31 January 2022

Prescription in Liturgy (2)

 In fact, a sense of the over-riding auctoritas of Tradition and Custom had not entirely disappeared from the three-volume The Celebration of Mass by J O'Connell, 1940 edition. He discussed customs 'praeter legem' ... beyond the law ... and goes on to explain that customs even 'contra legem' ... contrary to the law ... may become prescriptive. Apparently, the old Sacred Congregation of Rites was known to enforce usages which were contrary to the law!

Interestingly, O'Connell argues that "Popes in Constitutions that preface the liturgical books, while abolishing existing customs contrary to the rubrics of those books, do not prohibit future customs of this character".

This is particularly entertaining in view of the way that PF, at the end of Tc, tries to tie up his "abrogation" of earlier legislation and custom. (I wonder if S John Henry Newman's description of the C of E as "the House of Bondage" ought, in all fairness, to be transferreed to the Bergoglian Domus Sanctae Marthae.)

Incredibly, we live in times more restrictive and rigid than the 'rigid and archaic' decades before the Council! A Totally Tremendous Tyranny Time! It is remarkable how restrictive and dictatorial a peronist pope who is fuelled by a really stonking hatred of Tradition can manifest himself to be.

But I will conclude with some more of Dix.

"So far as the primitive bishop had any such right he had it not so much as bishop but as celebrant. When he ceased to be the normal celebrant it passed as a practical fact to other people. If any one were to say that from the sixth century to the eleventh it was habitually exercised much more by the copyists of liturgical MSS. than by bishops, it would not be easy to bring factual evidence to refute him. And in practice there is no doubt that it was exercised by the parish priest, 'doing the liturgy' for his flock under the guidance of tradition from such MSS. as he had, which he did not feel much scruple about adding to or altering with his own hand. ...

"However much ecclesiastical administrators like Innocent I and Charlemagne may have lamented the fact, the churches in the earlier ages did not desire uniformity. And those who have taken part with any understanding  in the worship of provincial and country churches in France and Spain and Italy and Germany--or even in the parish churches of England--may wonder whether they really care very much about it now."


Expeditus said...

So the improvising celebrants of the NO are simply the heirs of a long-standing tradition? Oh dear!

DM said...

This was my thought too - I would like to hear the response. I suppose there are phases of intense creativity, when something real is being formed, then there is a phase when what has been formed is passed on, however not without creativity on the part of the people learning it, after all most (all?) learning involves an act of the imagination.

Fred does a lot of crazy experiments with barley and invents beer
Fred talks to Dave and shows him how to brew beer, for some reason Dave adds hops, boom: ale
Bob learns to brew from Dave, decides to write it all down, in doing so he thinks about why things are done that way and makes some minor improvements, which are not written down but exist as a trade secret
Clive says "I want to make ale, but I'm going to make orange juice and sell it as ale"

Fred is being more creative than Dave, who is being more creative than Bob, but Dave and Bob are both being somewhat creative and also participating in Fred's act of creativity - preserving his legacy. Clive, meanwhile - sure he's being creative in a sense, but he's not participating in anyone else's creativity, rather what he is doing is tending to destroy that inheritance.

DM said...

A further thought - a few years ago 'Deacon Sandy' went viral because he made a video saying "come to our parish, you don't have to kneel". There were other things about this video but anyhow I contacted Deacon Sandy in an ecumenical spirit and said that some nice trads on the internet were willing to have a whip round and buy some kneelers for his parish. He emailed back and said thanks, but we have an immemorial custom of not kneeling during the mass, so there's no need.

So...despite my last post I'm still not sure this whole immemorial custom thing is a force for good in the world hic et nunc, but happy to be convinced otherwise.

Albertus said...

Immemorial custom means quite something else than the recent whim of an heretically-minded parish priest or bishop, who seeks to change the lex orandi in order to change the lex credendi.

Mark said...

Brilliant pair of posts.

This reminds me that when I first began studying liturgics, I expected there to be much more uniformity in the liturgy of the early church than in medieval times. Imagine my slow surprise.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Praeter legem = principle relied on by married clergy post Lateran II.