Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hobbit sense...

I am delighted that Fr Hunwicke has resumed blogging. I have always enjoyed his blog, full of wit and erudition; the work of a discerning mind and a sharp eye. For long he was one of few blogs worth reading; but I must express my sadness at the tone and quality of many of his latest posts. I daresay that the closer he has moved towards Rome the worse things have gotten (to be Hobbitonian) over at Liturgical Notes. He has declined from the virtues of Anglo-Catholicism to the vices and hackneyed Pope Benedict this, Usus Antiquior that of Traddieland. He has become a RC Traditionalist. Almost I feel as Treebeard did when thinking of the fall of Saruman, a wizard should know better, he does know better, and all that...It doesn't do to be too starry-eyed about Mother Rome, does it? After all, it was Mother Rome that caused all the problems of 20th century liturgy. I am not content to blame scapegoats like Bugnini, who was but a servant or emissary. It was by the exercise of authority, far exceeding the legitimate limits of the Petrine ministry, that the Novus Ordo was ultimately created, and its senior, uglier, sister, the rite of 1962. Essentially by decrees and encyclicals such as Divino Afflatu (now in its centenary), Mediator Dei (1947), Maxima Redemptionis (1955), and Missale Romanum (1969), the Pope established himself master and arbiter of the Sacred Liturgy, and the dispenser of all liturgical law, notwithstanding custom, orthopraxis and the Tradition of our Fathers. This anti-liturgical and anti-traditional mentality, so entrenched in the Papal system as to go unnoticed or explained away by the Traditionalists (or worse, even to be seen as something God-given and necessary in the exercise of Petrine authority; and in defence are invoked previous popes from the history of the Church, such as St Gregory, who organised the Canon Romanus into its present form), is at the heart of the problem, and modern attempts by the Holy See to put the genie back in the lamp (seeing the desolation of their contemporary Liturgy) simply perpetuate the same problem; centralization and meddling, the undermining of episcopal authority over the Liturgy in their own dioceses, etc. I daresay that ineptitude and might-have-beens are the hallmark of the contemporary Roman Church, with millions of aliturgical Roman Catholics and a new translation of an impoverished Missal (which reads much like the bulletin I get every Monday morning at work) as the ultimate legacy of 60 years of Papal misuse of authority.

Does it really matter what the last sentence of Universae Ecclesiae said? It's this kind of Ultramontanism, this legal positivism, which I find so repugnant about modern Roman Catholicism. How can you seriously extricate yourself from an evident liturgical crisis by looking to the same old response, the same old authority, that made up the problem in the first place? It just seems sycophantic, romantic and foolish. Do I have any answers? No, and it's not as if anyone would look here for them.

Who am I to judge, though? I venture to add that the further away from Rome that I have gone, from eccentric Traddie to renegade, looking towards Rome as an ancient home which has since become the abode of dragons, the worse things have gotten here at Liturgiae Causa. This blog is one year old tomorrow. I wonder where I shall be one year from now? Lord grant that I come into that church which is most pleasing to Him. I shall, however, continue to pray for Fr Hunwicke; that he may grow some more Hobbit sense (Hobbits aren't Ultramontane, and even after Aragorn ascended as the new ''holy Roman emperor,'' as it were, none of them fawned over him like Ultramontane types fawn over the pope). As Hamfast (''stay-at-home'') Gamgee might say: ''There's no use joining that Roman church, folk in that church are queer!''


  1. "...It happened, however, that in the carrying out of this task, as a result of an accurate comparison of ancient books, some things have been improved upon and, concerning the rules and rubrics, some points have been more fully and clearly stated. These improvements, however, flowing as it were from the same sources and principles, seem rather to represent and complete the meaning of the rules and rubrics than to introduce anything new."

