Seeking to Rescue the ‘Hermeneutic of Continuity’

From Pray Tell reader Jonathan Day: “Seeking to Rescue the ‘Hermeneutic of Continity’.”

61 comments

  1. Excellent analysis and interpretation, Jonathan. Thought you might also like this link to a current dotCommonweal post by Rev. J. Komonchak on like theme:

    http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=16479#comments

    Highlights from B16:

    “It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

    Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

    Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance – a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

    These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might
    emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after
    the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.
    It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.

    On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.”

    So, what you begin with is the SSPX defining Tradition; and yet, the church believes that even Tradition must be open to the “Verbum Dei.” So, you have a tension between SSPX’s basing everything upon the magisterium (defined as the message) and questioning Vatican II and the four popes since because they interpret their pronouncements as a “medium” that changes/alters the message. Example would be that one position holds that liturgy expresses the “mystery of God” (unchanging) but its forms, expressions, etc. can develop and change….yet, some (SSPX) seem to have seized upon the Trentan Reforms as unchanging Tradition and forms, expressions, prayers that change “disrupt” the continuity. (Note – they seem to skip over the fact that any dogma or truth developed from the apostolic period – it was not born fully alive and in dogmatic language).

  2. Egads, Jonathan! I shuddered when you brought up limits — flashbacks to elementary calculus! 🙁

    An analogy of limits fits the relationship between the Tridentine and postconciliar liturgies well. Perhaps layers of continuity, full discontinuity, and mending discontinuities course through liturgical change.

    Bl. John XXIII’s deletion of the baptismal slur horresce Judaicam (4) reminds me that some discontinuity is imperative and just. As I understand from your work, non-discontinuity is sometimes acquiescence to violence. A number of traditionalists prefer the pre-1955 Triduum. Even this most visually beautiful liturgy must be abandoned if those who practice it are unwilling to reform liturgy in justice.

    I have often wished to write a paper on traditional/ist Catholic spirituality. I strongly suspect, but would need to prove, that many traditional/ists are not necessarily attracted to the EF liturgical text but rather its praxis of silent reflection. Tra le sollecitudini does not preclude interior participation. I, and perhaps other Catholics, find great discontinuity and even deep frustration with “turn and greet your neighbor”, constant loud responses, and intrusive cantors. Supporters of liturgical reform not infrequently spurn an introverted spirituality. Instead a number of liturgists repeatedly insist that liturgical extroversion is the only path to spiritual growth.

    An indult to say the OF ad orientem entirely from the altar in either Latin or the vernacular, as well as optional prayers at the foot of the altar and an optional silent Canon, might mend discontinuity with many disaffected traditional Catholics.

  3. I think you have under-estimated “hermeneutic”‘s role in the phrase. In interpreting magisterial teaching, it is important to believe in continuity even when there is apparent or real discontinuity. Talk of a complete break, and dwelling on that break, is a hermeneutic of discontinuity, something that should be avoided.

    A mathematic analogy might be a function that is continuous in 3 dimensions, but not in 2. Your fingers might look like 4 discrete circles in 2 dimensions, but they are connected in 3. An interpretation that fixates on just 2 dimensions would see only discontinuity. An interpretation that seeks what is continuous might grasp that fingers can work together and so are coordinated on another level

  4. Jim, you and I are saying something similar. I wrote that the y axis should be looked at as “a composite indicator of liturgical praxis”. Think about a vector function,

    r(x) = {sin(x), tan(x)}

    You can see graphs of each dimension of r by clicking: sin(x) tan(x).

    The first dimension of r is continuous over the real numbers, the second is not.

    I agree that there should be a preference for continuity when we interpret magisterial teaching, as well as a sense that the things that can be preserved, will be. 

    But interpretation is about choices – which dimensions will be continuous and which will not, what aspects of the rite will be preserved and what will be changed. A liturgical hermeneutic should provide guidance in making those choices. ‘Continuity’ doesn’t do that. I think that is one reason why it has been insufficient to resolve tensions among traditionalists.

    An example of a hermeneutic that does provide such a guide is the one set out by Aidan Kavanagh in Elements of Rite (Pueblo, 1982). A brief excerpt:

    The holy table is the physical focal point of every eucharistic place. It must never be overpowered by decorative architecture or suspended crosses; never compromised by the proximity of other major objects such as chair, tabernacle or baptismal font … Altar ornaments such as candlesticks … crosses, and the like must be scaled to the table and are best removed when the table is not in use. … The space around it should be flat and adequate to accommodate numbers of people and without complicated risers which endanger access and render the space fussy.

    You may disagree with this – it would clash with the ‘liturgical eye candy’ on some websites – but at least it is clear what Kavanagh recommends, and (if you read the rest of the book) why he does so.

    1. Benedict spoke of a hermeneutic of continuity in his apostolic exhortation attaching it to:
      The Synod of Bishops was able to evaluate the reception of the renewal in the years following the Council. There were many expressions of appreciation. The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it was affirmed, cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored. Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities.

      This is not something most traditionalists, let alone SSPX, would accept. The mass of Paul VI is in continuity with that of Pius V. Difficulties and abuses cannot overshadow the liturgical renewal.

      Unfortunately The HofC is taken to mean that the liturgical renewal was improper and continuity needs to be restored. That is a hermeneutic of rupture, which Benedict repudiated in 2005.

      How effective is a HofC for guiding a reform of the liturgy? Probably not very. Even a hermeneutic of reform does not provide guiding principles for choosing among alternatives. But these hermeneutics are critical to assessing changes.

      1. re: Jonathan Day on January 3, 2012 – 6:28 am

        Later in this thread, you and Henry Edwards discuss derivation and limit. Edwards notes that a derivative, the direction of a point on the liturgical hermeneutical curve, might better describe liturgical change. While I agree with you Jonathan that derivative of a continuous curve does not negate its continuity. derivative nevertheless has its place. Your quotation of Aidan Kavanagh’s “hermeneutic of ‘altar’ ” suggests that the practice of the altar, and not just its placement or decoration, influences the way in which different derived points will direct themselves. Merely placing a priest on one or the other side of the altar will likely cause immediate polarization. Yes, the liturgy said on that altar is in theological continuity with the Roman tradition. The change in praxis, in derivative, can be disruptive without a break in the liturgical hermeneutical function.

        re: Jim McKay on January 3, 2012 – 9:10 am

        Jim: Unfortunately The HofC is taken to mean that the liturgical renewal was improper and continuity needs to be restored. That is a hermeneutic of rupture, which Benedict repudiated in 2005.

        In my experience, traditionally minded priests do follow the liturgical hermeneutical “function” in so far as they affirm the orthodoxy of the reformed rites. Some “traditional” clerics dislike or even reject the derivative aspects which many conflate with the renewal of liturgical text. Ad orientem, lay posture, plainsong, rails, kneeling communion — none of these are in theological rupture with the reformed liturgical-theological curve. Yet, all of these choices frustrate many who have advanced more radical reforms for decades.

