Monday, January 31, 2005
This is a wonderful statement by the Holy Father to the American Bishops.
"Conscious participation calls for the entire community to be properly instructed in the mysteries of the liturgy, lest the experience of worship degenerate into a form of ritualism. But it does not mean a constant attempt within the liturgy itself to make the implicit explicit, since this often leads to a verbosity and informality which are alien to the Roman Rite and end by trivializing the act of worship. Nor does it mean the suppression of all subconscious experience, which is vital in a liturgy which thrives on symbols that speak to the subconscious just as they speak to the conscious. The use of the vernacular has certainly opened up the treasures of the liturgy to all who take part, but this does not mean that the Latin language, and especially the chants which are so superbly adapted to the genius of the Roman Rite, should be wholly abandoned. If subconscious experience is ignored in worship, an affective and devotional vacuum is created and the liturgy can become not only too verbal but also too cerebral. Yet the Roman Rite is again distinctive in the balance it strikes between a spareness and a richness of emotion: it feeds the heart and the mind, the body and the soul. It has been written with good reason that in the history of the Church all true renewal has been linked to a re-reading of the Church Fathers. And what is true in general is true of the liturgy in particular. The Fathers were pastors with a burning zeal for the task of spreading the Gospel; and therefore they were profoundly interested in all the dimensions of worship, leaving us some of the most significant and enduring texts of the Christian tradition, which are anything but the result of a barren aestheticism. The Fathers were ardent preachers, and it is hard to imagine that there can be an effective renewal of Catholic preaching, as the Council wished, without sufficient familiarity with the Patristic tradition. The Council promoted a move to a homiletic mode of preaching which would, like the Fathers, expound the biblical text in a way which opens its inexhaustible riches to the faithful. The importance that preaching has assumed in Catholic worship since the Council means that priests and deacons should be trained to make good use of the Bible. But this also involves familiarity with the whole Patristic, theological and moral tradition, as well as a penetrating knowledge of their communities and of society in general. Otherwise the impression is given of a teaching without roots and without the universal application inherent in the Gospel message. The excellent synthesis of the Church's doctrinal wealth contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church has yet to be more widely felt as an influence on Catholic preaching."
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Why I returned to the Latin Mass:
a personal account
(A paper delivered at the Annual Conference of the
Campion Fellowship of Australia,
"Caritas Cristi", Sydney,
28-30 December 1990.)
Gary Scarrabelotti *
WHY have you gone back to the old latin Mass? That is a question which I have been asked many times recently by many a puzzled inquirer.
Not infrequently the most perplexed have been friends and comrades: people with whom I have shared a common cause - the defence and promotion of Vatican II understood in the light of orthodox Catholic teaching.
The reason why at least some of these old associates and natural allies are feeling uneasy is because they recognise - or suspect - that by returning to our traditional Mass I am signalling a change of mind over things about which we were once agreed.
The test of experience
Once we eagerly accepted the challenge - made by Paul VI and reiterated by John Paul II - to modernise Catholic life, to give the faith of our fathers a new expression in forms more attuned to the modern world. But now, it seems to me, things have changed. What once appeared to be an obvious, common sense course has been shown, I believe, to have been a road to destruction. For my part, I cannot any further tread this path.
The up-dating (or aggiornamento) in which we were engaged was an attempt to "inculturate" the Catholic faith into the secularist milieu of Western society. The key element in this ambitious project was the reconstruction of the liturgy. In reality, though, the "reform" was an act of cultural hubris carried out and endorsed by people who had already accepted that contemporary Western culture should serve as a norm for Catholic life. This assumption, moreover, was not merely something which activated the advance guard of reformers; it also deeply influenced mainstream Catholics and has gravely (perhaps fatally) weakened their defence of Catholic doctrine. On the liturgical level, the result has been the creation of a system of religious symbols more apposite for sowing confusion among Catholics than for building up their faith. What is particularly dangerous about this development, is that these symbols do not exert their influence upon Catholics, as it were, from without, but from within.
I had finally reached these conclusions by 1987, but at that time their implications were not clear to me. I was too preoccupied with other thoughts to give much attention to exploring where these new convictions might lead. My chief preoccupation at that time was how to remain a believing and practising Catholic in a Catholic world whose every nook and cranny - or so it seemed to me - had become an alien place. The religious culture in which I had tried to live the faith had been obliterated by policies approved by the Church's leaders and applauded by people like myself. It came as a shock to discover that this up-to-date, alternative Catholic world which we had eagerly constructed for ourselves was not one in which I could live.
All I could do was to take refuge - and so I did (during 1987-88), in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. I owe an eternal debt to Ukrainian Catholics. Thanks to them I was able to persevere. I also relearned many things from them: that God is a mystery to be worshipped; that to stimulate the attitude of worship, the cultus of God must be infused with a sense of his mystery; and that beauty is the doorway through which the mystery enters and brings man and women to their knees. And there was another thing too that I learned: that those who deny their past - those who make an idol of the present - are already like the dead; they are souls without a future.
It was while I was praying with the Ukrainians and under the influence of their liturgy, that I began to take stock of a store of ideas which I had inherited but whose significance and ramifications I had not seriously begun to evaluate. This did not occur systemtically. A store house tends to be a jumble and one assesses its contents randomly, taking up things as they come to hand and reburying them inadvertently as one rummages through the place. Interesting things turned up, however, as I began picking over my collected intellectual baggage.
There was, for instance, something Plato had said but which at a younger and vainer age - when I was eager to appear a man of his time - I could not have understood:
Change - except when it is change from what is bad - is always, we shall find, highly perilous, whether it be change of seasons, of prevailing winds, of bodily regimen, of mental habit, or, in a word, change of anything whatever without exception, except in the case I have just mentioned, change from bad. (Plato, Laws, VII, 797e)
True, Plato's horror of change had much to do with the kind of society he essayed in the The Republic, an ancient herald of twentieth century totalitarianism.
But that did not blunt the force of his original point and I was reminded that Aristotle (whose only vice as a philospher was his moderation) had said much the same:
...God, whose nature is one, enjoys one simple pleasure for ever. For there is an activity not only of movement but of immobility, like that of thought, and there is in rest a more real pleasure than in motion. Yet, as the poet says, "in all things change is sweet." It is sweet to us because of some badness in us. For a nature that needs change is bad, just as a changeable person is bad, and it is bad because it not simple or good. (Aristotle, Ethics, VII, Chpt 14)
Now that sentence - "For a nature that needs change is bad..." - struck me as an indictment of post-Enlightenment culture. Our need for change has become a relentless social force which has left nothing untouched. "Change is the only constant," we are told repeatedly. Nearly two hundred years ago Wordsworth wrote of his own day
Perpetual emptiness! Unceasing Change!
No single volume paramount, no code,
No master spirit, no determined road.
How much more apposite to our time than to his! And considering this, I asked myself whether the liturgical changes had been motivated by reform or driven by the "need for change". Given the optimism and naivety of the Second Vatican Council on the subject of modern culture, how many, then, who made the Council had been able to distinguish a real reason for reform from a mere prevailing cultural imperative? And what if the Council had, in its prudential judgements, been carried along on just such a current?
The gods of change: the gods of revolution
As this question rose in my mind I realised that, by some interior process of unconscious rumination, I had reached a crucial conviction: yes, that whatever had a need for change was indeed bad, and that any thing that was bad certainly needed to be changed, changed for the better. Then came a crucial step. The question occurred to me: The liturgy has been changed, was it bad?
I could think of many things that one might say about the traditional liturgy. It was obscure, it was inefficient, it was difficult, it was inflexible, but bad? How could the liturgy of the Church which had formed saints, consoled sinners, given joy to hearts, had filled with beauty everything it touched - the vessels, music, vestments, architecture, and above all the people - how could that be bad? And yet, it had been changed and, indeed, taken away.
