There are few lies among ecumenists more irritating than that we really don’t disagree, that we’re just saying the same thing in different ways. This is such a pervasive lie among certain well-groomed leaders that it has in the last decades ruined the name of ecumenism.
Yet because there is truth everywhere we must acknowledge the central insight: If only sometimes, we are not separated by doctrines but by liturgical language. Case in point: When attending the ordinations for a religious order, there was a great deal to admire in the pomp and ceremony, which contributes to what gets called the extrinsic merit of the Mass. (This is as opposed to the intrinsic merit of the Mass, which is Christ’s one sacrifice on Calvary.) However, when the women in choir came up in cassock and surplice, I was flabbergasted. This is a parish noted for fidelity to Catholic teaching and identity, and a religious order relatively unscathed by the insane 1960s. What do they think they’re doing?
Thing of it is that cassock and surplice worn by women here means something other than what I’m used to, and so my reaction is my problem, not theirs. Here, a woman in a cassock is not active dissent in favor of the ontological impossibility of womenpriests. Here it just means choir dress; here, choir dress just means what the choir wears. There may be something to be said about the appropriateness of cassock and surplice for seminarians and the ordained and there may not. Casting aspersions from assumptions will not get us to understanding. Read the rest of this entry »