Friday, July 30, 2010

Pray Tell and Liturgical Reform


(This post is much longer than I thought it would be when I started, but I encourage you to read the whole thing.  And I must insist that this post is not, in any way, to be regarded as an affront or insult to the priesthood in general or to the priesthood of my brother, Fr. Charlie; nor as denigrating the piety or sincerity or faithfulness of Catholics like myself who regularly attend the Ordinary Form, like me.)

For the past several months, I have been reading and commenting at Pray Tell, a relatively new (September 2009, I think) blog about "worship, wit, and wisdom".  My personal liturgical and theological views seem a bit more "conservative" and "traditional" than that of the majority of the contributors to the blog.  Some of the commentors (on both sides of the divide) make scathing personal attacks and insults.  (I've been told I know more Latin than I know about the Catholic faith and liturgy, for example, and I assure you, I don't know very much Latin.)

Recently, in order to remind myself to write with charity, I began writing +JMJ+ at the top of my comments.  This was soon met with suspicion and a bit of a side-conversation.  Make of it what you will.

Since the blog's topic is primary liturgy, the new Roman Missal (third edition) is often the subject of posts and comments, especially the impending English translation of it.  Along with that comes a great deal of criticism about the Extraordinary Form (1962 Missal, since edited by Pope Benedict XVI) and its "liberation" through Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum.  For example, just this morning a post on the blog reads (with my emphases):
Evangelicals are crossing the Tiber to Catholicism. God bless ‘em. But why do I have this sinking feeling that some of them are way more Catholic than you or I would ever want to be? Watch for more support of the 1962 missal, I suspect.
I recommend you read the linked article.  I read it and didn't notice any particular indicators representing a particular support for the Extraordinary Form.  (Not that I would be opposed to such support; indeed, I would welcome it.)

Now, there's also an ongoing debate on Pray Tell about the Ordinary Form of the Roman Mass, specifically about the degree to which it embodies the Second Vatican Council's decrees on liturgical reform found in Sacrosanctum Concilium.  (This debate has a sub-thread which continually points out how the Extraordinary Form is, so far, un-reformed in regards to Sac. Conc.)  For example, Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, who has an editorial role at Pray Tell, made this comment in response to someone's remark about the pope's open-mindedness in promulgating Summorum Pontificum (with my emphasis):
Yes – but on the other hand: the bishops of the world begged the Pope not to do this; several conferences implored him. He did it anyway. While his act might seem generous, it is a generosity that cannot possibly be reconciled with the directives of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II never intended that an unreformed rite would be existence alongside a reformed one. There is no way that the 1962 Mass meets the reformist requirements of the Council. This is a serious problem, in my view. And it is a problem that will compound as the anomaly continues in coming years and decades. How will they ever phase out 1962, as obedience to the Council would require?
I replied, in part, that
I think the 1962 Missal will be “phased out” by slowly but surely applying the reforms clearly expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium to it. I don’t know how long it will take, I don’t know if I’ll live to see it, but I think the Pope believes that the E.F. and the O.F. are both in need of reform to a “middle way”. The E.F. was not intended to exist indefinitely without being reformed, and the O.F. — and perhaps I’m being wild here — was not the intended result of the reform.
Now, this final remark of mine — that the Ordinary Form liturgy as it exist in the books (and not merely as it is poorly celebrated in many places) might not be an accurate product of the liturgical reform expressed in Sac. Conc. and intended by the Council Fathers who approved that Constitution — is one which others have expressed on Pray Tell and one which is seems completely out of bounds.

I made a later remark where I compared Pope Benedict's act (of approving the 1962 Missal for celebration alongside the Ordinary Form) with Pope Paul VI's act (of approving the 1969 Missal), and asked why it was that the 1969 Missal is regarded as consonant/reconcilable with the liturgical reform expressed by the Council Fathers in Sac. Conc.:

Pope Paul VI, though he did not personally develop the Ordinary Form, approved and promulgated it. But does that necessarily mean it accurately captures the liturgical vision of the 2000+ Council Fathers? Is the way we account for the seeming disparity between certain statements or “decrees” in Sac. Conc. and their relative reception in the Ordinary Form Missal, simply to say that because the Consilium was charged with implementing Sac. Conc. and the Pope approved the final product, it’s official?

In other words, does it come down, ultimately, to the approval of the missal by Pope Paul VI?