I had a vague sense that something like it had happened once before - with terrible consequences which are with us still - and then I was reminded of something else I had read. It was by A. L. Rowse on the subject of Elizabethan England:
It is difficult for anyone with a knowledge of anthropology to appreciate fully the astonishing audacity, the profound disturbance to the unconscious levels upon which society lives its life, of such an action as the substitution of an English liturgy for the age-long Latin rite of Western Christendom in which Englishmen had been swaddled time out of mind. No doubt there were factors which aided such a daring breach with the timeless past....All the same nothing can detract from the revolutionary audacity of such an interference with the customary, the subconcious, the ritual element in life. (A.L. Rowse, The England of Elizabeth: the Structure of Society, p.17)
Two separate but related themes emerged here: the question of overturning a custom and that of reconstructing the religious symbolism to which a people had become attuned.
For a long time I had been clear about the implications of changing religious symbols. What struck me as curious, however, was the way in which consideration of the issue, initially of great importance to mainstream Catholics like ourselves, seemed to have dropped off the agenda. In these circles James Hitchcock's The Recovery of the Sacred had been devoured during the late 70's. But by the late 80's, it seemed as if it had never been written. Was it, I wondered, because the principles masterfully formulated by Hitchcock were like an armoury of modern weapons: good to have in reserve, but too terrible to contemplate using?
With such thoughts lurking in the background I went back, after a decade, to Hitchcock thumbing fast through The Recovery whose arguments and conclusions were instinctively all my own. In a book unusually quotable one long passage stood out:
...a crisis of style always masks a crisis of identity. If people suddenly began to find that the Latin of the Mass...no longer spoke to them...this indicated not simply a need for that modern panacea - "better communication" - but a desire to rethink radically the very foundations of belief and worship...
As [the liturgical innovators] peeled away the layers of historical accretions to the liturgy, they found, sometimes with shock, sometimes with satisfaction, that the core of belief which underlay the traditional worship was not at all the same as their own, that what was involved in liturgical reform was nothing less that a profound revolution in the nature of belief. (James Hitchcock, The Recovery of the Sacred, The Seabury Press, NY, 1974, p.56.)
"A revolution in the nature of belief": now that is a hard saying, something we do not like to think about. So much easier for us to discuss a far away revolution which four centuries ago devoured the Faith in England than the one which at this moment is devouring us. To admit that we are in the midst of a revolution every bit as grave as the "reformation" of Henry and Elizabeth, that would raise hard questions, questions which perhaps our loyalties might forbid us from asking. For instance, who set these changes in motion and preserved their momentum, who protected them from criticism, and who, while wringing their hands about "unauthorised developments", subsequently gave them the patina of authority? And why? What kind of mentality had entered into Catholics that they would do these things or pretend that they had not happened? As I knelt among the Ukranians of a Sunday, profoundly affected by the beauty of their worship, I saw that with them, unlike with us today, the service of God was determined by custom. We prayed self-consciously and woodenly, according to "developments" contrived in a laboratory and enforced by legislation. They worshipped naturally and instinctively, according to a tradition lived out happily and unreflectively in the present.
Salvation by command
As a modern Roman Catholic habituated from birth to an authoritarian style of religion, with its higher authorities raining orders on the Christian soldiery, it came as shock to discover that traditionally the Church had placed great weight upon customary ways of doing things. Whereas in my own time the Church in the West has tended to operate as a "command economy" of salvation, in the past it tended to operate more out of habit, the customs which had been built in the course of history providing the foundations for Church law. In fact, according to St. Thomas, custom obtains the force of law:
Now just as human reason and will, in practical matters, may be made manifest by speech, so may they be made known by deeds...Wherefore by actions also, especially if they be repeated, so as to make a custom, law can be changed and expounded: and also something can be established which obtains the force of law, in so far as by repeated external actions, the inward movement of the will, and concepts of reason are most effectually declared; for when a thing is done again and again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgement of the reason. Accordingly, custom has the force of a law, abolishes law, and is the interpreter of law. (ST, Prima Secundae, Q.97, Art.3)
One corollary of this conclusion, St Thomas argued, was that a lawmaker should not make a law which is contrary to the customs of the people for whom he is legislating. As I picked up this text and read it for the first time, I was astonished. In his retort to the imperialism of laws and legislators, St. Thomas chose a maxim from St. Augustine which seemed providentially intended for the post-conciliar Church:
The customs of God's people and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as laws. And those who throw contempt upon the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God. (ST, Prima Secundae, Q. 97, Art. 3)
What then, I asked myself, were one to make of the case where the customary liturgy of the Roman Catholics - given, to be sure, in 1570 the form of a law - was replaced by another liturgy profoundly at odds with the traditional mentality and custom of worship? Now that opens a Pandora's Box of "natural justice" issues which no-one wants to mention - least of all those whose job it is to uphold the original decision. Why if Catholics had an inkling of the terrible problems posed by "reform", its credibility might be destroyed.
Meanwhile, I had decided reluctantly that the time had come to part company with those God-worshipping Ukrainians. A refuge can never be a home and it is a fatal psychological mistake to treat it as if is were. So, I had to go. The problem was, though - where to turn? I did not seem to have many choices.
Although my thinking on liturgical questions had undergone a significant hardening, and I had come to reject the present liturgical regime, I was still of the mind that the way ahead for the Roman Church was a reform of the New Order of the Mass activated by explicitly traditional principles. On the other, it seemed to me that in practice such a project was unrealiseable.
New Mass: new religion
For most of those who rule the Church today - people who have built ecclesiastical careers on aggiornamento - there is too much at stake in a genuine reform of the liturgy. As two Australian bishops have testified during recent table talk: if we had not changed the liturgy, we could not have changed the rest. Right throughout the Catholic world men like these realise that at stake in liturgical change is the very shape of Catholicism. Unlike the conservatives, these others at least understand that, in order to mould the Catholic identity, liturgy is tacticly more important than doctrine or theology.
Yes, in their own day the children of the world have been wiser than the children of the light. For while the children of the light have been trumpeting their defence of orthodox teaching - confident that Catholic identity can be preserved by right concept alone - the children of the world have taken charge of the Catholic consciousness chiefly by seizing control of the liturgy. Our would-be defenders, the Doctors of Divine Science, have been so preoccupied with the higher things that they have ignored the lesson of human science: that whoever controls the public rituals controls what people believe. Ultimately it is the cultic symbol, rather than the utterance of a creed, which touches the minds and hearts of men with the meanings which determine who they are. Understanding this, those who now control the Catholic liturgy are not going to release their hold on it without a fight. In Rome they understand this - or rather they fear it - and are paralised.
There is another factor and this relates to the Pontiff himself. Like almost all the rest of us, Pope John Paul is a victim of one of the great intellectual fashions of 1960's Catholicism. It is unquestionable that the Pope is an outstanding defender of orthodox Catholic doctrine and that to this task he brings the full force of a character stamped with impressive powers and accomplishments. However, like his predecessors John and Paul, whose work he has set himself to vindicate, the Pontiff still believes, apparently, what hardly any mainstream Catholic would dare to doubt: that one can manipulate the forms of religion to gain a "pastoral" advantage without harming the content of the faith.
It struck me forcefully that the Pope seems to operate on this principle when I reflected on the events of his visit to Australia. During his tour he gave, to the delight of every liturgical engineer, a public sanction to the introduction of dance into the liturgy, and this notwithstanding the facts: that in this country dance has played an insignificant part in our formal public ritual (whether secular or religious), and that in Western culture generally, from pagan times to the present, dance has served a principally erotic function.
