians, then, "rite" means the practical arrangements made by the community, in time and space for the basic type of worship received from God in faith. And ... worship always includes the whole conduct of one's life. Thus rite has its primary place in the liturgy, but not only in the liturgy. It is also expressed in a particular way of doing theology, in the form of spiritual life, and in the juridical ordering of ecclesiastical life."
Still, much of the rest of what Ratzinger has to say in that book suggests Mark's idea won't float:
"[I]t is important that the individual rites have a relation to the places where Christianity originated and the apostles preached: they are anchored in the time and place of the event of divine revelation. Here again "once for all" and "always" belong together. The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time. "Always" can only come from "once for all". The Church does not pray in some kind of mythical omnitemporality. She cannot forsake her roots. She recognized the true utterance of God precisely in the concreteness of its history, in time and place: to these God ties us, and by these we are all tied together. The diachronic aspect, praying with the Fathers and the apostles, is part of what we mean by rite, but also includes a local aspect, extending from Jerusalem to Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Rites are not, therefore, just the products of inculturation, however much they may have incorporated elements from different cultures. They are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of Tradition."
I can't see the American Catholic Church meeting that test. And the thought of dissenters running wild with the idea of an "American rite" sends chills down my spine.

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