24 June 2022

Printing and the Sacred Heart

Once when I was an Anglican, using the older of my two Latin Altar editions of Missale Romanum, I said the Mass of the Sacred Heart as it existed, firstly pro aliquibus locis and then for the Universal Church, before Pius XI provided a replacement in 1928. I rather liked the older mass. The psalmus in the Introit was Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo, a haunting verse which has stuck in the minds of many. You find it in Pius IX's Mass of the Precious Blood; it occupied the same place in the Sarum Mass of the Five Wounds; I remember deciphering it, highly abbreviated, on a choir pew put in Lifton church in the late fourteen hundreds by Parson Halyborton, an adventurous Scotch cleric who came to Devon, became an archdeacon, went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I recall seeing it on a portrait, 1582, of S Teresa of Avila, which was once in the Carmel at Lanherne ... Why did this old Mass of the Sacred Heart have to be abolished? Its collect was to be resurrected by the post-conciliar 'reform', so it can't have carried the marks of being too dated. Why couldn't the mass have been kept as an alternative, or even just as a votive, somewhere in the Missal?

I have written before about the significance, understood by too few liturgical writers, of printing. This made it possible for legislators with liturgical bees in their bonnets to enforce, in a flash, liturgical revolutions. Before printing, we had a situation - I am thinking of the early history of Corpus Christi - in which a pope could mandate a feast for the Universal Church and it wasn't even observed in the papal capella until nearly two generations later. But printing made it possible for a Cranmer to overturn an entire liturgical culture overnight, and to replace his own liturgical innovations with a substantially different and yet more radical version of them a couple of years later.

This particular technological mechanism of Rupture came to town, I mean ad almam Urbem, after Vatican II. But there were earlier signs. I have just mentioned Pius XI and the liturgy of the Sacred Heart. Then there was Pius XII and the Assumption. Out went the old Mass and Office and in came radically new replacements. There was nothing wrong with the old euchological formulae; they made the point which was at the heart of the theology of the Assumption in both East and West in the first millennium and a half: that Mary was assumed so that she could intercede, be the Mediatrix of all graces. Granted that Pius XII desired in 1950 to imprint upon the liturgy his new dogmatic definition, he could have behaved in the organic, evolutionary way of earlier pontiffs - he might, for example, have left the texts which he inherited untouched but embodied his new precisions in an added word (corporea) in the Preface; or even have asked that fertile Fr Genovese to write a Sequence, ordering it to be printed in liturgical books after that date and to be be brought into use as the newer books gradually spread. (Something like that is what Papa Barberini did when he classicised the texts of the Office Hymns.)

Printing is a very dangerous weapon in the hands of liturgists.


Richard said...

Yes, printing is dangerous, if you control the distribution. But in the age of the internet, with the aid of sophisticated publishing software, everybody is a potential printer who can disseminate his work worldwide at the touch of a button. He can call it authentic and, with almost no pushback from any authority, who has neither the scope nor the will to police the vast virtual marketplace, will always find somebody to swallow it. Ours is not an age of uniformity, but of cacophony verging on anarchy.

armyarty said...

This is the Feast of The Sacred Heart- of which I was informed upon telling my friend that the hated Roe v. Wade was struck down this very morning by the United States Supreme Court.

The is, I think, a connection.

Michael Leahy said...

Armyarty, I posted in response, on another site, "Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place all out trust in thee". The 'out' was a typo, but I left it stand, because I thought it appropriate.

PM said...

Meanwhile, I have only just discovered, courtesy of this


that PF canned the Corpus Christi procession in Rome this year.

Banshee said...

St. Charles Borromeo bought a printing press for Milan's seminary, started with printing off priest books, and ended up printing free textbooks for his all ages catechism and Bible classes.

It's all in how you use it.

Bernonensis said...

The happy day was also the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Many a child in the womb had cause to leap for joy this year.