[I]t is interesting to note how the study of dogmatic theology transforms the soul much more effectively than the study of moral theology. Distinguished missionaries have observed this in the case of their pagan converts. The study of dogma transforms profoundly, raising the soul to the highest regions and showing it the pattern of what is true, good and beautiful. (Abbess Cecile Bruyer, quoted in Totah, ed. The Spirit of Solesmes)

I have been thinking for ages how to suggest to the priests in my parish that they preach at least sometimes on Actual Stuff, as opposed to the endless  contrivedly gospel-related fervorinos we get day in day out. St Paul says “whatever is true, … think on these things”.  It’s why the Imitation can be neurosis/es-inducing if not taken as part of a balanced diet – it’s all about US! Fervorinos and pietism are useful pep pills to psyche one’s self up for the agone, but given how often we fall in this race, and how little progress we seem to make after the initial burst, we’ll either settle for a gentle shuffle or say “hang on, why am I not on that nice poolside lounger over there?” if we don’t know why we’re bothering at all. Listening to what is said in sermons, and in e.g. the summing-up at the end of the annual visiting of households, it seems that a problem is that people treat the faith like a pet cat or dog – they like to have it in the house, they’ll spend some time and money on it, but it shouldn’t cause trouble or too much effort. But telling us repeatedly “Jesus Is Really Great”  isn’t going to convince us, unless you explain to us WHY He is so great. If we see why He is so great, we’ll only need the occasional fervorino, because we’ll be so gobsmacked and impressed that we won’t be able to sit still for eagerness to do something about this fact, and about all the inconsistencies we now see between our lives and reality.

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