The most common excuse for restoring the liturgy or anything else in the Church is, “We can’t go back.” And the most oft quoted phrase for continuing change in the Church is, “We can’t go back.” I’ve heard it said from the highest echelons of the Church hierarchy to the lowest. Most recently, in an article by Matthew Gambino over at CatholicPhilly.com. Mr. Gambino wrote
“Catholics must take responsibility for how we effectively live the Catholic faith in our time and place. If we merely ask leaders to “fix” this or that perceived problem, as if to return the church to some perfect state from the Golden Age of yesteryear, we’re going to be disappointed, because going backward is no option.”
This article is not aimed at Mr. Gambino. He just happened to write, when I had something to say about it. And so he can truly state the “facts of our current reality.” Which cannot be done unless you acknowledge that not only can we go back, sometimes the only way to save something or someone is to go back.
“Repent, and believe the Gospel.”
It’s true that we cannot go back in time, but what is also true is we can return to a place and/or previous state. For what is a doctor doing when he heals someone of a disease, but returning them to a previous state of health? And when a Catholic in a state of grace commits mortal sin, thus changing their state, goes to confession with a firm amendment of heart and is forgiven, he returns to that previous state of grace, When a driver takes a wrong turn and starts heading towards a cliff, he turns around and goes back to the point where he made the wrong turn and gets back on course. As these examples show, not only is it possible to go back, but in many instances it’s imperative.
To say fixing problems in the Church is not going to change anything, is much like telling a ships passengers, upon seeing they are heading towards the rocks, “Sorry, we can’t correct our course.” That’s not going to solve anything. It will only make it worse as the passengers aren’t going to accept it. What you’re going to see instead are some abandoning the ship, some despairing, and others ready to take over the wheel. These are the “facts of our current reality” in the Church today. And it’s a matter of simple common sense to see this.
What’s not rational is to ignore their concerns, stonewall them, or make no course corrections; which is also happening in the Church today, and expect them to change their course and return to the same situation they left. That’s simply not going to happen. If you want them to get back on the ship, then you’re either going to have fix the problem and return to the original course, or prove to them the ship is not heading towards the rocks. To date, I have seen neither of these approaches from either the hierarchy or the crew.