Monday, July 15, 2019

Pius XII and Altar Girls

Pius XII's writings on the liturgy are something of a mixed blessing.  He was clear as crystal on certain principles which were in the 1958 Instruction written under his authority.

But on one matter, he has caused difficulty, according to Dom Alcuin Reed.  In an address to the Church Music Association of America (CMAA), Reed teaches about who has what authority vis-a-vis the liturgy.

...The ministry of the Pope, therefore, is one of obedience to the Word of God. In respect of the Sacred Liturgy, this ministry is exercised, as the Catechism teaches, in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy. “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law.” Mutatis mutandis, neither is any bishop, priest, deacon, MC, Musical Director, liturgy committee or any other group or individual, no matter what their position or expertise.
This brings us face to face with the second element of what is taught in paragraph 1125 of the Catechism: “the obedience of faith” and “religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy” that must be shown by all, from the Pope down.

Earlier I asserted that there was a disturbing issue in respect of Pope Pius XII’s exegesis of the premise lex orandi, lex credendi in Mediator Dei whereby he asserts that it is the rule of belief which determines the rule of prayer, and not the other way around. When this was published in 1947 the dangers inherent in this reversal may not have been all that apparent. Sadly, they have become all to clear in the ensuing decades.

For if the Sacred Liturgy (its rites, prayers, chants, and associated arts, etc.) are a “a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition,” this organism, as handed on in tradition, is itself an essential source for experiencing the Faith and for knowing and reflecting upon what we believe: the Sacred Liturgy is itself theologia prima.5 However, if what we believe determines the rule of prayer, the liturgy can (or ought to) be refashioned according to changes in theology so as to reflect the latter. It is no longer a primary source of theology, but its mirror....
You see the problem?  It's ......ahhh.........interesting enough with mal-formed diocesan priests (or shudder, Jesuits) who put their theological twisties into the liturgy.  But it's even more interesting when the occupant of the Chair of Peter seems to favor a new "green" theology.  Or a "liberation" theology.    How will THAT be expressed in the Mass?

That aside, Pius XII's reversal was easy to see in the results even before "green" theo.  Benedict XVI is quoted here to explain how the silliness came about:

...A neo-scholastic sacramental theology which is disconnected from the living form of the Liturgy. On that basis, people might reduce the “substance” to the matter and form of the sacrament, and say: Bread and wine are the matter of the sacrament, the words of institution are its form. Only these two things are really necessary, everything else is changeable.6...
In other words, reductionism.  Remember hearing about "useless accretions and repetitions"?

And Reed goes on to the logical conclusion:

... if one can reduce the Sacraments to valid matter and the correct form in one’s mind, one may ignore, disdain or even abuse the rites that surround them. The liturgical rites become incidentals and are therefore unimportant in themselves. They contain no authority in their own right and certainly demand no serious respect. They may be reduced, refashioned, replaced or dispensed according to the prevailing theological and ideological trends of a given time, whether that be by popes or their commissars, by episcopal conferences, local bishops, priests or lay liturgical potentates....
Thus we saw altar girls, hootenannies, rock bands, clowns, "Mass on the floor," ( in Milwaukee), and dance.  Even in those parishes which observe some propriety, the Propers are completely absent--not only dumped in favor of "hymns," but not even mentioned in the weekly pamphlet.  In the USA, the Offertory Proper has NEVER been published in the authorized NO missals.  Yet the Propers are an integral part of every Mass!

Reed sums it up; note the reference to radical inculturation which has to do with Amazonian folderol:

....[I]t [is] a fact that subjectivity, not objectivity, has been the lot of the Sacred Liturgy for far too long, from the pre-conciliar disdain of sung or solemn Mass as being ‘too much unnecessary fuss’ (the expression “It’s the Low mass that matters!” comes right out of this stable…), to the liturgy being regarded as something which I may translate, celebrate and adapt according to our—or even my own—preferences, to the unforeseeable horizons of the proposed “organic progression of the liturgy” which embraces radical inculturation and more.8 Even more conservative or so-called “traditional” circles, not infrequently go beyond the bounds of what is given to us by the Church and select, adapt or ignore rites according to subjective will....
Much like a fence or a wall, the rituals, vestments, motions, and Chants (Latin or vulgar) protect what is within:  the offering of ourselves, the re-presentation of the Sacrifice, and the Communion.  Once the fence is knocked down, the liturgy is re-shaped (mis-shaped) according to NewThink V.1 (or V.2, V.3.....), things go wrong.

Reed proposes a solution, of course.  But you'll have to read the linked essay to find it. 

Pray harder.

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