13 July 2018

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

Today is the (30th) obit of one of the greatest intellectual figures of the last century. Mohrmann it was who demonstrated that Liturgical Latin, like Liturgical Greek (and one thinks of Church Slavonic and Church Coptic), was an artificial construct deliberately invented so as to be as worthy as possible for the August Sacrifice (forget the creaky old Protestant and 1960s superstition that 'the Primitive Church' was dead set on 'vernacular' liturgies designed to be 'understanded of the people').

One of the tragedies of the 1960s was that a particular version of a 'Liturgical Movement' got its grip upon the minds of superficial 'professional liturgists' who had their sticky hands upon the levers of power. Men (yes, I think they were all men) who were deaf to Mohrmann's scholarship and her immense erudition. Men (well, let us say half-men) who knew what was best for little Johnny and insisted on little Johnny's jaws being clamped open while they force-fed him with their revolting gruel.

In those middle years of that century there were other very competent women liturgists. I wonder if the "Liturgical Reform" would have been less disastrous if it had not been forced through by an insensitive illiterate narrow-minded fascist androcracy.

Curious, isn't it, that our male culture went pretty well straight from a crass and arrogant assumption that the little woman had little capacity for intelligent thought, all the way to a servile and creepy subordination to every whimsy of femino-fascism.

Men are such odd creatures.

2 comments:

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. This is some rollicking rhetoric.

Kudos !!!!

William Tighe said...


Fr. Hunwicke, you wrote:

"... Liturgical Latin, like Liturgical Greek (and one thinks of Church Slavonic and Church Coptic), was an artificial construct ..."

I was aware that Liturgical Latin was an "artificial" (in the sense of deliberately archaizing) construct, as also Church Coptic, Church Slavonic (both of these, though, more "artificial" than "archaizing") and Liturgical Armenian (both artificial and archaizing) as well. I know absolutely nothing about the linguistic register of Liturgical Syriac, but I was under the impression that Liturgical Greek was simply in its beginning good, if formal, common koine. Its liturgical changelessness may have rendered it archaic over time, but is it now the case that scholars of the subject believe it "artificial" from the start?