28 August 2020

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Rite (2)

Dom Gregory Dix, our great Anglo-Papalist Doctor, had a particular dislike of the quaint and ludicrous old-style proddy superstition that a Doctrine needs to be clearly laid out in Scripture before it could be imposed on the Faithful (by this daft principle, the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, and the Assumption can at best only be deemed 'opinions'). In what follows, he is concerned to explode an old adage dear to some Anglicans, limiting Doctrine to what has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all". Hear his devastating attack upon this twaddle ... appreciate the characteristically impish glee, especially in the elegant last three sentences! (His Bishops hated and feared him; he is still very much part of our Ordinariate Patrimony.)

"The doctrine of the full Deity of the Holy Ghost ... was defined in 381 ... There is nothing in the N.T. which clearly indicates that the Orthodox doctrine is certainly right ... St Athanasius and St Basil ... appealed, naturally, to scripture and tradition, and it is notorious how defective in substance their appeal is found to be when it is closely examined. It is also remarkable that in the works which they wrote to vindicate this doctrine both carefully avoid even once applying the decisive word 'God' to the Holy Ghost [the same, of course, is true of the 'Nicene Creed'] ... St Gregory Nazianzen, 'the theologian' par excellence for the East, under whose presidency the Oecumenical Council of 381 actually defined the doctrine, is explicit that there were but 'few' who acepted it in his day and that Athanasius was the first and almost the only doctor to whom God had vouchsafed light on this subject. Elsewhere he is even more devastatingly honest with the admission that while the N.T. plainly revealed the Godhead of the Son it no more than 'hinted at' (hupodeixen) that of the Holy Ghost ... This is some distance from talk of 'most certain warrants of holy Scripture' ... 

"That the full doctrine of the Spirit's Godhead was then believed in some sense 'everywhere' we may hope, although the evidence is not reassuring. That it had 'always' been believed by some we may suppose, though the evidence is at least defective. That it had previously been believed 'by all' is demonstrably untrue.".

The Gloria in excelsis is old enough to predate the dogmatising of 381; hence, it only brings in the Holy Ghost with its conclusion. The same is true of the Canon of the Mass. After 381, an 'Epiclesis' came to be deemed essential in Eastern Eucharistic Prayers, and even made a few inroads in the West. But the Canon Romanus was content to continue with the much older notion that the Gifts become the Lord's Body and Blood by virtue of their acceptance by the Father.

But ... Time moves on. Perhaps the post-Vatican II innovators were right to clutter up their new Missal with Orientalising Invocations of the Spirit? I hear you all asking me this.

In my next part, I intend to justify, against the Orientalisers, against the Modernisers, and against any other -isers, the retention of the ancient teaching incorporated in our Roman Canon.

(I blame the laity for our problems. How often, dear lay readers, have you given your priest some scissors as a prezzy, making clear that you expect him to use them to cut those 'Alternative Eucharistic Prayers' out of his Novus Ordo Missal?

'Nuff said.)


Stephen said...

Much ado about nothing. Liturgy is a team sport in east and west. The Epiclesis is motion, of going from one place to another as a decisive act or request of free will in order to be together, to be in communion, be it the older rising Epiclesis of the west (a very busy angel, that), or the descending Epiclesis of the east. I do not see them as contradictory, nor that the invitation to descend by the Holy Spirit negates the appeals to the Father for acceptance of the Gifts. Note too how the east gets the angels in on the team as well. This from the silent prayer at the Little Entrance in Lit. of St. John the Golden Mouth:
"Master, Lord our God, Who has established the orders and hosts of angels and archangels in heaven to minister to Your glory, grant that holy angels may enter with us, that together we may celebrate and glorify Your goodness. For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages."
Up, down, a team sport, eh? So why the fuss??? By the time the eastern liturgies were being cemented, it was important to nail down the Holy Spirit's role. How is that any different than the Gloria being an Old Rome "in your face, you losers who still worship the false gods, we got the Real Deal here", which was so vital when the Gloria was being formed?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. ABS and The Bride, for years, were forced to go to The Lil' Licit Liturgy and ABS told the local presider than every time he said The Roman Canon, ABS would give him $25.00.

Occasionally, the presider would say the Roman Canon and ABS would hand him the $25.00 and smile.

ABS thinks of the Pope who rammed the Lil' Licit Liturgy down our collective throats, white he banned the Holy Holocaust, as Paul the Gall.