liturgy


Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us in a mystery by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay — no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more. For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer? Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching.

Domine, Quo Vadis?, C. 1602' Giclee Print - Annibale Carracci | Art.com

But can the Roman Pontiff juridically abrogate the Usus Antiquior? The fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) of the Roman Pontiff is the power necessary to defend and promote the doctrine and discipline of the Church. It is not “absolute power” which would include the power to change doctrine or to eradicate a liturgical discipline which has been alive in the Church since the time of Pope Gregory the Great and even earlier. The correct interpretation of Article 1 [of Traditionis custodes] cannot be the denial that the Usus Antiquior is an ever-vital expression of “the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” Our Lord Who gave the wonderful gift of the Usus Antiquior will not permit it to be eradicated from the life of the Church. It must be remembered that, from a theological point of view, every valid celebration of a sacrament, by the very fact that it is a sacrament, is also, beyond any ecclesiastical legislation, an act of worship and, therefore, also a profession of faith. In that sense, it is not possible to exclude the Roman Missal, according to the Usus Antiquior, as a valid expression of the lex orandi and, therefore, of the lex credendi of the Church. It is a question of an objective reality of divine grace which cannot be changed by a mere act of the will of even the highest ecclesiastical authority.

https://www.cardinalburke.com/presentations/traditionis-custodes

It is obviously very concerning that some Catholics who adhere to the Roman Rite of Mass question the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council or the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs (which, of course, bears no resemblance to the Novus Ordo Missae). However, it is even more worrying that 69% of Catholics attending the Novus Ordo Missae do not believe in Transubstantiation and thus ‘eat and drink condemnation upon themselves’. In fact, it is probably the case that the inspired word of God and the solemn definitions of Lateran IV, Florence and Trent have even more authority than the prudential judgement of Vatican II. Following the wisdom of the pontiff now gloriously reigning, it would seem that existing groups making use of the Novus Ordo Missae should only be allowed to persist in so doing once it is ascertained that they accept the doctrine of the Real Presence and that care should be taken that no new groups of this kind are established.

In the application of the liturgical reform, what appears terribly serious to me is above all the fundamental principle which it is following – to desacralize the service of God as far as possible (just the opposite is what is needed: to sacralize as far as possible the offering of the people who take part.)   This is an attack on the divine Transcendence, since the Christian people come to know the divine Transcendence through the sensible signs of the Liturgy.  […]

The second thing that is needed, it seems to me, and it is key, is to ask that the behaviour shown toward the Eucharist, and the reserved sacrament, should be what is required by the faith.  I find it shocking that the attention of the faithful should be directed to the celebrant alone, and not at the same time and by the same movement to the living God present among us in the tabernacle.  They tell me that the tabernacle is a late invention (16th or 17th century, I’m not sure).  This is a strange objection from people who are so keen on novelty and progress – what matters is to see whether it is in itself a good thing and a real progress.

[…] The third thing that seems necessary to me relates to the French translation of the ordinary of the Mass.  It has something unacceptable in it: the words ‘of the same nature’ in the Creed, instead of ‘consubstantial’.  A man with his own, individual nature, is of the same specific nature as another man with his own individual nature, a lion and another lion, likewise.  So, taken literally, this (semi-Arian) expression, óf the same nature doesn’t teach us the Trinity, but tritheism […]  I am astonished at the docility with which, by obedience, the Little Brothers [of Jesus] recite this creed in French without any trouble.  I would rather die than allow the words ‘of the same nature as’ to come out of my mouth.

[…]

There is a fourth thing which seems necessary to me, but which it is probably pointless to hope for, and this is the manner of speaking or reciting.   At Mass, with the Little Brothers, the priest and the others recite recto tono, and that by itself helps to elevate things and give them some dignity, and to make the French bearable.  But everywhere else, people use the tone of common conversation, the tone of voice in which you say ‘pass me a glass’, or ‘I read in the paper this morning’.  It’s a horrible thing when the human voice is used this way in a church

(from a letter to Charles Journet, 8th August, 1966).

I stated my own view strongly. …he saw only one side, I another. …He said something like ‘Who are the laity?’ I answered (not in these words) that the Church would look foolish without them.

Hats

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)  Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognise no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

St Paul, First Letter to the Corinthians

My understanding of the reason for this law is that it is twofold. Head covering signifies social function given from above. The default social function of woman indicated by her physiology is to bear, nurture and educate children. This is why all women should be educated but not all men need be. If women marry in their late teens and are fertile and do not avoid bearing children they will usually have their last children in their early forties and so the last child will reach majority when his parents are around sixty. The default social function of women is natural and uniform. The default social function of men, on the other hand,  seems to be artificial. They function outside the home and have specialised tasks in the organic social hierarchy. Thus, men wear artificial and distinct head covering while women wear long hair, a natural and uniform covering. It should be born in mind that (as in a synagogue) historically and according to canon law until 1983 men and women sit separately in Church rather than together. “It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church” (Canon 1262 CIC 1917). The basic unit of temporal society is the family but the basic unit of ecclesiastical society is the individual.

The first reason, therefore, for the requirement that men remove their head covering in Church and women adopt an artificial head covering is that man symbolises Christ who is the head of the Church and woman symbolises the Church His body and bride. Christ does not receive his headship from a higher human authority and so man removes his artificial head covering to show Christ’s headship as of right. The Church does indeed receive its dignity from Christ and not on account of nature and is body and bride not head. Accordingly women adopt an artificial head covering in church.

