Saturday, December 3, 2016

Descent into Paganism

(source)
The collapse of the Roman Empire was considered by early doctors to be one of the precursors of the end times, usually paired with the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. The recent catechism mentions only the eventual conversion of the Hebrew people to Christ as a prerequisite for the Final Judgment, for whatever that’s worth. The destruction of Rome as an eschatological sign has been reinterpreted variously throughout the Christian age, especially after the Empire had long vanished into disuse. Dr. Christopher Malloy observes how John Henry Newman approached the paradox that the fall of Rome must yet be future if it is to be a sure sign of the Antichrist’s coming:
Newman notes that whereas in some respects Rome has fallen, in other respects Rome has not fallen. Rome is not simply the old Empire. Rome is, perhaps the rule of law, European civilization, etc. These are still with us. So long as we do not seriously embrace the denial of the Principle of Non-contradiction. So long as we still retain key fragments of the natural law. But these things are crashing down around us.
Imperial Rome then becomes interpreted as the best of pagan philosophy and statesmanship, the legacy of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Caesar. When the Christian religion loses its influence, the world begins to fall back upon the best of paganism, or Classicism. But when the Classical world begins to lose its luster, the world will begin (it is also claimed) to fall back into the darkness of pre-classical paganism, the darkness of polytheism, the worship of demons, outright idolatry, and various vicious rites.

Christendom rose in the world like a high tide, and just as it seemed like it would flood the earth in its entirety, it began to recede, leaving the landscape reshaped but with some old landmarks still intact. It is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson’s nostalgic reflection on the failure of the sexual revolution of the ’60s: “With the right kind of eyes you can almost see the High Water Mark, that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

The reversal of Christian influence does not and probably can not directly mirror the rise of that influence. As the cultural West especially sheds its Christian past piece by piece, it does not exactly take up the pre-Christian world as it was. The Renaissance was pitched as a return to the “Golden Age of Greece and Rome,” but it was that only superficially. The bulk of political movements in recent centuries have occurred rather under the banner of Progress, and any political returns to paganism have been largely unintentional. People wish to be thought of as forward-thinking rather than championing any past golden age.

The rise of Neo-Paganism in America and Europe also bears little resemblance to the pagan religions as they existed before Christian conversion. The creation of temples to Odin and Thor come with the disclaimer that these gods are only archetypes of the collective human subconscious. Similarly, practicing Satanists disclaim any belief in the Devil as a real person or entity, preferring to describe him as as symbol of mankind’s darker urges. These polytheists and demon worshippers are still too cowardly to sacrifice oxen and doves to their gods.



But the state of Roman pagan religion was much the same just before the influence of the Church took hold. The Stoics held sway with the intelligentsia, and they argued that the Olympian gods were only real in the sense that they embodied aspects of the singular, unknowable deity. They were practical deists while allowing polytheism for the masses, just as the American Founding Fathers were deists masquerading as Protestant Christians. The Neo-Pagans of today are atheists using polytheism as a masque for the Collective Subconscious.

Will the widespread revival of unfeigned Odin-worship, Jupiter-worship, and Satan-worship ever occur? There are pockets of sincere polytheism here and there, but masqueraded atheism still holds sway for the majority of so-called pagans and witches (as it does for many so-called Christians). My suspicion is that sincere paganism will in fact rise as people go through the mere motions of idolatrous religion, but begin to see actual results. The devils who posed as gods in ages past will be allowed to work wonders for their new worshippers, and the revival of paganism will open the pits of true demonic darkness.
When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into Paganism, I am tempted to reply, “Would that she were.” For I do not think it at all likely that we shall ever see Parliament opened by the slaughtering of a garlanded white bull in the House of Lords or Cabinet Ministers leaving sandwiches in Hyde Park as an offering for the Dryads. If such a state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have something to work on. For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently convertible to Christianity. He is essentially the pre-Christian, or sub-Christian, religious man. The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much as a divorcée differs from a virgin. (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock)
Laocoön and his sons being slain by the gods for prophesying truth.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ordo Recitandi: For Sale Now!

For all devout practitioners of the traditional Roman liturgy, the Ordo published by the St. Lawrence Press is available for purchase for 2017. If you want a daily dose of what the Roman liturgy was like before Pius XII and in accordance with the received norms of the Roman kalendar, this ordo is perfect for study or practical use by laymen and clerics praying and celebrating the Office or Mass.

For a review of the ordo and an in-depth interview concerning its history, the immediate history of the traditionalist movement in England, and the compiler's views on the current state of the Roman liturgy, see the re-published 2014 interview below.

A newer review of the MMXVII ordo should follow in the coming weeks.

