Monday, November 20, 2006

An upside down tree for an upside down world

No, do not adjust your computer screen. Believe it or not, but Kmart is actually flogging off these "upside down" trees as the latest in Christmas decorating fashion. One has to wonder.

What one finds oneself wondering is: is this just another case of our modern insatiable desire for "new things" and the Kmart marketing guys thinking this is a "good idea" or is it a little more sinsister than that?

Is it not perhaps a very "in your face" example of an anarchism which seeks to destroy the power of traditional symbols by (in this case literally) inverting them? When a symbol of deep meaning (such as the Christmas tree) is tampered with in this fashion, does it not in fact make the symbol as whole meaningless?

Catholics have a strong "symbolic" understanding of the sacraments--which should not for a moment be confused with Zwinglian "mere symbolism". Part of that understanding is that the symbol is so essential to the sacrament itself that to alter the symbol (for instance, by using cake rather than bread for the Eucharist) is to alter (or completely invalidate) the reality of the sacrament itself?

Some years back the pastor of the church I was attending (not Catholic) decided it would be a good idea to celebrate the Eucharist by having the Liturgy of Word follow rather than precede the Liturgy of the Eucharist. To me, the result was not unlike this Christmas tree.

This is one reason--a major reason--why no priest, congregation or local bishop is authorised to make any alteration to the liturgy of the Church. Such alterations, for whatever seemingly sound pastoral reason, risk altering the or even eradicating the reality of what is taking place in the liturgy.

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