16 December 2010

The Hermeneutic of Continuity (4th and last post)

In the sixteenth century, we Anglicans had to suffer the imposition, made possible by the invention of printing, of liturgical deformations even worse than those with which S Pius V had to deal in his "Back to the Tradition" reforms. The history of Anglican liturgy since then, at least among Anglican Catholics, has been a long struggle to reconnect our maimed rites with the pre-rupture Tradition. We have lived out, for 450 years, the same processes and problems which the rest of the Latin West has now faced for less than five decades since the post-conciliar 'reforms'. It's Old Hat to us. What have we Anglican Catholics done?

Brave priests often moved fast and tactlessly. At Cury and Gunwalloe, in Cornwall, Fr Sandys Wason provided for his congregation, which a fortnight previously had worshipped at State Mattins, the full Tridentine Rite almost from his Day One. Most clergy, however, have tended to move more slowly and pastorally. It has been a matter of Brick By Brick - this was our Anglican Catholic game long before Fr Zed dreamed it up - with gradual changes such as step-by-step insertions of orthodox and traditional texts; as for the elimination of texts originating in sixteenth century Zwinglianism, but still dear to worshippers, well, that had to proceed even more gradually. This sort of thing is not smooth and it is not always logical. One has to think in terms of generations or at least decades rather than months.

I would like tentatively to suggest that we ought now to move beyond another Fr Zed mantra: Do the Red, Say the Black. This neatly sound-bited principle has served very well the campaigns that Fr Zed has waged over the last five years to restrain the liberalising corruption of the OF itself; but that is the point: it is essentially an ad hominem device aimed at restraining Fr Trendy. But, if it is to be even-handed, it requires also that the OF be not modified in a 'Traditionalist' direction. I suppose I am suggesting that, while still using the Zed formula in the campaign against the Trendies, we should deftly employ a double standard and ignore it in as far as it restrains the improvement of the OF.

Should the next step, Anglicanwise, be the gradual, tactful, pastoral introduction of EF elements into the OF Mass?


Some minute, even insignificant, examples which just happen to be in my mind. At his Inauguration Mass, Benedict XVI joined his hands at Gratias agamus .... And Fr Zed recently revealed that he - Z - signs the elements with five crosses at hostiam puram .... One of these usages is merely not ordered by rubrics; the other is actually contrary to a rubric. And I wonder how many clergy use, secreto, the EF Offertory Prayers in OF Masses.

At the end of the Vigil Mass of Christmas this year, I propose to have the Last Gospel, the Johannine prologue, sung after Mass, at the Crib, by the Deacon. This is actually proposed in Times and Seasons, a liturgical resource the use of which is encouraged by the Anglican hierarchy. The reasons for it, and its pastoral value, are obvious. In a tinkering and innovatory spirit which will convince many that, after all, and despite everything I have ever written, I am really just another Fr Trendy, I intend to place the Bambino in the Crib immediately after the words And the Word was made flesh ... But it constitutes a tactful and useful recovery, even if just this once, of a goody that was lost half a century ago.


The Liturgical Pimpernel said...

You may well be right, Father, that Anglicanwise, the next step may well be "the gradual, tactful, pastoral introduction of EF elements into the OF Mass".

The personal judgement of individual priests can become a tyranny though. As you point out obedience can also be something of a tyrant.

For the old rites, Catholics of the Roman Rite are currently inhibited by the obedience due to the "1962 line" (More on that here):

Rather than libertine or under-cover action, or deregulation, which will only give Fr Trendy and Fr Traddy the liberty they so desperately to do their worst, perhaps it is time to lobby those in authority to authorise certain things, such as the offertory prayers, the old Holy Week, etc. for use ad libitum? That would preserve the virtue of obedience, maintain some unity (as a protection for the faithful) and demonstrate true paternity on the part of authority.

Andrew said...

It would seem (and I'm just thinking in the abstract here) that it would be more advantageous to not only replace the innovative texts (whether straight up heretical Protestant or wishy-washy Bugnini-ite) but to explicitly preach against them. It seems that it is not enough to merely get the laity to "go along with" changes in order to get them used to something older and more proper even though they've gotten used to the new texts and maybe even like them. It would seem to be much more advantageous to get them to see why they shouldn't be in favor of the new texts, where they went wrong, etc. in order that they could be better protected against future liturgical screwing around. I know this would be almost impossibly difficult, but again, I'm thinking in "what-ifs"... ; )

Anonymous said...

Well, when one considers that many of the changes folks complain about refer only to the "Curial Use" of the Roman Rite, might it not be easier to introduce a more traditional approach to the liturgy by using some other liturgical use where the rubrics of neither the ordinary form nor the 1962 liturgy apply. For me, I should be very glad for us Hospitallers to go back to the Rite of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, so far as I can tell, we never officially abandoned, and which is still in use by a couple of small Carmelite groups.

Joshua said...

A friend of mine spoke of "the Novus Ordo with usages".

For instance, why not reintroduce the crosses during the Canon - and introduce them, mutatis mutandis, at the analogous words and phrases in each of the other Eucharistic Prayers?

Steve said...

Does Rome have an equivalent of Canon B5 under which these variations might shelter?