19 July 2018

Impartial scholarship

Sometimes we are told that committed and "Christian" scholarship must be partial and biased because, well, to paraphrase Ms Mandy Rice Davies, we would say that, wouldn't we. Some years ago, in her inaugural lecture as a Professor in this University, Sarah Foot put this notion down.

She was not keen on the idea that, in order to be 'academic', the 'profession' in a modern university of a subject like ecclesiastical history has to be left to those who have a reductionist view, and who see the subject from a hostile and secularising standpoint in which Faith simply has to be considered a facade for more mundane and untheological historical processes. It is the duty of the ecclesiastical historian to restore 'their present' to earlier communities by taking them seriously. While the student does not have to be a believer, (s)he should have an empathetic (my word) understanding of the faithed humans (s)he describes.

I find it a remarkable example of diabolical skill, this idea that only those hostile to Christianity really count as impartial; as if Christians must be disqualified for having a biasing agenda but atheists are dispassionate students of their subject. I recall the passage in The Pilgrim's Regress in which C S Lewis portrays the minions of the Zeitgeist indoctrinating their prisoners:
What is the proper answer to an argument proving the existence of the Landlord [God]?
You say that because you are a Steward [priest].
Good boy ... what is the answer to an argument that two and two make four?
You say that because you are a mathematician ...

Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of the Daughter University spent some decades restoring a genuine theological conviction to the Crusaders. And I remember particularly the words of M Schneiders in 1996, discussing early Irish liturgy: for a proper understanding of the past an affinity with the material is useful, at least if one wishes to go beyond the recovery of mere facts, if one tries to understand the people who used these texts, who celebrated Mass with these ancient prayers.

But 'useful' is too timorous a word; and Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix put it so much more memorably ... well, he would, wouldn't he? ... when, writing about the Canon Romanus, he said: This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it.

18 July 2018

Lake Garda

In response to a recent correspondent: No, while at this year's fantastic Gardone Conference, I did not visit the Vittoriale. This is because I had looked round it five years ago and decided that D'Annunzio was a rather nasty little man, teeth or no teeth, whom I felt no need to revisit.

But I did go this year and look at an exquisite little octagonal Church , the Inviolata, at Riva. Four altars in addition to the High Altar; each a different design but harmoniously integrated. Stucco by David Reti; even the woodwork (doors, confessionals) within that same bracket of 1600ish to 1650.

Only one horrible incongruity: a plain wooden table stuck in front of the High Altar.

Yes yes yes yes yes. I know this sort of monstrosity is pretty common. You will tell me that what I am describing to you is hardly News. But many old churches do not aggressively flaunt their homogeneity. Indeed, it can be an agreeable experience to walk round a corner and find that you have travelled from the fifteenth to the seventeeth century. In principle, why should rounding the next corner not bring us into the twenty first century, and be praised for doing so?

But the Inviolata is so intimately of a piece; it is so very much of just one period. Even if that wooden table had been constructed to be, in the terms of the aesthetic of its own peiod, a thing of beauty, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

OK: Sir John Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper, having begun his oeuvre in the Gothic, spread his wings and evolved his theory and praxis of Unity by Inclusion; as, indeed Henry VII had done when he put an Italian Renaissance altar beneath the fan-vaulting of his Lady Chapel at Westminster. Martin Travers ... All this I cannot help but concede.

But ... in that little church at Riva ... this plain little table seemed to me almost diabolical in its loud narcissistic self-assertion; its hubristic mockery of the other five altars in the church.

17 July 2018

"Separated Doctors of the Catholic Church"

That is a nice phrase by Fr Aidan Nichols ... and I offer you a piece today by one of those Anglican Catholic theologians of whom Fr Aidan thinks so well: Fr Eric Mascall of Oxford.

What makes the mass one and corporate is not the fact that a lot of people are together at the same service, but the fact that it is the act of the one Christ in his Body (corpus) the Church. And I can think of no better way of making anyone understand wherein the unity and corporateness of the mass really consists than to take him into a church in which a number of priests are simultaneously celebrating private masses and to say: "Look at those men at their various altars all round the church, each of them apparently muttering away on his own and having nothing to do with the others. In fact they are all of them doing the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing; each of them is taking part as a priest in the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the sacrament of his body and blood."

