28 May 2020

Hate Liturgy? (3) Hitler, Pachamamma

But I feel there still remains a nagging doubt about that final paragraph: "Thou only art The Holy. Thou only art The Most High".  The Byzantine Liturgy, in the response of the People before Communion, raises a similar question: heis Hagios, heis Kyrios, Iesous Christos ... When all is said and done, doesn't that leave an uneasy query in one's mind: we are addressing God the Son. So when we tell him that he alone is The Holy One; he alone is The Lord; he alone is The Most High ... well,  isn't His Father (and the Holy Ghost) equally entitled to these honorifics? Jungmann explains "If we refer [these epithets] to Christ, they must also by that fact be claimed for the triune God". Indeed. Very True. But, again ... ...

Jungmann, writing, I think, during the Nazi tyranny, argues that "in the period when our hymn originated, such expressions very vividly outlined the sharp antithesis between our Catholic worship and heathen worship with its many loosely-given attributes of divinity, its many kyrioi, and its emperor-worship. Above and beyond all these creations of human fancy stands Jesus Christ, radiant and grand, the sole and only Lord. Our own day has great appreciation of this sublime contrast." [My italics.] Indeed. Jungmann's 'day' had more than its belly-full of Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer. In the context of such tyranny, isn't the final paragraph of the Gloria in excelsis still endowed with all its old subversive power? Does it not still breathe the spirit of all the Martyrs of all the ages? Is its truth not still increasingly necessary as liberal tyranny fastens its hold upon our own society, and even upon the Church?

So S Paul admits that in his society there are theoi polloi kai kyrioi polloi, but opposes to this heis Theos ho Pater, heis Kurios Iesous Christos (I Corinthians 8:5-6; cf  Ephesians 4:5-6). Indeed, in syncretistic polytheistic cultures, there certainly are many Kyriai and many Kyrioi: Isis, Osiris, Sabazios, Mithras, Pachamamma  ...   All of whom the Christian radically rejects. Our shout inevitably and inexorably goes up "In Tiberim, in Tiberim". Splash Splash!! Sink Sink!!!

So 'only' and 'monos' and 'solus' clearly function as exclusionary and excluding dogmatic terms. They are profoundly and deliberately anti-ecumenical. That is their value and their immense strength. And, I would say, their necessity. Our society is focussed upon being 'inclusive', and this ambiguous 'virtue' (newly and cunningly manufactured in the laboratories of Hell) makes its way even into the religious sphere, where it encourages syncretism only yards from where S Peter bore his uninclusive Witness. But the ideologically powerful final paragraph of the Gloria in excelsis, which is not just poetry and not even solely prayer, is an unfurled dogmatic standard around which to gather in the battles ahead.

Jungmann realised this in Nazi Vienna. How clear is it to us here and to us now?

In the fourth and final section, I shall return to the Marian prayer Sub tuum praesidium.


PM said...

Subject to correction, might I suggest that 'Tu solus Sanctus, Tu solus Dominus, Tu solus Altissimus' is addressed to the Lord in virtue of his humanity? (I.e. He alone of the human race is God, the Holy One ....) By virtue of the communicatio idiomatum (which also dates from the second century), it would also apply to his divinity and thus be referred, as Jungmann states, to the Blessed Trinity.

Fr PJM said...

Cardinal Biffi, in the Lenten retreat that he preached to Pope Benedict and to the Curia, noted the following:

"There are absolute values such as the good, the true and the beautiful... and there are relative values such as solidarity, love of peace and respect for the natural world. If we make [relative values] into absolutes, in uprooting them from, or even opposing them to the proclamation of the fact of Salvation, then these values push us towards idolatry, and they become obstacles on the path to salvation. If, for the sake of an opening to the world and in order to dialogue with everyone, the Christian believes that he must downplay the question of eternal salvation, he prevents the personal connection with Christ, and he finds himself on the side of the anti christ." 

But surely unity and reconciliation are absolute goods and always desired by God and pleasing to Him! Really?

We learn in Sacred Scripture that after having engineered the death of Christ, Pontius Pilate and King Herod became friends. Was this peace pleasing to the Lord? 

Hell has its own unity, as our Lord attests. That unity is enforced presumably by power, terror and hatred 

frjustin said...

"Thou only art The Holy. Thou only art The Most High". The Armenian liturgy ascribes this to God the Son, but then expands the final sentence in a third paragraph to make explicit reference to the Holy Spirit and God the Father. An English translation is not widely available, perhaps because the GIED is said at Lauds and not at Mass. So I will reproduce here the translation used by the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in the United States.


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men. And praise be to thee in the highest. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God. We bless thee and we praise thee. We acknowledge thee Lord and we worship thee. We glorify thee. We give thanks to thee, O Lord, for thy great glory. O Lord king, the Holy One of heaven, God and Father almighty.

Lord and only begotten Son of the Father, Jesus Christ and holy Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God and Son of the Father, who didst take our nature from the Virgin. Thou didst show mercy and didst take away the sins of the world. And now receive our prayers. O thou Holy One, who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art holy, thou only art exalted, thou only art our Lord, Jesus Christ.

And thou art Lord, O Holy Spirit, who art in glory God with the Father. Amen.

rick allen said...

It has always seemed to me a use of what is literally exclusive, but which is intended to express having a quality in an exceedingly high degree.

Jesus told us to call no man "father," though I don't think he meant to prevent us from calling our dads "father"--or you.

Jesus also said none is good but the Father. I don't think that he ascribed it solely to the Father, or to the Trinity.

People may be holy, and good, and even fathers. But the Father is the highest expression of fatherhood, and the Trinity the highest expression of holiness and goodness. To insist on a literal sense of exclusivity in fact does damage to the rather fundamental Christian notion that God wants to communicate these qualities to us, his poor children.