28 January 2017

Dixit et loquitur: the Reformation and the Mass (2)

This continues from the post of 23 January; Dom Gregory Dix is writing: Isn't it the same problem with the question of the 'sacrifice' of the Mass? The kind of thing which was being fought about over about the 'sacrifice' - the question of 'How' - was precisely the kind of thing which Trent would not and did not endorse, if you look at the canons. The kind of thing which was being denied was just the kind of thing a man like de la Taille, or Masure, is trying to avoid in our own day. But for contemporaries on both sides it seems to me that it was a battle in a fog - starting from false premises on both sides! So they tried to short-circuit the question, or rather to ignore it.

What I think is clear is that the Church of England, as such, meant to have real bishops and priests, and meant to have a 'real Eucharist' conveying the Body and Blood of Christ, and not a 'memorial service'. (Cranmer did not mean the real Eucharist and I doubt very much indeed whether he meant the real episcopate.) What is clear is that nobody was at all sure what was involved in either. But the goverment had to do something to satisfy these desires, though it did as little as it could, because it meant to have a 'National Church'. Remember, Philip of Spain had been crowned King of England! And the 'Universal' Church, at that moment, meant 'King Philip's' Church! What was involved in having real bishops only came out much later, when the 'National Church' came up against the jure divino claims of the Geneva polity! It is only then - in the 1590s - that the Anglican Church discovered a theological reason for having bishops - men who could fulfil the traditional duties of bishops in Church and State. (Hence the quite extraordinary statements of the Anglican Preface to the Ordinal. They aren't intended as theology!)

If one wants to understand the extraordinary muddle politics made of the whole thing for the bien pensants of the period, one should read 'The Counter-Reformation in England' by a Roman Catholic called Philip Hughes. English Catholicism was thrown away by the Holy See. But I think it is only when you think back, behind all the post-Tridentine precisions, to the wild theological muddle when no-one was at all sure what a 'real' bishop or a 'real' Eucharist meant, that you can understand the sort of rough and ready, ramshackle, solutions men adopted to 'keep the Church going' at all. Some of them were deplorable, some of them were adopted solely for reasons of state, some of them failed to 'work' at all. But considering the confusions of the times, I think the intention - the practical intention - of what was done is clear enough. It is when one tries now, after the clarification of centuries, to make precise arguments on the niceties of theology, that we all fall down!

12 comments:

Presbyter said...

I wonder what Dix means by "the Church of England as such"? He says it meant to have real bishops and priests and meant to have a "real Eucharist". In the context of Elizabeth's first few years was it the newly appointed bishops, the Parliament, or the Queen? Decisions seem to have been made by royal authority or legislation.

William Tighe said...

Good question. The Canterbury Convocation in 1559 "meant" to retain the Mass, reject the Royal Supremacy and uphold papal authority. The next Convocation, in 1562, produced the 39 Articles, and fell just a few votes short of endorsing a desire to abolish all vestments, end kneeling at communion. What it "meant" to do, if anything, is not evident to me.

John Fisher said...

I suggest you read English Reformations by Christopher Haigh. Elizabeth from her Coronation repudiated the Catholic Faith. Why she insulted the monks of Westminster who greeted her at her Coronation and these were English. King Philip of Spain and England had a claim to the English throne. The Spaniards following the sufferings they endured under Moslem invasion and occupation valued the Faith. Queen Catherine was Spanish. Queen Mary was half Spanish. I think you are being biased by the black legend. I cannot see or agree with the point about the Spanish Church. I really wish the Armada had been successful. I might add I personally despise the Church of England.

EPJ said...

In the light of all this muddle and confusion, then, in principle it seems prudent and pragmatic to act in relation to Anglican Orders in the way Pope Leo XIII chose to. The grandiose 'null and void' of 19th century quasi-imperial triumphalism would be expressed in more nuanced terms today but the conclusion would be the same.
What you are saying is that the forensic reconsitution of the genealogy of episcopal ordinations isn't just hampered by the politico-theological contingencies of the period of Reformation but seems to have been confused even prior to that. In which case the only moments of clarity around which a response can crystalise will inevitably have to include such things as an institutional (and not an individual) rupture with the Holy See. It likes finesse as a criteria of discernment of apostolic continuity but by the sounds of things there are very few others at all.
Under such circumstances conditional re-ordination of those Anglicans who return to the Catholic Church seems entirely understandable and the guillotine of Leo XIII's "null and void" a prophetically wise, if drastic, proclamation - especially given what the Anglican Communion and episcopacy was to become within 100 short years.

EPJ said...