Mascall used to say his own mass every morning (except when he was on the Cathedral rota for a public mass) in the church where I went for daily mass as an undergraduate. How wonderful it would be if the scene he describes returned to the life of our churches ... just imagine the basilica at Lourdes every morning with a constant coming and going of priests to the altars of the fifteen mysteries.

Those fifteen altars, like so many in the thousands of churches of Latin Christendom, are now left unused ... in the Byzantine phrase, they are left "fasting". Thus is an apostasy which grew up after Vatican II perpetuated.

A little more about this subject tomorrow.

16 July 2018

Sorry ...

 ... but I'm taking another break from incoming messages ... perhaps for some ten days. Then I'll look at what has been sent.

Deo volente, my posts will still pop up daily.

PF and the Ordinariates

There was a circumstantial account, when the Ordinariates were set up, that Archbishop Bergoglio invited to breakfast the [Anglican] Archbishop of the Southern Cone ... or something ... and cheered him up by telling him that he disapproved of the action.

Some weeks ago, PF spoke to a delegation from the Moskow Patriarchate and assured them, very categorically, of his most profound disapproval, and prohibition, of 'Uniatism' [to be fair, there was one brief clause asserting the rights of the existing sui iuris Churches].

I think this more or less confirms the old story.

PF also reiterated on this occasion his belief in the practical irrelevance of doctrine.

The text was immensely characteristic.

15 July 2018

Personally ...

Brother Yankie Doodle, who has not always been averse to Changing Regimes throughout the World, is all of a sudden getting enormously indignant about Brother Russkie interfering in his politics. I find this richly hilarious.

But, a fortiori, if it is true that American political structures really are so risibly fragile, so vulnerable to a sharp little fixer like Vladimir Vladimirovich, you'd think Yankie Doodle would want to conceal such a humiliating fact rather than boasting about having been made such a laughing stock.

I shall never understand the Yankie national mindset (I am not assisted by the fact that most Americans I know tell me that they also fail to understand it). But if DT and VV really were to establish a fruitful relationship, I think it could be very good for all of us.

Perhaps all those Nasty Neocons might be dressed up in orange jumpsuits and then Specially Renditioned to Siberia or to a waterboarding facility on a rapidly melting Arctic ice floe somewhere to the North of Murmansk.

14 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 6 [Conclusio]

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.
This lovely text is a translation by G Moultie of a formula (Sigesato pasa sarx broteia) in the Liturgy of S James; which may be the oldest rite still used in Christendom except, of course, for our immemorially ancient Roman Rite. I have recently been discussing the contrast between the theology of Consecration in that Rite, and that in our own Roman rite.

It is indeed a splendid hymn, and the concept of the Lord's eucharistic epiphaneia is beautifully expressed. Generations of Anglican worshippers have been moved by the picture of the host of heaven spreading its vanguard before the Lord as he descends from the realms of endless day to stand on earth upon the altars of our churches. Long may its use continue.

But it it is instructive to look back at the Greek original. Moultrie has done a bit of a naughty in his translation, because, instead of speaking of Christ our God to earth descending, what the Greek actually says is: 'Christ our God is going forth to be slain in sacrifice' (proerchetai sphagiasthenai). And that is language which causes problems for some people - unnecessarily. Christ did die but once for all upon the cross, as the Reformers never ceased to declare, but his one sacrifice is beyond time in God's everlasting Now. God's 'Once' is not locked into one moment in one place in History ... it is not imprisoned in 33AD.

Think of it like this: God could have chosen to create nothing, but to exist in his own social, Trinal, simplicity. If He did choose to create, He could have elected to create just one moment. He could have created, for that one moment, just one place. We never think about it; but, surely, that is the most obvious, sensible, 'clean-cut', unmessy, thing to do. Yet that isn't what He did. In that tremendous eccentricity which is rooted in the very nature of the Divine Act of Creation, He created a multiplicity of times and a multiplicity of places. Within those multiplicities, He could have created just one, monic, being to exist and to be loved; but He chose instead to create a multiplicity of beings. And so it is into that complexity of times, places, beings, that His 'Once for all' is graciously communicated. The sacrifice of the Eternal Son is, in the Mass, made 'sacramentally' present on earth, in and to that plurality of the times and places which the Creator God in his fluent generosity has given to the innumerable multitudes He has created in which to worship Him and to work out their salvation. And whenever it is so made present, Christ our God does "go forth to be slain in sacrifice". Furthermore, each Eucharist, bestowed from Eternity into Time, is not merely the offering of a monic being, but of Christ in his social body the Church, associating with him and in him those who are partaking in that new Mass in that new moment, so that the sacrifice of the Mass is ever one and unchanging and rooted in Eternity, and yet for ever here and for ever new.

