Saturday, February 6, 2010


The article I paste below, but already appearing in a longer previous blog, is worth reading.It comes from the comment section of the Pray Tell Blog. It is a bit out of context, but I think you will get the gist of what he is writing. The Benedictine in question, Fr. Anscar, is evidently a well-known liturgist in the field of "enculturation" and the Mass. His hermeneutic in this regard is one of rupture with the past, not of continuity. Fr. Anscar decries Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of continuity. Fr. Nathanael in the article below takes on his own Benedictine Liturgical Scholar, Fr. Anscar, for chastising Msgr. Marini's recent talk to a group of international, English speaking clergy in Rome. Msgr. Marini is Pope Benedict's Master of Ceremonies and quite an impressive young man. He was basically reiterating Pope Benedict's theology of the "Reform of the Reform" and overcoming the ideology of "rupture" that so many have promoted in our beloved Catholic Church for more than 45 years.

It's time to move on, call a spade a spade, and continue the work of salvation of our great Church! Fr. Nathanael also makes a sound case for the nearly 1500 year tradition of the Mass being celebrated, "ad orientem" meaning the priest joining the laity in facing the liturgical east. (Could you imagine anyone, let alone a Benedictine, actually making a case for Ad Orientem, let alone celebrating it with the OF Mass ten years ago?) Fr. Nathanael acknowledges that "ad orientem" would be in continuity with the unique role of the priest as, well, priest,(mediator!) one who offers sacrifice (thanksgiving) and worship to God on behalf of God's people.

Classic Catholic doctrine, unfortunately down played in the last 45 years, teaches that the priest represents both Christ (the head and bridegroom of the Church)in "persona Christi" and the priest also represents the "bride of Christ" the laity at the altar, thus his position facing the altar (when ad orientem) is on the laity's side of it and facing in the same direction as the laity! Have we lost this visual my brothers and sisters? The two natures of who it is that the priest represents?

In addition, the hermeneutic that ICEL used in the 1960's to translate the Latin Mass into English is one of "equivalency" not "accuracy". (Praise God that this dumb hermenutic was thrown out in the revised English translation to be promulgated, hopefully, by Advent 2011!) There is a very clear "political and theological" ideology at work in this form of translation especially as it concerns the neutering of pronouns and gender referring to the Church as "her" or "bride of Christ" "she" "holy mother" etc. While not in the 1970 English Mass, many since that time have advocated for neutering any masculine pronouns (He, Him) that refer to God and sometimes even the Risen Lord. This ideology (you really can't call it theology!) has led to the desire to neuter the priest in terms of his sacramental position and sign as "alter Christus!" This plays into the agenda and the rupture "ideology" so many are embracing today, especially feminists, that it doesn't really matter what gender the sacramental sign of Christ is at the altar, thus the case for female priestesses.

But what exactly does a female priestess celebrating "Mass" signify if Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church? She signifies not bridegroom but "spouse" and the Church (clergy and laity) signify not bride or mother, but spouse and parent and yes "it". (Don't so many of us use the term "it" in describing she who is the Church? I know I do sometimes, yikes!)

Is it any wonder that the Anglican/Episcopal Church which ordains "priestesses" also now celebrates gay marriages? Duh! The Episcopalians have thrown out two of the most significant sacraments of the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ instituted in this regard: Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders!

Our current sociological and cultural phenomenon of neutering male and female roles for spouses (husband-man-spouse, wife-woman-spouse, father-man-parent, mother-woman-parent) is also at work in our Church for the past 40 years amongst an elitist group of scholars and religious. These elitists would decry our sound Catholic doctrine that Christ,whom the priest represents in the Church and specifically at Mass, gives birth to new Children through His bride, the Church,(clergy and laity) who being His bride is also the Mother of the faithful. This birth of new children is generated not through physical conception and birth, but by water and the Holy Spirit. The priest, however, even though he is a "sacramental, visual sign" of the "bridegroomness" and "Fatherness" as well as "priestness" and "shepherdness" of Jesus, still remains a mere mortal configured to the laity too. In a very real sacramental way (Holy Orders) the priest at Mass is a visual,walking and talking sacramental sign of the two natures of the Divine Person of Jesus, human and divine in one Divine Person! Of course the priest is not Jesus nor divine, just the visual (sacramental, by virtue of ordination into Holy Orders) sign of Him in the Risen Lord's complete "Status!" The Risen Lord is now the exclusive "High Priest" who offers Himself again and again, in an unbloody way to His Heavenly Father, at every Mass. The Risen Lord continues to be the Good Shepherd of His flock the Church. And the Risen Lord is the Bridegroom of the Church who is His bride.