*   *   *


I am grateful to the St. Lawrence Press for the opportunity to review their Ordo Recitandi Officii Divini Sacrique Peragendi for 2015, as well as for the time spent by the compiler, Rubricarius, to answer questions about the history of the Ordo, provide us with some invaluable history told from experience, and his thoughts on the future of the traditional Roman liturgy. I have never looked at an Ordo other than a quick glance at the FSSPX one while at the Oxford Oratory (more accurate than the LMS), so I cannot compare the St. Lawrence Press version's quality to other ordines, but I think the thoughtful layout and the efficient presentation will speak for themselves. This booklet, which continues the praxis of the early traditionalists in following the 1939 typical edition of the Missal, should be helpful for all gradations of use: laymen, solitary priests, and for public prayer settings. Even non-users might find the Ordo an interesting study in the traditional liturgy's kalendar and commemoration system, although this booklet does deserve to be put to practice.

Part I: Reviewing the Ordo



The first page contains immediately useful information on the dates of the variable feasts of the year and the four sets of ember days. Atop the third page is the proclamation of the variable feasts sung after the Gospel every year on the feast of the Epiphany, which would be helpful to someone working without a form. 


The Ordo, which is entirely in Latin—no Classical word flourishes, mercifully—publishes exhaustive, straight forward, and concise details on such things as external solemnities, titular feasts and the dedication of churches, private and public votive Masses—normal and Requiem, and the guidelines for the Forty Hours devotion, which, despite being eleven paragraphs long, is quite simple and more thorough than what one finds in Fortescue. 


Yes, there can be an external solemnity of the Sacred Heart. The rubrics on the left continue the extensive directions for the Forty Hours.


The rules around Masses for the Dead vary in strictness depending on whether or not the Mass is a sung Mass or not. This Ordo forgets not the finer details of the commemoration system, too, such as the use of the orations for the dead on the first feria of the month at Mass.


When I first heard that the Last Gospel is replaced with another text on some days, I was a bit confused when told that this only occurs when the displaced text is "strictly proper." The Ordo contains a very good explanation that any priest should be able to remember and understand when consulting the Ordo listing for a feast or Sunday which displaces another day.


Guidelines for orations, the Ordinary of Mass, and prefaces in private votive Masses, which differs in many respects from 1962.


In order to be succinct, the Ordo does not give long explanations like the LMS and FSSPX ordines, but instead employs an abbreviation system. At first all these potential entries look intimidating, but the layout of the pages containing the liturgical orders of the days makes everything more intelligible.


For example, the R next to the octave day of St. Stephen indicates that the Mass and Office of the day are observed in red vestments and with a red altar frontal. The A midway through the entry directs a change to white (albus) for V seq (Vespers of the following day). 


believe most ordines begin at Advent. The St. Lawrence Press Ordo begins with January 2015 and, considerately, runs to the 10th of January, 2016. 


This page is a nice example both of the clarity of the Ordo and the depth of the old Roman rite. The page is for March. The 23rd is a Lenten Monday which, noted by the X to the right, permits a votive Requiem Mass (as do all ferial Mondays of Lent). At Vespers the color changes to white for the feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel, a greater-double feast. At Mattins, the lessons and responsories in the first nocturne are proper to the feast. The ninth lesson is that of the displaced feria. The feria is commemorated with its Benedictus antiphon and collect at Lauds, as well as with a commemoration and proper Last Gospel at Mass (it is strictly proper). A private Mass may be celebrated of the feria with a commemoration of St. Gabriel and a proper Last Gospel, the prayer super populum per the Lenten feria, and the Benedicamus Domino dismissal, all done in violet for the Mass alone. Vespers is of the following feast of the Annunciation, a double of the first class, with the Incarnation doxology used in the hymns that night and during the hours on the 25th. 


Certain days, such as those of the Triduum, contain long descriptions of unique rites and ceremonies proper to the day. Any church master of ceremonies would already be expected to know this information, but I suspect it would be a very helpful reminder to the sacristan, who might read it over to remember everything he needs to prepare the altar, the vestments, and any other articles necessary for the day. A thoughtful sacristan might even read ahead and ask the priest if he anticipated celebrating a votive Mass or a ferial Lenten day on a feast and then write an emendation in the generous margins. 
This is an excellent Ordo for use and study by both clerics and laymen. I would recommend getting a copy yourself and putting it to some good use. To order the St. Lawrence Press Ordo for 2015, click here. They take PayPal.

Part II: Interview with the Compiler


Herein follows an interview with Rubricarius, the compiler of the Ordo and friend of this blog. He gives us some history about the Ordo as well as some very unique views of the future of the old rite and about Summorum Pontificum which should get the comment box rolling.