      2. re: Jordan Zarembo on January 3, 2012 – 2:45 pm

        With apology Jonathan, I should have mentioned your observation on page 3. There, you have noted that changes in liturgical practice is also continuous despite changes in style of celebration. I consider this comment to be in line with Henry Edwards’ comment on derivation. Even so, it is difficult to disambiguate theological orthodoxy and practice.

  5. Jim has pointed out something important: championing a “hermeneutic of continuity” is not to oppose the Council, but to defend it from the false notion that it represented a rupture. That does not necessarily mean wanting things to LOOK unchanged, though B16 seems tempted in that direction.

    BTW -Is a “mathematical” approach to theologizing in our time in continuity with the rather “legal” expressions of the ancient and modern Roman Church? : ) (Just saying).

  6. Jonathan, one might note a possible difference between mathematical and theological continuity. Whereas mathematical continuity of a function f would ordinarily require that the one-sided limits of the function at every point a both equal the its value f(a) there, this seems unimportant for theological continuity. Perhaps the actual state of the Church at the very “moment” of Vatican II is irrelevant to any discussion of its continuity.

    And in regard to the liturgy, one might argue (though you do not) that the discontinuity that occurred was not in its value but in its derivative, its direction. Of course, the pun intended here is the sole raison d’etre for this trivial comment.

  7. Henry — you are exactly right, and I don’t think your comment is trivial.

    The analogy to the derivative in this debate, I guess, would be this idea of “organic” continuity, the idea that Vatican II and Consilium changed the liturgy faster they should have and that the postconciliar changes were “inorganic” or “manufactured”. I find this unconvincing. There were all sorts of changes and variations before Trent, and throughout the first part of the 20th century. The Tridentine notion of a single unchanging Missal was, oddly enough, “modern”, because it relied on the new printing technology.

    In both liturgy and mathematics, I don’t think that the derivative makes a difference to continuity. Yes, there have been times when things changed more quickly — not just after Vatican II but at various times throughout history. That in itself doesn’t take away continuity. Even a folky guitar Mass is “in continuity” with a Tridentine pontifical Mass. The Lefebvrists would deny this, of course; but they would also deny that the ordinary form Latin Mass at the Brompton Oratory is “in continuity”.

    Mark, yes, you are right — the original purpose of the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ idea was to counter the Lefebvrists.

    1. “The Tridentine notion of a single unchanging Missal was, oddly enough, “modern”, because it relied on the new printing technology.”

      Yes, plus the nascent powers of centralization it enabled. It was ultimately the product of a modern, rationalist impulse. But it didn’t exactly work out as intended: it took several generations for various Tridentine reforms to be successfully promulgated and implemented at the local level in many areas, since kings could interpose themselves and many did.

  8. We have had some of this debate on this blog before. In fact, B16 never used the phrase – “hermeneutic of continuity”…..he used “hermeneutic of reform within continuity”. Some did reference a footnote published after his speech which used this phrase but that was based upon a specific translation in Italian (the latin published speech did not translate that phrase in the same way)

    By Rev. Komanchak on this “hermeneutic” question:

    http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=1158

    Highlights:

    – “Here the Pope did describe two hermeneutics of the Council, a hermeneutics of discontinuity or rupture and a hermeneutics of reform. The names he gave to the two trends are odd, I think: to discontinuity one would expect to see continuity counterposed, but that is not what the Pope did and I think that the reason for this is that in his explanation of reform, his stress falls on all that had to be rethought and restated when it came to the Church’s relationship to the world. In other words, the very notion of “reform” involves some degree of discontinuity.

    Sandro Magister and others expected that in this address the Pope would confirm the criticisms of the five-volume History of Vatican II, edited by Giuseppe Alberigo, of which I am the editor of the English version. This project was criticized for placing the two popes of Vatican II, John XXIII and Paul VI, in tension or even opposition to one another; for relying too much on unofficial sources; and for neglecting the conciliar texts in favor of “the spirit of Vatican II” and of the event-character of the Council, that is, its discontinuity with previous moments of Church history.”

    1. Bill,

      The word “hermeneutic” is a neologism (-1800) based on the Greek god Hermes. I suspect the latinists did not want add the word to their lexicon and reverted to “explicationis continuationis” as equivalent meaning, though hermeneutic was added by 2010’s apostolic exhortation on the Word of God. The note does refer to the 2005 Christmas speech, so the phrase is explicitly used in the context of the phrase “hermeneutics of discontinuity and reform.”

      1. agree, Jim…my point was that he never explicitly said – hermeneutic of continuity.

        Yet, that phrase has been put forth to justify much of the “reform of the reform” as if B16’s intention is to move in that direction. It thus becomes a neoolgism that justifies almost anything the Fr. Zs of this world want to put under that rubric.

      2. Bill, I don’t think you do agree. The Pope did use the phrase, in a Latin translation in Sacramentum Caritas. That’s what Jeffrey Pinyan, myself, and now (as best I can tell) Jim have been trying to tell you.

      3. Sacramentum Caritatis has “explicationis continuationis” in Latin where the modern languages use forms of hermeneutic. Bill is correct that the Latin does not use hermeneutic. I think that is because hermeneutic is not a Latin word (though Pius XI used it), not the reason Bill is offering.

        Because the footnote refers to the 2005 Curia speech, I think it is clear that he means “hermeneutic of continuity.” And aBenedict pplies it to a defense of the post Vatican II liturgy, Sorry if that was not clear.

  9. Specific to the “hermeneutic” about liturgy from a 2007 America article by Rev. Komonchak”

    Ratzinger Junior on liturgical reform at Vatican II
    April 26, 2007, 1:07 pm
    Posted by Joseph A. Komonchak