In the light of all this muddle and confusion, then, in principle it seems prudent and pragmatic to act in relation to Anglican Orders in the way Pope Leo XIII chose to. The grandiose 'null and void' of 19th century quasi-imperial triumphalism would be expressed in more nuanced terms today but the conclusion would be the same.
What you are saying is that the forensic reconsitution of the genealogy of episcopal ordinations isn't just hampered by the politico-theological contingencies of the period of Reformation but seems to have been confused even prior to that. In which case the only moments of clarity around which a response can crystalise will inevitably have to include such things as an institutional (and not an individual) rupture with the Holy See. It likes finesse as a criteria of discernment of apostolic continuity but by the sounds of things there are very few others at all.
Under such circumstances conditional re-ordination of those Anglicans who return to the Catholic Church seems entirely understandable and the guillotine of Leo XIII's "null and void" a prophetically wise, if drastic, proclamation - especially given what the Anglican Communion and episcopacy was to become within 100 short years.

mark wauck said...

I certainly agree with the core of what you're saying, and I paraphrase:

"Now, as then, both sides are starting from false premises."

"One must think back behind the point when no one was sure what a 'real bishop' or a 'real Eucharist' was/is."

I also agree with what I believe you've been saying all along: that the traditional Roman Liturgy preserves the solution to "the question of the 'sacrifice' of the Mass." That that question arose largely from forgetfulness of what the Roman Canon tells us is occurring during the Mass. I further agree that the traditional Roman eucharistic theology, as embodied in the Roman Canon, is superior in clarity and theoretical power to all other "solutions," be they past or present, be they epicletic Eastern theologies or Ratzinger's Teilhardian "cosmic transubstantiation."

I'm willing to consider something that you seem at pains to avoid openly suggesting--that the approach that Leo took to the question of Anglican orders (always presuming that we know what 'real bishops' are) might be applied with equal justice to the liturgical fiddling with "Eucharistic Prayers" after V2.

Sadly, what I'm not seeing is a way forward through the fog and false premises of both self proclaimed "Traditionalists" and V2 "Conciliar" Catholics--both of which factions appear equally ignorant of historical realities.

Am I missing something, or do you have suggestions for that way forward? I see no indication that you intend to continue this thread.

John Fisher said...

There are parallels between Bugnini and Bergoglio's. Look at all the inventions and distortions Bugnini imposed like weasel using Vatican II as a pretext. Bergoglio's also has his agenda which he will use his position to impose. What is it in their Machivellian approach then drives them and we seek to justify the abuse after the fact. Why do we accept and excuse an abusive authority figure? Why can't we see their game and undo the damage... Instead their vile fruit rots and we seem unwilling to accept we have been abused.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Mr Wauck: You have (you usually do have) a point. Taking it a little further: it is not surprising that sedevacantist writers invoke Apostolicae Curae in their attacks on 'post-conciliar orders'.

To be honest, I do feel that Cardinal Vaughan was able to contrive that Leo's decision swerved away from the central points of the Church's teaching on sacramental validity in deciding what Leo declared to be a "caput disciplinae". But juridically, his law still applies and I do and have accepted it. Nevertheless, I feel that conditional ordination is the most principled solution to a real problem, not least because it would deprive some people of their "principled reason" for remaining in schism.

Since Bl J H Newman needed to be reassured, before his 'second ordination' that its conditionality was in the mind of the Church, this is a practical solution for those who sincerely desire a solution. (I'm not sure they really do.)

Christopher Boegel said...

Agree 1000% !

Why do we as poor Catholic faithful have to suffer the squandering of our Catholic endowment by men like Bugnini, who Fr. Louis Bouyer knew only too well, and described him as "a man as devoid of culture as he was of basic honesty."

Since the election of the new Bugnini, the church, which ought to be a refuge, is now like a prison.

Paul Goings said...

"Taking it a little further: it is not surprising that sedevacantist writers invoke Apostolicae Curae in their attacks on 'post-conciliar orders'."

Indeed. In fact, we are all awaiting the forthcoming publication of a new work by a rather well-known sedevacantist writer, tentatively titled, "An Examination of the Ordination Rites Promulgated by Paul VI, According to the Principles of Apostolicae Curae." That, I suggest, will surely set the fox among the chickens.

A priest said...

Dear Father, 'The Order of Melchisedech : A Defence of the Catholic Priesthood', by Michael Davis, is well worth reading.The sedevacantists' use of Apostolicae Curae is clearly faulty.

Christopher Richardson said...

I feel embarrassed, amidst all these erudite comments, to contribute a tiny point of correction, but for the benefit of those minded to follow Fr Hunwicke's recommendation and seek out Philip Hughes' book, its title is actually 'Rome and the Counter-Reformation in England' (Burns Oates, 1942). I propose now to follow it myself, but don't have far to seek as the book has been sitting on a bookshelf at home for years waiting for me to get round to it!