Q. Thank you, Rubricarius, for sending me your Ordo 2015 for review. I have long been an avid reader of the St Lawrence Press blog and appreciate its efforts to educate the public on the Roman liturgy as it existed prior to Pius XII and the general process of change. Could you perhaps tell us more about the specifics of your Ordo, such as the year it follows and how that came about?

A. Thank you, Rad Trad for your interest.  The Ordo began back in the early 1970s as the idea of Fr. Peter J. Morgan (the first priest ordained by Mgr. Lefebvre for the Fraternity back in 1971).  Fr. Morgan soon gathered a sizable group of interested clergy and somehow managed to create Mass centres almost out of thin air. He felt it was time to resurrect a traditional Ordo.  What must be born in mind is that the Ordo reflected the liturgical praxis of what the St. Pius Association (the precursor to the $$PX) and other traditional clergy were using at the time.  Fr. Morgan asked Mr. John Tyson, the compilator emeritus, to produce an Ordo for 1973. John is a truly exceptional and talented man and could basically think an Ordo in his head for any given year.  John’s rather difficult-to-read script – it looks very like classical Armenian - was patiently deciphered and typed up on foolscap by the late Miss Penelope Renold and published in three sections by the ‘St. Pius V Information Centre’.  The first volume. ‘Pars Prima’ was clearly somewhat rushed with the cover in Miss Renold’s handwriting.  ‘Pars Secunda’ and ‘Pars Semestris’ followed with typed covers. The two following years saw again a simple foolscap size production but integrated into a single volume.  The current format has its origins in the 1976 edition.



The ‘pre-Pius XII’ rubrics were what clergy and their supporters used at that time.  What is now called the ‘EF’ had, obviously, been used for the couple of years of its existence a decade earlier – but not by everyone I would add - but no one who was supporting the cause of ‘Old Rite’ used it in the UK in the 1970s and it did not make an appearance until a decade later.

Q. Who were the principle people behind the Ordo when it began publication under the St Pius V Information Center? What sort of structure runs the administration of the St Lawrence Press Ordo today?

A. We have covered this, in part, with the first question.  The driving force was Fr. Morgan who channeled the considerable talents and knowledge of John Tyson.  Miss Renold did the typing and, I would conjecture, the posting to interested parties.  The Ordo was published by the St. Pius V Association up to and including Ordo 1978.  Ordo 1979 was published by the $$PX and they continued to publish it up to Ordo 1983.  All this time Mr. Tyson was continuing to exercise his considerable talents.  Since 2002 the Ordo has been published by The Saint Lawrence Press Ltd.  This is a legal entity of a company limited by shares in English Law. It has three directors, including myself, and a company secretary.

Q. How did the St Lawrence Press survive the liturgical about-face of 1983, when the Society of St Pius X reversed its 1977 decision to allow celebrants of the old rite to continue their established custom and imposed the 1962 liturgy on all priests in the Fraternity? Why was the pre-Pius XII rite worth saving, from the perspective of those who continued the St Lawrence Press at the time?


A. If I may answer these questions together Rad Trad?  As I mentioned earlier it was actually the $$XP itself that was publishing the Ordo from 1979 onwards with a considerable number of its clergy using it.  When the trustees of the St. Pius V Association had handed over its assets to the $$PX one of the conditions was that the pre-Pius XII liturgy was to continue to be used.  I understand that one of the original trustees deeply regrets now not having taken legal action when the $$PX reneged on the terms.  Who knows what might have been...   Anyway, as to the ukase to enforce the use of the 1962 books this was a consequence of discussions Lefebvre was having with Rome in the early 1980s.  I have letters from both Michael Davies and Bishop Donald Sanborn – from opposite ends of the Traddieland spectrum - confirming this to be the case.  In his letter Michael Davies states that the indult Quattuor abhinc annos was a direct consequence of these discussions. (We can see the parallels with Summorum Pontificum and Fellay’s overtures to Rome although back in the early 1980s at least Lefebvre was not claiming to be told what to do by putative visions of the BVM).  Lefebvre’s ukase caused great upset, particularly in the NE district of the USA.  Here in England Lefebvre announced this when he came to bless the newly acquired church of SS Joseph and Padarn in London.  A friend of mine, Dr. Thomas Glover, witnessed the argument that took place in the sacristy after Mass between Lefebvre and the then district superior, Edward Black.  Fr. Black put up a spirited defense of the existing practice with both he and Lefebvre getting angrier with each exchange.  The argument took place in French, a language which Dr. Glover is not fluent in.  Dr. Glover tried to interject in Italian and observed that Fr. Black was winning the argument but then, suddenly, just shrugged his shoulders and capitulated.  I am sure you are familiar with Fr. Cekada’s account of what happened in your country and I am sure Fr. Cekada is quite correct in maintaining that if Lefebvre had stayed for the meatloaf the problem would have been resolved. 




