Seen Any Dragons Lately?
Do you believe in dragons? I am not asking if you think they are roaming the earth today; but do you think a big scary animal existed that was once called a dragon by those who saw it? Some would say that is just "old myths". The fact that people use that terminology reveals that they think that things from the past were often mistakes, and that in these modern times we are enlightened and no longer subject to errors like this. Quite humble, aren't we?
The world today has a fascination with modern things (no, this was not always the case). This is how it is currently structured to think: "new" is always good, and "old" is always bad. There are so many things that push us in this direction, I cannot count them. You hear this type of encouragement regularly; "get with the times", "don't be outdated", and "we need to be more contemporary" are common phrases. In a world infected with modernism (a heresy condemned by the Catholic Church) we can expect this to be the attitude of many people, but it should not be found in the Church. When members of the Church (who are supposed to stand fast in the truth) begin thinking in this way, we are bound to end up with problems.
This is not to say that anything that is new is automatically wrong or sinful. Absolutely not; the Divine Worship Mass (which is used in the Ordinariate) is technically "new", but that is not a bad thing because it flows out of an ancient English Use of the Mass, and follows the ancient practices of the Church and thus retains the "old" traditions. It is not just that it "feels" old (though many will say it does), it actually does have an "old" source to it. Modernism, on the other hand, would reject anything that either is old, or even just feels old because there is a sense that it will prevent us from finding happiness.
Take for instance the word "classic". What is its technical definition? The general idea of the word is "something old enough to have been forgotten, but is still around". I recall a professor clarifying what made "classical music" to be "classical" was that everyone who was alive when it was first developed was now dead (i.e. old enough to be forgotten). Yet, these days I hear music that is only 20 years old referred to as "classic". This can only happen when "new" is viewed as automatically superior to "old" (and thus causes things to be considered "old" or "classic" when they are only a few years old).
Let me approach it another way and ask this question: do you want the Church to be "relevant"? That is a hard question to answer. If by "relevant" we mean similar to the world and following the patterns of the world, then you had better be saying a loud "No". If, however, by "relevant" you mean "able to communicate the truth of Christ to the world today", then you had better be saying a loud "Yes". There is an enormous difference between these two things.
Presuming the superiority of modern or new things, always leads us to want to be not just relevant, but accepted by the world. As soon as anyone (especially those in the Church) begin to want the world's approval, they always fall into a pathetic fawning over the world, and eventually work to accommodate themselves to the world's ideas (rather than standing fast in the faith). Fascination with contemporary ideas or practices is the most obvious way that this is seen today. "That's new, let's try it!" is in the hearts of many non-catholics, but it should not be in our hearts. There was a time when Catholics were automatically suspicious of anything new (and rightly so). What happened to us?
Someone once said that the dragon St. George killed was just a myth. Sure, you have a right to believe that, but do not let that idea encourage compromise in the battle we are called to endure for the faith. Whether you believe in dragons, or elves, or centaurs, you must believe that is wrong to presume we are automatically smarter and holier than anyone in the past; maybe we should be, but we are not. The dragons of today are harder to see and thus, harder to slay. We each must "slay dragons" on a daily basis--those dragons that try to destroy our souls. We are each supposed to be "soldiers" for the Kingdom of God. (And, just for the record: yes, I believe that St. George's dragon was a real dragon.)