    After each of the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, Joseph Ratzinger published a pamphlet with reflections on the events and achievements of that session. These were then gathered together and translated into English as Theological Highlights of Vatican II (New York: Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966).
    Given the discussion in several threads of the possible action of Pope Benedict XVI with regard to the Tridentine Rite, some may find it interesting to know how the young conciliar peritus saw the question of liturgy at the time. (Page numbers are given from that English edition.)
    In his review of the first session, he had a number of comments:
    “The decision to begin with the liturgy schema was not merely a technically correct6 move. Its significance went far deeper. This decision was a profession of faith in what is truly central to the Church–the ever-renewed marriage of the Church wi8th her Lord, actualized in the eucharistic mystery where the Church, participating in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fulfills its innermost mission, the adoration of the triune God. Beyond all the superficially more important issues, there was here a profession of faith in the true source of the Church’s life, and the proper point of departure for all renewal. The text did not restrict itself to mere changes in individual rubrics, but was inspired from this profound perspective of faith. The text implied an entire ecclesiology and thus anticipated … the main theme of the entire Council–its teaching on the Church. Thus the Church was freed from the ‘hierarchological’ Congar) narrowness’ of the last hundred years, and returned to its sacramental origins” (14).
    Ratzinger pointed to five important elements in the liturgical schema. (1) “the return to Christian origins and the pruning of certain accretions that often enough concealed the original liturgical nucleus; examples: priority of Sunday over saints’ days; of mystery over devotion, of “simple structure over the rank growth of forms”; “defrosting’ of ritual rigidity; restoration of the liturgy of the Word; “the dialogical nature of the whole liturgical celebration and its essence as the common service of the People of God; “reduction in the status of private Masses in favor of emphasis on greater communal participation.”
    (2) a stronger emphasis on the Word as an element of equal value with the sacrament:” new arrangement of biblical readings.
    (3) “a more active participation of the laity, the inclusion of the whole table-fellowship of God in the holy action”.
    (4) “the decentralization of liturgical legislation,” which represents “a fundamental innovation.” Conferences of bishops now will have responsibility for liturgical laws in their own regions and this, “not by delegation from the Holy See, but by virtue of their own independent authority.” This is to introduce “a new element in the Church’s structure, … a kind of quasi-synodal agency between individual bishops and the pope. This decision may even have “more significance fore the theology of the episcopacy and for the long desired strengthening of episcopal power than anything in the ‘Constitution on the Church.’”
    (5) the language of the liturgy. Behind this vigorous debate lay the need for a “new confrontation between the Christian mind and the modern mind. For it can hardly be denied that the sterility to which Catholic theology and philosophy had in many ways been doomed since the end of the Enlightenment was due not least to a language in which the living choices of the human mind no longer found a place. Theology often bypassed new ideas, was not enriched by them and remained unable to transform them” (14-18).
    In a talk delivered in October 1964, Ratzinger remarked “that the first real task of the Council was to overcome the indolent, euphoric feeling that all was well with the Church, and to bring into the open the problems smoldering within” (83). An example was the question of the liturgy, which represented a “profound crisis in the life of the Church.” Its roots lay back in the late Middle Ages, when “awareness of the real essence of Christian worship increasingly vanished. Great importance was attached to externals, and these choked out the whole.” Trent’s reaction to Reformation challenges was inadequate, even if it eliminated a number of abuses. It did not sufficiently deal with Reformation difficulties with the notions of adoration and sacrifice. It did cut back the medieval overgrowth and took measures to prevent it in the future. But the main measure was to centralize liturgical authority in the Congregation of Rites.
    “New overgrowths were in fact prevented, but the fate of liturgy in the West was now in the hands of a strictly centralized and purely bureaucratic authority. This authority completely lacked historical perspective; it viewed the liturgy solely in terms of ceremonial rubrics, treating it as a kind of problem of proper court etiquette for sacred matters. This resulted in the complete archaizing of the liturgy, which now passed from the stage of living history, became embalmed in the status quo and was ultimately doomed to internal decay. The liturgy had become a rigid, fixed and firmly encrusted system; the more out of touch with genuine piety the more attention was paid to its prescribed forms. We can see this if we remember that none of the saints of the Catholic Reformation drew their spirituality from the liturgy….
    “The baroque era adjusted to this situation by super-imposing a kind of para-liturgy on the archeologized actual liturgy. Accompanied by the splendor of orchestral performance, the baroque high Mass became a kind of sacred opera in which the chants of the priest functioned as a kind of periodic recitative. The entire performance seemed to aim at a kind of festive lifting of the heart, enhanced by the beauty of a celebration appealing to the eye and ear. On ordinary days, when such display was not possible, the Mass was frequently covered over with devotions more attractive to the popular mentality. Even Leo XIII recommended that the rosary be recited during Mass in the month of October. In practice this meant that while the priest was busy with his archeologized liturgy, the people were busy with their devotions to Mary. They were united with the priest only by being in the same church with him and by entrusting themselves to the sacred power of the eucharistic sacrifice” (85-86).
    After the baroque period, it was clear that the efforts of the Congregation of Rites had resulted in the total impoverishment of the liturgy. If the Church’s worship was once again to become the worship of the Church in the fullest sense-i.e., of all the faithful-then it had to become something in movement again. The wall of Latinity had to be breached if the liturgy were again to function either as proclamation or as invitation to prayer… It was now clear that behind the protective skin of Latin lay hidden something that even Trent’s cutting away of late medieval ornamentations had failed to remove. The simplicity of the liturgy was still overgrown with superfluous accretions of purely historical value. It was now clear, for example, that the selection of biblical texts had frozen at a certain point and hardly met the needs of preaching. The next step was to recognize that the necessary revamping could not take place simply through purely stylistic modifications, but also required a new theology of divine worship. Otherwise the renewal would be no more than superficial” (87).
    His concluding comments: “If we view the Council’s initiatives for liturgical reform in their historical context, then we may well consider them a basic reversal. The value of the reform will of course substantially depend on the post-conciliar commission of Cardinal Lercaro and what it is able to achieve3. The problems and hopes of liturgical reform anticipate some of the crucial problems and hopes of ecclesiastical reform in general. Will it be possible to bring contemporary man into new contact with the Church, and through the Church into new contact with God? Will it be possible to minimize centralism without losing unity? Will it be possible to make divine worship the starting point ofr a new understanding among Christians? These three questeions represent three hopes, all bound up with liturgical reform, and all in line with the basic intentions of the recent Council” (88).

  10. With all due respect to mathematical formulations to illustrate what is involved in continuities and discontinuities, this whole matter can be spoken of in much simpler and more direct ways.
    When the council of Jerusalem agreed that gentile converts could be co-heirs with the children of Abraham to God’s promises, that was radical discontinuity or radical reform depending on which word you prefer. Or how about the many centuries which elapsed before one could reasonably claim that there are just seven sacraments and that one of them was matrimony. Or how about the decision of presumably apostolic successors to provide for presbyters who could act in the person of the bishop by presiding at the Eucharist as required by a need to celebrate it in more than one location in a given area? Only “overseers” and “prophets” could previously preside. By the way, whatever happened to those prophets?
    Isn’t the real problem here a fixed vs. a developing ecclesiology. The SSPX folks follow a fellow who believed that the Pope (and his three successors) and the Fathers of Vatican II erred when they inaugurated certain changes based on their understanding of those 16 documents. This includes fantastic claims such as there can be only one Roman Canon, the one included in the 1962 Missal and its forerunners. Its other wild claims include that the Mass must be celebrated ad orientam and with soto voce. Or that it makes sense to celebrate the Mass as a sort of grand theater piece around the musical compositions of the great masters. Worse, they would appear to defend the notion that when a Mass is offered for a specific deceased person their soul can be plucked from purgatory in a quince. Why would we want to give these schismatics such power? To maintain an appearance of unity?
    Vatican II made a valiant effort to convert an institutional church preoccupied with its prerogatives and clerical privilege into a vibrant faith community proclaiming Good News to all the world.

    1. Worse, they would appear to defend the notion that when a Mass is offered for a specific deceased person their soul can be plucked from purgatory in a quince. Why would we want to give these schismatics such power?

      Jack, the teaching of the Church is not the schismatic heresy of the SSPX.

