11 April 2014

Feast Of The Seven Sorrows And A Rant

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Today should have been the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM, but as the readings are all in your 1962 Missals, and the St Lawrence Press blog has covered the pre-1962 here, (and I'm still as jetlagged as when I arrived at Terminal 5) I thought I'd offer some preliminary thoughts about the lost feasts.  I'll keep the series going right up to the end of the year - there are a lot more to come - but here are some first thoughts.

You will have heard enough about Bugnini from me: his ruthless, methodical, pseudo-scientific reformation of the Church's calendar was, I believe, an absolute disaster, as it divorced the new calendar from all 1900 years of development.  What I hadn't really worked out was that Pius X and Pius XII were just as enthusiastic mutilators of the calendar, and that the "simplifications" introduced by the time of the 1962 Missal had already so attacked the foundations of the calendar and, importantly, of the way the calendar governed liturgical praxis, that Bugnini was able to knock the whole structure over.  Rome had arrogated the calendar and liturgical celebration to itself, and Bishops no longer governed liturgy in their dioceses: then Rome decided to change the calendar and the liturgy.

What was wrong with the old way?  The reformers seem to have felt first that removal equalled simplification, and that simplification was a goal to be aimed for.  I am Miss Prism, I'm afraid, where mention of the Early Church goes: nothing is better, simply because the Early Church had a reduced version of what came later.  For example, you would have to argue, following the example of the Roman Canon, that the epiclesis was an innovation and should be expunged from Eucharistic Prayers.</>  (Mind you, unlike the composers of the 1967 Mass, you'd have to know something about the Early Church as well, but that is one for later, one for a book rather than a blog.)

What was removed was sold as a sort of pruning: in the garden pruning is good, because it removes unhealthy growth and allows the old stem to continually generate new shoots.  Why on earth do we think that this is a good analogy for the development of the liturgy?  In the past, the sober Roman rite formed the foundation on which an exuberant Gallican rite grew: observation of the austerity of the Roman rite led to the gradual recession of the Gallican, but not before the latter had managed to make the Roman slightly more gentle.  Cutting and chopping doesn't really happen until Pius X comes in and starts on the Breviary, but why is cutting and chopping appropriate to the Liturgy?

Pius X's aim was to reduce the load on priests: the Breviary he inherited had grown and grown over the years and he felt the load pastorally.  But instead of slashing the Breviary - casually removing the immemorial link to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem - why couldn't he have thought about making the priests' obligation more nuanced?  Couldn't some variation of: full office in monastery and collegiate church - Matins and minor hours and Vespers in big parish church - sole priest in busy parish says a reduced office but celebrates Vespers on Sundays - you get the point.  The integrity of the office could have been preserved.  Isn't this the sort of clericalism we should be wary of? 

(Actually, imagine the papolatry that underpins the acceptance of: "these are the psalms said in the Temple for centuries before the birth of Christ and said by His Church ever since He established it, but I am abolishing them because priests are too busy these days to recite them".)

And from then on all is cuts: slash and burn.  A move towards two dimensionality, cutting extra collects, cutting any last Gospel which wasn't John 1:1, and gradually introducing a flattening of the vibrant worship of the Church, which allowed Bugnini subsequently to introduce a radical two dimensionality to the calendar and to worship.  Ladies and Gentleman: Bugnini's calendar and Bugnini's Mass suffer from banality.  All the changes to the Mass before the twentieth century revolve around additions and subtractions from the original, plus the original: after the advent of Pius X comes regulation and justification for change which equates Liturgy with what weak men can do instead of allowing an eternal Liturgy to give men the strength to fulfil their part in it: we subtract rite and only add words.

Do you know what is worst of all?  That all of this started just as the laity became mainly educated and literate!  My 1890 hand Missal gives full instructions to the lay man or woman on how to work out what should be celebrated each day, and, as I think I've shown, it is really easy.  And so much easier today, with computers and printers: each week's parish Bulletin could easily contain the relevant English version of the Propers for each day of the week - indeed everything a Catholic in the pew might have needed.

I'm not a Pius V-ist: I go to Mass each weekend in the OF and rarely have the opportunity to attend an EF Mass.  But if we want to talk about liturgical renewal - and the SSPX managed to put paid to any question of serious change in my lifetime, I reckon - we need to look beyond 1962 and think about the whole question of centralised Roman control and the damage that was done during the whole of the twentieth century.
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2 comments:

Left-footer said...

A very sad state of affairs, this impoverishment of the liturgy in the name of comprehensibility. I had not realised just how long ago it started.

A blessed ad happy Easter, Ttony, to you and yours. God bless!

Nabi Ngọc Hân said...

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tại đà nẵng, chất lượng, toàn quốc, nước ngoài, trung cấp, cao đẳng