12 August 2016

Assumptive discontinuities

We are all a little more aware nowadays of the need for liturgical change to to be gradual and, as Vatican II put it, 'organic'. As we approach the majestic climax of High Summer (apologies to Oz), the celebration of the glorious Eschaton of the Theotokos, I do just occasionally have an uneasy moment wondering how the principle of organic change applies to August 15 (similarly, December 8). A dogmatic proclamation led to the complete rewriting of liturgical texts. A new collect gave voice to the new doctrinal precision, and new hymns enhanced the whooppee, triumphalist, quality of the day. It could be argued that they reduced the Roman 'sobriety' of the liturgy as Edmund Bishop so memorably described it. I particularly have in mind the hymns which Fr Genovesi composed in the Sapphic metre for Assumption day. The post-conciliar revisers, indeed, decided to reduce these to only one and to introduce two hymns by S Peter Damian. (In doing so, incidentally, they ejected Ave Maris Stella, which even under Pius XII had survived as the II Vespers hymn. And they followed Pius XII in eliminating the more ancient perception of the Assumption: the idea that Mary was Assumed so that she could become Mediatrix of all Graces.)

Frankly, I am in two minds about what to make of this incessant juggling with what is traditum. I do ... a shamefaced confession now ... rather like the Pius XII office. It has a lovely gung-ho cheerfulness about it, redolent of the Marian confidence of that Pontificate. We can do with more of that confident spirit nowadays. (Particularly as we prepare to celebrate, next year, the centenary of the Fatima Apparitions. Her Immaculate Heart will prevail!)

But should I like it?

14 comments:

Lee said...

There is something refreshingly about the "1962" (actually 1 January, 1963) Monastic Breviary, which provides the Assumption Office "secundum antiquiorem formulam." The Dominican breviary tried to craft a hybrid of the old and the new, with results that individuals must judge for themselves.

Patrick Sheridan said...

"I do ... a shamefaced confession now ... rather like the Pius XII office."

Journalists might call that a "reverse ferret."

Banshee said...

St. Thomas Aquinas totally ditched most of St. Juliana's original version of the Corpus Christi office. New is not always worse, right?

Mike Hurcum said...

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail. But how?

Matthew Roth said...

I like the new Assumption liturgy. It is well–done, by and large. The “Signum Magnum” is lovely, and it stands out along with “Cogitationes” as the best new chants. The typology is excellent. I will disagree slightly that the new liturgy downplays Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces: Judith is a type of Mary as Mediatrix. That being said, I’m not sure Pius XII should have touched it. I want to compare the two liturgies as a whole and then make up my mind as to whether any part is entirely justifiable & an organic development to come to love.

Timothy Graham said...

(1) Is one allowed to voice, not a rejection of the belief, but rather reservation about a dogmatic proclamation having been made at all? (2) One wouldn't be so bothered about changes to millennial Tradition in the office if the older offices weren't forbidden under threats and the pains of hell etc.

How about this for restraint, Whytford's Sarum Martyrology 1526: The xv. daye of August, the deposicyon of the moder of God our lady saynt Mary, whome our moder the chirche byleveth without ony doubte to be deed, accordyng unto the condicyon of our nature, but where the honourable temple of her sayd body, by the divyne counseyle & ordynaunce of God was layde, or where now it resteth or remayneth, the olde chirche wolde no thynge determyne, but rather let the mater hange in doubte & suspence, than ony thynge to wryte or teche without auctorite, unto suche tyme it myght please our Lord God ferther to shewe therin, wherupon it pleased his goodnes syth the tyme to shewe by revelacyon unto dyverse persones, whiche our sayd moder the chirche hath approved & so now doth hold & teche, that her holy body is with her blessed soule in blysse gloryfyed, & therfore is this feest now called the Assumpcyon.

Woody said...

We must become worthy of the gift, by prayer and penance.

Rubricarius said...

A monosyllabic answer to the question: No. To what extent people feel they ought to like it is a more interesting question.

Timothy - beautiful, that says it all quite sufficiently.

ansgarus said...

Independent on the difficile question whether Father should or should not like a particular liturgy prescribed by the church - what about saying the Office, which Father most prefers, ad libitum and in addition to the Ordinariate Version, to which he certainly is bound? In this case, however, not only the Office of August 15, but also the Office of August 14 should be chosen from one of the pre-1955 Versions in order to enjoy shifting the Vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady on today, the Saturday, as Vigilia Anticipata. And Father should not forget to use the opportunity to ask his Ordinariate for a personal indulgence to say the Office with satisfaction according to whatever version, which at any time has been officially in use at his diocese, and is still documented well enough so that it can be prayed integrally without corruptions.

Stephen said...

Timothy, thank you. I love the muted tone, soft, respectful, cautious, as one should be when approach6jng so great a mystery. Some feasts are well suited to proclamations and publicity; this is one which is better guarded and protected, to be approached with reserve and respect.

Gregory DiPippo said...

Optime Timothee,

At the same time, the Sarum Rite (along with the Dominicans and many others) used the following Collect for the Assumption, which explicitly asserts that the Virgin's death was temporary.

"Veneranda nobis, Domine, hujus diei festivitas opem conferat salutarem, in qua sancta Dei Genitrix mortem subiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quae Filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum.

Lord, may the venerable festivity of this day bring to us salvific aid, the day on which the Holy Mother of God underwent temporal death, but could not be held down by the bonds of death, who from Herself begot Thy Son, our Lord, in the flesh."

Timothy Graham said...

Dear Gregory: but doesn't the Martyrology state this in the last two clauses of the extract above? T.

Matthew Roth said...

Of course, as I reviewed the Epistle to sing at tonight's Mass, I wonder why the lesson only includes the parts of Judith 13 which follow the death of Holofernes.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

I am not a fan of Pius XII and his discontinuities ... saying that

* either she never died and got buried before Assumption (with Resurrection)
* OR all other saints have at least some "corruption of the grave" (rotting)

is a very bad alternative.

She was of course assumed so she could become Mediatrix of all graces, and she did of course die first, out of love for Her Son - and Her God. The dying she had asked for when seeing Him die on Calvary.