Saturday, April 5, 2014

WHINING ABOUT THE MASS AND OTHER LITURGIES OF THE CHURCH AND POPE FRANCIS' EXAMPLE


At the Praytell  so-called liturgical blog also known for its well deserved nickname Praywhine, there will be a new round of whining about the liturgy and its spectacularly wonderful, compared to what preceded it, new and glorious English translation of the Mass. Talk about repeating oneself over and over and over and over and over again.

Of course the manipulation of its editors will be that it is the bleeding hearts of so many whining priests who feel so put upon by the imposition of the new and most wonderful English translation of the Mass that they will rehash over and over and over again their disgruntled attitudes about what the Church has given to them for the liturgy because after all they and their comfortable congregations suffer so much over this!

It is to laugh and I am really, really, really sure this sorry a**  attitude will really resonate with  Pope Francis and his truck driving, motorcycle loving sensibilities. Certainly these priests should go to the periphery and minister there rather than stoking their unmet emotional liturgical needs by their immature, adolescent, authority issues that would have best been settled and resolved when they were teenagers rather than now as aging priests?

But then I thought about Pope Francis and his approach to the liturgy. He is quiet, sober and says the black and does the red (admittedly not for the mandatum, but is that really a part of the Mass or an extension of the homily, shouldn't the maniple be off as well as the chasuble?)

Praytell(and whine) was overjoyed beyond being giddy when they thought that within days of Pope Francis being named the new pope that he would throw out the current Congregation for Divine Worship's head and make Archbishop Pietro Marini (Blessed Pope John Paul II's progressive Master of Ceremonies) the prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship.

I suggested to the editor of Praytell and whine that maybe he had the wrong Marini and that it would be Msgr. Guido Marini.

But here it is in the second year of this Pontificate and no new head for the Congregation for Divine Worship has been named. 

What does it mean from the point of view of symbol?

1. Pope Francis is not a liturgist who wants to constantly tinker with or bicker about the liturgy. Liturgists are terrorists as everyone knows, just read the comments on liturgy here and at Praytell, especially Praytell, and you know what type of corrupt Catholicism I am talking about. 

2. Pope Francis wants to return the Church to the pre-Vatican II attitude about the Liturgy, but this time about the Liturgy that we have been given after Vatican II--that is not to complain about it. Apart from a clique of liturgical academics in the early 20th century who won the day at the Second Vatican Council, who in the world criticized the pre-Vatican II Mass during the pre-Vatican II days? 

It would have been considered not only a mortal sin but a sacrilege to critique and malign the liturgy of the Church. It simply wasn't done by rank and file, normal Catholic clergy and laity.

So, Pope Francis has been reforming the curia, but he is leaving whatever changes he wants to make to the Congregation for Divine Worship to the last. Isn't that interesting and what does that say to liturgists also known as terrorists?

18 comments:

Tancred said...

They're a bunch of CTA weirdos who need to become Gnostics, Old Catholics or Liberal Catholics, maybe Methodist. There they can enjoy their liturgical decadence to their heart's content.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Father.

It's not very charitable to call PrayTellers PrayWhiners, is it?

I read the post and to me, it seemed pretty clear that it was intended to move the conversation beyond the same ol' moaning and lamenting toward more productive discussions about a way forward.

That some commenters on that blog still can't seem to help but keep "whining" about something or other, is to be expected, for it's the nature of the blogosphere, no?

So, how about going there and joining the discussion yourself, instead of "whining" about their "whining"? :)

Henry said...

Tancred, as a former Methodist (over a half-century ago) I take exception to your suggestion that those PT types ought maybe to become Methodists. They would be just as poor as Methodists of the sort I knew then as they are as Catholics now. But certainly those who do not share the beliefs of the Catholic Church should have the common decency to leave it, rather than staying to fight the Church from within, in many cases feeding at her trough financially and professionally.

John Nolan said...

'It's not very charitable to call PrayTellers PrayWhiners, is it?'

Charity doesn't consist in being blandly nice to everybody, something best left to the politicians. There are contributors to that particular blog who fit the description, while others do not.

Fr Anthony had some positive things to say about the corrected translation and has at least been honest about his own reservations over the past few years. I also got the impression that he thinks it time to move on.

There are a number of regular commentators whose views make me wonder if they and I inhabit the same universe, let alone belong to the same Church. Fr MacDonald is a regular contributor, although one gets the impression that a lot of the usual suspects hold him in contempt.

I did contribute in 2011 for a few months but was frequently deleted before being banned altogether. Liberals will fight to the death for your right to agree with them. The eminent composer James MacMillan was disparaged, replied, was insulted again and finally expressed his disgust at the nastiness of the contributors. The editor then stepped in and deleted all the exchanges.



Henry said...