    2. And it was those prophets and teachers who performed the laying on of the hands on Paul in Acts 13:1-3 and not overseers (bishops) or presbyters (elders)!

  11. As a social scientist, I see overwhelming continuity in Catholicism. I would define Catholicism as consisting of its members (human capital) its institutions (social capital) and its values and beliefs (cultural capital).

    While its human capital is constantly changing as people are baptized and die, there is overwhelming continuity in that there is usually great agreement about who is and who is not a Catholic. Social scientists don’t find it difficult to identify Catholics. Of course, people from time to time introduce a hermeneutic of discontinuity by claiming that certain people are not really Catholics, but that is an external conceptual scheme used to deal with change.

    Similarly with regard to institutions great and small, there is overwhelming continuity despite constant change. Parishes, dioceses, religious orders, etc come and go, rise and decline. I could as a social scientist impose an external hermeneutic of discontinuity by defining “Roman” Catholicism as beginning when “international” structures begin to emerge such as religious orders that had authority over individual monasteries, and the Roman curia which had greater authority over individual dioceses. However that is an external conceptual scheme, a hermeneutic of discontinuity, perhaps useful for understanding and ordering change. There is overwhelming continuity even with constant changes within that continuity.

    Similarly with regard to the cultural capital of Catholicism. There has been overwhelming continuity in Scripture, liturgical texts, spiritual texts (patristic writings, etc) music, architect, etc but also with constant change as some elements of that cultural capital get either greater or lesser emphasis. Again one can introduce hermeneutics of discontinuity (the rise of monasticism, mendicant orders, active religious orders) that help order and understand change but there is overwhelming continuity plus constant change.

  12. I never really thought of the dialogue Mass and the early 20th Century trend to encourage people to follow along to be steps towards the Novus Ordo (or as something unique to the OF that could nowadays “mutually enrich” the EF). I often get the impression that some people feel the exclusion of the laity is some special feature of the EF that is so integral to it that it cannot be overcome or changed without essentially destroying the missal.

    I see those earlier movements (and even the earlier reforms of the 60’s, like vernacular and the addition of more options) as natural developments of the EF that should have remained in effect under the indult and SP. Conversely, I see many of the efforts to “reform the reform” to be less natural. It’s like the difference between updating and adding onto a grand old house to fit modern needs vs. tearing it down and then trying to make the new house look like an old one – the latter is a lot harder to do than the former.

    I think the OF’s continuity problem doesn’t come from its multiple options and contemporary celebrations – it comes from the OF being formed in such a way that it can’t really be celebrated in a traditional manner without it being perceived as “dressing it up’ to look like something it is not (the old Mass).

    1. Jack Wayne on January 6, 2012 – 12:38 am

      Jack: Conversely, I see many of the efforts to “reform the reform” to be less natural. It’s like the difference between updating and adding onto a grand old house to fit modern needs vs. tearing it down and then trying to make the new house look like an old one – the latter is a lot harder to do than the former.

      The “interim” reforms of the 1960s, as well as the 1970 Missal, shared a similar schedule of liturgical change and some hermeneutical commonalities with the EF dialog Mass. Different psychological and sociological methodologies developed from the 1970 Missal. I have previously commented that I do not understand emotion in liturgy. Unless I appear disturbed (some might think this anyway despite my protestations), I try my best to practice charity, filial love, and selflessness.

      Perhaps it is better to discuss the difference between the role of the congregation in the EF and the assembly in the OF. This difference is not “emotional”. I have often thought that while persons worship at the EF, people worship at the OF. An EF dialogue Mass is the verbal prayer of individuals praying along with the priest, but in the OF the “assembly” forms a constitutive and integral part of the Mass. The assembly role is as necessary as the role of the “presider-priest”. If a person says that the new translation of the OF “doesn’t speak to me”, then he or she has lost their place in the indispensable role of “assembly”. The EF, as “worship of persons”, does not know of an assembly. Textual alienation is irrelevant within the context of the EF.

  13. Jack, thanks for interesting observations. I think you are saying that the OF and EF are fundamentally different, i.e. that there is a basic “continuity problem” and that, no matter how you adjust the OF (the new house) you can never get fully close to the EF (the old one). This is the same point that the Lefebvrists make.

    Jordan, I thought this comment was simply brilliant:

    I have often thought that while persons worship at the EF, people worship at the OF. An EF dialogue Mass is the verbal prayer of individuals praying along with the priest, but in the OF the “assembly” forms a constitutive and integral part of the Mass. The assembly role is as necessary as the role of the “presider-priest”. If a person says that the new translation of the OF “doesn’t speak to me”, then he or she has lost their place in the indispensable role of “assembly”. The EF, as “worship of persons”, does not know of an assembly. Textual alienation is irrelevant within the context of the EF.

    Thank you for this.

    I will add that, if I were Pope and somehow came to believe that ‘the EF, as “worship of persons”, does not know of an assembly’ I would immediately forbid its use, without exception, revoking Summorum Pontificum and everything associated with it.

    1. re: Jonathan Day on January 6, 2012 – 6:16 am

      Thank you, Jonathan. I have enjoyed all of your papers and posts. Your explanation of limits in this particular paper was well within my mental limit, given again that I am not a mathematical mind.

      One day, perhaps later this year after I hopefully get my ABD, I will present a counter-argument to your final paragraph. I have to go back and read Philip Rieff, among others. I am convinced that the diametrical opposite of your conviction is a better explanation. I am not at all convinced that assembly as I have described is congruent with the culture, liturgy, and theology of apostolic Christianity. In fact, I wish to prove that today’s notion of assembly is a very recent and alien construction. Opinion is irrelevant. I will have to present my case in a paper sometime.

  14. Emotion is perhaps the most developed part of human reason, as neurologists are repeatedly emphasizing these days. Much of what passes for logical reason is a reverse-engineered Potemkin village for conclusions we have already arrived at via the emotions, which represent our cumulative reflection upon and anaylsis of our successes, mistakes and failures – basically, it’s the work of dopamine neurons. Emotions contribute powerfully to wisdom. (In other words, the ancient Greek dichotomous model of emotions as wild horses needing to be ridden by “reason” is deeply flawed.) The moral brain requires the emotional brain, because moral decisions are rooted in the emotional brain. (Psychopaths, by contrast, typically have damage in their amygdala, the brain area responsible for producing aversive emotions such as fear and anxiety, so they commit crimes because their emotions never tell them not to.)

    To segregate emotions from the liturgy is deeply against the very way God created us. That doesn’t mean they have exclusive purchase on the liturgy, to be sure. But they belong there as part of the intended wholeness of our being that is being divinized.

    1. Karl Liam Saur on January 6, 2012 – 7:42 am

      Karl, I could weave you a spiel about the way in which emotion should lead to reason. Rather, I am only prejudiced, a snob. David Keirsey might say that my ‘F’ is on life support. I have a strong skepticism about judgments drawn not from empirical investigation. Estimations of texts, rituals, and cultural activities solely from an emotional and subjective standpoint strike me as irresponsible. If one does not comprehend something, should not he or she wish to learn what is not immediately apprehensible? For many, the new translation is simply not liked and not worth investigating, end stop. A priest could offer to compare the new translation against the Latin down to the last et and an. He might also discuss new translation’s theological import. Many would turn him down for no explanation at all.