Anyway, Fr. Black realised that he could no longer produce the Ordo so he asked two dear friends of mine, now my fellow directors, to produce the Ordo.  This decision was made immediately after Lefebvre left London that fateful day.  So, from 1984 the Ordo was produced by the Saint Lawrence Press – not Ltd – which was what we call in England a trading partnership.  Ordo 1984 caused quite as stir as its cover had the Arms of John Paul II on the cover.


This did cause some upset with customers so 1985 had an absolutely plain cover.


The artist Gavin Stamp was a university friend of Mr. Warwick and drew the cover image for Ordo 1986.  Yours truly came across the $$PX in 1988 and became instantly fascinated by the Ordo.  Despite what had happened five years earlier the majority of clergy were still using ‘pre-Pius XII’ then.  I recall a whole year of Sunday’s without a hint of 1962 – happy days.  The current UK district superior even celebrated the major services of the Triduum at Highclere in 1991 at 10:00am and a Pentecost Vigil at the unearthly hour of 4:30am – or something like that. 

As to why it was worth saving I think that is because it was the best thing available at the time and within living memory of so many involved.  A great many people identified this as ‘Old Rite’ as it was what they had experienced before the changes.  What I did notice was that many people I met who were supporting the $$PX had been servers or singers at Fr. Clement Russell’s church at Sudbury which you posted about recently.  I was much influenced by the late, and much lamented, Mgr. Gilbey.  Mgr. Gilbey never used 1962 and saw it as just an intermediate stage in the changes. 

Q. How did the 1983 decision and the 1984 indult influence celebrations of the pre-Vatican liturgy among traditionalists? What sorts of groups, other than sedevacantists, continued the old rite?

A. A very interesting question.  Again, what I think needs to be emphasized is that in the early days 1962 was not being used. Indeed, a very good friend of mine was close friends with an elderly priest from the NW of England twenty years ago.  The elderly priest told my friend that he and a group of other parish priests just quietly refused to adopt the new Holy Week.  “We thought Pius had flipped” he told my friend and that ‘normal’ service would be resumed after Pius’ death.  The Old Rite though never entirely died out in England.  Another friend told me that one could go into the Brompton Oratory in the late 1970s and early 1980s and find half a dozen or so private Masses that all followed the Ordo except one, where the 1956 changes were observed.  Not one of those good men used 1962 though.  Very few sedevacantists used the ‘pre-Pius XII rubrics.  The strict sedevacantists, such as CMRI, follow the 1956 changes but not those of 1962.  A wide range of the spectrum of Traddieland have used, and continue to use, the Ordo and I think it would be difficult to categorise them into any particular group – which is interesting in itself.

Q. Please explain, how you became involved with the Ordo?

A. When I first discovered the ‘old rite’ in 1987 I found it all very confusing as celebrations I attended did not match the ‘Saint Andrew’s Daily Missal’ I had.  When I first met Mgr. Gilbey his Masses matched it perfectly so that set me thinking.  I first attended $$PX Masses in 1988 and soon discovered the Ordo.  I found it fascinating as at the same time I was being instructed by a friend, now sadly departed, to learn the Breviary.  I knew John Tyson of course and remember asking him about (I V) in the Ordo.  I said to him ‘John, I think I have worked out commemorations except the hymn element.  What do you do if the hymn does not have five verses?’  John gave one of his famous chuckles and said ‘You fool, you Tom fool, it is not one to five but of first Vespers.’  Anyway I soon became involved with proof reading the Ordo.  It was all relatively primitive in those days. Although we have moved on from typing the thing it was being produced in WordPerfect which was not a WYSIWYG software programme.  The symbols for holy days and days of devotion were drawn in by hand before the pages went off to the printers.  Then came along Word2 and Word6 and subsequent editions by Mr.Gates and it became much easier.  Eventually, and I do not recall exactly when, sometime in the mid-1990s yours truly was producing the scripts and then took over completely with the Saint Lawrence Press Ltd.

Q. Who are some past or present customers of the St Lawrence Press that our readers today would recognize?

A. Customer details are covered by legislation such as the Data Protection Act, notwithstanding basic morality, and so cannot be revealed without the person’s express consent.  However, a wide range of people from all continents form the current customer base with the majority of customers coming from the United States and from France.  Of the main Traddie groups there has been an interesting change in the customer base.  From the early days when a large number of $$PX clergy took the Ordo the $$PX is now a minority customer.  A decade or so ago there were many orders from members of the Institute of Christ the King but, sadly, they now seem more interested in what they wear than liturgy.  Of the current major groups in Traddieland member of the FSSP take the most Ordines but the majority of sales are to individual diocesan clergy and laity.  A small number of Curial prelates take the Ordo – the fascinating thing is that none of them have any connection with PCED or CDW!