In other words, a woman cannot be a priest in the Judeo-Christian understanding of the Priesthood (except configured to the male Christ, along with men in the "feminine" nature and description of the Church as bride and mother,which comes from the "priesthood of the laity" through Holy Baptism). Through Holy Baptism and Confirmation, men and women laity functioning as a "priestly people" offer along with the male priest (my sacrifice and yours) the Lord Jesus' passion,death and resurrection.

Only within paganism or Christianity that departs from divinely revealed truth, can a woman be called a priest (a male term, as priestess is the female term linguistically). Beware, though, if you teach the truth about all this, radical Catholic feminists who embrace the "hermeneutic of rupture" will crucify you or me for what I just wrote! But take heart, Jesus was crucified for the truth too!

At any rate, Fr. Nathanael's commentary:

Written by: Fr. Nathanael Hauser, O.S.B. on February 1, 2010 - 10:29 pm

I hesitate to enter the Liturgical controversies, being an art historian rather than a Liturgist. However, I have been personally acquainted with Fr. Anscar since 1980 and greatly respect his work, having spoken with him and read many of his books and articles. It is because of my respect for his work that I am disappointed with this speech. I think that it is important recognize it as a speech that is meant to rally the troops, rather than a scholarly article. Given that, one must allow him room to overemphasize and even to exaggerate.

His remarks, though, seem to me to grossly misstate the history of the past 50 years in order to inflame the current liturgical situation rather than to add to the scholarship that his status demands. Fr. Anscar implies in his second paragraph that we are in a new “autumn” that has suddenly blighted the bright springtime of the Church. However, nothing has been said in the recent past that was not said over twenty years ago by the Holy See in “Vicesimus Quintus Annus” of 1988 (for instance in v13: “It cannot be tolerated that certain priests should take upon themselves the right to compose Eucharistic Prayers or to substitute profane readings for texts from Sacred Scripture. Initiatives of this sort, far from being linked with the liturgical reform as such, or with the books, which have issued from it, are in direct contradiction to it, disfigure it and deprive the Christian people of the genuine treasures of the Liturgy of the Church.”).

More important is Fr. Anscar’s assertion that “The agenda is, to all appearance, an attempt to put the clock back half a century.” He then asks some rhetorical questions that, if taken as serious questions, would indeed contribute to the conversation that is so needed today. The one question that I would like to discuss is his questioning of the new translations. To be clear, I have nothing invested in the new translations. From my reading, I can agree with many of the criticisms of them. The problem that I see is the assumption in Fr. Anscar’s speech that the current translation was the philosophically best kind of translation and to move away from that philosophy is to turn the clock back fifty years.

This declaration is to pretend that the question of the best way to translate was settled in 1960. The translators of that time followed the then new ideas of Eugene Nidal and his idea of Dynamic Equivalence. The difficulty with Fr. Anscar’s approach is that since then this philosophy has been critiqued by many in the field and has even been corrected by Nidal himself who dropped the term. (see: “Theories of Translation.” TTR: traduction, terminologie, redaction 4.1. 1991. 19-32 and also “The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts” TTR, 7.1. 1994. 191-217). Further, Nidal’s philosophy of translation was developed as a way to translate the Bible in a non-Catholic context: that is, freed of any authoritative tradition.

One need only scan the articles in “Meta: journal des traducteurs” to see how active the level of critique of this form of translation has been since 1960 and continues to be today. One article I would recommend is: Jacobus A. Naudé. “On the Threshold of the Next Generation of Bible Translations: Issues and Trends.” Meta 50. 4. 2005.

The question, then, is not one of scholarship but of ideology. To pretend that the “historical research, theological investigation, and pastoral consciousness” of the 1970s would inevitably lead the Church into its present condition is ridiculous on its face. It is obvious to any historian (even an art historian as myself!) that any major disruption in culture is brought about by politics and ideology not by research and investigation.

That this is ideology is clear in Fr. Anscar’s rhetorical questions. For instance, he asks “Will the priestly role of mediation be reinforced by praying at the altar with the back to the assembly?” The question itself reveals the author’s implied response and gives no credit to the past fifty years of scholarly attention that has been given to the question of the orientation of the altar. This question is not about scholarship, or of turning back the clock, but of what the writer prefers. Indeed, that there is no real scholarship behind the turning of the altars was admitted as early as 1959 in an article by John H. Miller, (“Altar facing the People: Fact or Fable” Worship 33. 2. 83-91) in which he says that given the scholarship of the day “… advocates of the altar “versus populum” base their cause on other reasons BESIDES historical ones. We invoke two theological reasons: a deeper consciousness of the reality of sacramental priesthood and a valued appraisal of the Mass as a banquet in format. To this we add a valid psychological motive: the people can see better the actions of the priest and understand them as, at least partially, directed towards themselves.” (Emphasis in the original.)

