Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Credo of the People of God

Surviving the summer of 1968. To quote Fr. Mark:
Pope Paul VI promulgated The Credo of the People of God on 30 June1968, less than one month before releasing his prophetic Encyclical Humanae Vitae. I lived through these events. I remember them well. It was a very hot summer; I was volunteering in a program for disadvantaged inner-city children. Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated earlier that same summer on 5 June.

Priests, religious, and seminarians were thrust into a whirlwind of liturgical, theological, and moral confusion. Many lost their footing in the faith. Even "enclosed" monasteries were affected. It was not uncommon to find that Zen Buddhism, so-called "Catholic" Pentecostalism, and a fascination with Garabandel and other apparitions had all made inroads into the same monastery. The Trappists, it seems, were especially hard hit by the rage for pluralism. The idea was that there should be something for everyone: "I'm OK, You're OK" (published in 1967) was the new Summa. Everything was subject to redefinition and reformulation. And, not to be forgotten: The National Association for Pastoral Renewal came out with the "Make Celibacy Optional" bumpersticker.

The Landing of the Soixante-huitards
In Paris, student protestors and strikers launched the now famous social revolution of mai 68, the matrix of a generation of soixante-huitards (sixty-eighters), who, alas, would carry their groovy ideologies forward into the new millennium in both the world and the Church.

Sexual Revolution
In the world of popular culture, the Broadway musical Hair opened in April 1968, offering young people a combination of music and lyrics that glorified every manner of sexual license and perversion. The pollution of the sexual revolution poured into the Church through the windows opened at the Second Vatican Council to let in fresh air. Young Religious of the Sacred Heart, formerly so ladylike and prim, discovered the joy of theological dialogue with edgy longhaired Jesuit scholastics in jeans and sandals . . . and the rest is history.

The Undoing of the Lex Orandi
Among Catholics, there was a heady feeling in the air, enticing even the brightest and the best to believe that everything in the Church and in society had to be re-imagined and re-created, beginning with the liturgy. Tampering with the liturgy led to tampering with the doctrine of the faith; and tampering with the doctrine of the faith led to a skewed moral theological and ethical praxis.

The Mass Under Siege
Ad-libbing at Holy Mass was already becoming endemic . . . and this before the Novus Ordo Missae, which only made its début in 1970. Quantities of mimeographed wildcat "Canons" (Eucharistic Prayers) were in circulation. I came away from a Mass at the Jesuit House of Studies near Yale University feeling sick at heart. Then and there I resolved never to trust the liturgical instincts of a Jesuit. There were Masses at which "Blowing in the Wind", "The Times, They Are A-Changin'", and Judy Collins's "I've Looked at Love from Both Sides Now" were standard fare.

Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say, "I love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange
they shake their heads, they say I've changed
But something's lost but something's gained in living every day.
(Judy Collins)

Through it all, I knew that in Gregorian Chant I had found the native tongue of my soul. Singing Chant was life-giving for me. Even in monastic choirs, it had been cast aside. Guitar-strumming monks lulled themselves and others into the most astonishing liturgical amnesia in history.

Books I Remember
I remember the publication of the first English edition of the Dutch Catechism in 1967. Before long it seemed to be on everyone's bookshelf alongside of books by Michel Quoist and Marc Oraison. The Divine Office was subjected to a rapidly-changing series of adaptations; bravely I held on to my Collegeville Short Breviary and to Collegeville edition of Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. I was doing my lectio divina in the first edition of the Jerusalem Bible in English, and reading things like Abbot Marmion's Christ, the Ideal of the Monk and Christ, the Life of the Soul, Dom Eugene Boylans's This Tremendous Lover, William G. Most's Mary in Our Life, and Bernadot's, From Holy Communion to the Blessed Trinity. Around the same time I was introduced to the life of Father Willie Doyle, S.J. by Alfred O'Rahilly and the writings of Josefa Menendez in The Way of Divine Love. Through it all Pius Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace held me spellbound.

All of this being said, when Pope Paul VI gave the Church his Credo of the People of God I was ready and eager to receive it. What I couldn't understand was why so few Catholics around me, including priests, seminarians, and religious, had little enthusiasm for it. The Holy Father's gift met with indifference. Was it a case of too little too late?

The actual text of the Credo of the People of God begins with article 8 of the Apostolic Letter, Solemni Hac Liturgia, 30 June 1968. Here it is. Will it meet with a better reception the second time round, 44 years later? I can only pray that it will. (Read entire post.)

1 comment:

Stephanie A. Mann said...

I remember reading Pope Paul VI's Credo, in an edition published by Catholics United for the Faith, in college at the Newman Center. It was a great antidote to some of the drivel taught in my high school religion classes (analysing the lyrics of "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel)--although we did have a semester of review of Catholic doctrine and sacraments in our senior year. I still have the CUF document (just found it on my shelf!) God bless Pope Paul VI!