18 June 2008

The Deeply Ridiculous

While Dean Inge refused to collect postage stamps and Lord Brideshead did collect match-box labels, my own need for trivia is satisfied by collecting the Deeply Ridiculous; whom I divide up into five categories: A, B, C, D, and E (A being the most exotically ridiculous). I am tickled pink to have gained a new item for my A list: one Elena Curti, whom I have acquired from Damian Thompson's account of the Cardinal Castillon Hoyos news conference. We were taught that the new rite represented real progress, and many of us who have grown up with it see it as real progress, that there are Eucharistic ministers, women on the sanctuary, that we are all priests, prophets and kings. Isn't that superb? For this poor, sad, dim creature, the Liturgical Movement which culminated in the post-Conciliar rite is characterised, not by euchological riches newly gathered in from the two-thousand-year tradition of the Church's worship, not by the rich diet of a Three year Sunday cycle of Biblical readings and the Weekday Lectionary, not by the access gained to all this by the use of the vernacular (please understand that I realise qualifications could be set beside each of these; I am speaking purely ad hominem, indeed ad Feminam) but by Eucharistic Ministers (I imagine she means Extraordinary ones) and women on (I presume she means 'in') the sanctuary. All St Bugnini's labours, the man-and-woman hours devoted by ICEL to their literary masterpieces, even all this pales into insignificance beside the spectacle of lay people administering the Sacrament and women wearing fancy collars to do so: features never envisaged by the Council Fathers and very probably not even by St Bugnini.

But Elena (is it possible to get pin-up pictures of her? autographed ones?) can do even better than this. We are all priests, prophets and kings. She gives this Biblical formula a functional hermeneutic; it apparently means laymen and laywomen performing sacerdotal or clerical functions in the Liturgy. I wonder how far she takes that game. I have a vision of this gorgeously silly woman going up to one of the guardsmen outside Buck House, explaining her regal status to him, and demanding to be taken to the throne room. Or writing to the Comptroller of the Household with a request to be put on the rota for presiding at the Trooping of the Colour.

I think she deserves a professorship named in her honour; perhaps 'The Elena Curti Chair in Popular Liturgics'. Alcuin Reid would make a wonderful first holder of this honour.


Sacerdos Vagans said...

I much enjoyed - I hope not too cruelly - your piece on the unfortunate Elena Curti, so as one who feels almost in need of physical restraint each time he hears eg that the London Oratory is "on" Brompton Road, or that St Magnus the Martyr is "on" Lower Thames Street I hesitate a little to enter the lists on the lady's behalf when you take her to task for using the expression "on the sanctuary". In fact this was normal English RC usage long before Vatican II, as was "on the altar", where Anglicans would say "at the altar", and I doubt either owed anything to the USA, as does the current BBC practice which drives me to distraction.

Vitaly Kartsev said...

Fr Hunwicke --

This kind of language...

this poor, sad, dim creature

But Elena (is it possible to get pin-up pictures of her? autographed ones?)

this gorgeously silly woman

...is unacceptably cruel and unbecoming a priest. I am shocked that you would speak of someone you don't know from Adam in these terms, whatever your disagreements with her might be.

G said...

There is certainly nothing wrong with saying such-and-such is "on" a given street (my church is located on Yonge Street, the longest in the world), but "on the sanctuary" strikes me as, shall we say, idiosyncratic. But then, so does her interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.