Then why is the approval of the yet-unreformed missal by Pope Benedict XVI received differently? Fr. Anthony questions whether it is reconcilable with Vatican II, but some Catholics question how the Ordinary Form is reconcilable with Vatican II as well.
Now, I should make it clear here, as I do at Pray Tell, that:
I’m not calling the [Ordinary Form] invalid or heretical or any of that. I wouldn’t attend it weekly or daily if I thought so. [I should add that I wouldn't be writing a catechetical series on the new English translation of the Ordinary Form if I thought it was invalid or heretical!] I’m just saying it’s possible it’s not what the Council Fathers intended, and that it, like other liturgical reforms of history, may eventually be undone to some degree.
A particular liturgy, as a product of a particular reform, can be official and yet be found wanting or insufficient later and be "rolled back" or re-reformed.  It has happened in the history of the Church.

So how was my question about Paul VI's approval of the 1969 Missal received?  Fr. Anthony replied:
What a strange era we’re in! It is now acceptable to question the approved liturgy of the Church! This ought to be quite daring, and it ought to shock people because it’s bordering on dissent and disobedience. But it is now a commonplace. How did we get to that place? Very strange indeed.

The Council Fathers didn’t prescribe every detail, they laid out general principles. Consilium followed these, without a doubt. Consilium could have gone much further on many points, but they didn’t; they could have been more restrained on some points, but they weren’t. They made their decisions, and the Supreme Pontiff approved them. And so did virtually every single bishop of the Catholic world, all of whom were there for the council debates and decisions.

This chipping away at lawful reform as prescribed by an ecumenical council is scandalous. At least it should be.
I find this comment "shocking", since there are plenty of statements made on Pray Tell which are about dissenting from doctrines of the Church, but they often go unchecked and unadmonished by the editorial staff.  My comment is "shocking" because, as Fr. Anthony has said (on other occasions when I have brought up this unequal reception such comments receive) I am someone who is opposed to the dissenting and disobedient attitude portrayed by certain commentors.  In other words, as someone calling for assent, it is a "shock" to make a statement questioning the Ordinary Form in any way.

I think I need to defend myself and my question.  I am not questioning the Council, nor am I questioning the reform prescribed by the Council as found in Sac. Conc.  However, I am questioning certain facets of the liturgy produced by the Consilium (that is, the group assembled to carry out the liturgical reform).  Yes, their final decisions and the liturgy they produced was approved by the Supreme Pontiff, Paul VI.  But just because he approved them does not mean they were consonant or reconcilable with the liturgical reform as prescribed in the Council documents.  Is it true that "virtually every single bishop" approved the decisions of Consilium?  I thought only the Pope did.  What the bishops approved was the document Sac. Conc. in 1963, not the decisions of the Consilium nor the liturgy they produced in 1969.

I do not know if I can say, with Fr. Anthony, that "the Consilium followed the general principles of Sac. Conc. without a doubt."  There are certain principles and even decrees of Sac. Conc. that they did not uphold very well, and there are others that they adhered to, even to the point of going beyond them.  (I also question the process by which other changes with took place in the Ordinary Form after 1969 — like the rapid proliferation of Communion under both kinds to situations not envisioned by the Council Fathers and expressly forbidden by Rome at the time — but that is for another time.)

My overall question is: must the Ordinary Form (as it exists in the books) be accepted as an/the "accurate" interpretation of the principles and decrees on liturgical reform found in Sac. Conc., simply because Pope Paul VI approved it? (Again, I am not calling into question its validity or licitness.)

And if this "chipping away at lawful reform as prescribed by an ecumenical council is [or should be] scandalous", shouldn't the chipping away at other things said by the same council be decried as scandalous and shocking on Pray Tell as well?

So that's where I am for now.  The trailing part of this post of this will be posted as a comment on Pray Tell, where they don't need to hear all this backstory.

Remote control + shin

A couple nights ago, as my wife and I were in the living room watching TV, she asked me to pass her the remote control.  I was sitting in my chair, and she was laying on the couch (facing me).  I feebly tossed her the remote, such that its narrow edge ended up striking her upper shin.  Despite the pain, we were quickly laughing about it.

And in the laughter, I attempted to excuse my weak throw by explaining, "I didn't want to throw it and have it come near your head... where you could catch it with your hands..."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the "Catholic Church"

The first three paragraphs of this excerpt (from Catechetical Lecture XVIII) are in today's Office of Readings.

22. The Faith which we rehearse contains in order the following, And in one Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and in one Holy Catholic Church; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in eternal life. Now of Baptism and repentance I have spoken in the earliest Lectures; and my present remarks concerning the resurrection of the dead have been made with reference to the Article In the resurrection of the flesh. Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, In one Holy Catholic Church, on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly.