So I've never had any problems with that offertory prayer in the Sarum Mass, in which the priest referred to hoc sacrificium novum. But, of course, the 'Reformers' did object, and the idea of a nova mactatio has come to be regarded as one of the worst corruptions of medieval Catholicism. It is good to have the Rite of S James to remind us that this way of employing language is not only sound and wholesome but is guaranteed by the witness of East as well as of West.

Throughout the Church, and throughout its history, different notions of the relation of Christ's One Sacrifice to the actual text and movement of the Liturgy have, quite harmlessly, been held. In the Greek version of the  Liturgy of S James, this (Sigesato) text is used to accompany the Great Entrance; as if the Bread already is the Lord, making his way to Calvary and to Sacrifice (both Great Entrance and Sigesato are absent from the Syriac version of the rite). Theodore of Mopsuestia clearly believed that the Elements processed in by the deacons were already the dead Body of Christ, "a Body which will very shortly rise to an immortal being". As one writer has put it, "Theodore's idea is that the elements, by the mere fact that they are the offering of the church, are already the Body and Blood from the moment of the offertory". Some Oriental epicletic formulae accordingly ask that the Holy Spirit may show (not make) the Bread to be the Lord's Body. The idea that the offertory pre-consecrates can also be found among the Assyrians and the Armenians, and would appear to be implied by the custom, which I first witnessed in Oxford in the 1960s, of aged Russian Grand Duchesses, in their black dresses and weighed down with jewelry, prostrate on the ground during the Great Entrance. These Eastern instincts, in a curious sort of roundabout way, witness to the convention we have discerned in the classical Roman rite, that it is essentially the Father's acceptance of the Church's Offering which is consecratory, not the Divine Response to a Petition for the Descent of the Spirit.
This series is now complete. I will now consider any comments submitted. Please attach any such comments to this final instalment.

13 July 2018

Hey Ho ...

 ... desptite my dissuasives, there will probably be some  Comments offered during my period sequestered from incoming traffic. I am about to go through them ...

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

Today is the (30th) obit of one of the greatest intellectual figures of the last century. Mohrmann it was who demonstrated that Liturgical Latin, like Liturgical Greek (and one thinks of Church Slavonic and Church Coptic), was an artificial construct deliberately invented so as to be as worthy as possible for the August Sacrifice (forget the creaky old Protestant and 1960s superstition that 'the Primitive Church' was dead set on 'vernacular' liturgies designed to be 'understanded of the people').

One of the tragedies of the 1960s was that a particular version of a 'Liturgical Movement' got its grip upon the minds of superficial 'professional liturgists' who had their sticky hands upon the levers of power. Men (yes, I think they were all men) who were deaf to Mohrmann's scholarship and her immense erudition. Men (well, let us say half-men) who knew what was best for little Johnny and insisted on little Johnny's jaws being clamped open while they force-fed him with their revolting gruel.

In those middle years of that century there were other very competent women liturgists. I wonder if the "Liturgical Reform" would have been less disastrous if it had not been forced through by an insensitive illiterate narrow-minded fascist androcracy.

Curious, isn't it, that our male culture went pretty well straight from a crass and arrogant assumption that the little woman had little capacity for intelligent thought, all the way to a servile and creepy subordination to every whimsy of femino-fascism.

Men are such odd creatures.

12 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
But ... quam oblationem ... the prayer in which the Church beseeches the Father that her Oblation may be given-the-OK (benedictam) and written-on-the-list (adscriptam) so that, being accepted, it may become the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word ... is not yet a completed sentence, because it carries on qui pridie quam pateretur ... Thus, the Church goes on to recall, in a subordinated relative clause, the Episode, the Last Supper, on the grounds of which she asks that the consequences of acceptance will indeed be transformation.

