The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, January 22, 2007

Against Rationalist Catholicism

This is how the Catholic Church stayed sane and happy; by remembering and honoring and loving her greatest rigor with her greatest revelry. Yet too often we assume that the religion can only develop in the opposite direction; that a more doctrinary and legalist understanding of Catholicism can only be accepted permanently; that it is somehow more developed than whatever preceded it.

Post-Tridentine Catholicism, formulated against the threat of Protestantism, can be a royal sourpuss of a religion. Its inability to value far more ancient traditions is the saddest result of its reactionary origins. In the place of a natural traditionalism and a sanctified understanding of virtue, worship, and patristic authortiy; it substituted a legalism, rubricism, and ultramontanism that was supposed to be more effective in combating the heresy. The result was a Catholicism understood with the mind of a Protestant. In response to the new heresy of progressive Catholicism, a conservative Catholicism that repeats the same error is being formulated; one that reduces the religion to a mere expression of assent and that congratulates itself for meeting such a minimal expectation.

....In the mission churches of wood and mud, the ubiquitous figures of the Holy Child of Atocha, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. James the Moor-Killer, St. Isidore the Farmer, the Powerful Hand, and countless folk-saints whom no Vatican congregation will ever acknowledge indicate a devotion more appropriate to the age of the Golden Legend than to the age of Molanus. And despite its disconnection from the patristic tradition that delineated the arrangement and content of medieval art, this art nonetheless had the popularity, traditionalism, and didacticism proper to true iconography. It was the closest that post-medieval Roman Catholicism has come to reinventing it. When the Counter-Reformation was introduced to people who never knew the Reformation, they turned it back into medievalism.

-Daniel Mitsui


At 11:51 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

This guy has mad blogging skills.

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am reminded of your priceless advice: The more it seems like Voo Doo, the more Catholic it is.

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