Sentimental Catholicism, by Bevil Bramwell, OMI (Feb. 2017)

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Prudence by Piero del Pollaiolo, c. 1470 [Uffizi Gallery, Florence]

By Bevil Bramwell, OMI, The Catholic Thing, Feb. 12, 2017

Fr. Bevil Bramwell, OMI, PhD is the former Undergraduate Dean at Catholic Distance University. His books are: Laity: Beautiful, Good and TrueThe World of the SacramentsCatholics Read the Scriptures: Commentary on Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini, and, most recently, John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae: The Gift of Catholic Universities to the World.

Bevil Bramwell, OMI

Culture always influences Catholicism in various ways. In the sentimental culture of the United States, to take a sore case in point, people frequently respond to situations based on feeling rather than reason or thought. So now in American Catholicism, for example, if the priest starts Mass with all kinds of greetings followed by, “The Lord be with you,” he is not working with the full meaning of the words of the Mass. The spiritual profundity of those words vastly transcends that of “Welcome. Thank you for coming,” or “Happy New Year.” Nor is the priest helping his people to grasp the wonder of these words – of being in Christ. He is beginning, instead, with sentimental words that have no spiritual depth.

The depth only comes from what we know from divine revelation. In the greeting, the priest is praying that the Spirit of God act dynamically in this particular gathering of the community, come together, here and today, to offer worship. This is breathtaking and has nothing to do with what might be going on in the culture. God is acting right here and now, in this particular church, to redeem his people and continue his transformation of the world.  ….

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