29 June 2013

Is The SSPX Fracturing Everywhere?

I note that a group has fractured away from the SSPX and has set up a "Resistance Mass Centre" in Wandsworth, and that Bishop Williamson has set up an "Initiative", soliciting funds, and proposing the following:

"It seems that, today, God wants a loose network of independent pockets of Catholic Resistance, gathered around the Mass, freely contacting one another, but with no structure of false obedience, which served to sink the mainstream Church in the 1960’s and is now sinking the Society of St. Pius X. If you agree, make contributions to the St. Marcel Initiative; they will certainly come in useful. For myself, once my situation stabilizes, I am ready to put my bishop’s powers at the disposal of whoever can make wise use of them."

Is this happening everywhere, or only in the English-speaking world?

This matters to the rest of us because it will become a new stick with which to beat Benedict XVI and the EF or the Roman Rite, just at a point when those opposed to what the Pope Emeritus did feel that they are in a strong position.  It matters because, as happened when Bishop Williamson made his remarks about the Holocaust, the secular world thinks that these people are like Catholics, just a bit more so.

26 June 2013

Uncharacteristic Silence

I am working hard at trying to work out what I think people thought was wrong with the Liturgy post-WWII and pre-VII and whether they were right or wrong, and what I think people should have thought was wrong PWWIIAPVII, and what in fact I think was wrong.  It is, anglice, doing my head in, not least because I am going to have to come to a view and only an Anglican seems to get it like no Catholic does.

So forgive the uncharacteristic silence: I do have a view on absolutely everything, but am trying to concentrate.

14 June 2013

Chesterton's Anniversary

His poem, as I think it, a response to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

The Two Women
Lo! Very fair is she who knows the ways
Of joy: in pleasure's mocking wisdom old,
The eyes that might be cold to flattery, kind;
The hair that might be grey with knowledge, gold.

But thou art more than these things, O my queen,
For thou art clad in ancient wars and tears.
And looking forth, framed in the crown of thorns,
I saw the youngest face in all the spheres.


10 June 2013

Mass Then And Now

Just think - what does this sound like?

The Bishop processes into Mass.  There is nothing on the altar but the Missal - behind it, arranged in a semicircle, are seats for the priests and deacons, with the cathedra in the middle. During the procession the choir sings the Entry Antiphon.  As he approaches the altar, he reverences the Blessed Sacrament, bows to the altar, makes the sign of the cross, and at the end of the antiphon says the opening prayers.  As the choir sings the Kyrie, he goes round to his place behind the altar. The Gloria is sung, then the Epistle is read, an Alleluia verse is read, and, after a blessing from the Bishop, a Deacon reads the Gospel.  The sacred vessels are then placed on the altar, and the people bring in the gifts of bread and wine.  Water is added to the wine, and the singing stops so that the Offertory Prayer can be said.  After that the Eucharistic Prayer, the Dialogue, the Preface and the Sanctus, and then the rest of the Canon, read aloud facing the people. At the end of the Canon comes the Our Father, then after the fractio, the breaking of bread, the choir sings the Agnus Dei. The Bishop communicates, then the clergy in the Sanctuary, then the people, while the choir sings.  Afterwards a final prayer is read, after which the Mass ends and the procession returns to the sacristy.

Yes, of course, I'm teasing you, and I've tinkered with the details.  But this isn't an ordinary visitation Mass or a Deanery Mass today, or indeed any old Bishop, but the stational Mass of a Pope in Rome around 675.  It is described in Jungmann's Mass of the Roman Rite, first published in 1949, a book which inspired those who reformed the Liturgy after Vatican II. 

I set myself the challenge of getting into the mind of those reformers: what did what, at the time, were the authoritative works, say about the origins of the Mass, and what, therefore, inspired the reformers in their particular direction.

The first, obvious, charge against them is archaeologism: they have selected a form of celebration of the Mass particular to one time and place in the past, and have declared it normative because of its antiquity.  Why any earlier form of Mass was rejected, and why any subsequent developments were ignored, are not issues addressed by the reformers: their authority as the Consilium has given them the right to choose an external authority to justify what they want to do.

Jungmann is an interesting choice of authority: he makes it clear that he is not like his predecessors, believing rather that he is of the generation that has made liturgiology a science.  He was Austrian, rather than German, which meant that he was able to travel soon after the War: he was in the US before this book was published, and, translated into both English and French at the start of the 1950s, it had an influence beyond any other history of the development of the Mass.  (Interestingly, his very short Bibliography includes Bishop, Dix and Fortescue.)

Not too far before the description of the Pope's Mass, there is a section which shows how Eucharistic Prayers were not fixed in form (other than in Rome) until shortly before this period: every Prelate could compose his own.

Two things strike me: the worthy thought is that the reformers really believed that they had been blessed with a vision of the Liturgy before a lot of mediaeval (I bet they used the word mediaeval as an insult) accretions were codified as mandatory, and were liberated by the thought that liturgical creativity had an ancient history.  The unworthy thought is that they didn't get much beyond page 75 (though to be fair to them, Jungmann himself seems to really like this model, and has a bizarre passage about liturgical orientation which seems to suggest "do your own thing" as well just a few pages later).

My contention is that this "liturgical science" is something which divorces history from praxis: which ignores "what we do and how we do it" in favour of "how we, knowing what we know, should do it".

In short, what we think of as "the Spirit of Vatican II" was abroad a good ten years before the Council.  It infused post-war thinking about the Liturgy; it appealed to poor old Pius XII's self-view and led him to his archaeological reform of Holy Week; it created a momentum of change which had some basis in arbitrary historicism but none in the practice of Catholic Worship.

Bugnini and his pals weren't wrong because they were modernists, crypto-protestants or freemasons (I bet they weren't any of these, actually): they were wrong because they thought that the spirit of the age, the Zeitgeist, was with them and they had the opportunity to return the worship of the Church to a scientifically proven ideal, or at least set of ideals.  They were wrong.

But, wrong as they were, they were still responding to the fact that neither spirit-of-VIIists nor trads seem prepared to address on terms: that for a century and a half it had been recognised that Catholic Worship was in a cul-de-sac, and needed reform.

More soon.