1 September 2020

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Tradition (5)

Liturgical addresses to the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Holy, Blessed, and Undivided Trinity, ar rare. My instinct is that the most extreme example I know ... a Eucharistic Prayer authorised by the Church of Ireland in which the Prayer is divided into three parts, each in turn assigned to one of the Persons ... should be categorised a liturgical corruption. Perhaps the only addresses to the Holy Ghost which are fairly central to the worship of our Latin Church are the daily hymn at Terce; and the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, sung at priestly ordinaions to accompany anointing.

I regard this balance as very sensible.

I certainly regard Montanism as a heresy; I am more than suspicious of such Pentecostalist movements as seduce Catholics into leaving the Ark of Salvation and undergoing a sacrilegious second 'baptism'.

Latin Catholics, and, I think, Byzantines, have not often had shrines, pilgrimages, in honour of the Holy Ghost ... He (Latin) It (Greek) She (Semitic) has never attracted a great deal of popular devotional regard. Sometimes Catholics feel guilty about this; sometimes they even wonder if they should remedy this lack; perhaps, take a leaf or two out of a Pentecostalist book. I do not agree; I think that the everyday liturgical and devotional lives of Latins and Byzantines are perfectly sound and balanced and  wholesome and healthy.

I suspect that the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church is completely and totally central, just as breathing and the circulation of the blood are central and natural to a human body. But it is natural for us to talk about the things we are enabled to do or have done because of our breath or our circulating blood, rather than to be preoccupied about those processes in themselves. Sometimes something  is  so central that it is unnatural to keep talking self-consciously about it. Analogies may also be discerned in the states of being-a-priest, and being-married. This is why, I suggest, in our Roman Canon, and in the Gloria in excelsis, the Holy Ghost is simply and naturally taken for granted, being only mentioned in the summary doxologies at the end.

I repent of facile essays I wrote as a seminarian in the 1960s, explaining how the apparent near-absence of the Spirit by Catholic and Anglican Liturgies at that time left them 'defective'! Dear me, how much we were brain-washed in that decade! How much more acutely critical we ought to have been in discriminating between babies and bath-water!

I did appreciate that new eucharistic prayers with epicletic appeals for the Spirit before the Institution Narrative were neither authentically Western nor authentically Eastern, and I noticed that the innovation had received no encouragement whatsoever from Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II, but it took me quite a time to come to appreciate the full force and implications of the archaic and powerful "Binitarianism" of the Roman Canon.

In a very humbly personal way, I see myself as an example of how heterodoxy, as so often, has led to a better understanding of orthodoxy!

As far as concerns the life of the Church, I was suspicious, in my Anglican days, of those who explained to us that 'the Spirit' was calling for the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries. This has made me, after entry into full communion, equally suspicious of 'Bergoglianism' ... by which I mean, not so much the words and actions of PF himself (although these are not always above criticism) as the expressed views of his associates; who assure us that he is daily guided by the Holy Spirit; that his words may safely be taken as the utterances of the Spirit. My Anglican experiences have left me convinced that references to the Holy Spirit by those who promote innovations can easily be cheap and dishonest short-cuts, very much like those taken by impatient children who move their counters illegally when playing Snakes and Ladders.

I venture to propound a Prudential Principle: If someone keeps talking about the Holy Spirit, keep a critically open mind about his practical agenda.

As well as by the classical Roman Liturgy, I am strengthened by the beautifully laconic words of Vatican I ... so sharply expressed, almost as if those admirable Fathers foreknew Bergoglianism and even PF himself!

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by his revelation they could make new doctrines known, but so that by His help, they should devoutly guard and faithfully expound the revelation handed down by the apostles: the Deposit of Faith."


Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

What you says seems eminently sensible, I very much like the breathing analogy, as it extends to so many levels.

A personal awareness (as opposed to a liturgical invocation) of the Holy Spirit seems laudable, to keep ourselves on the right track. Cardinal Mercier's daily prayer, composed in the Holy Ghost chapel of our own beloved Walsingham, is a good example, as is the daily opening invocation of the antiphon "Veni Sancte Spiritus" proposed by St Louis-Marie de Montfort before his Little Crown of Our Lady, which he encouraged each morning among his brethren. A sort of spiritual 'morning kiss' to our Blessed Mother.

