"A Necessary Conversation" About Ideologized Liturgy

Fr. Rob Johansen, in response to an interesting post by Amy Wellborn, writes a very thoughtful commentary on issues relating to the TLM on his blog, Thrown Back. Fr. speaks about a photo of a priest celebrating Mass "ad orientem," in which Amy asked for respondents to comment. He writes, in part:

Amy asked people for their reactions to the photo, and the reactions were themselves thought-provoking and revealing. What they seem to reveal is something I have noticed before in many of the negative reactions to Pope Benedict's
Motu Proprio and to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, otherwise known as the "Tridentine" rite. What is apparent to me is that many of the objections are ideological rather than theological or spiritual. Here are a list of some of the words and phrases used in the negative reactions to the photo, or other objections and complaints about Summorum Pontificum and/or the Extraordinary Form that have appeared in the media since last July:

"too complicated"
"put off by all males in the sanctuary"
"a period piece…"
"medieval trappings"
"Latin is a dead language"
"the priest has his back to us"
"a step backward"
"liturgy should be simple"

These words and phrases, and others similar to these, characterize much of the opposition to and complaints about Summorum Pontificum and the resurgence of the Extraordinary Form. And what is remarkable is that none of these words and phrases are, properly speaking, either theological or liturgical. Rather, they are ideological. And they illustrate that the post-conciliar liturgy, at least in the United States, has been invested with a rather heavy ideological burden.

I think that the ideologies represented by these terms can be roughly divided into three categories. They are:

(a) Egalitarianism or Democratism
(b) The Ideology of "Progress"
(c) The Ideology of "Authenticity"

The first ideology, egalitarianism, can be seen in such terms as "stuffy", “elitist”, "hierarchical", "the priest has his back to us", and "clericalist". Egalitarianism, of course, is the ideology that seeks to level all differences and distinctions, and asserts radical equality. The problem is that Catholic liturgy is intrinsically "unequal". Liturgy is about we humans, who are not God, worshipping God, who is God. Sorry to belabor something that should seem obvious, but, unfortunately, many have worked for the last 30 years to obscure that obvious fact. Catholic Liturgy is intrinsically hierarchical: In it God comes to us in an act of condescension, witnessed by the angels and saints who are quite literally above and beyond us, through the ministry of a priest who is at the time of the Eucharistic Sacrifice alter Christus. One commenter at Amy's asserted that at Mass we "no longer have an alter Christus". If that's the case, then we no longer have a Mass or Eucharistic Sacrifice; we have something else. Fortunately, the commenter's assertion is wrong: Both Vatican II's Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) make clear that the priest offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice "in the person of Christ" (in persona Christi) and that his priesthood differs from the common priesthood of the faithful "in essence and not merely in degree". In other words, the priestly essence and action in the liturgy is hierarchical. To complain that the Mass is "hierarchical" is to complain of a tautology.
The essay is a form of "ink blot test" of our feelings on the entire composition and purpose of the Liturgy. I think it is an essay worth looking at.