      Part of my research will ask: Should the liturgical, philological, and theological import of the Mass be tempered by human feelings such as superficial acquaintanceship and therapeutic interjections by presiders, even if doing so might obscure aspects of the sacrificial and eucharistic ritual? The Tridentine ritual has no gesture of peace or chatty interludes, and yet corporate worship had persisted throughout that era, if not an assembly per academic liturgical ideology. Should not the Mass itself provide consolation as the Sacrifice and Banquet? Or, perhaps, is there a need or greater awareness in the postmodern age for therapeutic liturgy that did not exist in previous eras? These questions are important for understanding “assembly”.

      1. Jordan

        Love cannot be empirically proved except by gaming it into a tautology. Start from there.

      2. re: Karl Liam Saur on January 6, 2012 – 11:36 am

        What you say is quite true. For many, emotion is intuitive — and how blessed are those who know how to manifest selflessness and genuine concern for others in word and gesture! I have had to learn even the most basic human social gestures as if one would study a school subject. When I say, though, that “I am a snob”, I only do so out of self-examination. I wish to show, that desite my shortcomings, I am trying to understand the way in which persons and people worship. Even that gesture might not be sufficient, but at least it is a demonstration of honesty.

  15. Jordan, there are two related questions here:

    First, is it true that,

    while persons worship at the EF, people worship at the OF. An EF dialogue Mass is the verbal prayer of individuals praying along with the priest, but in the OF the “assembly” forms a constitutive and integral part of the Mass. … The EF, as “worship of persons”, does not know of an assembly.

    Second, is “assembly”, as you have described it, “congruent with the culture, liturgy, and theology of apostolic Christianity”?

    On the first, PTB readers have a wealth of experience and there is plenty of commentary to look at. Some of it supports your claim unequivocally, stating that the people are virtually irrelevant to what is going on at the altar. In Worship as a Revelation (Burns & Oates, 2008) Laurence Hemming criticises Pius X for encouraging the faithful to receive frequent communion; in his view the liturgical rupture started at the beginning of the 20th century rather than after Vatican II.

    The voice-over in this video from the FSSP, the non-schismatic Tridentine community, seems to support your idea that the EF “does not know of an assembly”. I have transcribed the first moments:

    As the priest begins his entrance into the sanctuary, he does so in silence, preceded by the server, who represents in a way the help that all of the faithful want to give to support the priest in his awesome task and responsibility.

    The nave represents those who have come in from the world, to seek what God alone can give them. The altar rail represents the barrier, the chasm that exists between our sinfulness and the holiness and majesty of God.

    The priest is the one who mediates between these two realities, who moves from the nave into the sanctuary in order, as an instrument to make Christ present.

    There is plenty to discuss on the second question. My sense is that the scriptural and patristic witness is very clear on the critical role of the assembly. But I am up against the character limit and need to stop for now.

    1. Laurence Hemmings is correct that the real revolution was not Vatican II, but the change in sacramental praxis by Pius X. Vatican II (not just the liturgical reforms, but most everything else) flowed from that change. Whether Pius X himself intended this is irrelevant; instruments (even very saintly ones) often do not comprehend the longer-term purposes of the ultimate mover.

      I personally suspect that the change in sacramental praxis was providentially directed for the good of the faithful in advance of the the 75-year century of horrors from 1914-1989 (which is not to say we are in an era of wonderfulness now).

      So, in my mind, if this was rupture, it was a very good thing indeed. And just in the nick of time. The watershed was not the 1960s; rather, it was the 1900s.

      1. re: Karl Liam Saur on January 6, 2012 – 8:23 am

        Karl: I personally suspect that the change in sacramental praxis was providentially directed for the good of the faithful in advance of the the 75-year century of horrors from 1914-1989 (which is not to say we are in an era of wonderfulness now).

        You are precisely correct Karl. A study of the persons/people dichotomy and the postconciliar assembly necessarily ends in the existential void created by the multiple genocides and wars of the 20th century. A reformation of Christian liturgy to correct (but never erase the memory of) violent liturgical prayer does not necessarily address the apparent absence of God in the aftermath of the unfathomable perversion of the industrial revolution for the near annihilation of the Jewish people in Europe as well as the destruction of any person in the way of a most satanic aggrandizement.

        Must a world which has witnessed the absence of God require a significantly reformed liturgy? Are the EF’s courtly gestures of Charlemagne’s rule merely wooden supplications of a God whose occlusion began during a war which destroyed the tattered remains of the European medieval order? Must we now live a liturgy that realizes the divine presence as equally present in the assembly and in the consecrated Host within the canonical digits, merely because we must entirely reconstruct God?

        Today’s understanding of assembly is developed through these points. Yet, the entire scope of the western Christian liturgical experience must be traced through the bewilderment of our age.

      2. Jordan, I am not sure I follow what you are saying, but I like where the discussion is headed.

        Must a world which has witnessed the absence of God require a significantly reformed liturgy?

        Yes, if we believe in the presence of God, particularly if the liturgy contributed to the perception of God’s absence. If we have witnessed absence, do we really need to hide God behind mystery and transcendence? Or would it be better to develop the revelation of God in Christ reflected from the face of every person?

        Are the EF’s courtly gestures of Charlemagne’s rule merely wooden supplications of a God whose occlusion began during a war which destroyed the tattered remains of the European medieval order?

        Are the EF’s courtly gestures the beginning of the occlusion of God? Do those expressions of 8th century culture serve the same purpose today as they did then?

        Must we now live a liturgy that realizes the divine presence as equally present in the assembly and in the consecrated Host within the canonical digits, merely because we must entirely reconstruct God?

        Or because we must reform and reconstruct ourselves? Where is there room for conversion in an “eternal” liturgy?

        There is an arrogance associated with the EF, born of mistaking signs of God for God. Hopefully any reform will discourage such mistakes.

      3. Jim McKay on January 7, 2012 – 7:47 am

        Jim, all of your points are excellent. I will try to address the first two points as much as I can. Please keep the criticism coming.

        Individual and corporate recognition of violent Christian liturgical texts is paramount after the Shoah. We Christians must recognize that centuries of our prayer had kindled a manifestly evil crucible which murdered European Jewry. Violent liturgy, that is prayer which marginalizes and foments hatred under the guise of Christian supplication, demands metanoia and constant liturgical ethical and moral reformation through liturgical praxis.

        Liturgical metanoia and the liturgical movement are conterminous at points. Justice and reconciliation is the precursor to all worship. The decision to renovate or demolish the throne room only follows the previous two points.