The second reason for the requirement that men remove their head covering in Church and women adopt an artificial head covering is that human beings must efface their own glory in the presence of the Divine Glory. Man’s glory comes from his delegated function in the organic social hierarchy – symbolised by his head covering. Accordingly, he removes his glory upon entering the church by taking off his hat. Woman’s glory comes from her natural and uniform task of bearing, nurturing and educating children – symbolised by her long hair. As it would be shameful (and impractical) to shave off her hair every time she goes to church she veils it instead (which conveniently also accomplishes the first symbolism just mentioned).

Because traditionally men and women sit separately in church the first symbolism, while accentuating the sacramental significance of the sexual difference does not accentuate the particular authority of this husband over this wife. This is helpful as the second symbolism is designed precisely to emphasise that “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28) by removing the things which differentiate the sexes in temporal society.

The law concerning the wearing and removal of head covering therefore both accentuates the reason for the authority of husbands as head of the family in temporal matters and it’s symbolism while emphasising the this-world and provisional nature of that authority.

We must consider why man should not veil his head, but the woman. This can be taken in two ways: first, because a veil put on the head designates the power of another over the head of a person existing in the order of nature. Therefore, the man existing under God should not have a covering over his head to show that he is immediately subject to God; but the woman should wear a covering to show that besides God she is naturally subject to another … Secondly, to show that the glory of God should not be concealed but revealed; but man’s glory is to be concealed. Hence it says in Ps 115 (v. 1): “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give the glory.”

– St Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Corinthians

Who (really) believes in God

I find these statistics very mysterious. Ignoring Bosnia which is a special case from which few inferences can be drawn, all 50%+ countries are non-Slav Eastern-Rite, all 25-50% countries are Slav Byzantine and all 25%- countries are Latin. What is the explanation? It can’t just be Vatican II because that doesn’t explain the inferior performance of the Slav Byzantines compared to the Non-Slav Easterners .

From A Popular Guide to the New Mass, written by the Master of Ceremonies at Westminster Cathedral, and published in 1970:

On arriving at the altar the priest kisses it and goes straight to his chair where he does something he has never done before. He greets the people: says ‘hello” in a liturgical way. When you think about it, the priest has never acted like a gentleman at the beginning of Mass because, without a word to the people (many of whom he probably knows well), he turns his back on them and gets on with his own preparation for Mass. . .  Now that has been put right. The priest has become a gentleman, so he faces the people . . . [In the new Entrance Rite] the priest and his people have been ‘introduced’.

(I particularly like ‘many of whom he probably knows well’.)

Quoted in The Banished Heart, a very good read by Geoffrey Hull.


“Let the hour of Prime be suppressed”. So decreed the bishops gathered in Rome in the winter of 1963, at the dead time of the year. Of the 2,147 prelates who voted to suppress, not some local abuse or the apocryphal Acta of an obscure saint, but one of the 8 hours of the divine office, did any, I wonder, feel some slight misgivings?

Like our Lord Jesus Christ, Prime was born in Bethlehem. Perhaps that is why the devil pursues it with a special hatred. St John Cassian tells us that it was the elders of his first monastery who instituted it, to prevent sleepy monks who had got through the long night-office from staying in bed until Terce. “This canonical office was first instituted in our monastery and in our time”, he writes. The learned think that this would have happened around the year of our Lord 380. The Church was still emerging from the long Arian nightmare, and already Prime was sung. It survived the fall of the empire in the West. St Benedict takes its existence for granted when he comes to distribute the psalter for the opus Dei. In the Roman basilicas it marked each day the beginning of the recitation of Psalm 118, the loving praise of the law of God; which, is, St Thomas tells us, a praise by appropriation of the eternal Son.

Matins is the hour of the dead of night. Those who sing the divine office of Matins stand like sentinels on the walls of the Church, repelling the diabolical incursions. Lauds is the hour of vanquished darkness and the return of dawn; it is the hour of victory and relief. Yet the thin shadows are still seen in Lauds, though fleeing; nor has man yet forgotten the passivity and endurance of the night, nor resumed his proper place as master of the world.

Prime is the first hour of true day. The sun now holds the heavens, undisputed. He has made all things new. Man also is himself again, ready to choose and act, not only to endure. It is that first hour, so a mediaeval writer tells us, when the Householder first goes out to call who will to labour for the Penny, the one thing needful, the image of the King.

For well over a thousand years, no one knows how long, the Church has sung the Athanasian Creed at Prime. Perhaps that is another reason why the devil hates it. This creed is said now only once a year, on the Sunday of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, and then only by a few. One tiny foothold in the sacred liturgy, like Pelayo in his cave when all Spain was lost, waiting for the Reconquista to begin…

If you have ever, good Christian reader, as I have, heard the bells ring for Prime, and walked to church some bright Septembral morning, seen the sheep grazing and the distant ocean tranquil, then maybe you too will have perceived that there are, as in nature so in grace, things unchangeable; you also may have glimpsed something of the iota unum, and the non praevalebunt. Or maybe you will do and understand these things some centuries hence. For Prime is the hour that would not die.

 

A fascinating window into the ecclesiastical landscape of nearly forty years ago. It is striking that when the establishment spokesman’s claims about ad orientem are refuted by Michael Davies Fr Champlin puts up no resistance. He knew his claims were misleading and once exposed he sees no need to resist. The denial of any causal connection between the post-conciliar apostasy and the direction taken by the council seems bizarre from the vantage point afforded by time.

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