In case this does not survive at PrayTell:

A substantial and informative new review:

Liturgical Translations and Two Instructions in Perspective
http://www.adoremus.org/0314Pell_Translations.html
Cardinal George Pell

"The instruction [LA] acknowledged that the text must be accessible to the listener, but must not be dumbed down. The theological and linguistic richness of the original texts must be uncovered and retained. Not just concepts, but words and expressions are to be translated faithfully to respect the wealth contained in the original text. Some may find such exactness a bit discomfiting, but it is a price worth paying to preserve the purity of the liturgical and theological traditions embodied in the rites."

It seems to me that this last sentence states a key point that has not been understood sufficiently. That the strictures of LA were arguably necessary at the present time to recapture the rich doctrinal and scriptural heritage of the Roman rite. In regard to accuracy and content, this goal was accomplished wonderfully, but perhaps (and certainly, in the eyes of some) at the expense of some rigidity of syntax. No doubt, when the time for a newer English translation comes--maybe in another biblical forty years--faithfulness in accuracy and content will no longer be an issue, and due attention can be paid at that time to smoothness and felicity of expression.

Henry said...

Another pertinent point Cardinal Pell makes:

"As to criticisms, I make my own a remark I heard some while ago from a fellow bishop, namely that if ever in the history of the Church there was a collegial decision affecting a single major language group, this is it. The text was prepared and then improved by virtually all the bishops sharing our common English-language, and combed through line by line, word by word, in two high-level international committees of bishops and experts meeting assiduously over the best part of a decade. It was endorsed by every bishops’ conference using the English language, in secret votes requiring a two-thirds majority."

JBS said...

I think the rites should all be mimed. This is my "deeply held belief".

John Nolan said...

Fr JBS, you have a point. Imagine you are a Catholic in a foreign country whose language you do not know. You drop into a Catholic church where a Low Mass is in progress. You hear little of what is being said - the priest's Latin is heavily accented and in any case he can be heard only by the server and vice-versa. Yet you know precisely where you are in the Mass, from where the priest is standing, where the missal is placed, what ritual gestures he is making, what the server is doing, and so on. The familiarity is less to do with universality of language than with universality of action.

In the Novus Ordo the priest stands behind the altar and verbalizes. Ritual gestures are pared to the minimum, lest they get in the way of the all-important words, nearly all of which are audible and probably amplified. Even the deaf are given no respite, since there is probably someone up-front signing away (why do people who use sign-language always look half-witted?) and since the celebrant faces the assembly throughout you don't know whether he is addressing you, or God, or both. If you don't know the language, tough luck.

In continental Europe it is not uncommon for most of the Mass to be handed over to the laity, so a lot of the verbalizing is done by a woman at the ambo. When the priest is finally wheeled out to do his bit you don't recognize the Eucharistic Prayer because it's one of a plethora of local variants.

Faced with that I find myself fleeing to the nearest SSPX church with all the desperation of a shipwrecked mariner swimming towards a liferaft.

Gene said...

John Nolan, Interesting. When I was studying Reformation Theology in grad school, specifically Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion (the Reformed Summa)," Professor Wilhelm Pauck reminded us over and over, "The primary Sacrament for Calvin is the preaching of the Word." This has defined protestantism ever since. Now, tell me Vat II was not a concession to this spirit...

John Nolan said...

Gene, in the first big tranche of the English Reformation (1548-1553) statues, the Rood, stained glass, wall paintings (the biblia pauperum as it was known) were systematically destroyed. It was of no interest to the reformers that they were destroying all the English art of the late medieval period. Because the Tudors had a centralized monarchy and an efficient bureaucracy they were able to practise iconoclasm in a way that Continental reformers were not.

On the east wall of their churches they erected tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed (fine if you were literate, tough luck on the majority who weren't.) The Mass (far too complex, alleged Cranmer, for the people to understand) was replaced by a wordy Communion service.

Incidentally, there was in the early sixteenth century a flowering of sacred polyphonic music of very high quality. Most of it was in manuscript and did not survive the depredations of the reformers. That which has survived by accident (like the Eton Choirbook) is poignant testimony to what is lost, and is forever irretrievable.

Elizabeth I preferred her clerics to be celibate and decently vested, and was moreover fond of music; but the Puritans of the 17th century had other ideas. Organs were destroyed, choirs disbanded, and the average Anglican church until about 1860 was dominated by a huge three-decker pulpit dedicated to the near-idolatry of THE WORD.

Yes, but they were Protestants, were they not? In doctrine the CofE is still officially Calvinist. Why should its worship not reflect this? Thereby hangs a tale.

In a few days' time I would like to remove my Catholic hat and comment on Vatican II as an historian. Fifty years on there is some perspective. There is such a thing as cause and effect, which can't be dismissed as 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc'. Watch this space.

Gene said...