        Here you and I part company in many ways. You write, “would it be better to develop the revelation of God in Christ reflected from the face of every person?” I don’t understand why the Consilium trajectory of liturgical change is necessary for Paul VI’s archtype “worker” to immerse him or herself in the Mass. Can the “worker” only engage with the liturgy through the television-like versus populum, or through a vernacular translation which also mimics popular vernacular? Would I like to think that a deeper piety can be cultivated through the more ancient liturgical praxis.

        An anachronistic Calvary based on an often inscrutable tradition is not necessarily odd, because His entry is carried aloft by centuries of layers upon layers of symbolism. Wouldn’t it be better for a pastor to preach on the profundity of the subtle gestures of the more ancient Mass which gird the Sacrifice in pluriform ways, rather than presume that the reformed Mass stripped of blessings will alone convey the profundity of the Victim?

      4. re: Jordan Zarembo on January 7, 2012 – 11:14 am

        Jim, predictably my last comment has collapsed under hollow cliches. I could not answer your question because I have run up against my own ignorance, which is embarrassingly apparent. I cannot form my own opinion, or understand yours, without more reading on the liturgical movements of the past two centuries and the secular cultural developments that have traveled alongside calls for Catholic liturgical reform. There is no use for me writing more until I have done more reading and can form a much more concrete position.

        Let me say, however, that your questions, when considered alongside the existential questions of the last century, truly challenge the revival of the EF. This revival must be challenged with the greatest scrutiny, but challenged by those who know much more than I do.

        I must bow out then, but not without thanks to you, Jonathan, Karl, and others who have pushed my very limited knowledge to the farthest borders.

      5. Jordan,

        your expertise in liturgy probably already exceeds mine by a great deal. I ask my questions out of different disciplines, and I mean them sincerely as questions.

        For example, I remember learning that cannibalism develops only in rigidly hierarchical societies (and not in most of those!) That prompted my questions about Carolingian courtly customs and their contribution to liturgical violence. This is not a question of a deficient prayer here or there, but of the substructures that allow such prayers to come into being. There is undoubtefly a way to avoid violence within a hierarchical society and its liturgies, but it may be that the particular courtly gestures used predispose the EF to violence. I have no idea, but that is why I asked the questions of you who at least grasped the elements of the question.

        I was also taught that time changes things. So when I read about “the more ancient liturgical praxis” I do not think of the EF. To me, the most ancient praxis is “vernacular translation which also mimics popular vernacular.” Time has chamged things so that the ancient liturgical forms are no longer vernacular, and the novel praxis of “do what our ancestors did” has replaced the more ancient praxis. I am not saying one is better than the other, though like you, I prefer the more ancient praxis. We just disagree on what that is.

        So I look forward to your contributions. They a broader, more philosophical view than the more pragmatice questions of how do we do this or that ritual. Those pragmatic questions are important, but not as immediate for me as they are for most here.

      6. re: Jim McKay on January 8, 2012 – 9:50 pm

        Jim, I am glad for your questions — rather, I have terminal lack of confidence. I will attempt a response to your first paragraph here.

        I propose that supersessionism, theology, and liturgical politicization merge in the medieval era. Charlemagne, secular ruler and self-styled theologian, supported the filioque despite papal disapproval. Perhaps contemporary liturgical prayers absorbed Charlemagne’s conflation of court and ecclesia. At the offering of the bread, suscipe sancte pater, a Carolingian era composition, the priest humbles himself as ego indignus famulus tuus, “I, your unworthy servant”. Perhaps this language of servitude reflects courtly etiquette more than a Pauline model of servitude. famulus is quite far from Paul’s self-identification as a δοῦλος (slave). While late antique and medieval hierarchies differ, perhaps Paul also considered himself as a dynamic instrument of his God “his master” and certainly not a passive imperial toady.

        The great 11th century Easter sequence victimae paschale laudes interlaces medieval court language and liturgical anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic violence. A pre-Tridentine stanza reads, credendum est magis soli Mariae veraci quam Judaeorum turbae fallaci. “All the more must be believed the only truthful Mary [Magdalene] rather than the deceit of the Jewish mob.” (my trans., addition) Here liturgical violence towards Jews and Judaism and the courtly language mesh at Mass. Now two dichotomies, one violent, one courtly and subservient, revolve within the western Christian liturgical universe.

      7. re: Jordan Zarembo on January 9, 2012 – 5:39 am

        I must provide citation at this point. I am remiss in not including footnote numbers, but I will provide excerpts instead. Yes, I gravely apologize for culling two citations from Wikipedia; perhaps some scholarly absolution should be sought as this is rather immature research. 🙁 I will at some point like to draw up a much more substantial bibliography on this subject.

        1. “Charlemagne, secular ruler and self-styled theologian, supported the filioque” […] papal disapproval.”

        The Wikipedia bibliography cites three authors as credible opinion. First is Dom Gregory Dix’s “The Shape of the Liturgy” (intro. Simon Jones, London: Continuum, 2005, 487) Also cited is Andrew Louth, Greek East and Latin West, the Church AD 581 — 1071 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Press, 2007, 142). The huge influence of Dix’s work suggests that this view of Carolingian filioque history has considerable influence.

        The following two are JSTOR citations.

        2. “At the offering of the bread, suscipe sancte pater, a Carolingian era composition” […]

        The offering of the bread in the medieval and Tridentine Masses is often attributed to King Charles the Bald, a successor to Charlemagne and a later 9th century patron of ecclesiastical works. Nevertheless, I doubt that authorship of this prayer can be directly attributed to him. On his contributions to Caroliginan ecclesiastical literature c.f. Dimitri Tselos, “The Influence of the Utrecht Psalter in Carolingian Art”, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Jun., 1957), 87-96.

        3. The great 11th century Easter sequence victimae paschale laudes

        For an overview of the history and dating of victimae paschali laudes; c.f. Aina Trotzig, “L’apparition du Christ ressuscité à Marie Madeleine et le drame liturgique: Étude iconographique”, Revue de Musicologie, vol. 86. no,1 (2000) 83 — 104.

    2. A marginal note at the Orate Fratres in the Angelus Press 1962 missal:

      “The Eucharist is the sacrifice of the whole Church; it is not exclusively the priest’s sacrifice, but the property of the people also. The priest alone performs the sacrificial act itself, for only his hands are anointed and consecrated to offer sacrifice. He offers it in the name of the faithful and for their benefit. Thus priest and people are at the altar bound together in a communion of sacrifice, and they offer not only the host and chalice, but themselves also.”

      And the note at the beginning of the Canon:

      “From all time, the Canon has been recited silently. The congregation present can contribute nothing to the sacrificial act itself; the people are present before a mystery which it is for the consecrated priest alone to accomplish. The Priest has entered alone into the Holy of Holies to pray and offer sacrifice for the whole Church.”

      1. That second note before the Canon is wrong theologically, ecclesiologically, and per sacramental theology. Sounds like it is the year 150 BC and the Maccabees are going up to Jerusalem to the Holy of Holies.

        It does capture the diminished theological depth that one sees all too often expressed by TLM and EF folks.