To continue your analogy, it is like that good cough or blowing of the nose which comes to us all in later life as a start to the days activity - one does it clear the airways for the day, but not accompanied by any formal thought of "now I am going to start breathing today."

The Holy Spirit, from the moment of our Baptism, is part of us, He (It/She), lives within us, becomes part of who and what we are, every second of the day, so it is natural that He should live and breathe within us as unconsciously as our bodily breath.

If, to continue the analogy yet further, as with a bad cold or a case of bronchitis, our breathing in the Spirit gets difficult through Sin, then the remedy is to go to the Doctor in the Confessional, and we can go back to, as you put it without any disrespect, taking Him for granted.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I am suspicious of people invoking the Spirit as I am of “discernment” as both all to frequently and conveniently lead to where the person wanted to go!

Pelerin said...

We must not forget the Holy Ghost Fathers or Spiritans as they are now known. Their work as missionaries in the most hostile of places reminds us of the power of the Holy Spirit. I have been privileged to have met several retired French Spiritains and learnt of some of their amazing stories which have helped me realise the importance of the Holy Spirit.

Pilgrim58 said...

Reading your blog has almost assumed the background place of shallow breathing. When I find myself aware of a shallow breath, as my iWatch so often points out, I immediately draw in a deep breath breath and savor the fullness of feeling in the lungs. It now occurs to me that the Charismatic Movement has been more successful than appreciated. Maybe the first sign of knowing proper place is feeling odd that I’m one of the few during Novus Ordo not holding out arms during Pater Nostra. Thank you for this blog. It is mutually enlightening.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

As one raised until my teens in the unreconstructed immigrant Irish Catholicism of New York City, the following prayer was common and known by everyone, although I forget the occasions on which we said it. Likely before classes?

V. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of thy love
R. Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

With the collect afterwards, O God who has taught the hearts of thy faithful, etc.

As a second note, it has long been my suspicion/opinion that very many of the roles and powers of the Holy Spirit were invested by popular devotion to the Virgin. It is no accident, I think, that Catholics got seduced into Pentecostalism at the same time that the emotionality of popular devotions was made unavailable to them.

When the Koran makes the mistake of thinking that the Trinity is composed of the Father, the Son and the Mother, its author(s) may have described Christian belief with sociological rather than theological accuracy.

Stephen said...

Whoa! Opening lines, all rather Trinitarian...does there need to be more??? Do not these openings suffice?

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Latin Rite, Old and New).
Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..(Liturgy of St. John C, of St. Basil the Great, and the Presanctified of Pope St. Gregory the Great)

William said...

"(although these are not always above criticism)"

I do so enjoy a spot of well-judged litotes.

Woody said...

To add to Pelerin’s comment, I am particularly fond of the memory of one deceased former Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, a great missionary himself before assuming his later roles, and pray for the repose of his soul, if that is needed.

CHSIII said...

Every morning, assembling on the asphalt playground before the beginning bell, under the vigilant eyes of various Baltimore RSM's, for eight years, we began the day singing:
Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
Come with Thy grace and Heavenly aid, to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O Comforter, to Thee we cry, the Heavenly Gift of God Most High;
Thou Fount of life,and Fire of love, and sweet Anointing from above.
An inclusive daily lesson in theology, psychology,poetry, nomenclature and song, sadly forgotten for the most part in the Suburban Rite of today. With heartfelt thanks to the Baltimore Maidens, and to Edward Caswall.

Fr SImon Heans said...

I once did an Alpha Course in my Anglican parish out of desperation. I took the group to an Anglican monastery )Community of the Servants of the Will of God, Crawley Down) for the Holy Spirit weekend where despite the Eastern influence there (icons and a liturgy with bits of Chrysostom's in it) Fr Gregory gave a severely binitarian talk which stopped one of the group from thinking she had the gift of tongues.
Thank you for the breathing analogy - I shall use that next Pentecost.

Nathaniel said...

Since you mentioned us Byzantines, we begin every divine service with a prayer to the Holy Spirit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usual_beginning