9 March 2018

Cardinal Sarah rebuked in last week's Tablet by a Trained Liturgist

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 and interlocking Journals, Conferences, and what-nots. 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had always been of nice sweet-tempered rosy-faced white-haired old gentlemen dozily clinging to their two-generation-outdated shibboleths and exploded myths and frequently raising in a slightly tremulous hand a glass of whiskey to the memory of Saint Pseudo-Hippolytus; breaking off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!! (Nor rosy-faced nor white-haired nor tremulous of hand.) He tried to keep his hearers entertained by a rambling and, it seemed to me, spiteful account of the culture of Private Masses, described as if its practical 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 ... the Rector only got up just before breakfast ... ho ..."). You may well imagine that this rather tried my own very undeveloped 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 the poor stumbling fellow 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 (nullAHtenus). But the Trained Chappie pronounced it, with great decision, as if the e were long (NULLaTEYnus). Ha Ha. Pathetic of me? Undoubtedly. Thoroughly petty? Well, give me a break. I needed something to laugh at. You would have needed it too. Alcohol was not immediately on, er, tap.

I think that speaker may have been the very same [?Reverend Father?] Tom O'Loughlin who has given Cardinal Sarah such a very stern telling-off in ... YES!!! The Tablet!!! ... for what his Eminence had the temerity to say about how to receive Holy Communion. Naughty, naughty, Sarah! We know so much better, because we are the Trained Liturgists! Bow, bow, to his Daughter-in-law elect!!

Mired still in the enthusiasms of the post-Conciliar decade, these people have invested a lifetime of effort in the pitiful assumptions of their youthful years. Their own status depends on all that old stuff still being taken seriously by new generations of the gullible. So 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.


Christopher Ainslie said...

At the tender age of 59 I think Mr O'Loughlin represents the younger end of this particular group of trained liturgists.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

In his gem of a book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Plinio Correa de Oliveria observed that a mania for novelty fuels revolutions. It is a useful book in that it cautions against those who label and attack men committed to the Counter-Revolution .

There is a well-known apologist who specialises in this without understanding that to resist a Counter-Revolution is the same as ...desiring to deliver the world over to the revolution's dominion.

The book is loaded with profound insights and advice and can be read in one weekend but that is not enough to possess its wisdom and advice and so one finds his own self returning time and again to its marked-up pages.

A Daughter of Mary said...

I wonder just what it is in a soul that makes it desire novelty in the most important things? Does the soul of a priest get fed up with saying the same old Mass year after year, and long for something more interesting? Do nuns have to steel themselves every morning to go to the Chapel and praise God in the same old boring, exhausting way?

Is this the way Satan tempts us most: the desire for something new? Something of our own making because God has become so boring? Our Dear God knows all, He has all power and might, He has all understanding of our innermost desires, and thoughts. The simple fact that He allows us to do what we are doing means something tremendous: There is GOOD to be had if we love Him through all these trials and sufferings. That's what we can only pray for: that all souls will submit to His Loving Rule.

Unknown said...

I had very concerning abdominal pain the other week. After I was all better, I described how well everything had gone during my appendectomy subsequent convalescence to a fellow I know who wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on the History of and Social Semiotic of General Surgery. He let me know what a fool I was to have had my appendix removed by a surgeon, rather than a Trained Surgicalist. I was so embarrassed.

Belfry Bat said...

so... "nullatenus" should really rhyme with... "gelatinous"? Or we've no Latin, us?

Bos Mutissimus said...

a propos Anagram :

William said...

“Is this the way Satan tempts us most: the desire for something new?”

Well, in the words of Screwtape:
“The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship.”
(It’s probably as well that Lewis didn’t live to see just how much havoc was shortly to be wreaked in the Church by “the horror of the Same Old Thing”.)

Randolph Crane said...

Isn't it quite ironic how conservative those Liberals are? They cling to their ideas as if their lives depended on it, and anyone who opposes them, of course, is a rigid Traditionalist.

Well, I am a rigid Traditionalist, and I am very much open to change. Especially if this change involves turning the back to the '68 generation and their liturgical bogus.

E sapelion said...

On the one hand Tom O'Loughlin has a thousand years of tradition to point to. And some powerful theological imagery from St Paul. On the other hand Cdl Sarah has another thousand years of tradition behind him. Do we have any idea why the Roman Church changed it's view on the unleavened bread? It seems less than practical. Before the era of mass produced wafers delivered by post one imagines the quality of the 'accidents' must have been pretty variable.

John Vasc said...

One imagines an anxious whispering in the pews in the middle of a parish Mass, as Father realizes during the sermon that he has forgotten the words of the Creed, and is reduced to repeating his story about his nephew Jim over and over again ... A timorous call goes out: 'Is there a liturgist in the house?' Rapid steps are heard, then and reassuringly firm voice calls out from the back of the church: 'Let me through, let me through - I'm a fully-trained liturgist!'
A sigh of relief goes through the building...

John Vasc said...