      2. Interesting notes, Henry, thanks.

        This is a recent edition of the 1962 Missal, isn’t it? I wonder when these notes were written. The first reads as though it has been influenced by thinking that some of the SSPX would consider “modernist”, not necessarily after 1962, but influenced by the normative liturgy as well as the Tridentine.

        The second reads — to me at least — as arrant nonsense. From all time? Really? The priest alone? If that is the Tridentine way, I will stick with the Novus Ordo.

      3. Jonathan, although I have not checked those particular quotes, I gather from the credits at the front that they likely came from Nicholas Gihr’s The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained, which (I think) dates from the late 19th century.

        This 1962 missal is from Angelus Press, the publishing arm of the SSPX, and I would hardly regard its commentary as defining “the Tridentine way”. Of course, the SSPX would likely not view (as I did) yesterday’s papal Mass of the Epiphany as a glorious liturgy that was both Latin and traditional (though of course not Tridentine).

      4. My reproduction 1962 Fr Stedman Missal (from Neumann Press) doesn’t express any of the sentiment found in the Angelus Press notes given prior to the Canon. The notes use “we” when describing the prayers, offerings, and remembrances of the Canon, and in earlier notes talks about how the congregation are “lay priests” who must show “active participation” and pray with the priest.

        So obviously there were many ways at looking how people should participate at Mass prior to Vatican II. Fr Stedman Missals (or, more accurately “My Sunday Missal”) seem to have been fairly common and popular, as they are the ones I most frequently find at church festival rummage sales.

    3. re: Jonathan Day on January 6, 2012 – 7:57 am

      Jonathan, I will have to re-read Laurence Hemming. Thank you for the reminder.

      I agree that the example you have just given from the FSSP illustrates that the EF is “persons at worship”. This example also illustrates that the “EF does not know of an assembly.” While I do not agree with the FSSP’s view of the role of the priest and congregants, this interpretation nevertheless could be considered a very prominent example of not-an-assembly.

      I find the second FSSP entirely incongruent with any ideology of worship. I have spoken of altar rails as symbolic, moveable, and permeable visual layers in liturgy. However, to say that the altar rail separates a sinful nave from a holy sanctuary is a grave distortion of the meaning of sin. I am sure that many of us here could dissect this claim. I would even assert that this dualist notion of the altar rail could be spiritually detrimental. “Beware the maya”, per George Harrison. Wrong religion, but a similar idea in a few respects: concupiscence, sin, and the effects of sin are not bounded by an altar rail. Rather, sin and the inclination to sin pervades the world and our interactions with one another. Sin does not merely exist in a static abstraction nor stop at a bannister.

      I agree that “assembly” is a crucial part of scriptural and early Christian understanding of self. I am not certain, however, if this past can be reconstituted today. I also suspect that individual and corporate worship have co-existed throughout Christian history, both in patristic times and in the postconciliar desire to mirror the patristic era in worship.

      1. Jordan, I thought that Hemming’s book had some interesting elements, and it was at least more grounded in the sources than Martin Mosebach’s book-length diatribe. But it is tendentious and polemical, hardly a great piece of work. I’ll be interested in your views.

  16. Perhaps it is better to discuss the difference between the role of the congregation in the EF and the assembly in the OF.

    Today I celebrated Theophany (Baptism of Christ) with the local Orthodox congregation. Although there were only 15-20 people, besides the priest, these included a subdeacon, two servers, a choir of four, a reader, and two women who distributed the blessed bread and wine after communion. (There were about 40-60 at last night’s Vespers service: usual Sunday Liturgy of 125-150 up to 200 on Easter).

    While it is possible to attend such a Liturgy in a contemplative, interiorly focused mode and watch it as a performance without saying or singing anything, the multiple roles spread throughout the liturgy call for much more of a community of diverse actors than even the OF. This would have been more apparent if there had been a deacon rather than the priest to lead the many litanies.

    Yes the EF can be done with deacon, subdeacon, servers, and choir. But that was rarely done in any parish outside of perhaps an occasional Christmas Eve at a large parish, and certainly there was never anything as complex with as many roles as my experience this morning for such a small group of people at the parish level.

    The EF basically was the priest’s Mass which individuals attended. The OF has become a Mass of the priest and assembly, however I don’t think it is inherently as complex and interdependent an assembly as is encouraged in the Byzantine tradition done well in even a very small assembly.

    In this morning’s Liturgy, the many simple responses and invariable “hymns” were easily accessible to anyone who wanted to sing them. The variable parts sung by the choir were relatively accessible four part chant tones, distributed as a handout with inflections marked.

    Participation by women and youth is fostered, each of lessons and the many reader prayers in the office being divided among people.

    1. Yes the EF can be done with deacon, subdeacon, servers, and choir. But that was rarely done in any parish outside of perhaps an occasional Christmas Eve at a large parish, and certainly there was never anything as complex with as many roles as my experience this morning for such a small group of people at the parish level.

      I think your comments about the past are factually incorrect, but mostly they’re just irrelevant.

      There are living Latin Mass communities. I’ve seen in them participation of precisely the same sort you saw at that Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

      Is it done that way everywhere? No, but not every Orthodox Church is like the one you went to either. And the Latin Mass communities are dealing with additional challenges of institutional hostility and most of them a 30 to 40 year interruption of their tradition.

      1. Apart from your sweeping claim that Jack’s comments are factually incorrect you have not demonstrated whether or not this is so.

        You dismiss his point of view as irrelevant without indicating how, or to what extent or in what way you think this is so.

        You fail to point out that his comments are free from the defects of a singular lack of charity and an arrogant condescension in relation to the views of others.

      2. Mary, if you think my comments lack charity or are arrogant condecension, you could just say so. Better yet, you could email me privately and tell me so. (Which I would do with this comment if I could.)

        My key point is not that his comments about practice are factually incorrect, but that it’s irrelevant.

        It’s not his point of view that’s irrelevant, it’s his comments about the facts about the past that are irrelevant as is clear from what I wrote.

        But here we go again. The comparison of today’s orthodox communities with the Roman Catholic Churches of the 1950’s has just about zilch to do with how the liturgy is celebrated today. There are communities that celebrate the 1962 Rite today and how they celebrate the liturgy could fruitfully be compared to present day Orthodox celebrations, but that’s not what Jack does.

    2. I never cease to find curious the fixation in some quarters on a past that most of those in future-oriented living Latin Mass communities today have neither memory of nor interest in, with a typical caricature (if that’s what it is) of traditional liturgy in some irrelevant past era, which today’s young TLM devotees would not recognize in the vibrant and participative EF liturgies that are typical of Sunday and holy day experience today.

      1. Ditto.

        In my experience, EF advocates value good liturgy. They value good music, preaching, church decoration, and making sure people have access to materials that will allow them to participate. There really isn’t any desire to return to some nostalgic past that cannot be re-created.

        Something that surprised me about the first EF I ever attended was how it was just as “participatory” (from a congregant’s standpoint – I really don’t think the average pew-sitter feels that much connection to the various lectors and EMHCs as some people think) as the better OFs I’ve attended are. People made the responses and sang – which is more than you see at a lot of typical Masses.