Death of a pious fiction
This sad turn of events required an explanation and one frequently given was that the Pope had been tricked into presiding over these innovative liturgies by the tour's Australian organisers. Well, maybe. I was, however, too much reminded by this line of that fiction which conservative English parliamentarians once used to explain the policies of Charles I - the King was the victim of his corrupt advisers. Well, as it turned out, Charles I was no dupe and nor is John Paul II. The Pope can be as tough as nails when he wants to be - note how ostpolitick came to a dead end on Day I of the pontificate. No, the Pope did not come down in the last shower. He wasn't conned. There are other more plausible explanations.
One is that Pope John Paul is a convinced, if moderate, proponent of the view that liturgy should reflect the changing cultural forms of the societies in which Catholics live. Alternatively, he is not sufficiently interested in liturgy to make an issue of it when he has troubles enough on the doctrinal and moral fronts. Perhaps he believes that he can preserve some authority by allowing scope for liturgical innovation rather than risk losing everything by attempting to prevent it. I do not know which applies. But whichever does, it is clear that this Pope is not going to set in motion a reform of the new liturgy - not unless some drastic circumstance should force him to change policy. This was the conclusion I reached in 1987 and nothing has happened subsequently to make me think otherwise.
For those who go on suffering the new order of the Mass, this is a pretty grim outlook; and so I found it as I reluctantly contemplated having to leave the company of our Ukrainian brothers. Then something quite unexpected happened. Rome did a thing which went against a quarter-century of doggedly pursued pastoral policy. Faced with the Lefebvre schism, Rome decided to offer to all Catholics, who wanted to make use of them, the traditional Latin rites of the Roman Church which had been under de facto ban since 1971.
Officially, and genuinely, Rome was sticking to its guns: despite abuses in some places, the liturgical reforms which came in the wake of the Council have been a great achievement. No, this was not the liturgical reform I had been praying for. Nevertheless, Rome was now tacitly prepared to admit that a great many Catholics did not share its sanguine view of the "reform" and that it was possible for them to continue disagreeing about what was, afterall, a matter of "pastoral strategy" without breaking the unity of faith. Rome's decision on this matter took legislative form in the Ecclesia Dei Decree signed by the Pope on 2 July 1988.
For me Rome's move to allow Catholics the freedom to worship traditionally - a decision not without its irony - was the greatest spiritual boon. The Ecclesia Dei Decree, combined with local circumstances, prompted my ordinary, Archbishop Francis Carroll of the Canberra-Goulbourn Archdiocese, to provide for the weekly Sunday celebration of Mass according to the traditional forms. Straightaway I realised that there was, afterall, some familiar place into which a spiritual refugee could turn. But at the time I had no idea what an impact returning to the traditional Mass would have on me.
Encounter with mystery: encounter with truth
It was the First Sunday of Advent, 1988, after a break of more than 20 years that I went back to the Mass of our Latin heritage. On that day, as off I went, I had no thought other than that I was heading out to just another refuge - some place removed from the sickly atmosphere of the modern Catholic parishes I had known - where I could await, without losing my faith, the reform of the new liturgy for which I still hoped. A strange thing, however, happened. After the consecration of the host, as the priest raised the sacred species with, as it seemed to me, all the ancient solemnity and self-effacing dignity, I was struck with a powerful thought that I will never forget: "We've made a mistake - a dreadful mistake!"
It was completely unexpected. Obviously, the liturgical reforms had all been so reasonable and so completely in accord with what seems mere common sense to our modern minds. Obviously it was nonsensical to offer the Mass in an arcane language. Obviously the venacular would create a quantum leap in participation. Obviously strict rubrics fossilised the Mass. Obviously worship should be offered in a friendly communal atmosphere. Obviously...
All of sudden, however, all the obvious unaswerable objections to the traditional forms of Catholic worship which still lingered in my convictions were blown away - like things which had never existed, not even as illusions. In their place all those bits and pieces of thought which I had been turning over began to fit together, like pieces of a jig-saw which suddenly begin to find their pattern. The old readiness to strike some bargain with worldly culture, and the years of consequent pain, suddenly dissolved if they had been just a bad dream, and here I was bathed in a morning light, awake and at home.
Freedom and heritage
I am conscious of the fact that for many a conservative defender of the Vatican II regime, the position I have been putting poses a number of difficulties. While I cannot address each of these directly here and now, I'd like to polish up a few points and hopefully dispel at least some of the doubts.
In putting a case for the traditional Latin liturgy, I am advocating merely that all Catholics who choose to worship, and to receive the sacraments of the Church, according to the traditional rites should be free to do so. This means that parents who wish to bring up their children in the ambience of this rich heritage, should be free to do so. And, of course, those priests and religious - or those who aspire to the priestly and religious life - who wish to serve God in the traditional forms of liturgy and community life should be likewise free.
I am not arguing for a liturgical counter-revolution to pull the Western Church back into strict accord with its Latin heritage. Apart from anything else, so many Catholics, having lost contact with traditional liturgical forms, would find them so foreign on return that it would be an injustice to reimpose them - just as it was an injustice to deprive Catholics of their heritage.
What I want to see, however, is what the Ecclesia Dei decree has laid the foundations for. Namely, an opportunity for a number of liturgical expressions to co-exist within the Western Church - not by any means a unique situation, since that is how things were throughout the mediaeval period and up to the Council of Trent. Even after that other liturgical forms continued to exist within the Western Church until Vatican II.
But that, you might say, would threaten the Vatican II reforms. Why, if people got a wiff of the tradition they would want to go back to it and that would be the end for aggiornamento.
Well, if that were to happen, so be it. Since the purpose of the Council was, according to Popes John and Paul (and many another "father" of the Council), to generate "pastoral" reforms, and since "pastoral" judgments are of their nature prudential, being either wise or unwise, relevant or irrelevant, effective of ineffective, good in their results or bad, then our faith should be unscathed if the Vatican II "hypotheses" were falsified by the test of history. The only casualties of such an outcome should be the reputation of our leaders for prudent judgement and the myth papal infallibility in church government.
For my part, however, I do not believe that the new model Church which has emerged in the Western World will suddenly disappear at a "wiff of tradition". What has arisen in the wake of Vatican II will last until the collapse of secular Western culture, until the final denouement of that civilisation which arose with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and of which post-conciliar Western Catholicism has proved to be the creature.
There are, however, people far more responsible and experienced than I who would disagree: the French hierarchy, for instance. Perhaps no more bitter opponents of liturgical tradition can be found than among French bishops. With few exceptions they believe that the game will be up for them and all they stand for if French Catholics were allowed to have their head, especially given the growing preoccupation in France, particularly among the young, for pre-revolutionary French history and heritage.
Speaking of which, is it not paradoxical that now the Catholic Church has jumped on the conservationist bandwagon - with church authorities in Sydney, for example, halting work on the new St. Mary's Cathedral complex until an alternative to rainforest timbers can be found - that Catholics who revere their own cultural and spiritual heritage are treated like enemies.
The Newman Principle
So, you might reply, you are just locked into the past. You want to live as if the inexorable fact of change does not wear down older forms and cultures.
No, I am not opposed to change in the forms of Catholic life, including in the liturgy. While I do argue that the traditional forms of Catholic worship are liturgically superior to the present order of things, I have not claimed that the traditional liturgy was perfect, or that it could not or should not develop.
What I have argued is that the new regime is not a development of the tradition. It was and is an artificially contrived thing, drawn up by a committee and imposed on the Catholic world, this imposition being accompanied by an unjust, almost universal, and de facto ban on the customary way Catholics of the Western Church had worshipped for generations. Such a thing has never happened before in the history of the Church. By definition this was no development.
It could be argued, of course, that the old liturgy had become fossilised and that the hard shell which had formed around it needed to be cracked so that a mature liturgy, free of childish attachments to the past, could hatch out.
