20 July 2016

Trained Liturgists I have met

Well, I am most certainly not a Trained Liturgist, although my priesthood was formed at the most 'liturgical' of the Church of England's seminaries, Staggers, and after the General Ordination Examination I was given the Liturgy Prize for that year. But I know my limitations; I am only too keenly aware that I have never kept up with the interrelated mutually-validating groups of 'experts' and contributed to their self-referencing Journals, Conferences, and what-not. My mental picture, however, of Trained Liturgists had always been of nice sweet-tempered rosy-faced white-haired old gentlemen dozily clinging to their two-generation-outdated shibboleths and exploded myths and frequently raising in a slightly tremulous hand a glass of whiskey to the memory of Saint Pseudo-Hippolytus; breaking off from the bottle only rarely when called upon for a Tablet article or to give "advice" to a Cardinal Archbishop.

Until, that is, three or four years ago. Then I realised how completely wrong I was and always had been. In an Oxford seminar I found myself listening to a man who, from his long list of degrees and academic appointments and publications, just had to be a Trained Liturgist. And he was not nice at all!! He tried to keep his hearers entertained by a rambling and spiteful account of the culture of Private Masses, described as if its details rendered it inherently and self-evidently contemptible and risible ("the junior curate had to get up early to say the first Mass ... ho ho ho ..."). You may well imagine that this rather tried my own very limited sense of humour; but I did derive some amusement from the false quantities in his Latinity. One, in particular ... as small things do ... still sticks in my mind, because it took me some seconds to work out what he was trying to say: the late Latin word nullatenus has its emphasis on the a, because the e is short so that the accent recedes to the antepenultimate, which is long (nullAHtenus). But the Trained Chappie pronounced it, with great decision, as if the e were long (NULLaTEYnus). Ha Ha. Pathetic of me? Well, give me a break. I needed something to laugh at.

Mired still in the enthusiasms of the post-Conciliar decade, these people have invested a lifetime of effort in the shoddy assumptions of their youthful years. Their own status depends on all that stuff still being taken seriously. So now they just cannot bear to let it all go.

You might have thought that those who most applaud the ruptures accomplished with so much violence in the 1970s would realise that they are the people least well-placed to defend the inviolability of a status quo.

That is not how they see things!

10 comments:

El Codo said...

Poor Father, I do empathise. The scales fell off my own eyes some years back when I was being harangued, sorry lectured ,by a nun who was the diocesan liturgical person. When I enquirer if something she was saying was actually Catholic, she glared and assured me the Bishop had authorised this particularly creepy and depressing innovation. But is it Catholic I asked again? The Bobbit look said it all and I retired intact.

StMichael said...

My experience with liturgists has not been overall pleasant. I've learned not to associate with the older school of liturgics. Although, God bless and keep us, the newer younger liturgists are often imbued with more accurate theology and quite pleasant.

A potentially either funny or deeply disappointing anecdote: I was at a very odd theology conference recently (not by choice) whose theme was "liturgy and power." I listened to one person bemoan that our current liturgical rites have not yet been changed in order to accommodate our new theological developments in eco-theology. The person specifically called for a series of prefaces in honor of the beauties/natural rights of mountains and sea plankton; these should be developed and imposed on the Church Universal immediately! The third Eucharistic Prayer was then quoted (in the older ICEL translation) as evidence of "ancient apostolic eco-theology" in contradiction to the "clearly erroneous" words of Genesis that man was commanded to "subdue" the earth. I wasn't sure to laugh or cry later when he tried to quote the Pseudo-Hippolytian Eucharistic prayer in the conclusion to his talk, in Latin that went as follows: "Our God is a God of all things! - the fontis ombibus sanctibuntis." Ah, liturgists....

Tamquam said...

Based on my own limited experience with "liturgists" here on the US Left Coast they all look like a sneering, self appointed pack of mass produced 'worship' fashionistas skating the bleeding edge of faux antiquarian novelty.

Ben of the Bayou said...

Concisely and pointedly put. Well done. We need a bit more of these sober observations and we won't get them from the men clinging with drunken euphoria to the "shoddy assumptions of their youthful years." My, how long those drugs of the 60s and 70s stay in the system, both individual and collective.

--Ben

Dialogue said...

A sentence deserving wide discussion: "You might have thought that those who most applaud the ruptures accomplished with so much violence in the 1970s would realise that they are the people least well-placed to defend the inviolability of a status quo".

Jacobi said...

Long list of degrees, appointments and publications?

Watch that type Father, I'd watch them!

GOR said...

Good catch, Father!

Had I been present I likely would not have recognized the word nullatenus from the mispronunciation. I would probably have assumed two words - with the second being some bastard tense of the verb ‘tenere’.

Lacking your erudite explanation of the ’why’ of the pronunciation, I would just have reverted to: “but that’s how we have always pronounced it!”

Stephen said...

Nasty creatures, liturgists, seemingly capable only of destruction in the name of innovation. Did not Eliot have them in mind when he wrote "they have created a wilderness and call it renewal."?

Adrian said...

Unfortunately the only alternative to trained liturgists is untrained liturgists, who usually appear to be familiar only with the Roman rite, and that only in its later mediaeval and post-mediaeval forms. I am dismayed at the lack of real Patristic, linguistic and theological formation that is evident in so much writing on liturgy today (especially on the web), so the appearance of a genuine 'trained liturgist', or rather, a trained liturgiologist, would make a refreshing change.

Auriel Ragmon said...

Reading all these remarks, I'm SO glad I went Eastern Orthodox: St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil. They both 'sez it all' in their own manners, for the ages, in whatever languages they are prayed.
Too bad Rome couldn't have imitated, or even usurped them, but that would have been intelligent, eh?
Jim of Olym