  17. From the 1/6/2012 CDF Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith

    After the Council the Church – under the sure guidance of the Magisterium and in continuity with the whole Tradition – set about ensuring the reception and application of the teaching of the Council in all its richness. . . . . . From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has worked decisively for a correct understanding of the Council, rejecting as erroneous the so-called “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” and promoting what he himself has termed “the ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.”

  18. I’m not sure what this means for, or says about, the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ in practice but the font used at the vatican has been replaced…. see links below:

    http://2.andreatornielli.it/?p=3344

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/01/continuity-is-in-eye-of-beholder.html

    I think this is a particuarly puzzling move as the new font barely resembles a traditional font so where is the ‘continuity’ of this latest development?

  19. I agree with the over all sentiments.

    This I think is the center of the entire cabal…

    I can understand a preference for continuity. But a hermeneutic of continuity would have to show which liturgical developments (including potential discontinuities) are desirable and which are not.

    In fact, this is exactly what the liturgical historians and reformers attempted to do. One can read Annibale Bugnini’s repeated statements asserting both criteria and particulars regarding which liturgical developments (from an overall view of liturgical history) were deformations and which were desirable. There was a hermeneutic of continuity supposed in the reform of the liturgy. It is found in the interventions of the council bishops, coetus reports of the consillium, the praenotanda of the rites, and the decrees of promulgation. Often times specifically so – i.e., “This is how the rite was reformed…this is how it is still the same essentially.”

    It was all shot to pieces when Benedict came along and said what was thought to be in continuity was actually not – writ large, with his Moto Proprio statement that the Tridentine liturgy, or any liturgy, that has “spiritually fed” people cannot be defective. News to me. Books and academic courses abound enumerating and discussing substantially defective liturgical practice in the history of the church.

    I see not a problem in the concept of a hermeneutic continuity (this is the entire origin of the doctrinal introduction to the GIRM), but that an established continuity of the last four decades has been turned on its head by one who apparently simply did not care for its aesthetic appearance.

    1. I see not a problem in the concept of a hermeneutic continuity (this is the entire origin of the doctrinal introduction to the GIRM), but that an established continuity of the last four decades has been turned on its head by one who apparently simply did not care for its aesthetic appearance.

      You think the Pope simply didn’t care for the aesthetic of the new rite?

      1. Overall yes. What has he changed of his so called “normative” form? More Latin, more lace, a bit of difference in the music, once a year ad orientum in the sistine chapel, a papal throne, red velvet rather than white. None of these things touch the essence of the liturgy – that’s why historically they have been accepted as changeable. This all says to me the real concern is a nostalgia for a “look”, which he seems to think reads as more “sacred” – thus leveling the charge that modernity is incapable of the same.

        Now, granted, substantive structural changes might be on the way if they change the praenotanda of the rites as many vaticanistas (i.e., Tornelli) have reported on over the years. Then his hermeneutic of continuity might be more than aesthetic, but it is not yet. If they change the form of confirmation back to its pre-Pauline shape, then I will believe its all more than window dressing and dog whistles.

      2. None of these things touch the essence of the liturgy

        O.K., if you think he’s merely tinkering around the edges, it’s somewhat consistent for you to argue that it’s just aesthetics on his part. But you wrote that “an established continuity of the last four decades has been turned on its head,” which would seem to require more than just this kind of tinkering.

      3. @ # 58 – Yes, I see your point. I think what has “been turned on its head” is the overall acceptance that what the liturgical reformers did was in continuity, liturgically sound, and a good for the church. He has seemed to indicate that it is not by waging a war of perception. I don’t see that he has yet changed things essential to the reform though – although I think the cumulative affect upon the assembly’s participation and comprehension is getting close. I think he has done what he feels he can by personal choice, or, moto propio, as the case goes.

        I think he has needlessly, and wrongly characterized the last forty years. I wouldn’t disagree with Bill’s comments in 59. By his words BXVI has introduced needless strife into the church and made an issue of a minority view. In fact, I think it is precisely because of situations like this, that the possibility that any future council will ever again be received in any meaningful way in the modern world is closed off. His words have struck at the heart of the council – even if his actions have not yet reached the same climax, considering his “ordinary form” is still intact. Because of his statements there is now the perception that what was judged a positive development is now bad, and what was judged defective can never be if “it feeds the soul.” It is all just now the worst of post-modernism alla Foucault: the politics of power, narrative, and perception.

    2. J. Thomas – Well written, analyzed and stated.

      It is also a fact that Ratzinger during the council participated and helped develop much of what you say in terms of Bugnini but in the 1970’s he made a 180 degree change (which no biographer appears to be able to explain adequately).

      Now what we face is a pope who uses his theological credentials and expertise to make decisions that are subjective and biased (small examples are Multis and cluttering the altar with large candesticks and a crucifix). He has very little expertise in liturgy and it will take years to recover from his decisions (some of which his own conferences of bishops begged him not to make).

      His whole direction to relook at the interpreation of Vatican II creates polarizations and gives folks “one-liners” to justify anything they want to believe e.g. if I don’t like it, it is not continuity but disruption……we have seen this polarization increase over the last 20 years and folks such as Fr. Z, Wanderer, EWTN, Fessio, etc. posit things that no liturgical expert would support or defend. In some cases, we have personal pieties being elevated as “continuity” and those we don’t share or support the pieties as “disruptive”.

    3. re: J. Thomas on January 10, 2012 – 11:50 pm

      The working papers of the Concilium are not dogmatic statements. It is true that the “stable release” of MR 1970 was codified in an apostolic constitution Missale Romanum. I do not read anything in Missale Romanum which specifically endorses the Consilium project or its resignification of discrete aspects of Tridentine liturgies. Rather, Pope Paul VI explicitly notes that his apostolic constitution builds on Quo Primum.

      J. Thomas: It was all shot to pieces when Benedict came along and said what was thought to be in continuity was actually not – writ large, with his Moto Proprio statement that the Tridentine liturgy, or any liturgy, that has “spiritually fed” people cannot be defective. Books and academic courses abound enumerating and discussing substantially defective liturgical practice in the history of the church.

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by “defective”. Two or three hundred years from now, the reformed rite might be considered “defective”. I do not care aesthetically for most celebrations of the OF, but I do not consider the OF to be inherently unorthodox. “Defective” must also take into account theological and magisterial developments. A comprehensive comparison of Tridentine and reformed liturgy cannot rely on postconciliar suppositions alone.

      Pope Benedict, as the supreme liturgical legislator for the Roman Rite, has decided that Quo Primum carries as much judicial weight as Missale Romanum. The latter document even recognizes Quo Primum as a valid apostolic constitution. For Pope Benedict to rule that Missale Romanum annuls Quo Primum sets a dangerous precedent. If the discrete constitutions of each pope annulled all previous constitutions, then the continuity of the papal office would be broken.

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