14 June 2016

Organic Development (1)

Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, mandated that liturgical innovations, if required by a 'true and certain usefulness', should happen 'organically' (organice quodammodo). I would like to explore this a little by taking a magnifying glass to one particular detail. The tiniest details can illustrate big facts.

Here is a psalm which will so familiar to nearly all readers from Benediction that I will not bother to translate it.

Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum omnes populi. Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.

During the War, Pope Pius XII ordered a new Latin translation to be made of the Psalter. The work fell into the hands of a protege of his, Cardinal Augustin Bea, who was to play a destructively 'progressive' role during the Council. When the finished product appeared in 1945, there was horror on all sides except among the people involved in producing it. The Committee had translated the Hebrew text into a sort of Classical Latin and had obviously regarded with contempt, not only the texts which the Church had previously used but the whole tradition of Christian Latinity and the culture it embodies.

Readers of this blog will know that the Latin Church's Bible and Liturgy are in a particular dialect of Latin which developed in the first Christian Centuries. And those of you who have heard lectures I have been privileged to give in variously places when I have been invited to do so will be familiar with the name of the great Dutch Classical scholar Christine Mohrmann; who analysed and wrote brilliantly about this ancient and specifically Christian dialect of Latin which has fed and nurtured Latin Christianity for nearly two millennia. My heroine! She and experts like her castigated the Pian psalter.

She - and they - were right to do so. The entire exercise constituted a massive and contemptuous disdain of the worship, theology, and spirituality of Latin Christianity. It exemplified the Hermeneutic of Rupture with a vengeance, and did all this some twenty years BEFORE the Council.

In the second part of this piece, I am going to argue that Pius XII's action gives us a powerful example of change which is not organic and which therefore ought to be resisted by right-thinking Catholics. And we shall see that the Magisterium of the Church itself came, within a generation, to the conclusion that a big mistake had been made. So the Magisterium itself, by its own example, taught and teaches that non-organic innovation should be resisted and, ultimately, reversed! But we have further episodes to study before we have that conclusion safely in the bag.

To be continued


Colin Spinks said...

Can I "predicare" what's coming tomorrow? Spoiler alert.

Savonarola said...

Does this mean anything more than that changes in the liturgy that I like and approve of are to be regarded as the outcome of organic development (hooray!), changes I dislike and disapprove of are the result of unwonted innovation (boo!)?
Organic development is a very slippery notion. We easily forget that every item of liturgy must once have been new, a change or innovation from established practice. What we call tradition is not the way things have been always and everywhere, but the accumulation of changes and innovations that became established practice. The question is, is this the tradition we now need?

ansgarus said...

In a non (or not yet?) catholic denomination in Eastern Europe, recently a most remarkable correction of a praxis took place, which was established some 40 years ago: The Lutherans of Latvia abolished the ordination of women. A very hopeful development especially in these days where others, especially at the Rhine and the Tiber, seem to consider the introduction of an "Ordination" of women to something they call "female diaconate", a contradiction in itself, as the order of the diaconate is the first grade of the priestly order, and now Saint JPII Himself declared in 1994
"In order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful" (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4).

Moreover, in 1995 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in conjunction with the pope, ruled that this teaching "requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

How edifying, that our Lutheran brethren at in Latvia now returned in this particular Praxis to the Tradition of all times. May many others follow their good example.

jasoncpetty said...

Organic development is a very slippery notion. We easily forget that every item of liturgy must once have been new, a change or innovation from established practice.

I believe there is a quantitative threshold that must obtain. To use Father's example: If perhaps only certain Psalms had been revised or only a handful of readings, your point could be valid. But the wholesale replacement we saw is quantitatively so vast as to be something wholly new. A new feast here, a new litany there, a revised sequence here, a new preface there---those are the incremental, relatively minor quantitative developments that remain on the organic side of the line.

ansgarus said...

Traditionally, there have been also quite many small differences between the texts of same liturgical parts between the Missale Romanum and the Graduale Romanum. In a book published by Pustet in Regensburg 1920, called "Die Neuerungen im Missale", written by a Franz Brehm, you find a comprehensive collection of all these differences in tables on pages 415ff. The differences are like the following

"salvum me faciet dextera tua" in the Missale and "salvum me fecit dextera tua" in the Graduale (Offertorium of Dom. XIX post Pentecosten) or
"clamor meus at te perveniat" in the Missale and "clamor meus at te veniat" in the Graduale etc. (Graduale "Beata: V. Domine" of Dom. XVII p.P.)

In an outlook at the end of the above mentioned book, the author is further explaining, that after the more rubrical "preliminary" (sic!) reforms of the Missal by Pius X "a final liturgical reform of the breviary and the missal" is scheduled to follow "in some decades in the future" (see page 435). This is a very interesting statement, as it demonstrates that under liturgical experts already in this early days, some 40 years before Vaticanum II, a thorough reform of the liturgy was on the agenda.