27 August 2021

If it's beautiful, kill it

My generous friend, Professor William Tighe, once sent me a fascinating little book (Roman and uncondemned) published in 1959 (remember the date!) by one Canon Dudley Symon. Symon was, in fact, a predecessor of mine at Lancing College, a papalist writer but not an unreflecting admirer of the Roman Catholicism of his day. A snippet: "A Pontifical High Mass, as it is celebrated today, with all the adjuncts of light, colour, scent, movement and music, is one of greatest artistic achievements of the human mind, worthy to be set beside a Symphony by Beethoven, or the Parthenon in Athens, or the frescoes of Michael Angelo. The Liturgical Reformers, like all other Reformers, will need watching lest their zeal leads them 'to root up the wheat also'."

How right he was. And these words seem almost uncanny in their prescience: "... since the Church [of England] makes a special appeal to primitive antiquity, since its reference is to the ancient Fathers and the age of the Great Councils, since its own ethos is in many ways so akin to the Roman, it needs also the Mass which is the purest expression of the faith and worship of that whole period ... the Mass restored to us would not only be the deepening of our knowledge and appreciation of the Divine Mysteries but a proclamation of our unity with the true source of our being, the rock whence we were hewed."

My motive for presenting Dudley's thinking is, of course, PF's new initiative with regard to Catholic Worship. I can see no harm in  reminding one and all of the conviction reached by so many thoughtful and informed Anglicans about the Roman Rite as it was before the wreckers got to it. There is instruction for all of us in this. Ab Anglicanis fas est doceri.

I never fail to be moved as I say those words Te igitur ... by which in the classical Roman Rite one seems to enter silently as through a secret gate into the very heart of the divine mystery of the self-oblation of the Eternal Son.

16 comments:

Athanasius of Alexandria said...

Fr Symon was Superior General of CBS, if the Quarterly which I received this morning, and read - quite by chance! - just before I turned to these pages, is to be believed.

E sapelion said...

You say "I never fail to be moved as I say those words Te igitur ... by which in the classical Roman Rite one seems to enter silently as through a secret gate into the very heart of the divine mystery of the self-oblation of the Eternal Son."
But what about the rest of us, standing outside the Holy of Holies with nothing but rumours (books) and hearsay (sermons) to lead us into the mystery? You asked us to pray ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat ..., why should we be excluded by the silence. I prefer the Novus Ordo precisely because I can listen and be drawn in by the Eucharistic Prayer. I am not entitled to say the words, and reading involves saying, if only silently, it is 'trusty hearing' which leads me to God.

pdm said...

I discovered yesterday that Calvin admired St Gregory the Great, and even called him 'the last good pope'. In other words, St Gregory was 'primitive Church' enough for Calvin. Now, the Canon, as understand it, was, by the end of Gregory's pontificate, substantially what is today. Hence the reformers who want to look behind the Canon to some supposedly more authoritative early tradition (pseudo-Hippolytus and all that jazz) seem to want to out-Calvin Calvin: or—more accurately—to push their limp-wristed guitar-y clarity-compromising agenda under an ecumenical pretext that doesn't even make sense.

Grant Milburn said...

Ah Beethoven...
I note that Yehudi Menuhin was one of those who signed the petition which led to the "Agatha Christie" indult. As an amateur violinist, I always say that if the Traditional Mass was good enough for Yehudi Menuhin, it's good enough for me.

Paul Hellyer said...

I wish you would stop using Latin phrases. We are not all so brainy as you.
If you want to reach the common man why not put the English alongside?

Gillineau said...

40% of the comments to this post have thus far been closet Traditiones Custophiles, it would seem. Latin, like boric acid to woodworm, brings them to the surface. What one does with them once this exposed, depends on whether you identify as a Franciscan or a Benedictine: tenderness or a firm hand/ thumb. I speak here *only* of the woodworm…

Victor said...

If you dislike this blog so much, why do you still read it? Is it some kind of penance?

PM said...

I am sorry to introduce a note if autumnal gloom, but it seems that the powers that be in Rome are now moving to expunge Latin from the post-conciliar rites, in favour of Italian, in St Peter's Basilica: where the overwhelming majority of the those who attend Mass are not Italian. Having set such a sterling example of probity in financial management and integrity .....

PM said...

Yes indeed. And, as Eammon Duffy pointed out twenty-five years ago, Cranmer, except when his Protestant neuralgia about words such as'merit' got in the way, was an infinitely better translator if the collects from the Roman Missal than the 'translators' from the 1970s ICEL.

zeusantony said...

As Yehudi Menuhin was a Jew it seems strange that he should have been involved in the 'Agatha Christie indult'. I cannot believe that he was ever a devotee of the Traditional Mass. How does Beethoven come in to all this?

Jakub Lédl said...

Dear E sapelion, the words are not directed to you, but to the assisting clergy.

Grant Milburn said...

As far as I can tell, Menuhin supported the petition, because like Symon he could see that the Traditional Mass was a cultural and artistic treasure on a par with the great works he played (such as the Beethoven Violin Concerto).

PM said...

Why not try learning Latin (or for that matter any other language)? You may find that it broadens your mind.

My grandmother, who because of economic circumstances had only a primary school education, could not only recite the traditional Latin Mass responses but also knew what they meant. Her written English, by the way, was much better than the efforts of many 'university' graduates I come across today.

PM said...

The non-Catholics who signed the petition to Paul VI did so in recognition that the traditional Mass had been fundamental to an enormous amount of the best of European music, art and literature. The mentality that took over in the late 1960s was, as the Oxford Declaration on the Liturgy admirably put it in 1996, 'bureaucratic, philistine and secularist'.

E sapelion said...

Thank you Jakub Lédl, but if you are referring to those addressed by "Orate fratres ..." then I think you are mistaken. There is obviously controversy about when is is neccessary to be explicit about inclusive language, since most languages have constructions which are ambiguous. In this case I point to evidence from ancient Missals, some of which are explicit in this case. My local use immediately prior to Pius V Missal was the variant of the Roman Rite known as the Use of Sarum. In printed copies of the time I see :-
P. Orate fratres et sorores pro me, ut meum pariterque vestrum acceptum sit Domino Deo nostro sacrificium.
R. Spiritus Sancti gratia illuminet cor tuum et labia tua, et accipit Dominus digne hoc sacrificium laudis de manibus tuis pro peccatis et offensionibus nostris.
This, as you see, is explcitly addressed to men and women, and not confined to clergy.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

It’s one of the joys of this intelligent blog, that we are not patronised by endless translations of texts we should be able to read.

If we cannot, we may 1) learn; 2) be ashamed.

But proud of our ignorance we surely cannot be.