The question then is, as it has always been, one of theological views. A particular viewpoint was ascendant for many years but is now being increasingly questioned by many in the Church in 2010. In my estimation, these important theological questions would be better served if all parties admitted that and ceased to try to hide behind the conceit that one’s interlocutors are simply romantics attempting to turn back the clock.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Anscar decries Pope Benedict's hermeneutic of continuity.

Let me guess.

Fr. Anscar is an ageing "spirit (small "s") of Vatican II" type who's probably around 60-70? A product of the 1960s, in other words.

How did I know?

Fr. Anscar and his fellow travelers see that the sands of time are gradually running out on their horrific "springtime" in the the Church. This "springtime" has seen Catholics dessert the Church in huge numbers and numerous religious orders almost disappear. In Europe, "springtime" has brought a continent-wide apostasy which has seen Christianity dwindle to become the faith of a small remnant. Some "springtime".

His words are the final cries of a man whose ship is sinking after he himself has shot it through with holes.

Nothing to see here. Ignore and move along.

Gene said...

I really like what you say here, Anonymous, and you said it well. Fr. wouldn't print was too ugly. I'm sure he is tapping his foot impatiently at the door of the Confessional waiting for me.

kiwiinamerica said...

Whenever I see comments like those of Fr. Anscar I ask myself "what world do these folks live in? Do they not see what we see? Do they not see two generations lost to the faith? Do they not see the huge drop in vocations?"

Anyone who thinks that "turning the clock back 50 years" would be the ultimate disaster just makes me scratch my head. I mean the seminaries were full...........*shiver*......religious orders were thriving.......*shriek*.......oh yeah, that would be a nightmare, wouldn't it? I'm not suggesting that turning the clock back would solve all the Churches problems but neither would it be a return to the Dark Ages like the liberals suggest.

I've actually heard some of the more extreme liberals say that the vocations crisis is really a gift from the Holy Spirit in order to bring about more lay involvement in the Church. These folks are either deranged or in the deepest denial. There seems to be no crisis or disaster, no matter how severe, which is not some sort of "blessing" to the Church.

Unless of course, it's the return of the Tridentine Rite. Oh that is a real disaster in their upside down world!

Anonymous said...

Many improvements have happened in the Church and in society since 1965, and I am of the opinion that we should recognize those improvements, safeguard those improvements, and be understanding to those who fear that the good of the present might be removed as we move toward what was originally in the Vatican II documents.
Reviving Latin and the Tridentine Rite doesn't equate to returning to the Dark Ages, yet it seems understandable to me that some may fear that it does.
The Latin Rite Catholic Church shouldn't be hidden and have only vernacular and modernisms on display. We Catholics need to experience our Church in its full richness and splendor, and the Church can be its own glorious witness to non-Cathoics thereby also.
The pendulum is swinging back toward the center, and we can help those who 'don't like it' and those who are 'afraid of a reversion' by sharing our happiness and joy regarding this reform of the reform, instead of bad mouthing them for having an opinion.
Win them over with a smile!
Thank you.

kiwiinamerica said...

I'm all for smiling. However, those opposed to the Pope's reforms have issues which run deeper than simply being "afraid" of returning to a previous era and they won't be swayed by smiling.

What's really at issue here are two fundamentally opposed views of the Church. On the one hand is the view which has held the upper hand in many areas of the Church over the past 4-5 decades and it sees the Church as basically a "bottom-up" structure where authority is derived from people power. Those who hold to this view suggest that the Church is, or should be democratic (unless of course, the faithful want traditional liturgy). The other is the traditional view of a "top-down" hierarchical structure where authority comes from God and is given to the successors of the Apostles.

Those who subscribe to the first view have real issues with obedience, Papal authority and the Church's teaching magisterium. Furthermore, after running amok for close to half a century, they have become conditioned to "doing their own thing" and thus view any return to more traditional practices, whether they be in liturgy or doctrine, with some trepidation.

That is the heart of the issue, in my opinion.

Gene said...

Regarding the "women priestesses:" I suppose, since Priests do not marry but are commanded to suffer with us as Christ's representatives on earth, these feminist voices are provided so that you, too, may endure female petulance and irrationality. Or, perhaps they are provided so that Priests everywhere may grow in Grace through resisting the temptation to break the fifth commandment. I dare you to post this! Forgive me, Fr., for tempting a Priest.

Anonymous said...

Is the Fr. Anscar being referred to here in this article the Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB from the Philippines?

Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB is one of the infamous olympian reformers of the liturgy. It is sad to note that his distaste for the resurgence of the TLM is still very strong in the Philippines. A lot of bishops and priests in the Philippines still agree with Fr. Anscar Chupungco's negative views on Pre-Vatican II liturgy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To the comment above about Fr. Anscar, from Fr. McDonald, He is the one and same that you refer to and yes, evidently his work has been with inculturation or the Filipino culture into the OF Mass. I had ever heard of him before I read an article that referenced him in the Pray tell blog site.