Thursday, December 21, 2006

Law, morality and worship

It is interesting, albeit not surprising, that a book on the Liturgy should cross a wide variety of issues. Interesting in that, on their face, these issues would seem far disconnected. Not surprising in that, as the Church proclaims, the center of the Liturgy, the Eucharist, is the Source, Center and Summit of the Church and of our lives, and by virtue of those facts is in close proximity to all other facets of this creation (emphasis mine).

[W]e must not forget that there is an essential connection between the three orders of worship, law, and ethics. Law without a foundation in morality becomes injustice. When morality and law do not originate in a God-ward perspective, they degrade man, because they rob him of his highest measure and his highest capacity, deprive him of any vision of the infinite and eternal. This seeming liberation subjects him to the dictatorship of the ruling majority, to shifting human standards, which inevitably end up doing him violence. ... When human affairs are so ordered that there is no recognition of God, there is a belittling of man. That is why, in the final analysis, worship and law cannot be completely separated from each other. God has a right to a response from man, to man himself, and where that right of God totally disappears, the order of law among men is finally dissolved, because there is no cornerstone to keep the whole structure together.

I must say, the thought that "God has a right" is a rather interesting way to phrase the situation. We often consider God to be all-powerful and all-knowing; but to have a right? That seems something we reserve to ourselves, or at the least to the created world, perhaps at best in virtue of the Natural Law inscribed on us by our Creator. That should lead one to the thought of just what a "right" is; one conception is something given to a party, the other is something owed to a party. The first clearly does not apply as nothing can be "given" to God that is not His to begin with, so we're obviously in the second camp. But if we deny that right of God, by breaking the law we produce injustice, and law founded on injustice promotes injustice. Thus, "Law without a foundation in morality becomes injustice" since God is the source of morality. The implications are staggering, and the ramifications of the petulant ignorance of this fact which currently surrounds us, the inane laws, the "rights" fostered out of thin air, the breaching of ancient rights in the name of invented rights, are clear signs of how steep the slope is on which we tread.