Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Whacking the LiturgyWonks

It appears that--perhaps--we are at the beginning of the end of the Reign of the LiturgyWonk.  This 'beginning' started with the election of B-16, of course, but the momentum is gaining.  And the gain is in the clear understanding of history, always easier to see from a distance than from up close.

...Future historians of liturgy may similarly wonder at the devotion of many contemporary liturgists to the term “modern” in liturgical discourse, be that in disparaging the purportedly non-participatory nature of pre-modern liturgy; in rejoicing at the breakthroughs of modernity in the enlightenment liturgies of the eighteenth century and at its triumph in the liturgical reform following the most recent Ecumenical Council; or in embracing the paths of radical inculturation and deconstructive creativity down which postmodernity beckons the liturgy.

Analogous observations in respect of theological and pastoral discourse and practice are also possible. Whether we ought to or not, whatever the discipline, far too often we consciously or subconsciously default to defining ourselves and our theological, liturgical, and pastoral initiatives and practices in relation to modernity....

(There are also analogues in contemporary political discourse, by the way.)

In contrast:

...for the Christian it is the person of Christ, God incarnate in human history, the definitive revelation of the Father, who is pivotal and in relation to whom we define ourselves. He, not the prevailing philosophical fashion, is our reference....

In other words, there is Truth--and then there is all else.  Choose carefully.

Now what does that have to do with the Liturgy??  Glad you asked!!  See, there's a problem:

...Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, “modern” is modern no longer: we have moved beyond modernity into the “post” modern era. Where does that leave us? What does that mean for our modern liturgical rites and practices as they approach their fiftieth birthdays? Are we hastily to pension them off and hurry to create postmodern ones (if that is even possible)? Are we to cling to the modern rites and their attendant milieu uncritically and as tenaciously as some have clung to the premodern rites? How and with what authority are we to proceed? Or are we simply to descend into an ecclesial and liturgical subjectivism which mirrors that of postmodern society?...

Dom Reid notes that Pius X's call for 'participation in the liturgy' was not, in any sense, founded on 'modernity.'  Rather, it was founded on the antiquity and liceity of such participation, which had faded dramatically during the period between ~1600 and ~1900 AD.   But 'participation' to Pius X did not mean translating to the vulgar, nor singing pops-derived ditties which wholesale replaced the parts of the Mass, like the Propers.  (That, by the way, was imitation of the Lutherans, Calvinists, and eventually the degraded forms of Anglicanism.)

Instead, Reid proposes this:

...Authority acts authentically in regard to the Sacred Liturgy when it acts in a manner that respects and is utterly consonant with its nature so as to optimize the good of souls. We find this in the development of the liturgy throughout history, whether that be in its gradual development which authority witnesses and respects, or even in the occasional but always proportionate introduction by authority of elements into the rites, or even its similarly proportionate pruning of them. So too this principle may be found in the repudiation of inauthentic liturgical developments such as the sixteenth century breviary of Cardinal Quignonez or of the eighteenth century Synod of Pistoia....

(This raises questions about the revisions of, e.g., Holy Week by Pius XII, who was certainly not a liturgy-lefty.  So:  if we accept his revisions as fitting within Reid's definition above, then what of the Order which wants (and by the way, claims the authority) to toss out those revisions??  Hmmmm???)

Moving on, Reid quotes someone who put his finger directly on the problem back in the 1920's:

...There is need for reform—but at which end shall the reformers start? They have apparently attempted to cure the disease by removing those symptoms only which appear on the surface. There can be no doubt—any parish priest can verify this—that even to this day the prayer which is offered up publicly is of a nature which is consonant with and produced by the culture of the congregation....

And as has been correctly noted--repeatedly--Culture is downstream from Cult.  This is not a circular argument, for The Cult is that which is preached first, and lived next.  Somewhere along the line, the preaching dis-connected from the living, or the living detached itself from the preaching.

Then we got Bugnini, and you'll have to read the essay yourself to find out what went wrong there.

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