Q. Personally, I find the Roman rite from 1911-1955 far more complicated in rubrics and kalendar than what preceded or succeeded it. How do you deal with the challenges of the Divino Afflatu system?

A. It certainly made the rubrics of the Roman rite far more complicated than they were.  Indeed, if I were into conspiracy theories – which I am not - I think one could be forgiven for thinking it was a deliberate ploy to make life so complicated that any reform would be received with open arms.  My view is that in reality the reform was rushed through and its ramifications only began to be understood in the years that followed.  Clarifications and differing interpretations were appearing in Ephemerides Liturgicae throughout the 1920s and 1930s.  Looking at extant Ordines of the period it is interesting – to compilers of Ordines at least – to see the lack of consistency in interpretation.  A good example was a few years ago when the feasts of St. George, St. Mark and SS Philip and James had to be transferred out of the Paschal Octave.  I consulted four Ordines from 1943, two in my collection and two in the British Library.  None had exactly the same solution: three were similar but one was way off.  After carefully considering the rubrics I decided none were actually correct.  To those of us with an interest in such matters it was an amusing study but life should not be that complex.  As to ‘dealing’ with the system I am afraid that exposure to the ‘Pius X’ rubrics was part of my formative period so I can think the system in my sleep.  Indeed, when I first looked at pre-1911 praxis I found it very hard and it required a lot of effort to understand it, but I did persevere.  It is far superior in my view but we are limited by the lack of availability of books at the moment to promote a serious restoration. 

Q. Have you noticed any change in your clientele or in business to the St Lawrence Press since Summorum Pontificum in 2007? If so, why?

A. There was an initial flurry of interest and indeed I recall one cleric asking if we would now adopt the 1962 rubrics.  Needless to say the answer was strongly in the negative.  What is noticeable is that those with a more serious interest in liturgy see through 1962 quite quickly and look to move to something more traditional.  There is a steadily increasing number of customers – which is much needed because many of the original customers have now passed over to Eternity.  I think that, ultimately, Summorum Pontificum will be seen as something that had a damaging effect on the liturgy but the influence of which faded over time.  Indeed, I expect that Summorum Pontificum will be negated by legislation from Rome but not within Josef Ratzinger’s  lifetime. 

Q. In what direction do you see the future of the old rite headed? 

A. After the period of specious interest following Summorum Pontificum, and I think we really have seen the A to Z of specious interest, I see a period of contraction and confusion – as we see today – that will be followed by an implosion.  I take the view that there will be a more real discovery of liturgical orthopraxis and patrimony but that will take time, a couple of decades at least.  I also believe we will see structural change too – rather like what you have alluded to in some of your posts mentioning the Minster system for instance.  I believe that reform – in a good sense – will be from grass roots upwards, not from the top down. 

Q. In what sort of research does the St Lawrence Press engage?

A. My own research interests are the reform of the Roman rite 1903 – 1963; the reform of the Roman typical editions of the liturgical books from 1568 to 1634, the celebration of Holy Week, liturgical theology in general and the psychology of religion.

Q. Given that the early traditionalists and the St. Lawrence Press stopped at 1939, what would you say in the liturgical legacy of the pope elected that year, Pius XII? 

A. I don’t think the proto-traditionalists thought it terms of 1939 per se but of ‘pre-Pius XII’  As we know men like Evelyn Waugh were totally disparaging about the Pacelli pontificate.  Sadly, what we have seen over the last quarter of a century or so is the development of what a blogger friend of mine termed cognitive dissonance.  There is a steadfast refusal to acknowledge the well document facts of the damage done to the Roman liturgy by Pius XII.  In my own view he as much a showman and narcissist as John Paul II.  The inversion of the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi was an unmitigated disaster and a charter for the modernists.

Q. Some insist that the Pauline liturgical changes assimilated new doctrines and that, by contrast, the Pacellian novelties and reductions are tame, unworthy of attention in the quest to restore the Roman liturgy.  Your thoughts?

A. Well, we have seen the development of a fallacious revisionism whereby any reform before the Second Vatican Council is magically ignored and excised from memory. I recall many years ago that when I came across photographs of Mass versus populum from the 1940s and 1950s my fellow ‘Traddies’ far from being interested hated me for showing them.  There is the creation of a false construct by these people, they loathe Paul VI but adore old Pacelli.  There are the old canards about a) the differences between 1962 and earlier edition being ‘minor’ and b) the radical nature of Paul VI’s 1970 changes.  With respect to the first point if the changes are so minor, so trivial, not to be of any significance or not to be notice then why not just use pre-1962 anyway?  Of course, the reality is very different and the whole point is that the 1962 brigade want to feel superior to everyone else and use legalism as a weapon against everyone else.  As the second point that argument is wildly over made.  What was Mass like the day before Paul VI’s Missal became law?  People, very conveniently forget, that the 1962MR had not been used for almost a decade but the 1967 rite with the new Anaphorae, with various lectionaries and, of course, the vernacular and the fashion of versus populum.