It probably was the case that the possibilities of liturgical development had been limited by the control which Rome had exercised over the liturgy from the Council of Trent to the Second Vatican Council. This discipline was imposed to preserve the Mass and the Sacrament of the Altar from the sacrilege of manipulation by people who wished to turn the Mass into an instrument for propagating doctrine at odds with the traditional Catholic faith. Given what has happened since the relaxation of this discipline, the previous caution about liturgical innovation seems to have been based upon a realistic assessment of the possible dangers.
The price paid for this was, perhaps, some inflexibility. Though to be fair, developments were taking place in the liturgy before Vatican II under the influence of the "liturgical movement", which we cannot discuss here. Suffice it to note, however - for the benefit of those who argue that without the "liturgical reforms" we could not have had a venacular Mass - that the practice of reading the lessons in the local language was widespread in Germany before the Council.
So I am not arguing that changes should not have occurred. What I am saying is that scope for change should have been provided and, indeed, had been provided to some extent. However, for change to constitute a genuine development, it must be steeped in the tradition and develop organically from it. As Newman put it,
...this process [whereby an idea germinates and matures] will not be a development, unless the assemblage of aspects which constitute its ultimate shape really belongs to the idea from which they start. (John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Image Books, 1960, p.61)
Apropos, how can the New Order of the Mass constitute a development when the liturgical centre of gravity has shifted from the consecration to the communion, when the symbolism of the rite now speaks of supper rather than of sacrifice? How can this "ultimate shape" really belong to the idea from which it started - Christ on the Cross shedding blood upon the ground?
No, the changes which came after the Council did not occur organically. Rather they were made artificially. The reigning principle at the time was that of change by design rather than by natural development. For the first time in Catholic history the rite of Mass was drawn up by a team of "experts" and, in addition, by men acting under the influence of abstract theories of "good liturgy" rather than under the authoritative guidance of custom. Furthermore, their design was imposed on the Latin West after a break with past practices had already been contrived. Thus a crucial break in that continuity which lies at the foundation of true development was affected at two levels. Both continuity of form and continuity of practice were broken. This is the kind of development we call revolutionary.
The leaven in the dough
Granted the justice of these arguments, surely it follows that Catholics will just have to go back to the traditional liturgy?
As I have already indicated, that would itself involve an injustice. Nevertheless, if the Catholics of the Western world are to retain a genuinely Catholic identity, their traditional liturgy will have to have a palpable presence in Catholic life. Its role will be to serve as a leaven in the new liturgical dough, exerting a reforming influence on the new liturgy by bringing it back into contact with the traditional mentality of Catholic worship.
This, it seems to me, is the way ahead for liturgical reform in the Western Church. Rather than looking to Rome to design some rejigged liturgical order - and risking an enormous international row among bishops and theologians redolent with the danger of schism - reform can take place imperceptibly at the local level under the indirect and hopefully spreading influence of tradition exerting itself, as it were osmotically, on contemporary liturgical habits.
What kind of liturgy will emerge from this "discussion" between the new and traditional liturgies, is difficult to say. But one thing, I am convinced, is certain. Unless the New Order of the Mass is regnerated under a traditional influence, it will die. Perhaps it will die even under the influence of reform, because reform will either generate a new, hybrid liturgy or prompt in the minds, especially of young priests, that dangerous question: why have changed it at all? Whatever the outcome, the crucial thing is that a germ of the traditional concept of Catholic worship be implanted within the new liturgy. After that, the course of future liturgical developments is a matter for Divine Providence.
(*Gary Scarrabelotti is the Joint Editor of Oriens and the founding Secretary of The Ecclesia Dei Society. This article is an expanded version of that originally published in the Australian magazine Fidelity January-March 1990. )
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Online Edition - Vol. V, No. 8: November 1999
[Re]Turn to the East?
A young priest asks if it is time to consider a change in practice
by Father Thomas Kocik
In her book The Desolate City, Anne Roche Muggeridge offers this trenchant proposal:
If an angel allowed me one suggestion as to what more than anything else would most quickly restore the sense of the sacred to the Mass, it would be this to do away with Mass facing the people. I am convinced that the position of the priest at the altar is the single most important liturgical "external" symbol, the one that carries the most doctrinal baggage. To put the priest back on our side of the altar, facing with us towards God, would at one stroke restore the Mass from an exercise in interpersonal relationship to the universal prayer of the Church to God our Father. With the priest facing God once more as leader of the people, the importance of the microphone will diminish, and the priest can stop making faces at us. He and we can go back to thinking only about what is happening in the Mystery. (Anne Roche Muggeridge, The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church, rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990, pp. 176-77.)
The purpose of celebrating Mass in the traditional manner priest and people facing the same direction, toward the East (if not literally then at least symbolically) has nothing to do with seeking to obstruct people's view of what is taking place at the altar by having the priest's back to them. Nor is it even primarily for the sake of facing the altar or tabernacle. Rather, the priest stands before the altar, facing the same way as the faithful, to manifest the eschatological and sacrificial dimensions of the Eucharist. In The Feast of Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger explains:
Where priest and people together face the same way, what we have is a cosmic orientation and also in interpretation of the Eucharist in terms of resurrection and trinitarian theology. Hence it is also an interpretation in terms of parousia, a theology of hope, in which every Mass is an approach to the return of Christ. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986, pp. 140-41.)
This is the point I tried to convey in the worship aid for my First Solemn Mass (Novus Ordo) two years ago: "The Eucharistic Sacrifice will be offered in the manner traditional to the Roman Rite and to all liturgical rites of the Church: priest and faithful together facing the same way, in a common act of worship, symbolizing our common pilgrimage toward the returning Lord, the Sun of Justice."
History of "Liturgical East"
Why the insistence on an Eastward-facing position for both priest and congregation? From early on, Christians adopted the Jewish practice of praying toward Eden, in the East (Gen. 2:8), the direction from which Ezekiel saw come "the glory of the God of Israel" (Ezek 43:2,4), the direction in which Jesus ascended from the Mount of Olives and wherefrom He will return (Acts 1:11), and the direction whence the Angel of the Lord will come in the end time (Rev. 7:2). Tertullian informs us that Christian churches are "always" oriented "toward the light".
Origen asserts that the direction of the rising sun obviously indicates that we ought to pray inclining in that direction, an act which symbolizes the soul looking toward the rising of the true light, the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.
Saint John Damascene says that, while waiting the coming of the Lord, "we adore Him facing East", for that is the tradition passed down to us from the Apostles. Other Church Fathers who confirm this usage are Clement of Alexandria, Saint Basil and Saint Augustine. To this day, the ancient Coptic Rite of Egypt retains in its eucharistic liturgy (just before the Sursum corda) the age-old exhortation of the deacon: "Look towards the East!"
In The Reform of the Roman Rite (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.: Una Voce Press; Harrison, N.Y.: Roman Catholic Books, 1993, chaps. XII-XV), the late Monsignor Klaus Gamber, director of the Regensburg Liturgical Institute, demonstrates convincingly that the precedents for freestanding altars with Mass "facing the people" have been highly exaggerated. In agreement with such eminent (and unquestionably orthodox) liturgists as Father Josef A. Jungmann and Father Louis Bouyer, Gamber shows that the practice of celebrating the Eucharist versus populum flourished only in the city of Rome and in parts of North Africa, where the pagan custom of having the façade (rather than the apse) of a temple facing East was continued; but even then, the historical evidence shows that, while the celebrant did in fact face the people, they did not face him, but turned their backs on him during the prayers so that they, too, could face East.
In addition to the historical and theological justifications for returning to the Eastward-facing position, there are other reasons. Akin to Muggeridge's observations is this critique, from a psychological perspective, of Mass versus populum:
While in the past, the priest functioned as the anonymous go-between, the first among the faithful, facing God and not the people, representative of all and together with them offering the Sacrifice, while reciting prayers that have been prescribed for him today he is a distinct person, with personal characteristics, his personal lifestyle, his face turned towards the people. For many priests this change is a temptation they cannot handle.... Some priests are quite adept some less soat taking personal advantage of a situation. Their gestures, their facial expressions, their movements, their overall behavior, all serve to subjectively attract attention to their person....