23. It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly ; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

24. And it is rightly named (Ecclesia) because it calls forth and assembles together all men; according as the Lord says in Leviticus, And make an assembly for all the congregation at the door of the tabernacle of witness. And it is to be noted, that the word assemble, is used for the first time in the Scriptures here, at the time when the Lord puts Aaron into the High-priesthood. And in Deuteronomy also the Lord says to Moses, Assemble the people unto Me, and let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me. (Deuteronomy 4:10) And he again mentions the name of the Church, when he says concerning the Tables, And on them were written all the words which the Lord spoke with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the Assembly ; as if he had said more plainly, in the day in which you were called and gathered together by God. The Psalmist also says, I will give thanks unto You, O Lord, in the great Congregation; I will praise You among much people.

25. Of old the Psalmist sang, Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, (ye that are) from the fountains of Israel. But after the Jews for the plots which they made against the Saviour were cast away from His grace, the Saviour built out of the Gentiles a second Holy Church, the Church of us Christians, concerning which he said to Peter, And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) And David prophesying of both these, said plainly of the first which was rejected, I have hated the Congregation of evil doers ; but of the second which is built up he says in the same Psalm, Lord, I have loved the beauty of Your house ; and immediately afterwards, In the Congregations will I bless you, O Lord. For now that the one Church in Judæa is cast off, the Churches of Christ are increased over all the world; and of them it is said in the Psalms, Sing unto the Lord a new song, His praise in the Congregation of Saints. Agreeably to which the prophet also said to the Jews, I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 1:10); and immediately afterwards, For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name is glorified among the Gentiles. Concerning this Holy Catholic Church Paul writes to Timothy, That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

26. But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things (as also it is written of the multitude in the theatre of the Ephesians, And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the Assembly (Acts 19:14)), and since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to you now the Article, And in one Holy Catholic Church; that you may avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated. And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25), and all the rest,) and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26); which before was barren, but now has many children.

27. For when the first Church was cast off, in the second, which is the Catholic Church, God has set, as Paul says, first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, various kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28), and every sort of virtue, I mean wisdom and understanding, temperance and justice, mercy and loving-kindness, and patience unconquerable in persecutions. She, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour (2 Corinthians 6:7-8), in former days amid persecutions and tribulations crowned the holy martyrs with the varied and blooming chaplets of patience, and now in times of peace by God's grace receives her due honours from kings and those who are in high place (1 Timothy 2:2), and from every sort and kindred of men. And while the kings of particular nations have bounds set to their authority, the Holy Church Catholic alone extends her power without limit over the whole world; for God, as it is written, has made her border peace. But I should need many more hours for my discourse, if I wished to speak of all things which concern her.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Theology: Grace, Faith, and Works

I posted this some three years ago.  Upon further reflection, I had "grace" and "faith" backwards.  Being saved by grace, through faith means faith is the aqueduct and grace is the water.  I re-present it, corrected accordingly.

cslink on Catholic Answer Forums, in a thread about the role of works in our salvation, brought up an analogy of a pipe with water representing grace and faith. I will take this one step further.

Consider a pipe (or aqueduct) which carries water from a source to a destination where it is used to power a device (a water-wheel, an irrigation system, etc.). The device (works) is accomplishing some task helping the town survive. The water (faith grace) enables the device to function properly. The aqueduct (grace faith) makes it possible for the water to be present. And the creator of that aqueduct (God) makes it possible for the town to even have hope of surviving.

So God saves us, by grace, through faith, in (do you have a better preposition?) works. Imagine the scenario above if the aqueduct fell short of the water-wheel: all this water getting to the town but not carrying out its purpose (grace and faith without works). All three parts are necessary for the salvation of the town.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quis docebit doctores?

“The best method for instructing ignorant men in Christian doctrine, one that will bear much fruit is to ask questions in a friendly fashion after the explanation; from this questioning one can learn whether each one understood what he heard or whether the explanation needs repeating. In order that the learner grasp the matter, we must ascertain by questioning whether the one being catechized has understood, and in accordance with his response, we must either explain more clearly and fully or not dwell further on what is known to them etc.”
These are the words of St. Augustine on how best to catechize a man. It sounds like he's advocating examinations, perish the thought!

I read these words in an article by Marlon de la Torre on  Marlon writes about the problems facing catechesis today, including the fact that many catechists in parishes are not well-catechized themselves, and some even have an aversion to the Catechism itself, seeing it as unfit for use in the classroom!