    Q. Who wrote this (in Latin), when and why?

  2. Patricius, you write ''It was by the exercise of authority, far exceeding the legitimate limits of the Petrine ministry, that the Novus Ordo was ultimately created, and its senior, uglier, sister, the rite of 1962.''
    I humbly beseech you to enlighten me as to how the Missale Romanum 1962 would be ''the senior uglier sister'' of the Novus Ordo MIssae of the evil sisters Paul VI and Annibale Bugnini?
    To keep things very simple here, I submit to you a couple of facts which in themselves suffice to show that the Novus Ordo MIssae is the junior, uglier, deformed step-sister of MIssale Romanum 1962, indeed of the Roman Rite in general: MR 162 contains the Offertorium, Canon Romanus, Sunday orations, proper chants, epistles and gospels identical to the Missals which preceded it; whereas the Novus Ordo has no Offertorium, a dozen recently composed eucharistic prayers, most of scarce quality (of which a mutilated Canon Romanus is the First, but nearly never used!), newly-composed orations, folks songs to replace the proper chants which survive only in the NO liturgy of a few monasteries, and a whole new three -year cycle of readings. HOw, in the light of these substantial differences, can you seriously claim that MR 1962 be the uglier sister of the Novus Ordo MIssae?
    Resectfully dissenting from your statement, Albertus

  3. Sorry, my English is poor.

    The recent document Universiae Ecclesiae, which you have treated with a lot of roughness, is not a proper solution for the liturgical disaster of the Catholic Church (how could it ever be?), evidently, it is only an timid attempt to reconciliate cristians. Naturraly an attempt which must be put forth by the Pope only in the same fashion as Clement interposed His authority among the corinthians. A curious example of very early ultamontanism!!

    Before 2007 the Usus Antiquior Mass was, perhaps, celebrated in England because of the permission bestowed by Pope Paul VI on the bishops of your country. However, jump out of the narrow limits of your (so full of common-sense) Shire and contemplate the situation in the southern and warmer Ithilien, the desolated and depopulated liturgical celebrations in Spain. "The old Mass was never forbidden" reminds us the Motu Proprio and the Universiae Ecclesiae. NEVER?! O yes, in Spain the Old Rite was totally erased from the face of the Church and grievously persecuted in homilies, sermons,predications of whatever nature during decades up to the point of creating an irrational sense of animadversion in almost every catholic mind in my country.

    The Motu and the Instruction, on the other hand, procclaim the liberty of those who confess God to ask for the Form of the Rite more in accordance with the Glory of God. What is more, both documents enrich the Church endowing Her with treasures of piety which had been prohibited for decades. (Another rare example of Ultramontanism in execution!!)

    In consequence, the exccess of liberty you take to classify "The liturgical books of 1962", "Summorum pontificum", "The Latin Mass society" as bad things seems to me the capricious complains of a baby who is satiated with its mother's milk.

    Another advantage of both documents is that the progressive instauration of Italian as the official lenguage in spanish seminaries has been avoided (it is not totally a jest). There are no spanish priest consecrated during the last three decades capable of fulfill the conditions required by the Instruction to celebrate Usus Antiquior.

  4. I read your blog with increasing pain and concern for you. Your knowledge of liturgical history is much greater than mine, and your ability to express your dissatisfaction, sometimes desperation, at the present liturgical situation, is very impressive. It takes some courage to expose one's pain so publicly, and I sympathise more deeply than you can know. However, Patrick, not only in liturgy, but in every aspect of our life, we cannot be a christian alone. You so often seem to be painting yourself into a corner of isolation, by condemning or ranting against persons, situations, and institutions which you have no power or authority to change. Tell the truth as you know it when you must. Teach while there are any who will listen while you can. But why do you waste your energy in public attacks on Papal authority, or traddies, while you still believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the effective worship of Her Liturgy? While it is performed by humans on this earth, it will always be a very imperfect, and a disruptive nuisance to the Angels and Saints in their Eternal and Heavenly Liturgy.
    We all have to live with the imperfections of others; even sometimes with our own.

  5. Patricius: Does it really matter what the last sentence of Universae Ecclesiae said? It's this kind of Ultramontanism, this legal positivism, which I find so repugnant about modern Roman Catholicism.

