WDTPRS 5th Sunday after Easter (1962MR) – meat, not goop

I am going to drag you through a sustained rant about liturgy, punctuated by Latin vocabulary and Neo-Platonism.

First, to be grown up Catholics we need a Mass for grown ups.

Our Mass should give us thick red steak and Cabernet, not pureed carrots and milk for baby teeth.

I want meat for you, not goop.

Goop is fine for babies.  Babies need goop.  But when you grow up, you need more.  You might be able to survive for a while on goop, but you won’t thrive.

I want you to thrive through our Mass not just survive.

Mass must be succulent, not insipid.

With the help of preachers we can crack them open with adult teeth, chew their marrow.

In the snipping and pasting together of the Novus Ordo, with the revision of its prayers, we lost concepts important to our Catholic identity. That is not the case with this week’s prayer, happily.  Moreover, the revised Novus Ordo prayers sometimes emphasize positive elements of our Christian Catholic thing not so evident in the older prayers.

However, what we lost, perhaps characterized as “negative” concepts, are vital to who we are as Catholics.  Grown up Catholics, that is.  Catholics who understand that we are sinners, and that one day we are going to die and meet our Maker, who is our Savior and our Judge.

Summorum Pontificum is already helping us reclaim as a praying Church much of what has been lost in our worship and therefore provide nourishment for a revitalized Catholic identity.

In the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary today’s Collect is found on the Fourth Sunday after the close of the Easter Octave. The Gelasian or Liber sacramentorum Romanae ecclesiae (Book of Sacraments of the Church of Rome) was assembled from older material in Paris around 750.

It has elements of both the Roman and Gallican (French) liturgies of the Merovingian period (5th – 8th cc.). This Collect survived the cutters and snippers who pasted the Novus Ordo together on their desks. You hear it now on the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time where the Ordinary Form.

COLLECT – (1962MR):
Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis:
ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quae recta sunt;
et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus.

The Novus Ordo version slightly rearranges the word order, saying “tuis largire supplicibus”, which I actually prefer since it flows better, but the more ancient version in the Gelasian omits the “tuis altogether.

Our never distant Lewis & Short Dictionary, unsullied by coffee cup rings, says procedo means “to go forth or before, to go forwards, advance, proceed” and more importantly “to go or come forth or out, to advance, issue” and even “to issue from the mouth, to be uttered”. Largire looks like an infinitive but is really an imperative form of the deponent largior, “to give bountifully, to lavish, bestow, dispense, distribute, impart… to confer, bestow, grant, yield”. The neuter substantive rectum, i (from rego), is “that which is right, good, virtuous; uprightness, rectitude, virtue”. Rego involves “to keep straight or from going wrong, to lead straight; to guide, conduct, direct”. The core concepts are “straight” and “upwards”. In its adjectival form, rectus, a, um, there is a moral content, “right, correct, proper, appropriate, befitting” again having reference to that which is “above”. Cogito is more than simply “to think”. As in Descartes’ often quoted “Cogito ergo sum… I think, therefore I am”, it is really, “to pursue something in the mind” and “to consider thoroughly, to ponder, to weigh, reflect upon”. The English derivative is “cogitate”.

O God, from whom all good things issue forth, bountifully grant to Your supplicants,
that, as You are inspiring, we may think things which are right,
and, as You are guiding, we may accomplish the same.

CURRENT ICEL (2011 from the Ordinary Form):
O God, from whom all good things come,
grant that we, who call on you in our need,
may at your prompting discern what is right,
and by your guidance do it

In today’s classically sculpted Collect there is a concept important for theological reflection by the ancient Church through the medieval period. A theological key helps us to open up what the Church is really saying to God, on our behalf, locked up in words.

Ancient theologians, both pagan and Christian struggled alike for answers to the same questions. If all things come from God, did God create evil? If all things come from God, then are all things, in fact, also God? If in the cosmos there are only God and everything else which is not-God, and if God is the only Good, then are all created not-God things evil? Is matter evil by nature? Are we evil, destined to doom or nothingness? Pagans and Christians, using the same starting points and categories of thought, came up with differing solutions.