We appreciate your time, Rubricarius, and thank you again for the opportunity to review you Ordo for the impending liturgical year. I speak for my readers in wishing you and the St Lawrence Press the best in your efforts to preserve the old rite and commending our prayers for that same intention.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Future of Personal Parishes


What is the future of the old Roman Mass, even in its 1962 iteration? Liturgical life and parish life are inextricably bound up in the persons who are their custodians, namely parishioners and the parish priest. Our friend, John R, has managed to get Terce, the old Holy Week and Pentecost Vigil, Pontifical Mass, and the odd Vespers at his minute New Jersey parish, yet the prospective horizon of a world without his current priest threatens to undo what rare and exemplary work he has achieved. Now he stares at a very real possibility of a parish with nothing but spoken Masses and parishioners who only attend for the homeschooling groups. It begs the question: are personal parishes and traditionalist orders the right way forward for the "EF" liturgy?

No, and this blog has argued that such churches are not the answer for four years. The advantages of such communities are the same as any, that they appeal to the people who look for what they offer. Their short-coming is that they are inherently designated to appeal to as narrow a minority of Catholics as possible. Tradistan here in Dallas was erected 25 years ago to deal with the FSSPX problem in the area, two well attended chapels within an hour or two of the metroplex. Benedict XVI may have thought the 1962 Mass was a treasure for all, but Msgr. Charles Grahmann thought it was for a chirpy few who needed to be regularized and ghettoized. There is nothing innately wrong with wanting the old liturgy, better options than the Irving public school system, or dry catechesis, but it is not meant to appeal to a wide array of people with different needs, problems, and talents. In short, traditionalist personal parishes are supposed to stop what traddies want: a widespread restoration of an older form of the Roman liturgy. That traditionalists would take this option, snub "Novus Ordo" priests, and be content with their homeschooling groups sorely underlines that they have lost the fight that they once had.

The most obvious disadvantage of introducing the old liturgy in the much maligned "indult" setting is that it can never be the only liturgy offered and rarely is even the most common one offered, excepting Holy Innocents in New York. The advantages are numerous: the clergy interested in the old liturgy tend to have a more varied education and life experience than those out of traditionalist seminaries, the diocesan setting attracts a wider variety of people who might be willing to contribute their artistic skills, and there is a greater familiarity with diocesan, mainstream life. Above all, if traditionalists really want to revive the old Mass on a wide scale, can one really dispute the wisdom of putting the rite in a place where the vast majority of Catholics worship God?

Of course the introduction of the old Mass to "indult" settings must be done properly and with patience to make any serious headway. For every St. Mary's in Norwalk there is a first Friday of the month at 9:30AM Mass elsewhere that gets 20 people and the priest assumes a lack of interest. There is also the potential instability, should a new, indifferent pastor inherit and ruin a good situation.

So what say ye? Should traditionalists take the fight to the parishes, and toughen themselves in the process? Or should they purse their lips against the Oath of Supremacy and be content with their constant recusancy?

Mary as Mother?

"Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it."
The first major book of Marian spirituality I read as a Catholic was St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s (d. 1716) True Devotion to Mary, a popular if hyperbolic work that set the stage of much Marian devotionalism to follow. Fr. de Montfort’s approach was to see Mary as a Lady in a sort of courtly or chivalric sense, as the mistress and commander of her loyal knights, who were to see themselves as her slaves: 
Moreover, if, as I have said, the Blessed Virgin is the Queen and Sovereign of heaven and earth, does she not then have as many subjects and slaves as there are creatures? (I.2.1)
This is all fair enough, and fairly straightforward, even if the courtly language is far removed from our modern frame of reference. Mary is Queen much as Jesus is King, and it is the duty of all subjects to pledge their allegiance to their proper rulers.

Contrast this with the approach of St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori (d. 1787) and his Glories of Mary, which heavily emphasized the role of Mary as the Christian’s spiritual mother rather than ruler. The title Mater Ecclesiae appeared only rarely before the 1700s, and it gained serious purchase in the twentieth century with the Vatican Council and recent popes. Bp. de’ Liguori’s language adjusts to his maternal focus:
O most tender Mary, most loving Mother! This is just what you desire. You want us to become children and call out to you in every danger. For you long to help and save us, as you have saved all your children who had recourse to you. (I.2)
While the call to become like little children is of course derived from the dominican aphorism of Matthew’s Gospel, its application within Marian devotionalism is rather more sentimental than one expects was originally intended. Popular Marian spirituality has followed St. Alphonsus over St. Louis, and we may very well be the poorer for it.

