Sunday, 29 March 2015
Making a difference...
I've been called many things over the years; nutcase, insane, fanatic, most recently "gratuitously nasty," not to mention all the abuse to which I have oft been subjected on account of my appearance, and to each of them there is a degree of truth (albeit I would contend with the word gratuitous). Even so, as Frodo counselled Gollum on the stairs of Cirith Ungol:
"'Don't take names to yourself, Sméagol,' said Frodo. 'It's unwise, whether they are true or false." (The Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter VIII).
Sympathetic readers have even called me a "fool for Christ," or holy fool. Well, this old sinner is flattered by that but I am conscious enough of my own sins of neglect, sloth, wrath and lust to ware of that too. I have, however, consciously endeavoured to make a difference to people's lives and to change their perception of liturgy. In two cases (in present recollection), I have been successful (see here and here). But in most, I have failed. And the reasons for that are obvious.
Liturgy was, until recently, an unfashionable subject. Its practitioners, men like Ronald Silk, Quentin Montgomery-Wright, Mgr Gilbey in his way, and in our own time Rubricarius and Anthony Chadwick, are seen as eccentric and unreasonable, and so long as you keep their kind of liturgical practices in the dark, in a ghetto, the neo-con traddies can happily go on with their votive masses of the Sacred Heart and rosaries recited before a monstrance and treat the "eccentrics" with contempt and suspicion. As Goliath denounced David with lofty disdain so the conventionally wise traditionalist crowd usually laughs in scorn at me and my ideals, and, for my sins, I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of the shoes of any of these great men aforesaid. And in this liturgical ghetto of far-sundered nobodies, because we none of us have the wherewithal and support of the "greats" of Traddieland (I won't name names, but you know who I mean), we stagger on amidst taunts, raspberries, cries of "heresy" and other abuse and enjoying the malefits of our adherence to Tradition and reverence for the Roman Rite. We are proscribed, persecuted and systematically excluded from the debates of our age because our views are irrelevant, our time is at an end.
In my case, my critics are disingenuous. They know in their hearts that my words are those of a true seer but they can't admit this openly because to do so would be to dismantle the Babel Tower around the bishop of Rome they have so carefully constructed and in which the cult of the infallible pope is enshrined. The fact that you can't have Tradition and an infallible magisterium simultaneously (at least under the present conditions) puts them out of reckoning, and the notion that liturgical orthopraxis can be practised in spite of Rome, without deference to Rome (let Rome look to us and learn, not the other way around) is an abomination. And so they make recourse to a kind of cynical self-censorship; they say among themselves, "what Patricius says is wrong and nobody should listen to him," but also, "and nobody does listen to him," and then add "because he is autistic and liturgical minutiae fills some psychological vacuum."
But it takes an aliturgical critic to say this. I say aliturgical because not only is liturgy secondary to modern traditionalists, most of whom have become doctrinal conservatives with a mere preference for the "extraordinary form," but they would even sacrifice what is good and venerable in liturgical tradition for a sense of concord with modern Rome; "offering up," in the spirit of that Ignatian axiom "sentire cum ecclesia," what they might privately find distasteful or irksome in the present in hope of better times to come, perhaps under a more sympathetic pope. This is essentially why the traditionalists find no fault with the liturgical books of 1962, even when they are aware of the reformed nature of those (incomplete) books, and why they all welcomed Summorum Pontificum which enshrined them forever. In their view, liturgical orthopraxis is suspect and abject humiliation before the See of Rome is noble; reverence for and adherence to Tradition for itself alone (as one might love spring groves for themselves and less as kindling) is suspicious and yet reverence for the person of the pope and his infallible authority is the very yardstick of orthodoxy. I humbly contend that this is the very state of mind that wrought all the present woe and that trust in modern Rome will, in the end, only confound you.
Tradition is consequently stifled in traddieland because of their attitude to Rome which has taken on the semblance of virtue. Where before traditionalists were in many ways dissident, they have replaced dissidence with a kind of axiomatic, snivelling sycophancy and a willingness to blindly accept any tenth rate rubbish allowed them by Rome. The anonymous Liturgical Pimpernel epitomised this arrogance; the very same who discredited my writings and those of Rubricarius in all ways that he could, presenting real traditionalism (Evelyn Waugh's kind), which I have ever advocated, in the worst possible light. And this stifling means that traddieland bears fruit only in rottenness and deceit! What passes for liturgy and tradition among these lords of the Roman Rite is, for the most part, dismally and meanly hideous. And worse, where there are some traditionalists with more sense (Mr Di Pippo of the New Liturgical Movement springs to mind), who make some effort at liturgical orthopraxis, their efforts are ostensibly hushed up for fear of some stickler for 1962; the propriety of introducing orthopraxis under the aegis of Summorum Pontificum notwithstanding! The similar case of that Midnight Mass from 2010 in my old parish where my services as "straw subdeacon" were curtly declined springs to mind also.
O me miserum! I say with total confidence and conviction that the Roman Rite is incredibly rich, fecund and has the potential to be truly great once more but there are wicked people deliberately holding it back, and they are NOT Fr Joe Blogs down the road with the altar girls and eucharistic prayer II; those idiots are truly irrelevant. I know we're not in the right season for it but the other day I was reading the antient Roman rite for the Blessing of the Waters on Epiphany Even; a service of incredible beauty and symbolism. With my mind's eye I could see the spectral forms of the bishop in cope with his ministers about him; the ninth lesson at Mattins, a procession in great majesty to the river, the litany, the lessons filled with the music of water and seasoned with salt, of thirst quenched and the glory of the LORD, of the mystic rood wherewith God made sweet the water; the procession of the "godfather" (patrinus) with the cross accompanied by twelve taperers to the bishop, the choir singing Baptizat miles regem, servus Dominum suum, as the bishop plunges the cross into the waters hallowed by Christ's sacred feet in antient days. It brings tears to mine eyes. And if this makes me a "liturgical fetishist," or a "nutcase," or gratuitously nasty then I take those names, given in scorn by the Philistines, with pride.
But the bishop in cope, his ministers, the deacon who chants the gospel in which Christ says that he that believeth on me out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, the taperers, the veiled cross, the thurifer, the acolytes, the choir; they remain spectral forms, all of them ghosts of a dead rite and a Tradition stone dead, and kept from reviving by the true enemies of Tradition: the traditionalists.
In the False Kalendar it is Palm Sunday to-day. I shall refer readers to the greater expertise of Rubricarius for an exposition of what Palm Sunday ought to look like.