To [some priests], the level of success in their performance is a measure of their personal power and thus the indicator of their feeling of personal security and self-assurance. (K. G. Rey, "Pubertätserscheinungen in der Katholischen Kirche" ["Signs of Puberty in the Catholic Church"], Kritische Texte, Vol. 4 (Benzinger), pg. 25; quoted in Gamber, pp. 86-87 and 169-70).
Simply put, the Latin-rite liturgy must be literally re-oriented. (Whenever I hear the Advent hymn "People Look East", I am always tempted to interject, "including the priest!")
Perhaps it would be imprudent and pastorally insensitive to press for change right away, especially after the upheaval of the last thirty years. The faithful need to be prepared. They need to know why a celebration ad orientem, rather than versus populum, better expresses the true meaning and sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.
The Eastward position emphasizes an eschatological note that is both biblical and patristic. It avoids focusing attention on the personality and mannerisms of the celebrant and reminds us that he is important only insofar as he stands at the altar in persona Christi, offering the Sacrifice of Calvary. Moreover, it symbolizes a worshipping community open to the world beyond the here-and-now, on pilgrimage to the Promised Land.
Many are no doubt aware that the documents of the Second Vatican Council nowhere mention, let alone require, celebrating Mass versus populum. The 1964 Instruction Inter Oecumenici (On the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites after the Constitution had been passed but before the end of the Council, does no more than say that the main altar should be freestanding so that the ministers can walk around it and Mass can be celebrated facing the people: "It is better that [praestat ut] the main altar be constructed separately from the wall, so that one can go around it with ease and so that celebration can [peragi possit] take place facing the people" (#91; my emphasis).
Similarly, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM] has only this to say: "The main altar should be freestanding so that the ministers can easily walk around it and Mass can be celebrated facing the people. It should be placed in a central position which draws the attention of the whole congregation" (# 262).
In fact, the current Sacramentary implicitly presumes that the priest is not facing the people when celebrating Mass; otherwise he would not be instructed by the GIRM and by the rubrics to "face the people" at specific moments of the Mass and then to turn back to face the altar (86, 107, 115, 116, 122, 198, and 199; Order of Mass, 2, 25, 104, 105, 111 and 113.)
There can be no doubt, therefore, as to the legitimacy of returning to the traditional practice.
Search for sense of the Sacred
I believe there are already signs that a return to the traditional orientation would be favorably received, not just by older Catholics, but by the young who have never experienced Mass ad orientem. One hears of the growing number of young Catholics, born well after Vatican II ended, who are drawn to the Tridentine Mass. They find in the old liturgy the sense of mystery and transcendence sorely lacking in the modern rite (as it is commonly practiced), owing largely to what is perhaps the most notable feature of the old rite (besides the Latin language): the priest facing liturgical East.
To be sure, the new rite can be celebrated in Latin, having the priest on the same side of the altar as the congregation, as my First Mass was offered. Lamentably, though, such Masses are scarce. One can more easily find an indult Tridentine Mass than a normative (i.e., Latin, ad orientem) Novus Ordo Mass! At any rate, my point is that the young are not "turned off" because Father does not look at them when he prays at the Lord's altar.
Personal experience, too, makes me hopeful. Recently, because of work being done in the nave of our parish church, weekday Masses were celebrated with the people confined to one of the transepts. Because the freestanding altar could not (for various reasons) be turned ninety degrees to allow for Mass facing the people in the transept, I had to choose between celebrating Mass facing out onto an empty nave, or facing the high altar and tabernacle. Either way, the congregation would have a side view of me when I stood at the altar. I chose the latter.
After Mass, an elderly parishioner came into the sacristy and thanked me for saying Mass facing the altar, "like it should be". Nostalgia, perhaps. But then one has to consider the observations of my 13-year-old altar boy: "That was so different, Father. I think I would like Mass that way all the time. It just seemed -- well -- better focused."
Better focused. That pretty well sums it up. This from a boy blissfully oblivious to post-Vatican II liturgical squabbles, whose parents can recall only dimly the preconciliar years.
Ex ore infántium . . .
Father Kocik, who was ordained in 1997, is Parochial Vicar at Saint Francis Xavier in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
Ad Orientem et Versus Populum
Not only Westwards but also Eastwards
A friendly word from a high-church Evangelical to Anglo- Catholics & Evangelicals
Before Vatican II most if not all celebration of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Church involved both the celebrant and congregation facing the East. Since Vatican II much but not all celebration of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Church has witnessed the congregation facing East and the celebrant facing West.
Likewise in the Episcopal Church, USA there has been a change in the last 30 years from the celebrant facing the East to facing the people (in fact the rubrics in the 1979 American prayer book taken at their face value actually presuppose that the priest will face East for the Eucharistic Prayer after the Sursum Corda).
“Ad orientem” is from “oriens” meaning “the rising sun” -- thus “the East” or “the dawn” – and with the preposition “ad” ( “to” or “towards”).
In the Early Church the bodily posture of priest and people at the “Eucharistia” was a symbol of Christian hope. Jesus Christ was identified with the dawn and rising sun. And as such His dawn (rising from the dead and then coming in glory) marks the consummation of all things and the restoration of Paradise (Eden lies in “the east”). Not only the celebrant but the whole assembly, united in the one body of Christ, looked to the risen Lord who shall come in glory to restore all things. The eucharistic feast is in anticipation of the messianic banquet at the consummation.
So “ad orientem” is not the priest being bad mannered with his back to the people, but it is the whole people of God looking with awe and joy at the resurrected Lord Jesus and in expectation and hope looking for his coming in glory.
Celebration “ad orientem” does not mean that the celebrant and assisting ministers face East all the time. When they address the people in the ministry of the Word they face the people, for here they are the messengers of God to his people. But when the whole assembly prays they all, laity and priests, face the risen and coming Lord Jesus.
When a congregation is well taught in the content and meaning of the sacred Scriptures and the rich symbolism of the ancient way of celebration is explained to them, then the faithful can see that celebration “ad orientem” can be beautiful and well pleasing to God the Father through His Son and with His Holy Spirit.
It is a major mistake to think that celebration “ad orientem” has been banned by the R C Church since Vatican II and that “versus populum” (“facing the people”) has become the norm.
A careful study of the appropriate documents and rubrics from the “Consultation on the Liturgy” (the major document of Vatican II which significantly does not call for an end to “ad orientem” and does not even mention “versus populum) to the present day ( see e.g.,“Documents of the Liturgy” and the “Missale Romanum” which do not mandate celebration “versus populum”).
From the evidence of the official liturgical books of the RC Church this is what can be said about the reforms after Vatican II. The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated “versus populum” facing the people (not from the altar facing East as in much pre-Vatican II practice). Then there is an option. Either the Eucharistic Prayer can be offered in the ancient manner ( priest and people “ad orientem”) or in the modern manner ( priest “versus populum” and people “ad orientem”). The so-called spirit of Vatican II allows for both forms of celebration and certainly does not require only the “versus populum.”
One can understand why there was a major rejection of “ad orientem” in the wake of Vatican II when changes were occurring everywhere and priests wanted to escape from the “bondage” of the pre-Vatican ways of celebration. “Versus populum” seemed to fit where people were psychologically and socially in the 1960s and 1970s. Many were happy to see the priest as a kind of spiritual bar tender or friendly presiding officer who jovially faced them and served them divine food and drink.
The more serious minded saw the Westward celebration as being a reflection of the Last Supper (Christ presiding over the meal with his disciples), of making clear to all the faithful not only the words but also the actions of the Mass – taking & blessing, and of communion/community.
