Why has the Church taken such a turn toward engagement with the world on the world’s own terms? The idea of opening the windows of the Church to the world is an odd one. You open your windows to life and reality. Which has life and reality, the Church or the world? When I compare mass to TV or even contemporary literature I’m not sure it’s the latter.
The job of the Church as a teaching institution, I would think, is to present the world with something the world lacks and desperately needs. It seems then that the Church, while accepting its intrinsic relation to the world, should be distinct in some visible way. Otherwise it does not look like what it is. The intention of updating things was to present eternal truths in a more accessible way. The evident effect though has been to make them invisible. They seem to blend into everything else.
The Church, it’s true, hasn’t always been visibly distinct. Paul became “all things to all men, that [he] might by all means save some.” I Corinthians 9:20-23. But what suits a man living on the edge and giving his all doesn’t suit a huge and well-established institution inevitably populated—we are talking about human beings—mostly by mediocrities and timeservers. Nor did Paul play down the scandalous aspects of Christianity. He preached “Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” I Corinthians 1:17-25. He was willing to be a fool for Christ. I Corinthians 4:8-13. Is that true of the average functionary in the present-day Church?
We cannot simply imitate the apostolic or patristic Church. When the Church came out of hiding and the living memory of the apostles, martyrs and fathers was lost, special observances became needed to remind people what the Church is. In concept they aren’t necessary but as a practical matter they are. Why has it been thought advisable to give them up?