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August 07, 2010

Shutter the parish because the visitor doesn't like it there?

I've received some sprited correspondence concerning my "eye contact" post, as I expected and even hoped I would.  Some of that correspondence wonders why I would post something about liturgy on a Catholic "law blog."  That's easy, and I thought it would have been obvious (especially given its development here at MOJ over the years).  We are not "Catholic" if we are not Eucharistic.  Who we are as a Eucharistic people is not, furthermore, just about (as one corresdpondent called it) "liturgical aesthetics."  Our sense of who we are as lawyers, citizens, servants must be, in part, a function of who we are as Christians, and that depends in part on how we understand ourselves in relationship to the Lord and others in his Mystical Body.  Congregationalism, for example, leads to a different view of the state than does a rich theology of the Mystical Body. 

Which leads to the second point I'd like to address.  A number of correspondents have accused me of being condescending with respect to Fullam's claims.  But let's ask for a moment, if it's possible, how the established Eucharistic community Fullam visited would likely receive her published, disseminated, and fairly widely discussed decision that its church should be deconsecrated and the community itself  thus put into diaspora.  What if they read and pondered her post?  Would they feel respected?  Think about it:  Fullam parachuted in and posthaste declared the community's life not worthy of continuance, then she returned to Berkeley (which, as I say, I love).

Pullam's words were flippant, I would suggest; her respect for the integrity of the worshipping community she visited was, it seems to me, lacking.  One of my great joys in traveling in Europe is the rich diversity of liturgical communities I've been privileged to participate in.  Some of them are more resonant with me than others, to be sure -- but what bearing has that on whether the less resonant communities should be terminated?  I defy someone to show me how, given the reasons she marshaled for its closure, Prof. Fullam respected the community she visited.

When Fullam arrived, there were souls gathered to pray in the Lord's name, indeed to celebrate the Mass -- yet Fullam, the visitor, calls now for the community to be dispersed.  In my humble judgment, Fullam's stance/agenda merits careful consideration, rejection, and, further, the rebuke I tended to deliver.  Turnabout is fair play, and I replied as I did in order to create a sense of how Fullam's victims might feel about her treatment of their lived reality.  Fullam ignores the side she doesn't live.  I pointed out that she is apparently tone deaf to what it is that had in fact gathered the Eucharistic community she was gifted to be able to visit (and then condemn).   

Let this be clear.  My reply to Fullam was only indirectly related to what is condescendingly and dismissively referred to as  "liturgical aesthetics."  She called for the deconsecrating of a church and thus the end of the community's life together in worship.  I meant to show -- as I would again -- the insufficiency (and nature) of the reasons for that judgment by a visitor to that worshipping community.  It was her insistence upon a certain kind of aesthetic that led to her call for closure!  I'm much more tolerant. 

Posted by Patrick Brennan on August 7, 2010 at 04:44 PM in Brennan, Patrick | Permalink

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