24 October 2023

Change of mind

Today, I come before you with an unusual confiteor.

I have changed my mind.

I was wrong.

We are nearing the last Sunday in October. Time was, when I would have written something about how this was the 'correct' day for celebrating Christ the King, being the day fixed by Pius XI in 1925 ... and that the Novus Ordo date, the Sunday before Advent, was wrong.

The reason for my change of mind is ... the following.

The two sets of liturgical texts are so different, that I think it is important not to confuse them ... not to imagine, or encourage others to think, that they are the Same Thing but (simply) on Different Dates. Better, for the orthodox to celebrate the orthodox version on the orthodox day fixed by Pius XI ... and to leave Trendiland to celebrate the Kingship of Bugnini on its Bugnini date.

So what's the difference? Mega! The 1925 propers vigorously emphasise the Social Kingship and Rule of our Lord Jesus Christ, something communal, even political. The 1970s texts eliminate that very necessary ... and very Catholic ... teaching. Examples: 

Second half of Collect, 1925: " ... graciously grant; that all the families of the Nations, dispersed by the wounds of sin; may be made subject to his most gracious governance."

Second half of Collect, 1970: " ... graciously grant, that the entire creation, set free from servitude, may serve thy majesty and praise thee together without end."

And here is part of one of the original Office Hymns: " ... The wicked mob [scelesta turba] keep shouting: / We do not wish Christ to rule ..." Thes lines are simply eliminated.

And so on.

There are other problems about the Novus date just before Advent; with it, you lose the ancient and beautiful Sunday Mass with the first of the 'Excita', 'Stir up', collects; we have Calendar problems about S Andrew. We miss out on what Pius XI offered us in terms of the link with All Saints Day: "we proclaim and extol the glory of Him who triumphs in all the Saints and all the Elect".

But I think the graver, because more radical, problems are the ones I print above in bold type.

Pius XI pointed out that the institution of his (October) feast had been on its way ... in fact ... since (or since before) the 1899 Encyclical of Leo XIII Annum sacrum (1899: Pius writes: "... ad hanc diem festi celebritatem instituendam, inde ab exeunte superiore saeculo viam feliciter egregieque munitam esse conspicimus"). Indeed; much of the authentic and highly edifying Magisterium of the first half of the twentieth century is a working-out of what came towards the end of the nineteenth under Pope Leo. 

Pope Pius quotes these words from Pope Leo: "then [that is, with the social rule of Christ] will many ills be cured; then will the law regain its former authority, peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."


Ben said...

Granted the particular power of liturgical texts to inculcate doctrine, a helpful post-conciliar magisterial text re-asserting the basics of the traditional understanding is the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2105):

‘The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is “the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.” (Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae 1.3) By constantly evangelising men, the Church works toward enabling them “to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live.” (Vatican II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam Actuositatem 13.1) The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church. (Cf. Dignitatis Humanae 1) Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies. (Cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem 13; Leo XIII, Immortale Dei 3, 17; Pius XI, Quas primas 8, 20)’

Ben said...

If I may add another relevant quote from the Catechism :

‘Only the divinely revealed religion has clearly recognised man’s origin and destiny in God, the Creator and Redeemer. The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man.’ (n. 2244)

So there is still the ‘invitation’ to leaders of nations to submit their political decisions to Christ. The wording may seem to fall short of the assertiveness of a previous era. But St John Henry Newman, quoting the anti-Catholic Barrow, viewed such variation as natural, when it occurred in the early Church:

‘We may follow Barrow here without reluctance, except in his imputation of motives…“Even Popes themselves have shifted their pretences, and varied in style, according to the different circumstances of time, and their variety of humours, designs, interests. In time of prosperity, and upon advantage, when they might safely do it, any Pope almost would talk high and assume much to himself; but when they were low, or stood in fear of powerful contradiction, even the boldest Popes would speak submissively or moderately.”’ (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine)

In the times of Leo XIII or Pius XI, there were still a number of nations and leaders that might have inclined to listen to the Catholic claims to be the rightful religion of the state; but these are now few and far between, so the shift in style is unsurprising.

PseudonymousposterJohn said...

Always found this feast a very odd fish. The Church got along for nineteen centuries without it and then, Bang, here's a Feast To Teach You Things You Should Think About.
Not that it teaches anything bad, and as a meditation on the great pope Leo I am happy with its message.
Obviously its placing on the Last Sunday After Pentecost is a bad thing. It distorts the point of the year leading through the last Sunday and into Advent towards the incarnation.

"something communal, even political." You don't say! I always felt its inclusion in the year was meant to be liturgical compensation for the loss of practically all the catholic monarchies after 1918.