Father, your mention of your seminary Liturgy Prize reminds me that Bertie Wooster often proudly mentions the Scripture Prize he was awarded at his prep school by the headmaster, the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn (did you ever come across him at Oxford in your day, I wonder?)
I'm sure your Divinity Prize was honestly won, but in Bertie's case, his aggrieved ex-fellow-pupil Gussie Fink-Nottle - when in his cups - announces to the Prize Day audience at Market Snodsbury, "Bertie Wooster scrounged that scripture-knowledge trophy over the heads of better men by means of some of the rawest and most brazen swindling methods ever witnessed..."

Which in turn reminds one of the Roman Synod in 2015.

I mean of course, because it was also an assembly...Not that there was any brazen swindling involved, naturally.

Fred W. said...

Greetings to A Daughter of Mary -

Ransom addresses your very questions when he first thinks about being in Someone's Presence.

"At first it was almost intolerable, as he put it to us, in telling the story, 'There seemed no room.' But later on, he discovered that it was intolerable only at certain moments - at just those moments in fact (symbolized by his impulse to smoke and to put his hands into his pockets) when a man asserts his independence and feels that now at last he's on his own. When you felt like that, then the very air seemed too crowded to breathe; a complete fulness seemed to excluding be you from a place which, nevertheless, you were unable to leave. But when you gave in to the thing, gave yourself up to it, there was no burden to be borne. It became not a load but a medium, a sort of splendour as of eatable, drinkable, breathable gold, which fed and carried you and not only poured into you but out from you as well. Taken the wrong way, it suffocated; taken the right way, it made terrestrial life seem, by comparison, a vacuum.' " ..................

and the Lady tells him: '...... The beasts would not think it hard if I told them to walk on their heads. It would become their delight to walk on their heads. I am His beast, and all His biddings are joy. '"

We forget, I think, that we are creatures, especially when we become adopted as sons and daughters; nevertheless, we are still created, not begotten. I also think that some of us forget that it's not enough to "just say no" to the bent ones; we have to actually fight and work to defeat them, in the service of our Lord.....

~one who every few years reads the tales of Malacandra and Perelandra during Lent.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Dear Father:

This is an epic take-down, God bless you for it!

Let me confirm your discovery of the nastiness of so-called "liturgists," with two stories. These are two different people; but one of them could supply quite a lot of stories all by himself, but I will stick with just one.

- There is a priest in my part of the world who has spent decades not doing very much other than offering himself for liturgy training. The reason? He would come into a parish -- either as an assignment, or else as help for Mass or confessions, and make himself unwelcome. As mentioned, there are many stories. But I will resist temptation and tell just one, in the context of the preparation for the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

At one of the many sessions, in which we went over the texts, he put his hand up to complain bitterly about the new translation; and he had come prepared! He had a particular prayer in mind, and he provided a comparison of the new text with the outgoing translation. The striking thing was that not only did not complain in the least about the accuracy of the new text; quite the opposite: it was too accurate! He really did concede that the underlying Latin text had ideas and concepts that "we" don't "hear" or "pray well" -- some sort of jargon like that; and it was so terrible that the outgoing translation was being lost, because it was so much more suitable!

On that occasion, I chose to rise a little later and suggest that if there was a dissatisfaction with the underlying text, the solution would seem to be to ask the bishops to address that, not deliberately to mis-translate those texts.

Here is my second story. It goes back to my seminary days, and it was some years after Pope John Paul had issued Redemptionis Sacramentum. Our diocese, at that time, had resisted that document mightily, but almost five years later, it gave up the ghost and was finally going to implement what the Holy Father had called for. So again, seminars -- one of which was at the seminary, which the seminarians were required to attend. Leading it was the liturgy director for the Archdiocese, a priest. Those of us who were there still talk about the three main things we observed:

- The great distaste and almost tangible disgust, on Father's part (his female sidekick, and successor, was far more diplomatic), for almost every paragraph.

- There were several points at which Father expressed confusion about the reasons for what the pope had insisted upon. This exasperation was expressed rather snidely at times, as if it couldn't be the Trained Liturgist's failure that things weren't clear.

- And worst of all -- and most vividly remembered by seminarians present -- was a sneering comment about needing "smoke" from the Vatican. Perhaps Father Trained Liturgist meant it as a reiteration of wanting more clarity; but many took it to mean, he wanted a new pope.

I might add, just for your amusement, that many of us who were there have always kept this sort of thing in mind when our predecessors -- of a certain age -- would lecture us about being "pastoral." It was striking to see what they had in mind, played out before our very eyes.

John the Mad said...

The principle recollection I have about the priest liturgist during my rather short sojourn at the seminary was that he tried to seduce me during the time allotted for evening prayers. I finally fled his suite stating that I understood a priestly vocation to involve giving it up, not joining the other side.

That and a number of other horrors led to my leaving at year's end. I did not give it up, got married, became a father and remain a Catholic in the blessed state of holy matrimony.

Perhaps in retrospect I was not intended for Holy Orders. I did arrive at the seminary driving an MBG sports car, acquired the previous year while I was a serving officer in the RCAF.

Deacon Augustine said...

Tom O'Loughlin is one of those "liturgists" who are proud to be:


It is only common courtesy to suffix their names with the appropriate credentials spelt acronymically.

Carolyn said...

This desire for change is quite simply, "the adulterous spirit of this generation" we have been amply warned about. It is arrogant , compulsive, and never satisfied. It replaces true disciplined creativity with vain silliness.