Monday, August 22, 2005

Introibo Ad Altare Dei.....

"I think it's because it was the wisdom of way back when, which some people seem to overlook: that we were allowed to be us and still be practicing Catholics. I just think it was so close to the spiritual...the spirituality of the natives…is so close. I just think it was an easy step for the Jesuits to convert."
—Carol Ross, member of the Mohawk choir at St. Regis in Akwesasne

If your Catholic education was anything like mine, you may remember that glib and rather inaccurate way some folks condescended to the old Latin Mass: "the priest had his back to the people!"

With such a characterization rattling around unchallenged in my young skull, you can surely understand that in those days I was not particularly anxious for a return to pre-Vatican II piety. It's only now as an adult, after having strayed and eventually by the grace of God wandered back into His fold, that a more mature study has begun to open my eyes to the wisdom, the symbolism, reverence and mysticism of the traditional Roman liturgy. Add to that study a parallel interest in the other rites of Catholic Christianity—Coptic, Syriac, Byzantine, Gallican—and a further conclusion becomes inescapable. The Church truly is, and has always been, a Catholic Church in more than name only. Not a Church for Europeans, not a Church for Middle Easterners, but a Church for the whole world, in which every culture, every race, every nation from Sweden to South Africa, from China to Canada has something worthwhile to contribute.

God willing, I'm hoping to accomplish a couple of things with this site. First of all, to promote what has remained the great forgotten story of North American history: the Catholic Indian missions, and how they embedded an intensely pious traditional Catholicism into their own native cultures and modes of expression. Secondly, I hope this to be a forum where those of us who share Carol Ross's respect for the "wisdom of way back when" can exchange ideas about how best to revive and restore venerable American Catholic traditions to the way we live our faith at the dawn of the third millennium.

Catholic traditions are not museum pieces to be studied—they are meant to be interwoven into the fabric of our everyday lives. I pray that all of us: American Indians, Anglo-Americans, and even second-generation immigrant children like myself, promote these traditions in a way not that inflates our own importance, but which best gives glory to Our Lord Jesus Christ.



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