Icons and statuary of Our Lady used to be more dignified than they have become. Early icons depicted her both with great humility and great nobility, whether she be holding the infant Christ on her lap or bowing before Christ Pantocrator. The humanizing elements of post-medieval painters increased her tenderness, but it was during the Counter Reformation and in the mass production of devotional figurines that Mary became more fully sentimental. Gone was the sturdy matron of patristic times, and here was the soft, doe-eyed young mother always offering a hug. The more exalted eastern iconography of Mary is alien to western Marian devotees, and it’s no mistake that the only oriental icon that has garnered popularity in the west is “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” showing as it does Mary in a mildly comforting role.

Subjection to the Queen of Heaven need not be dripping with tender emotion. If that were required, how many people would find it impossible to bend the knee to the New Eve! Better, I think, to stir up feelings of awe and wonder at her holiness and exaltation. As the ancient akathist hymn sings:
It is truly meet to bless you, Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word. True Theotokos, we magnify you!
c. AD 600

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rood People


After first encountering Our Lady of Walsingham two years ago it has become my regular haunt when I visit family in Houston. I was pleasantly surprised when arriving for this morning's First Sunday of Advent Mass to hear choral Mattins underway, psalms, lessons, and all. It is the first time I have encountered a non-oriental church in Texas that has bothered with the Divine Office, much less on Sunday when most people just want their Mass and coffee.

I noticed one other difference, only after some discernment: some way, some how a rood screen had appeared in medio templi. I thought back and recalled accurately that there had not been one before, just a vestige of one above the altar rail, not unlike St. George's in Sudbury. According to the bulletin the rood screen was added and dedicated the prior week during the Mass for Paul VI's date of Christ the King. The cathedral rector, Fr. Charles Hough IV, writes:
"From the earliest times, Christian architecture has always given special prominence to the Altar as the focus of attention and nucleus, the beating heart of the faithful gathered before it to share in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to feed on Jesus the Bread of Life. Indeed, the church building is essentially a canopy raised over the Altar with corresponding environs for those who attend on the holy mysteries. Reflecting the tripartite structure of the Hebrew Temple, the traditional parts of Christian churches delineate sacred space and mark a path of ascent toward the Altar. The nave represents the "Inner Court," while the chancel mirrors the "Holy Place," and all rises and points to the sanctuary figuring forth the 'Holy of Holies' and the very dwelling place of God with His people....
"After the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 affirmed the teaching of transubstantiation and promoted the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in tabernacles at the high Altar, even modest parish churches acquired beautifully carved chancel screens. These screens raised the vision of the faithful to the cross above with its image of our crucified Lord, flanked by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the beloved Apostle John. And these screens also directed the gaze forward, as through a doorframe or window, to the sight of the priest at the Altar elevating the Sacred Species at the moment of their consecration....
"In the sixteenth century, when the Reformation came to England, many of these screens were destroyed, though some survived. The roods and statues, however, were invariably removed and frequently replaced by images of the royal coat of arms, usurping the place of our suffering Lord with the painting of earthly power....
"Around the same time and certainly after the Council of Trent (1545-1563), rood screens began to disappear from Catholic churches in continental Europe for very different reasons. During the Counter-Reformation and under the influence of a baroque aesthetic, medieval styles gave way to neo-classical fashion. Newer churches modelled after the Jesuit church in Rome Il Gesú were built featuring open proscenium arches and lofty altarpieces for a more 'theatrical' staging of the miracle of the Eucharist as inspired, in part, by the nascent arts of the opera and secular drama.... But the real credit for the revival of fully appointed rood screens belongs to the brilliant English Catholic architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852). His influence was vast and spurred a return to medieval models in building both Anglican and Catholic churches amid the Victorian gothic revival."
Bishop Lopes, Fr. Hough, and the community of Our Lady of Walsingham are to be commended for their superb efforts. Let us hope a few other parishes follow their example.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Basil the Great: Another Case for the Octaves

Next month has four overlapping octaves in the old Roman scheme. St. Basil saw perfection on the eighth day:
"On the day of the resurrection (or standing again Grk. νάστασις) we remind ourselves of the grace given to us by standing at prayer, not only because we rose withChrist, and are bound to seek those things which are above, Colossians 3:1 but because the day seems to us to be in some sense an image of the age which we expect, wherefore, though it is the beginning of days, it is not called by Moses first, but one. For he says There was evening, and there was morning, one day, as though the same day often recurred. Now one and eighth are the same, in itself distinctly indicating that really one and eighth of which the Psalmist makes mention in certain titles of the Psalms, the state which follows after this present time, the day which knows no waning or eventide, and no successor, that age which ends not or grows old. Of necessity, then, the church teaches her own foster children to offer their prayers on that day standing, to the end that through continual reminder of the endless life we may not neglect to make provision for our removal there. Moreover all Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection expected in the age to come. For that one and first day, if seven times multiplied by seven, completes the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost; for, beginning at the first, Pentecost ends with the same, making fifty revolutions through the like intervening days. And so it is a likeness of eternity, beginning as it does and ending, as in a circling course, at the same point. On this day the rules of the church have educated us to prefer the upright attitude of prayer, for by their plain reminder they, as it were, make our mind to dwell no longer in the present but in the future."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Anniversary of Kennedy Assassination (RIP the Catholic Vote)


