Not A Feast the Community Gives Itself (Today's RQ)

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I just picked up Cardinal Ratzinger's The Spirit of the Liturgy. Just one fascinating little insight:
In the Old Testament there is a series of very impressive testimonies to the truth that the liturgy is not a matter of "what you please." Nowhere is this more dramatically evident than in the narrative of the golden calf (strictly speaking, the "bull calf"). The cult conducted by the high priest Aaron is not meant to serve any of the false gods of the heathen.

Whoa! It's not? Look up the passage. He's right. Guess I got the impression Israel returned to the Egyptian gods from Cecil B. De Mille. He continues.
The apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to the false gods. . . .Everything seems to be in order. Presumably even the ritual is in complete conformity to the rubrics.

But it's actually apostasty of the first order because:

Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God down into one's own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be the kind of God that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God. . . . .When Moses stays away for too long, and God himself becomes inaccessible, the people just fetch him back. Worship becomes a feast the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation.


The narrative of the golden calf is a warning about any kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship. Ultimately, it is no longer concerned with God but with giving oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one's own resources. Then liturgy really does become pointless, just fooling around. . . .There is not experience of that liberation which always takes place when man encounters the living God.