N RECENT DECADES there has been a great and deep confusion about the concept of inculturation. It has been taken to mean that the Catholic faith and its practice should be changed to conform to an indigenous culture, and should assimilate that culture’s own religious beliefs and practices. In other words, Catholicism is seen as raw material and the alien culture as an agent of transformation. This is a false view. In reality, the culture to which the Catholic faith comes is in need of conversion and elevation, so whatever elements are taken from it, once duly purged of sin and error, stand as material to the “form” imparted by the life-giving Catholic faith. It is the Church that is the agent, form, and goal in any true inculturation, while the culture is the matter that receives the form from the agent for the sake of salvation in Christ.
Any culture would benefit from the insertion of the Roman Mass in its fullness. Either the culture would welcome it as a sublime expression of a divinely revealed religion, as the ceremonies and texts of the traditional Latin liturgy powerfully convey (it is in just this way that many of the Japanese are said to have reacted to the beauty and majesty of the liturgy as celebrated by the missionaries), or a hostile culture would in time be overcome by it and thus purged of ignorance, error, and sin. In no case is it ever necessary to seek, as a goal, to take elements of a prevailing heathen culture and incorporate them into the sacred culture. If there are elements that are worthy of elevation into the sacral domain, this will happen slowly, subtly, with fine discernment and discretion. Running after these elements in a kind of desperate hunt for relevancy is doomed to failure; it is a kind of whoring after ephemeral relevance, a prostitution to the present age and its malevolent prince.
THINGS THAT ARE REALLY TRUE, good, and beautiful will, as it were, line up in front of the doors of the church and beg admission; they will sue for peace, and beg pardon, and offer themselves like lambs for the sacrifice. Then we may take them up in our arms and make of them vehicles of grace. But not in any other way. As St. Augustine says: “He that believes not, is truly demoniac, blind, and dumb; and he that has not understanding of the faith, nor confesses, nor gives praise to God, is subject to the devil.” The Church does not go to the blind and dumb to ask for advice on how she should worship or what she should believe; she does not go to subjects of the devil, in desperate need of baptism, and beg them for a seat at their master’s table.
Inculturation as it has been understood and practiced by liturgical revolutionaries is one more ploy of Satan to destabilize and denature the Church of God, to water down her distinctiveness, to poison and pollute her divine cultus and human culture. This is not what the great Jesuit, Dominican, and Franciscan missionaries did; they brought forward the Catholic faith in all the splendor of its abiding truth, and by that light, they converted nations and baptized all that was noble and good in their people.
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