Today, fifty three years ago, just five miles away from where I currently sit, the "Catholic vote" died as a real and tangible thing in American politics. Two weeks after Manhattan real estate magnate Donald Trump shocked the world and rode a rare populist wave to the top it is worth reconsidering what Catholics have lost in American politics.

Barack Obama won the Catholic vote in 2008 after Bush won it in 2004 and Bill Clinton took it in the '90s. Reagan won it in the '80s and Kennedy won it against Nixon, whose boss won it in 1956. Notice something? Catholics typically vote for the winner. An eager man might think the Catholic vote swayed the election, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth, at least nothing since that fateful day in 1963. Catholics did not drive the election, they merely voted the same way as everyone else.

The Catholic vote existed because of immigration from traditionally Catholic countries to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries: Irish, Polish, Italians, and eastern Europeans. While immigration was legal it was not always welcomed. America's original sin, slavery, has caused some historical amnesia with regard to the history of the Klu Klux Klan, which existed as numerously and in some periods more numerously in Pennsylvania and New York than in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The Klan hated Catholics and Jews just as much as it hated blacks, albeit the KKK lacked the political protection in the north that it had in the south. Immigrants from Catholic lands retained their own sequestered communities in cities and dominated the indigenous churches there (when was there last an Archbishop in New York without an Irish name?). Anglo-Americans wanted little socially to do with Catholics and Catholics wanted little socially to do with each other; communities in my Connecticut hometown built churches for Irish, Polish, and Italian neighborhoods within a mile of each other. Irish were particularly disdained, the "white niggers" of the northern United States.

The Catholic ethnic ghettos retained some semblance of cultural cohesion, however embarrassment and desire for elusive assimilation compelled most second generation Catholics to refuse to learn their parents' and grandparents' native tongues as a home language. When the Second World War arrived the disliked Catholics served side-by-side with other white Americans while the blacks had their own legions. While they did not exactly warm up to the Miraculous Medal, "WASP" American soldiers lived with Catholics, fought with them, died with them, and learned that they were not a peculiar clique after all. A last gasp of ethnocentric Catholic identity propelled Kennedy to the Presidency in 1960 in an election not unlike this past one, where the popular vote was closer than the electoral college would conventionally suggest. The Irish and Cardinal Cushing, in a final fit before demographic death, voted for Kennedy at a 70% rate. No candidate since has enjoyed such a Catholic following.

While the ethnic bonds of Catholicism evanesced after World War II, the Catholic vote did not. Rapid rates of conversion and the ability of the faith to survive outside the "old world" kept Catholics a robust political demographic, although Cardinals Spellman and McIntyre's anti-Communism would have had everyone pull the lever for Republicans against Cardinal Cushing and the rest of the "Democratic party at prayer" in Boston. 75% of Catholics attended weekly Mass, 90% monthly; a similar number held to conventional teachings such as the Church's primacy in moral and ethic issues. At the same time, the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties could be reduced to what one thought of the New Deal and of the Soviet Union. Gay marriage, killing babies, and third wave feminism were not on the ballot in those days (in fact they have never been on the ballot, they are always adjudicated by the Supreme Court). Kennedy's assassination and the enormous drop off in Mass attendance after the liturgical changes of the 1960s pulverized whatever burgeoning Catholic vote there was.

Like Jews, but unlike Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, people continue to identify as Catholics after losing their faith and ceasing to practice its tenets for years. What made the Catholic vote an actual force in politics was that it reflected a tangible religious practice that made for a coherent voting block to be pursued by those who could appeal to its interests. With a quarter of Catholics attending Mass even monthly and 98% of Catholic women having used birth control at one point or another in their lives one cannot say the same rules apply now as did in 1963.

The largest demographic in modern American politics is the irreligious, although not necessarily the anti-religious. Trump revived the Evangelical vote during the primaries, but cut into other demographics in the general election. Hispanics, who one would presume to be Catholic, by in large voted for the most pro-abortion candidate in American history because the press perceive Trump's immigration stance to reflect an underlying bigotry against immigrants from south of the Texas-Mexico border. And yet Trump won the "Catholic vote." We should be proud. Jack would be.