Qui is an important word in the Church's life of prayer. A common pattern, which goes back to pre-Christian prayer in the Roman and Greek worlds, is (1) to address a deity, then (2) to recall some attribute or undertaking of that deity, and finally (3) to make the intended request. The logic (going back perhaps to a sense that a deity needs to be convinced or cajoled, even threatened or bribed, or that it will consider itself bound by legal precedent) is that (2) gives the reason why it reasonable to ask for (3) with an expectation of success. Latin has a handy little verb impetrare, which cannot be translated by one single English verb because it means to-ask-and-to-get. Impetratio is at the heart of successful prayer in the ancient world ... I don't think a Roman would waste his time praying if he had no grounds to hope that he was in fact impetrating. So the qui, who, which links up (2) with (3) in effect means something very much like forasmuch as. Almost legally, rather as in the preamble to a British Parliamentary statute*, we tell God why our prayer deserves to be an impetratio. And the qui which links the 'Institution Narrative' to the Prayer for Acceptance which preceded it, has very much this character. So, surely, the logic of this entire passage we have been looking at is: Accept our Offering so that it may become the Lord's Body and Blood forasmuch as the Lord himself guaranteed that Bread and Wine, being thus accepted, would become His Body and Blood.

In our Latin shorthand, we think of this as constituting the Verba Domini as 'consecratory', and this is a very sensible way of thinking and talking (the Church of England adopted the same principle in 1662). It is an extremely ancient view, quite possibly going back to when Christians first started to think logically about such matters. Notoriously, it is given vivid expression in the Byzantine East by S John Chrysostom (c347-407); in Syria, Severus (should I call him Saint?) 'monophysite' Patriarch of Antioch (c465-538), shared it (Dom Gregory Dix was dead chuffed to discover this fact in one of Severus's Letters); and it is found in the Slavic East as late as the first edition of the Orthodox Confession (1638) of Peter Mogila, Metropolitan (should I say Patriarch?) of Kiev (1596-1646). 

It is true that 'the Great Church of Constantinople', replying in 1896 to overtures of unity from Leo XIII, alleged that "The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils used to receive [the teaching that] the precious gifts are hallowed after the Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit by the blessing of the priest", apparently thereby implying that the Church and Rite of Rome did not exist in the centuries between Nicaea I and Nicaea II in 787. But this only proves that we Latins are not the only ones who quite often say and do extremely foolish things. Happily, a few years ago a writer in the theological journal of the Moscow Patriarchate declared himself content with the Roman Canon.

It is a shame that the dominant school among the fashionable intellectuals of the Western Church in the 1960s did not share this contentedness.
_____________________________________________________________________
*I think the English 'Reformers', with their Tudor legalese, would have used the term 'warrant'.



11 July 2018

SSPX

The Society's General Chapter, so I believe, begins today.

We live in times when faithful Catholics, whenever they meet, exchange views about the present situation in the Whole State of Christ's Church Militant Here in Earth. This must inevitably also be true of the SSPX. And, all the more so, since the Society cannot avoid being compelled to make prudential judgements about its own relationships with the Holy See.

One can only feel immense compassion for those involved in such decisions. On the one hand, the Society's bishops are now thirty years older than when they were consecrated. If they were to be supplemented sine mandato Apostolico, that would incur new excommunications latae sententiae; so there would have been a real step backwards in de facto relationships.

On the other hand, nobody needs to be reminded of the way Rome is capable of treating those whom it has at its mercy. And, despite the rhetoric, Mercy is not a hallmark of the present regime.

Being a cynic, I tend to think that any agreement ought to secure the independant financial state of this dear and admirable Society, so that, if subsequently there were Roman bad faith, the Society could resume its former course undamaged. 'Hands off the Cash and the Property' seems to me a most important consideration. Collaring the Kaboodle appeared to be one of the main motives of the savage Visitatorial regime imposed upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate. But what can I know about the intricacies of the present situation?

What I am sure of is that the members of the Society are our beloved brethren in the Lord for whom at this time we have a considerable obligation to pray. And, in doing so, also to give thanks for all that the SSPX has done for the maintenance of the Faith.

As one of those who generated the Filial Correction, I cannot forget that H E Bishop Fellay was the only Successor of the Apostles who gave it his signature.

10 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 4 (is the Novus Ordo the "Roman Rite"?