Perhaps now that we find ourselves in God’s good providence at the beginning of a new millennium and over thirty years after Vatican II, we are in a better position to see both the awesome imagery of the celebration “ad orientem” and the homely imagery of the “versus populum.”
The Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The vanishing Catholic intellectualAlain Woodrow
The French, ever proud of their great thinkers, complain they have all but disappeared today. In Church circles it is the same. But are those fine minds out there, simply biding their time, waiting for the right moment?
IN ENGLAND, “intellectual” is a dirty word; in France, being described as such is akin to consecration, something devoutly desired. Whereas the pragmatic English wear their learning lightly and wouldn’t be seen dead signing a petition as “a group of intellectuals”, the French parade their erudition proudly and expect their intellectuals – a recognised and revered class – who are naturally engages, to take a public (and published) political stand on every controversial question. The tradition goes back to Emile Zola’s famous article on the front page of L’Aurore in 1898, “J’Accuse!”, in which he took Dreyfus’s defence against the anti-Semites of his day.
The English writer or thinker might join a club, but would probably prefer to discuss life over a pint. His French counterpart would be too busy organising press campaigns, signing petitions, attending a colloquium on “the French cultural exception” or expounding his pet theory at a université d’été. He has immortal longings and dreams of being elected to the Académie française, that exclusive club of 40 “immortal” intellectuals founded by
Last February, 40,000 self-styled intellectuals signed a petition accusing Jean-Pierre Raffarin’s right-wing Government of “waging war on intelligence” by cutting scientific and research budgets. They had a point. This Government, true to its liberal principals, has been particularly miserly in funding culture, research and all forms of associative action, whether charitable or intellectual, on the grounds that the private sector should contribute more and the State less, in a similar way to the American model.
But parallel to this switch in priorities there has been a general decline in the contribution of les intellectuals to public life, especially since the end of the Cold War. The Figaro’s literary supplement recently published an article entitled “Why don’t intellectuals, on the right and the left, occupy a more prominent place in the public arena?”, ending on a gloomy note: “Is this the end of the intellectual?” Generally speaking, the left has produced more famous and influential thinkers (Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, Althusser) than the right (Malraux, Aron); to be intellectual was almost synonymous with being left-wing. Many were professed Marxists, and the fall of Communism explains in part the disarray of the thinking elite.
But the slump in the intellectual market has swept right across the board, affecting not only Communists and liberals, Catholics and rationalists, but also philosophers and theologians, historians and sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists, literary critics and film directors. Where are today’s Lévi-Strauss, Braudel, Barthes, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu, Furet, Le Roy Ladurie, Robbe-Grillet, Truffaut, Godard ...? On the Christian scene, such giants as Maritain and Mauriac, Gide and Julien Green, Teilhard de Chardin and Gabriel Marcel, not to speak of the theologians who inspired the Second Vatican Council, Congar, De Lubac, Chenu, Daniélou, have not been replaced.
Today, the leading philosopher, if such he can be called, is Bernard-Henri Lévy (known as BHL), more a television celebrity and journalist than a serious thinker. As Perry Anderson wrote recently in an article on France’s decline, “Dégringolade” (Collapse), published by the London Review of Books last September: “It would be difficult to imagine a more extraordinary reversal of national standards of taste and intelligence than the attention accorded to this crass booby in France’s public sphere, despite innumerable demonstrations of his inability to get a fact or an idea straight.”
A spate of books about him, mostly critical, are appearing at the moment, denouncing the network BHL created. He founded a school of nouveaux philosophes in 1977, but was never taken seriously by such specialists as Aron, Castoriadis, Deleuze, Leys or Vidal-Naquet. He is accused of dilettantism, slipshod reporting and of relying on a network of friends in the media and the political milieu to promote his ideas, books and films.
Having a book published is still the hallmark of any self-respecting intellectual, but they are often hastily written pamphlets or, in the case of politicians, ghosted manifestos. The French may now read less, on average, but the number of published books grows larger every year, especially portraits of political figures. There were 70 essays written about the 2002 election campaign, while over the years 200 books were published about François Mitterrand, and 2,000 on Charles de Gaulle.
The theme of
He says this is due to his country’s “profound conservatism” and inability to adapt to the far-reaching upheavals which are disrupting the global economic and geopolitical system. His attack spares no one, and he castigates the “sinister continuity between the two seven-year terms of François Mitterrand and the 12 years of Jacques Chirac’s presidency, united by their talent for winning elections and ruining
Another book which has hit the headlines recently is Nicolas Sarkozy’s La République, les religions, l’espérance (The Republic, religions and hope). The former minister of the interior, who resigned from his post as finance minister after being elected president of the UMP Party, makes no secret of his ambition to replace Chirac as president of the Republic in 2007.
Sarkozy’s book is an interview with Thibaud Collin, a professor of philosophy, and Philippe Verdin, a Dominican friar. When he was interior minister (which includes being “minister of cults”), he reorganised the “Conseil français du culte musulman” (the French Council for the Muslim Faith) to include the more radical, fundamentalist “Union des organisations islamiques de France” (the Union of French Islamic Organisations). After a brief show of unity, when a joint delegation went to Baghdad to plead for the release of two French journalist hostages, they are once more at loggerheads, threatening to split the CFCM.
Sarkozy’s most controversial remarks in the book concern the law of 1905 defining the separation of Church and State. He suggests that the law be revised to allow state funding for the building of all places of worship. At present, churches and synagogues must be exclusively financed by contributions from the faithful, although “annexes”, such as community centres or sacred art museums, can receive money from the local authorities. Sarkozy proposes that mosques could be built at the taxpayer’s expense.
“Why should the State finance a football ground, a library, a theatre or a nursery”, he asks, “and not pay a centime towards society’s religious needs?” Representatives of the other major religions, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, immediately criticised the idea, and both Chirac and Raffarin stated publicly that they are flatly opposed to any tampering with the law of 1905. Many political observers see this as a clever move on Sarkozy’s part to win the Islamic vote in future presidential elections, and ask why he didn’t try to change the law when he was minister of the interior.
To Sarkozy’s credit, he has broken the taboo against mixing religion and politics. He is in favour of a greater role for religion in society and pleads for a more comprehensive understanding of laïcité (secularism). He is opposed to the wearing of the Islamic headscarf by pupils of state schools (but not in private schools or in public elsewhere), and by state officials (the civil service, the police, etc). “Historically”, he explains, “the doctrine of laïcité was elaborated in the struggle against the influence of the Catholic religion. Those times are past. Today, laïcité is a chance to be seized by all, religious and unbelievers alike.”
He shocked some by his incursion into the religious domain, going so far as to affirm that “the Republic cannot reply to all our questions as it knows nothing of good and evil; it simply tells us what is permitted or forbidden”.
If economists (like Bavarez) and politicians (like Sarkozy) are occupying the moral high ground, where are the Catholic moralists and theologians? As
This dearth of Catholic thinkers, whether they are theologians or philosophers, is not limited to
Faced with the challenge of secularisation and technology based on purely rational premises, the philosophers present stressed the need to assert their Catholic identity, while maintaining a critical yet benevolent dialogue with the philosophical community at large. Not only did they reject the temptation to isolate themselves within a specifically Christian, and therefore marginal, exclusivism, but spoke out in favour of joining forces with non-Christian philosophers in analysing such thorny questions as bioethics or globalisation. Refusing to remain on the defensive, they wished to prove that Christian wisdom is capable of meeting the most difficult challenges.
The participants also pointed out that the emergence of new philosophical questions will oblige Catholic universities to reorganise their academic curriculum. A new, more collegial way of practising philosophy will advance the Church’s thinking on such questions. Although Catholic philosophers tend to keep a lower profile today than their predecessors, they are also working more collectively, as a team, and it isn’t because they are incognito that they are less responsible, concluded the congress.