John Nolan, Indeed, yet I wonder how many educated people realize that the doctrine of the CofE is Calvinist. When I see what has been done to beautiful Catholic Churches around the country and the frank iconoclasm of, for God's sake, Catholics I wonder are there really any limits. That is what is so frightening about the so-called spirit of Vat II and pour current culture wars. I look forward to your comments re: history of Vat II.

George said...

John-

One can certainly rue the irreplacable loss of statues, the Rood, stained glass, and wall paintings from the late
medieval period. France also saw such destruction from Protestants as you know. In the biblia pauperum
were some of the greatest contributions to the treasure of the Church. What was "lost" at Edgeware, Marble Arch and Oxford though made a much greater contribution to the Church.

John Nolan said...

In France the Catholic Church was badly wounded by the Revolution, but it took Vatican II to finish it off. Almost, that is - there are seeds of recovery in the traditional orders and societies of which the SSPX is one (quibbles about its canonical status aside, it is deeply and authentically Catholic).

Every year on 14 July the French take to the streets to celebrate the greatest disaster in their national history. Comparisons with the American Revolution are ludicrously inapt; even Brits like me accept that the results of the latter were beneficial, and Burke was not the only one to support the American cause while condemning the events in France as early as 1789.

Attempts to puff the 50th anniversary of Vatican II fell decidedly flat. No pope can publicly admit it, and will not do so for at least another 50 years, but the Council damaged the Church far more than the Protestant Reformation did. In this respect the liberals, who stress its revolutionary nature, are right and the conservatives (including Benedict XVI) are wrong. Benedict was right on most things, but was too close to the events in which he participated to take a disinterested view.

Gene said...

When I was in college and took "Napolean and the French Revolution," my Professor was Dr. William Glover (when interviewed by Time magazine and asked his opinion of the then popular "Death of God" theology, he replied, "Suh, two things need no defense…God and Harvard.")

Glover said on the first day of the course, "Most of my colleagues on this campus and, I dare say, on campuses around this country will tell you that the French Revolution was a wonderful thing. I, on the other hand, believe it was a terrible thing the price for which we will be paying indefinitely."



JBS said...

John Nolan said, "Attempts to puff the 50th anniversary of Vatican II fell decidedly flat". Whatever one's understanding of the value of that council, it must be admitted that there was little popular or clerical interest in revisiting its texts during its anniversary. I was surprised by the level of ambivalence.

Henry said...

JBS: "there was little popular or clerical interest in revisiting its texts during its anniversary. I was surprised by the level of ambivalence."

On the other hand, is it really surprising that the generation of clergy and laity formed by the "spirit of Vatican II"--which is still predominant in the Church--has little interest in the Council's actual texts and their faithful implementation?

JBS said...

Henry,

I'd say that that particular crowd gets decidedly hostile whenever we suggest discussing the actual texts, particularly the four constitutions, which begin with phrases like "following faithfully the teaching of previous councils", and "following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent".

John Nolan said...

Vatican II - revolutionary? Yes. I was 11 years old when it began and 14 when it ended. As a teenager I wasn't overly concerned with what the Church was doing, although I certainly noticed the changes. By the time I got to university I had 'read myself back' into the Catholic faith and became intellectually convinced of its unassailability. Yet what most of us were exposed to in the liturgy by that time was more or less unacceptable.

In 1971 a book was published by a Catholic intellectual, John Eppstein, entitled 'Has the Catholic Church gone mad?' He wondered how a 2000 year old supernaturally oriented institution, 'the most solid and venerable pillar of civilization' was transformed, almost overnight, into an organization where every form of disorientation 'in the fields of morals, faith, authority and worship' was not only tolerated but encouraged.

Last month I was looking at the collapse of vocations since V2 and came across an essay by two American sociologists, Rodney Stark and Roger Finke, published in 2000. They noted that the greatest fall was in the years immediately after the Council. and posited the view that the cost/benefit ratio of entering into the religious life was, as a result of V2, suddenly reversed. Lumen Gentium stressed the call of all the baptized to holiness; Gaudium et Spes emphasized the need to relate to the outside world, and Perfectae Caritatis called on religious orders and congregations to modernize themselves.

What is the point of expecting people to embrace the religious life with all the costs incurred, and at the same time telling them they are no holier than the rest of us?

When it comes to Sacrosanctum Concilium I would recommend a short book on that subject by Rita Ferrone, Fr Anthony Ruff's sidekick on PrayTell, and a self-styled liturgist (although not regarded by me as such). But she's no fool, and everything she says is referenced to that dishonest document.

This morning I spent a few hours perusing Gaudium et Spes, occasionally reverting to the Latin in the vague hope of gaining any clarity. Like most of what proceeded from Vatican II it's sanctimonious, vague and embued with a 1960s mindset. In other words, it's bollocks.