    Like it or loathe it, legal positivism was the only avenue available to B XVI. Motu and instructions are the only way to bring the traditional liturgy and faith into the mainstream of the Church. Pope Benedict (and hopefully his successor) will let the traditional Romans evolve "organically" and without any further positivist dictates to modify liturgy.

    I am more bothered by the "liturgical positivism" that has plagued the Church for most of the 20th century. So many traditional Catholics today are very pessimistic about Low Mass and old devotional practices, such as the silent recitation of the rosary at a said Mass. The Novus Ordo notion that everyone must do the same thing at the same time is a-historical. The Orthodox walk all about the church during the offices and Divine Liturgy, lighting candles and venerating icons. What will regenerate Catholicism is a reclaiming of older forms of piety as not only acceptable but worthy of inclusion in an organically-developing liturgy. Forcing everyone to stick their nose in a hand missal is no better than loud obnoxious cantors at the OF.

    Let's celebrate diverse forms of piety, and not forget that liturgical positivism can be as deadly as legal positivism.


  6. Neither legislation nor instruction are necessary, or desirable, when it comes to liturgy. Traditional liturgy and faith—‘Orthodoxy’ in both its meanings—have always been found in the “mainstream” of the Church; indeed, they may be considered the very definition of the Church. For hundreds of years, Roman Catholicism has not exhibited such characteristics and that for a simple reason: the Roman Patriarchate separated itself from the Church about a millennium ago.

    Roman Catholic “traditionalists” have no interest whatsoever in the “organic” development of liturgy; they rely solely on the dictates of their demigod in Rome. When they do not like such dictates, they invent multiple casuistic ways to circumvent them.

    Catholics are quite right to be “pessimistic” about ‘Low Mass’; it is a liturgical absurdity.

    Among us—the Orthodox—one may, indeed, often observe the phenomenon of members of the faithful wandering around the temple, lighting candles and venerating icons during services. In my experience, it is usually the ‘semi-pious’ latecomers who do such things. Pious Orthodox—who turn up at the beginning of services and stay to the end—tend to frown upon such behaviour. The Old Believers actually find such antics scandalous. In the Old Rite—by which I mean that form of worship generally used in Russia before the “reforms” of Patriarch Nikon in the middle of the seventeenth century, not some Roman obscenity from the 1960s—posture, action and general deportment in church are specified down to the smallest detail. Here are some quotations from Nikita Simmons—taken from , where he outlines “significant differences in the manner of worship between the Russian Old and New Rites”:

    “The Sign of the Cross, bows and prostrations are done at their appointed places during the services, according to a strictly disciplined tradition of performing such actions all together as a single body of worshippers (and without variation in the manner in which they are done)… There is a great focus on communal prayer (sobornost'), with the individual losing his/her ‘separateness’ during the public worship services. During the services we partake in the ‘Mystery of Unity’ and experience the fullness of being members of the Church as the Body of Christ… Good order (blagochinie), discipline and decorum are maintained during the services, and distracting behavior [sic] is not tolerated. Children are taught to adhere to this ordered behavior [sic] from the time they are able to stand in church with their parents… Old Ritualists seek their path to Salvation through conformity to well-established ‘iconic’ principles and methods of living, especially family life or monasticism -- both methods of living focus upon taking one's place in a unified community. Orderly, obedient and humble ways of thinking are emphasized. Practical vocational skills are valued above theoretical knowledge... All children are taught (usually at home) to read Church Slavonic as soon as they are able to read.”

    So, how is it that the “notion that everyone must do the same thing at the same time is a-historical”?

    The only way that we might see Roman Catholicism transform and “regenerate” itself is if it were to renounce its heresies. Such an action could lead to its final reconciliation with the Church.

    Our Orthodox laity do not use books in church; and yet, sometimes our cantors are loud!

    Finally, any form of legislation concerning liturgy is bound to end in disaster. Papists really ought to have learned this lesson by now; we Orthodox should be taking note!