…The fact that she is not fashion conscious. Take this new translation of the Mass for example. Non Catholic Christian denominations, when they revise their liturgy bend over backward to make it as politically correct and up to date as possible. The feministas in the Anglican Church are busy writing new ‘canticles’ by Julian of Norwich and St Bella of Azbug and Hildegarde of Bingen. Everything is done to make their church as groovy and up to date as possible.

Sure, we have hip hop priests and nuns who dress like cleaners in a mental ward, but their days are numbered, and did anybody who takes Catholicism seriously ever take them seriously? It’s also true that in the last fifty years many Catholics have taken a wrong turn. They’ve wedded the Spirit of the Age, and now they’re widows. In the last five decades too many Catholics have forgotten the timelessness of the Church in order to have a good time.

This plastic and elastic Catholicism is bogus. Deep down Catholicism has something ageless about it which survives all the depredations of the trendy crowd. Down through the ages the saints have never really taken notice what age they lived in. They sought to follow the truth, knowing that the truth, in every age would be both unpopular and yet totally relevant. They saw clearly and cut through the crap. I love this about the Catholic Church: although individual Catholics may fall for the Spirit of the Age, the Catholic Church herself does not.

The Catholic Church does not belong to any age because she belongs to every age. Just think of it. Here is an institution which has been around since the time of the Roman Emperors and she’s still going strong. She’s seen it all. Corruption from within and persecution from without. She’s stood the test of time. Consequently, she stands above all the fashions and fads.

But at the same time, she takes on from the age she lives in, whatever good things exist there. She doesn’t mind using modern technology, re-phrasing the ancient faith in modern terminology and engaging with the conflicts and debates of the age on equal terms with the children of that age. She’s ever ancient and ever new.

She’s like one of those august, aristocratic English women I used to know who wore their grandmother’s tweeds and welly boots and went hunting grouse with a shotgun, and then came in and ordered dinner with their cell phone from a Chinese take away served in the formal dining room on antique china.

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