(As regards comments, see the first part of this)
If you go to a Novus Ordo Mass, the spine of the Altar Book will make a claim that it is the "Roman Missal". But is it? Does it ... I quote a British Television commercial ... do what it says on the tin? I do not think that anybody who has carefully thought these things through could answer Yes. Fr Joseph Gelineau, described by Bugnini himself as "one of the great masters of the international liturgical world", a liturgical radical who wholeheartedly applauded what happened after Vatican II, did not make that claim. He wrote "We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone." He did not share the ignorant view sometimes put forward, that the post-Conciliar 'reform' was analogous to the edition of the Roman Missal published by the orders of S Pius V ... ("If it was alright," people say to us, "for Pius V to bring out his own Missal, why couldn't B Paul VI do the same?") You will all have heard and read that sort of thing; but you won't have heard it from Gelineau. Gelineau was not 'one of us', but he was neither ignorant or stupid. He wrote "We must not weep over ruins or dream of a historical reconstruction .... we must open new ways to the sources of life, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees. But it would not be right to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further, and forward beyond the conciliar prescriptions".

Klaus Gamber viewed the 1965 form of the Roman Rite as effectively the last form of that Rite. Archbishop Lefebvre used 1965 until, in the mid 1970s, he decided to revert to 1962 (during the 1960s he had allowed his Holy Ghost Fathers only two 'vernacular Masses' a week).

At the opposite end of the academic spectrum from Gelineau, Fr Aidan Nichols points out that "the Rite of Paul VI contains more features of Oriental provenance than the Roman Rite has ever known historically, and notably in the new anaphoras, for these are central to the definition of any eucharistic style". (He goes on to suggest how the Novus Ordo could be used, and that it could be renamed as the ritus communis). A very distinguished Anglican liturgical scholar, Dr G G Willis, wrote that "Rome has invented in its recent rites a hybrid form ... The Roman rite has hitherto kept out the epiclesis, as being inconsistent with its theory of consecration, and the introduction of Oriental elements (seen also in the acclamations of the people, which the new Roman revisions have introduced) would be better eschewed". Another mighty Anglican scholar, the late Fr Michael Moreton, was very firm and resolute about the need for the exclusive use of the Roman Canon. So should we Latins all be. The chaps that know, know.

The Novus Ordo rite as commonly presented is not the Roman rite.** I would grant it to be arguable that if one used only its First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, what one celebrated might still ... just about ... yes, I know there were outrageous tamperings with the Verba Domini ... be fairly called the Roman rite, without infringing the Trade Descriptions Act too badly. But not a Mass celebrated using one of the new, Orientalised, epicletified, Eucharistic Prayers. And the pseudo-Hippolytan ultra-short Prayer is the one in almost universal and invariable use throughout the 'mainstream Church' ... despite the hopes expressed in the GIRM that the Roman Canon be used on Sundays and Festivals. Accordingly, the Roman rite proprie dictus, it has to be admitted, has now almost entirely died out in most of the Latin Church, except in such places as Oratories and Ordinariates and the FSSP and Christ the King parishes. And, of course, the SSPX.

It seems to me a cause worth taking seriously, to restore the Roman Rite to use by using exclusively the Roman Canon. The GIRM itself has pointed to this by saying, in each edition it has been through, that "This Prayer may be always used" (Editio tertia para 365 semper adhiberi potest); a comment it makes about none of the other anaphoras.

Such a reform could be introduced gradually in three stages:
(1) Weaning a congregation off Prayer 2 by using Prayer 3 and taking it slowly;
(2) Using Prayer 1 shortened by leaving out all the sections within brackets;
(3) Using Prayer 1 in its full integrity. 
One might add:
(4) Using the Extraordinary Form with the Readings in the vernacular, as permitted by Summorum Pontificum. 

 Furthermore, the Ordinary Form may be celebrated versus apsidem, and the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated versus populum. We have the same dilemma that faced old-style Anglo-Catholic clergy: to make all ones reforms at once; or to try to keep everyone on side by making them gradually!

**BUT IT IS A VALID MASS. Anybody who even hints otherwise is not teaching you the Catholic Faith, and may even be running the risk of leading you into sacrilege. I have to explain all this stuff quite frequently: I have lodged three of my earlier posts at 4 September 2014. The Novus Ordo may not be the "Roman Rite", but it IS still a VALID CATHOLIC MASS. In the Novus Ordo the Body and Blood of Christ ARE truly made present and ARE truly offered. That is as CERTAIN as anything in this life.