The title of this post — Quis docebit doctores? — is a play on a Latin phrase penned by Juvenal, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" ("Who will guard the guards themselves?")  The title here means, "Who will teach the teachers?"

How can we move from a scissors-and-crayons mode of "faith formation" to a genuine formation of faith which teaches and instructs?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Prayers of the People goes to Steubenville!

My book, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, will be for sale at one of the display tables at the St. John Bosco Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio this week.  24 copies were ordered (although I understand there is a cover defect with a few of them) for Martha Drennan, who will be speaking about magisterial documents.  (I don't know exactly how she will be mentioning my book in her two sessions, but I do quote several Church documents in the book...)

There will also be two talks by Fr. Douglas Martis on the new English translation.  I wish I could be there, but I've got work to do!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back from Pilgrimage, etc.

Sorry for the blog silence.  The internet accessibility in Irondale was poor.  I made it back home on July 10th, safe and sound.  Drove over 2500 miles in a week!

I'm busy at work and at home, and I'm still doing the research-reading for chapter 6 (The Eucharistic Prayer) of The Prayers of the Priest.  I'll get back to blogging more regularly soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 3: Irondale; De Soto Caverns (Morning)

I'm staying in the Irondale area today. Mass and Rosary in the morning, then a visit to De Soto Caverns and Talladega National Forest. I'll be back in Irondale in time for a light dinner before attending a taping of Crossing the Threshold of Hope, hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. We're reading Vita Consecrata.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 2: Cincinnati to Irondale (Evening)

During my drive from Cincinnati to Irondale (photos), I made two noteworthy stops:  in Nashville, the Dominican sisters (photos); in Hanceville, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (photos pending).

The internet connection at the Holiday Inn Express in Irondale leaves much to be desired.  It is not very strong and not very reliable.  Any nearby internet cafés?

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 2: Cincinnati to Irondale (Morning)

Today I am driving from Cincinnati, OH to Irondale, AL.

I'll be stopping in Nashville, TN, to drop off a couple of my books with the Dominican Sisters there (and have lunch too). Their apostolate includes catechesis, so I figured it would be a nice gesture to offer them a couple complimentary copies, and they sounded delighted (on the phone).

I'm also stopping in Hanceville, AL, at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, for Evening Prayer (Vespers) of the Divine Office. I have my Christian Prayer book with me. Another post tonight will showcase photos from the day.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 1: Allentown to Cincinnati (Evening)

I made the 600 mile drive in 10 hours (11am to 9pm) with only two stops:  one at the West Virginia Welcome Center, and the other at exit 178 on I-70 in Ohio to have dinner at a Cracker Barrel and fill up my gas tank.

You can see photos from the drive here, and my attempt at photos of fireworks in Cincinnati here.

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 1: Allentown to Cincinnati (Morning)

Today I am driving from Allentown, PA to Cincinnati, OH.  Ordinarily, I would take the PA Turnpike, but I've driven that way numerous times recently.  So instead, I'm opting for a longer drive with newer scenery and fewer tolls, dipping south into Maryland and West Virginia.  I'll stop at a few scenic overlooks.  Another post tonight will showcase my photos.

Here is a "Driver's Prayer" I found from the Sacred Heart Auto League:
God our Father,
you led Abraham from his home
and guarded him in all of his travels.
Be with us now as we travel
and guard us every mile of our journey.
Help us to be attentive, cautious,
and concerned about our fellow travelers.
Make our highways safe
and keep us from all danger.

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
guide us to our destination
and help us to drive prayerfully and carefully.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Pilgrimage-Vacation Day 0: Allentown

Okay, so I'm not really on pilgrimage yet, just vacation.  I'm driving to Allentown, PA this morning to be with my parents and some of my family for the 4th of July weekend.  But tomorrow I'm beginning my pilgrimage, driving about 9-10 hours to Cincinnati, OH.

I'll be keeping a photo-log (plog?) of my pilgrimage, probably through publicly-shared Facebook photo albums, unless I decide to use Picasa or something like that.

What am I leaving behind?  A house that now has working air conditioning (which it will need for the next several days... it's supposed to hit 90 today and 97 tomorrow!), a fish aptly named Poisson, and a very comfortable bed.  Upon my return, hopefully the A/C will still be working (and the temperature will be lower), the fish will still be alive (I've given it one of those multi-day food thingies), my bed will not have up-and-left, and my wife will be en route from Toronto.

Happy 4th of July!