This teamwork, by groups of young Catholic philosophers and theologians who prefer anonymity to renown – in
It is to be hoped, therefore, that Catholic intellectuals are not an endangered species but that the new generation has simply gone underground. Fins de règne, whether of kings or popes, are always difficult and uncertain times, when courtiers intrigue, jockey for position and try to take over the reins. The seeds that are sown today, patiently, unseen, are not lost. Tomorrow – perhaps – 1,000 flowers will bloom.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Yearning for the Latin Mass
by Kevin Starr
Courtesy of the San Francisco "Examiner"
A goodly number of pseudo-reformist movements these days consists of powerful elites telling the majority of people what to do. Elites grab control of an agency, an institution, a political body, then proceed to legislate without regard to majority opinion. Take the matter of the Latin Mass. A recent Gallup poll shows 64 percent of American Catholics prefer the return of the Latin Mass.
Sixty-four percent! That's a solid majority, for sure! Among Catholics with a college education, the figure jumps to 73 per-cent-nearly a two-thirds majority. Roughly 10 percent of the Catholics polled had no opinion. Only 26 percent were opposed. Splitting the difference of the no-opinion group, we come up with the fact that roughly 80 percent of American Catholics prefer the return of the oldstyle, Tridentine Latin Mass. After 15 years, in other words, of guitar music, pseudo-folksongs, banal translations, hand-clapping, the kissing of perfect strangers during the offertory in an orgy of dishonest sentiment, most Catholics yearn for the dignity and mystery of the Latin Mass. We've had circus masses with clowns on the altar, where they played "Send in the Clown" during the offertory. You were supposed to leave Church, I suppose, feeling glowy all over. We've had radical masses where the consecration was ushered in with a folksy protest song by Pete Seeger. We've witnessed with-it priests in psychedelic vestments (most of them on the verge of resigning the priesthood) consecrate loaves of sourdough French bread and Gallo Hearty Burgundy. Also used: Ry-Krisp, Wonder Bread (for that homey feeling), Syrian bread (for that archaeologically exact feeling), and Kasanoff's Jewish Rye (for that feeling of ethnic brotherhood). Of late an English-language liturgy of heroic banality has been forced on us, rivaling the Unitarian worship service for sheer avoidance of Catholicity of sentiment, reference or symbolism.
What is the result of all this tasteless disregard for the necessity of aesthetic transcendence in liturgy? What is the result of telling two-thirds of the Roman Catholics in America that they cannot, must not, worship in the manner of their youth: that the way the Church prayed for more than a thousand years was now forbidden? On Holy Thursday I stood in St. Ignatius Church with a sparse and pitiable crowd and tried as much as possible to attend to a liturgy stripped of its transcendence and grandeur. We were, say, a congregation of no more than 300-mainly older women. Twenty years ago the Church would have been filled to its 1,500 seat capacity. Now on Sunday mornings in the Catholic parishes of San Francisco, you could set up an indoor volleyball game in the center of the Church without bothering the sparse gathering of aged parishioners.
All knowledge of God, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is by analogy-with the exception of infused contemplation and certain rare forms of mystical prayer. What St. Thomas means is that God is unknowable in Himself. He is eternal and transcendent. We are finite. We try to bridge the gap between God's awful majesty and our own insecure finitude in a variety of ways-prayer, contemplation, good works, and above all else, through sacramental worship. According to Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and responsible Protestant Episcopalian belief, the celebration of the Eucharist is our most powerful link with the Godhead. It recreates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and Christ's death on Calvary in a way that is at once profoundly symbolic and profoundly true. In reference, then, to St. Thomas' statement about knowing God through analogy, the Eucharist-called the Mass by Roman Catholics-constitutes our most daring flight towards the Godhead, and Almighty God's most generous intersection with us-through the imminent presence of His Son Jesus Christ in the eucharistic sacrifice. According to Catholic belief, the Mass recreates the grand drama of Calvary. It is not a hootenany. It is not a touchy-feely Esalen session designed to make you feel tingly and sincere all over your body.
It took the Latin Church 500 years to evolve a worship service equal to this awesome, compelling leap to the Godhead through die risen, eucharistic Christ. For a thousand years Catholics prayed this way at Mass. In the 16th century Council of Trent, this 1,000 year-old Mass was standardized, codified, made the norm of the Universal Church. Another 400 more years went by-400 years of dignified, compelling worship. In great cathedrals of Europe, the Latin Mass was celebrated by archbishops and cardinals in splendid robes, accompanied by orchestras and trained choirs; in jungle outposts, it was celebrated by sweat-stained missionaries, accompanied by prayers in a thousand different tongues. But wherever it was celebrated-in cathedrals in ancient abbeys, in frontier parishes, in jungle out-posts, it was the same Latin Mass. Every Catholic over 35 in America grew up to its rich cadences. We followed its intricacies in our missals. We bowed our heads in awful silence as the priest bent over the host and the chalice, intoning the ancient words of consecration.
The day the Latin Mass was outlawed by the elitists, the day 80 percent of the Catholics of America were told they could no longer worship in the manner their ancestors worshipped since time immemorial, I was having dinner in New York with another Catholic-novelist Anthony Burgess. "In 10 years time Catholic churches will be empty," Burgess said. "For when you destroy the Mass, you destroy the faith. We English Catholics know this. We literally went to the stake for the Latin Mass."
Anthony Burgess was right. The elite reformers destroyed the Latin Mass. Now the churches are empty. Now no one believes.
Bob Casey’s Revenge
Copyright (c) 2004 First Things 149 (January 2005): 6-8.
I can’t believe I’m losing to this idiot. So said John Kerry during the presidential campaign. Judging from the news stories following the election, many of his supporters appear to have had the same reaction—with no sense that the condescension inherent in their candidate’s statement helps illuminate the reasons for the election results.
In the New York Times Maureen Dowd complained that Kerry lost because the President divided America “along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance, and religious rule.” In the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne took much the same line, attributing the Kerry defeat to “vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings, and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud.” James Carville said it was the lack of a “compelling narrative.”
But perhaps the best explanation was given by a Democrat who called this election more than a decade ago: Bob Casey, the governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995.
I didn’t know Governor Casey personally. But back in 1992, fate put me within a few feet of him inside Madison Square Garden during the Democratic National Convention. That was when Clinton officials refused a place at the podium for the Democratic governor of America’s fifth-largest state while also providing speaking slots for six pro-choice Republican women. To make sure the point was delivered, one of these was a pro-choice woman who had campaigned for Casey’s Republican opponent.
On Election Day 2004, the silencing of Bob Casey thundered through America’s polling booths. In vain, Casey in 1992 had warned his fellow Democrats about allowing the Party to be become “little more than an auxiliary of NARAL.” In his autobiography he put it this way:
Many people discount the power of the so-called “cultural issues”—and especially of the abortion issue. I see it just the other way around. These issues are central to the national resurgence of the Republicans, central to the national implosion of the Democrats, central to the question of whether there will be a third party. The national Democrats may, and probably will, get a temporary bump in the polls—even, perhaps, one more national election victory—from their reactive strategy as the defenders of the elderly and poor who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. But the Democrats’ national decline—or better, their national disintegration—will continue relentlessly and inexorably until they come to grips with these values issues, primarily abortion.
This is an interesting article, here is a selection from the last paragraph, "Pius V's short-lived missal and Quo primum were the first instance of a pope excercising authority over local bishops with regard to the liturgy for a major section of the Church. Before this time each diocesan bishop was responsible for what went on in his own territory. Quo primum was aimed at bishops, not future popes, and reserved to the papacy the authority to make changes to the liturgy. Those who are so vociferous about the "Tridentine" rite often fail to appreciate this point. With the Second Vatican Council and the general move away from centralisation in the Church it will be interesting for our descendants to look back at the period we are now living through and examine the changes that will inevitably be made to Paul VI's missal, just as so many were made to that of Pius V."
