22 June 2014

Leading by example

Unlike some inhabitants of Traddieland, I'm not at all in a tizwaz about the Holy Father disregarding the law again this year at the Footwashing on Maundy Thursday. I still sleep well at night. I certainly don't think any the worse of him. He's Mega! But it has to be said that this year's event is more newsworthy than last year's, because, last year, he had only just been elected and it was perhaps an oversight when he continued what had been his custom in Argentina. And he has also now had a year in which to modify the law. His, presumably deliberate, decision to leave the law unchanged and to disregard it, has more of the quality of a significant precedent to it. And what more lofty and significant a precedent can there be than the actions of the Sovereign Pontiff himself? Who could be so impertinent, so lacking in religiosum obsequium, as to dare to deny the force of his example?

Obviously, it cannot be exceptionable for other clerics to frame their conduct on the basis of the Holy Father's own exemplary demonstration, in front of hordes of invited cameramen, of the non-binding quality of rubrical law. The Holy Father, when speaking once of his relationship with Mgr Good Marini, explicitly referred to his own liturgical "Emancipated Formation" in liturgical matters. It can only be an act of loyalty to the Holy Father to seek to enter into, to share, his own liturgical "Emancipation".

Henceforth, I shall follow the Holy Father's teaching-by-example (and not Fr Zed's advice) about the degree of obligation which rubrical law possesses ('Doing the Red'), and will consider myself free to make improvements. Unlike the Holy Father's dramatic and public disregard of the law on Maundy Thursday, they will not be the sort of things that laypeople even notice. But if anyone were to ask about my little modifications, I would simply explain that they they were in the Spirit of, and in imitation of the example of, Pope Francis. They are also in the spirit of our Anglican Patrimony; a basic Anglican canonical provision says (Canon B5) 'The minister who is to conduct the service may in his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance'. Pope Francis has clearly, de facto, confirmed this Common-Sense Anglican provision as being also a principle of Catholic praxis. Such a principle is also part of the practice of 'Subsidiarity' which gets quite a puff from the Magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI (e.g. in Summorum pontificum).

Here is the first of my improvements:

On 'Green' Sundays, if asked to celebrate the Novus Ordo, I shall deem myself free to use the Preface of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

After all, Clement XIII ordered it, and gave some very cogent reasons for doing so which I find Mutually Enriching.