What to do… what to do…

I am presently dissecting a dialogue in the Catholic Herald and I am wondering if I should do so on the blog.

The excellent Catholic Herald of the UK has an interesting feature: an exchange of letters between Moyra Doorly, and author of No Place For God, which I haven’t read, and Fr. Aidan Nichols, OP, theologian and author of many books, including The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England which I recommend.

This is long.  It would be a long entry.  But it is worth some effort.  There is some interesting commentary here about classical theology and new theology.

Dunno… lotta work.

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21 Responses to What to do… what to do…

  1. Paul the Other says:

    If you write it, I’ll read it.

  2. I think the question is whether it is worth it to you Father. If you’re not interested in doing it and don’t think we would gain from it, there probably isn’t a need. If you do want to and do think we would benefit, that would be a good thing

  3. Mike says:

    Ah, c\’mon, Fr. Z! You\’ve never shied away from literary analysis!! ;-)

    It sounds as if this would be a series of entries. It might even be worth doing WITHOUT the red \”editor\’s comments\” – just going paragraph by paragraph or chapter by chapter. Or maybe analyzing trying to figure out where there is natural break in the series of letters and analyzing it in sections, according to those breaks.

    Either way, I trust it would be an interesting read – even for those of us who may not always agree with you, I trust that we would all learn something.

  4. Kimberly says:

    No, no, no, Mike. I love the red. Fr’s gotta do the red.
    Fr. Z – If you think there is merit, then I know it will be worth it.

  5. Jack says:

    C’mon Father, its only twenty past five where you are :)

  6. adeodatus says:

    Please, Father Z, write it.

  7. Sid says:

    Yep, it’s long. And I know you’re a busy man. Yet I haven’t seen the issue that concerns the SSPX so strongly presented.

    I see at least two points of disagreement, one dogmatic, the other liturgical.

    1. The liturgical issue of conflict seems to be on one hand Doorly’s view: that the SSPX is pointing out the lack of a sacrificial, expiatory, and propitiatory character both in the Ordinary Form and in V2′s Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy; and on the other hand Nichols’ view that Doorly has drawn the contrast too sharply between propitiatory sacrifice and communal celebration. To put starkly Doorly’s concern, Is the Mass itself a propitiatory and expiatory sacrifice to be witnessed “in fear and trembling”, or is it a big Thanksgiving Day dinner, with all the trimmings?

    To use Doorly’s own contrast between the MEF and the MOF:

    [Whereas] the Extraordinary Form is an explicitly sacrificial rite as reflected in its structure – “oblation of the victim (Offertory), immolation (double consecration) and consummation (Communion)” – [,] the Ordinary Form has taken on the structure of a memorial meal – “blessing of the food (presentation of the gifts), thanksgiving for gifts received (Eucharistic Prayer) and breaking and partaking of the bread”. Thus the new understanding of the Mass is first and foremost as a memorial, and then “as a sacrifice insofar as the memorial makes the sacrifice of the Cross present beneath the veil of mystery.

    2. The dogma of the Redemption itself is in debate: Is the Redemption only the work on Calvary, or does it include the Resurrection (Romans 4:25, I Corinthians 15:17), the Ascension (John 16:7), and (as the Eastern Church has always insisted) even the Incarnation (Irenaeus’ “recapitulation” view) — in short “the Paschal Mystery”? Put differently, is the Redemption primarily a work to propitiate a Jonathan Edwardian “Angry God”, or the act of The Son’s ultimate giving of Himself to the Father in love, an act which we witness at Holy Mass, and an act in which we participate through union with the Son in the sacraments?

    I would ask further: Has Nichols, in faulting Doorly for drawing too sharp a distinction between these contrasts, not answered Doorly’s concern of the lack of emphasis, or of the lack of inclusion, of a propitiatory view in V2 and its aftermath?

    These are tough questions. Your views, Fr. Z, on Doorly and Nichols would be very welcome!

  8. LCB says:

    I think it would be worthwhile.