Sunday, January 16, 2005
1946 Document on Jewish Children Tells a Different Story
Undercuts Tale That Vatican Tried to Keep Them From Their FamiliesROME, JAN. 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The latest in a series of accusations about Pope Pius XII's behavior vis-à-vis the Jews and Nazi persecution seems to have little basis in fact.
The latest round began Dec. 28 when an Italian newspaper published passages of an alleged 1946 Vatican document that supposedly aimed to keep baptized Jewish children from being returned to their families.
The text, as stated in Il Corriere della Sera by Alberto Melloni, director of the G. Dossetti Library of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Sciences of Bologna, was "a disposition of the Holy Office," as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was formerly known. The document was said to be dated Oct. 20, 1946.
But after careful research, ZENIT discovered that the document, in fact, was not of the Holy Office and did not bear evidence of the reported date. Nor did it state what the article in Il Corriere said it did.
The document, whose original is in French, was written under the oversight of the then apostolic nuncio in Paris, Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII.
It was meant to explain to the French clergy the instructions he had received from the Holy See, specifically, from the secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, Monsignor Domenico Tardini.
In his newspaper article, Alberto Melloni did not quote the archive from which the document came.
In fact, the document, in full, was published last Tuesday after being tracked down by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli of the Milan newspaper Il Giornale.
Tornielli revealed that the original is kept in the Centre National des Archives de l'Église de France, archive of the secretariat of the French episcopate, position "7 CE 131."
ZENIT obtained by fax a copy of the original and verified that the text has the seal of the apostolic nunciature of France -- as opposed to what Il Corriere della Sera published, which attributed it to the Holy Office.
ZENIT also verified that the document is dated Oct. 23, 1946, three days later than that mentioned by Il Corriere, and that the terms of the Vatican proposal are very different from what the Italian newspaper had reported.
The original document contradicts Melloni's version. It states, in fact, that the children should be returned to their original Jewish families.
Regarding "Jewish institutions," which during those months were working in Paris and throughout Europe to transfer children to Palestine, the document states that each case must be examined individually.
ZENIT learned that the history of the document began in March 1946, when Isaac Herzog, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, addressed a letter to Pope Pius XII in which the former wrote: "The Jewish people very much remember with profound gratitude the help given by the Holy See to the people that suffered during the Nazi persecution."
Profound thanks are given for the "thousands of children who were hidden in Catholic institutions," and the rabbi requests that these children be returned to the Jewish people.
Herzog emphasized how Pius XII "has worked to banish anti-Semitism in many countries" and concluded with an invocation: "God willing, may history remember that when everything was dark for our people, His Holiness lit a light of hope for them."
Pius XII took to heart the fate of these Jewish children and, in that same month of March, asked the Holy Office to study the case.
The Holy Office, after hearing from several consultors, prepared a document in response to the Pope's request.
In August 1946, some French bishops and, specifically, Coadjutor Archbishop Emile Guerry of Cambrai and Cardinal Pierre Gerlier of Lyon, asked nuncio Roncalli for pointers as to how to resolve the situation of Jewish children saved from Nazi persecution.
Angelo Roncalli gathered all this material and, at the end of September, sent a letter to the Vatican Secretariat of State requesting instructions.
Roncalli was answered by Monsignor Tardini, secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, not in the way quoted by the article in Il Corriere, but rather in the way mentioned above.
Journalist Andrea Tornielli told ZENIT that the Church in France resolved the problem in the vast majority of cases by returning the children, whose lives it saved, to their surviving families.
During the war, priests and religious received orders from the Holy See and bishops not to baptize these children. Baptism requires the consent of the person receiving the sacrament or of the parents, if the recipient does not have the use of reason. This is revealed in documents quoted by www.vaticanfiles.net.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
BLESSING OUR ONENESS
We greet you Spirit of the North.
Teach us to plant our feet securely on the earth and to see things as they really are, that the coming of your Spirit may find us standing firm in integrity. Teach us, Spirit of the North, in the solitude of winter, to wait in darkness with the sleeping earth, believing that we, like the earth, already hold within ourselves the seeds of new life.
ALL: May the deep peace of mercy be on us forgiving us, beckoning us, encouraging us; and may our readiness to forgive calm the fears.
We greet you, O Spirit of the East.
Awaken in us with each day, new hopes, new dreams of colors, loves and joys never before imagined. Fill our bodies with your breath, invigorate us. Carry us to the farthest mountains and beyond. In-spirit us that we might reach out to you boldly to grasp the miracles that are given birth with each new dawn.
ALL: May the deep peace of compassion be on us holding us close when we are weary, hurt and alone; and may we be the warm hands and warm eyes of compassion when people reach out to us in need.
We greet you Spirit of the South.
You bring the winds of summer and breathe on us the warmth of the sun to sooth and heal our bodies and our spirits. Quicken us, draw us by the urgings of your warm breath to break through the soil of our own barrenness and fear. Teach us to hold sacred the memory of the spring rains that we might have the strength to withstand the heat of the day, and not become parched and narrow in our love. Lead us to accept fatigue with resignation, knowing that life is not to be rushed, that there is no flower of the field that grows from seed to blossom in a single day.
All: May the deep peace of gentleness be on us caressing us with sunlight, rain and wind; may tenderness shine through us to warm all who are hurt and lonely.
We greet you Spirit of the West; cool our hot and tired bodies, refresh and bring laughter to our hearts. It is you who usher in the setting sun. Guide our steps at the end of day; keep us safe from evil. Fill us with your peace as you enfold us with your great mystery of night that we might rest securely In your arms until morning call us forth again.
ALL: May the deep blessing of peace be on us stilling our hearts that have fear and doubt and confusion within them; and may peace cover us and all those who are troubled and anxious. May we be peacemakers.
We greet you, Great Spirit of the Earth.
It was from you we came as from a Mother; you nourish us still and give us shelter.
Teach us to walk softly on your lands, to use with care your gifts, to love with tenderness all our brothers and sisters who have been born of your goodness. And when the day comes when you call us back to yourself, help us to return to you as a friend, to find ourselves embraced, encircled and enfolded in your arms.
ALL: May the deep peace of community arise from within us, drawing us ever nearer, speaking to us of unity, true community where distinctions of persons is also oneness in being."
Monday, January 03, 2005
However, it is very distracting for the people in the pew. All that we can see are children talking to each other and figiting. It is cute from the perspective of seeing kids but it takes away from focusing on what the priest is doing. I never wanted to criticize that practice until I cam upon this note from 1981.
Notitiae, 17 (1981) 61
Query: At the presentation of gifts at a Mass with congregation, persons (lay or religious) bring to the altar the bread and wine which are to be consecrated. These gifts are received by the priest celebrant. All those participating in the Mass accompany this group procession in which the gifts are brought forward. They then stand around the altar until Communion time. Is this procedure in conformity with the spirit of the law and of the Roman Missal?
Reply: Assuredly, the Eucharistic celebration is the act of the entire community, carried out by all the members of the liturgical assembly. Nevertheless, everyone must have and also must observe his or her own place and proper role: "In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, element 29).
During the liturgy of the Eucharist, only the presiding celebrant remains at the altar. The assembly of the faithful takes their place in the Church outside the presbyterium, which is reserved for the celebrant or concelebrant and altar ministers.
I am curious whether this is the case for all diocese or just in Rome.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
They seem to have a well organized community of people. There were plenty of missals for people to use. People seemed nice and friendly and knew each other.
I was amazed at how many families were there with there children. I would hope we can get support for something like this in San Francisco.