    Perhaps others who think it would be worth should consider the amazon.com wish list?

  9. Alphonsus Rodriguez says:

    I for one would be very interested in your comments on these two letters. I must say that since I became a Catholic I have been struck by a seemingly ubiquitous effort to downplay the expiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I’m not sure that if I had not had it drilled into me when I was a little boy growing up amongst Southern Baptists, that I would today, even after having been a Catholic for some years, have such a firm grasp of this most fundamental of truths, that Christ’s death was a propitiation for the sins of men in satisfying the justice of God. I’ve read lengthy discourses by Catholics on the great gift of Christ’s sacrifice that never actually give a very clear idea of just how it is that the sacrifice is redemptive, and I have often suspected that this was because of a reluctance to talk about how dreadful are our sins and what an offense they are to God.

  10. Brian Day says:

    I would contact the Catholic Herald directly and ask if they would establish a comments section for invited writers only. Then you could post a little at a time while the Herald “keeps” the dialog from fracturing over multiple sites.

  11. Nicholas says:

    Please zedify the pieces, Father. I read both pieces and think your analysis and commentary would be very useful.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    After an admittedly quick scan, it did not seem to me that Fr. Nichols had been fully successful in addressing Ms. Doorly’s questions. It would be a valuable contribution if you could do so.

  13. I am not Spartacus says:

    I’d love to read your take on the controversy. The quotes by Card. Ratzinger alone that some might post – from both “sides” of the controversy – might make it an interesting contest as to whether the controversy would be viewed as more informative or incendiary.

    For example, here is Cardinal Ratzinger referring (I think) to the SSPX Study referenced in the article:

    “I mention this strange opposition between the Passover and sacrifice, because it represents the architectonic principle of a book recently published by the Society of St. Pius X, claiming that a dogmatic rupture exists between the new liturgy of Paul VI and the preceding catholic liturgical tradition. This rupture is seen precisely in the fact that everything is interpreted henceforth on the basis of the “paschal mystery,” instead of the redeeming sacrifice of expiation of Christ; the category of the paschal mystery is said to be the heart of the liturgical reform, and it is precisely that which appears to be the proof of the rupture with the classical doctrine of the Church. It is clear that there are authors who lay themselves open to such a misunderstanding; but that it is a misunderstanding is completely evident for those who look more closely. In reality, the term “paschal mystery” clearly refers to the realities which took place in the days following Holy Thursday up until the morning of Easter Sunday: the Last Supper as the anticipation of the Cross, the drama of Golgotha and the Lord’s Resurrection. In the expression “paschal mystery” these happenings are seen synthetically as a single, united event, as “the work of Christ,” as we heard the Council say at the beginning, which took place historically and at the same time transcends that precise point in time. As this event is, inwardly, an act of worship rendered to God, it could become divine worship, and in that way be present to all times. The paschal theology of the New Testament, upon which we have cast a quick glance, gives us to understand precisely this: the seemingly profane episode of the Crucifixion of Christ is a sacrifice of expiation, a saving act of the reconciling love of God made man. The theology of the Passover is a theology of the redemption, a liturgy of expiatory sacrifice. The Shepherd has become a Lamb. The vision of the lamb, which appears in the story of Isaac, the lamb which gets entangled in the undergrowth and ransoms the son, has become a reality; the Lord became a Lamb; He allows Himself to be bound and sacrificed, to deliver us. …

  14. PJRS says:

    I dunno, either, Father.I much look forward to your reaction. But I don’t think the traditional red Editor’s comments would do justice to these issues. I believe it would be more useful if you made a fresh start, swooping in from above, so to speak. Fr. Nichols has been a favorite of mine. But I found his response disappointing and would appreciate your thoughts in some depth. – PJRS

  15. supertradmom says:

    You write, we shall read!

  16. Boko says:

    Fra Nichols refers to the GIRM as a “teaching document.” Is it? I hope not. I hope it’s just a disciplinary document with plenty of non-binding dicta. I wish our bishops (and popes) were more sensitive to those of us who still take seriously the binding authority of the Magisterium. I cannot reconcile, say, some of JPII’s statements on capital punishment, or some of the GIRM’s dicta, with either the facts on the ground or with the perennial teaching of the Church. My head hurts!

  17. ssoldie says:

    Fr. Z, read the book “No Place For God” Moyra Dooply, a couple years ago, found it very good, then went out and bought the book “In Tiers Of Glory” Michael Rose, excellent books. I believe you will like them. I also would like to recommand Fr. Robert Claude S.J. “Pier- Giorgio Frassati”.

  18. I am not Spartacus says:

    Brother Sid. Excellent set piece.

    I just finished reading the latest Chronicles and I thought you’d appreciate the very last words in the issue, by Thomas Fleming:

    Aggiornamento is a very evocative Italian equivalent used to describe the vast work of destruction wrought by the Second Vatican Council, a truly progressive and future-oriented council that created what used to be called the modern Church and is rapidly becoming yesterday’s Osservatore Romano.

    Ouch. Fleming can say a lot in a few words.

  19. I am not Spartacus says:

    Here is the link to the Oriens article by Cardinal Ratzinger where he criticised the SSPX study:

    http://www.oriensjournal.com/11librat.html

  20. Jason Keener says:

    I would love to see you comment on this debate between the new theology and classical theology as it applies to the Holy Mass.

    It seems to me that there might be room in the Roman Rite for a more classical understanding of the Mass as is highly evident in the Extraordinary Form and a different emphasis as is more evident in the Ordinary Form. The Paschal Mystery is a tremendously complex and rich event that no one Sacred Liturgy of the Church could fully express and capture in every nuance. Perhaps the two usages of the Roman Rite and the Eastern Catholic Liturgies each capture some equally rich part of the Paschal Mystery. Perhaps we should look more at the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite with their different emphases as complementing each other and not so much as contradicting each other.

    Maybe the Church is richer by having an Ordinary Form that emphasizes different aspects of the Paschal Mystery than does the Extraordinary Form? Maybe the Church’s new theological emphasis found in the Ordinary Form is the Holy Ghost drawing us deeper into what the Holy Mass means? Maybe the Holy Ghost is asking us to just complement (not overthrow) our earlier thinking about the real sacrificial nature of the Mass with additional nuances and facets of understanding?

    Well, those are just some initial thoughts.

  21. RBrown says:

    2. The dogma of the Redemption itself is in debate: Is the Redemption only the work on Calvary, or does it include the Resurrection (Romans 4:25, I Corinthians 15:17), the Ascension (John 16:7), and (as the Eastern Church has always insisted) even the Incarnation (Irenaeus’ “recapitulation” view)—in short “the Paschal Mystery”? Put differently, is the Redemption primarily a work to propitiate a Jonathan Edwardian “Angry God”, or the act of The Son’s ultimate giving of Himself to the Father in love, an act which we witness at Holy Mass, and an act in which we participate through union with the Son in the sacraments?

    I would ask further: Has Nichols, in faulting Doorly for drawing too sharp a distinction between these contrasts, not answered Doorly’s concern of the lack of emphasis, or of the lack of inclusion, of a propitiatory view in V2 and its aftermath?

    These are tough questions. Your views, Fr. Z, on Doorly and Nichols would be very welcome!
    Comment by Sid

    1. This is not really a matter of classical theology vs new theology. It is a certain Counter Reformation School of theology (presumably embraced by certain members of the SSPX) vs new theology.

    2. This CR theology has a very mechanistic and legalistic understanding of the Redemption (with hints of Anselm’s Atonement Theory). This approach limits Christ’s Redemptive act to His explicit suffering and death on the Cross.

    3. In St Thomas’ Christology, however, the Redemption begins at the first moment of the Incarnation. His Redemptive Act (which is Christ the Priest offering Himself as victim in His own suffering and death) begins at this first moment because He takes up passable flesh, making His death inevitable. This is then consummated on the Cross.