Rejecting the idea of both a good god principle and an evil god principle, pagan theologians of the Platonic stream of thought posited a kind of creation through an endless series of intermediaries to avoid the conclusion that God, the highest good, created evil. For them, the perfectly transcendent One overflowed with being through descending triads of intermediaries down to the corrupt material world from which we must be freed. This solved nothing, of course, because no matter how many hierarchies of intermediaries you propose, those hierarchies always must be further divided into more hierarchies. Christian theologians, who were also Platonists, using the same categories of thought found another solution: creatio ex nihilo… immediate (that is “unmediated”) creation of the universe from nothing. Evil was explained as a deprivation of being, essentially a “nothingness”, not created by God. All things which have being come forth from God, are good, and will go back to God. This is the key for unlocking our prayer.

Let us now look at the lame-duck version people have had to hear in church for over thirty years on the 10th Sunday of Ordinary, brought to you by…

OBSOLETE ICEL (1973 10th Ord. Sunday):
God of wisdom and love,
source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions
in your way of peace.

BLECH! Folks, translation is hard but it ain’t that hard.

If our prayer today is like a nice plate of ossobucco, it’s time to dig out some of that good rich marrow.

When our Collect was composed (probably), Western theologians (still really Platonists in many respects) were mightily struggling to solve thorny problems about, for example, predestination. This required them to gaze deeply at man’s nature and the problem of evil.

In this titanic theological battle we find on all sides the ancient Platonic view of creation. All creation proceeds (procedo) forth from God in indeterminate form. In a reflection of the eternal procession of uncreated divine Persons of the Trinity, the rational component of creation (man) turned around when proceeding forth in order to regard his Source and, in that turning, that conversio, took determinate form and began to return to God. This going forth and returning, this descent and rising (in theology exitus and reditus or Greek exodos and proodos) is everywhere present in ancient and medieval thought… and in liturgical prayer today when the ancient form was too messed up by the redactors.

For Christians of the Neoplatonic Augustinian tradition, man, the pinnacle of creation, “drags” as it were all of created nature with him in a contemplative “conversion” back to God. Man’s rational nature was not destroyed by sin in the Fall. However, were it not for the Incarnate Logos, the Word made flesh, the union of uncreated with created, the descent of creation would have simply continued “exiting” away from God for eternity.

If not for the Incarnation man and all creation with him would never turn back, doomed to become ever more indeterminate. Instead, rational man, the image of the rational Word, and all creation with him can turn back to God. The Son entered our created realm and made possible man’s conversio after the Fall. As John Scotus Eriugena (+877) put it, man is “nature’s priest”. Through rational acts man plays a part in God’s saving plan for creation.

This pattern of exitus and reditus is exemplified in the writings of theologians in a line from pagan Neoplatonic writers like Plotinus (+270), to Christian Platonists like St. Augustine (+430), Boethius (+525), Eriugena, St. Bonaventure (+1274) and St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274). This is the theology behind many ancient prayers. Our Collect echoes the Neoplationic theology of late antiquity and early Middle Ages together with the Scriptural James 1:17, a text used frequently by these same Merovingian and Carolingian thinkers.

We need what our prayers really say.  They are the bones of our daily lives. We need a Mass for grown ups.

Demand Grown-up Mass.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. In discerning my vocation, I was convinced at first that I was meant for the diocese. But then, as I attend the daily Mass with some regularity — I’ve missed three this week for varying reasons — I realize how busy it is, how impossible it is to meditate during the liturgy.

    So, as I discern whether God wants this for me, now I’m looking at the Dominicans, St. John Cantius, the Norbertines, and the FSSP. My consolations are that God will see me through to the end, and that should I be ordained, it wouldn’t be for another 7 years.

    The latter is a small consolation. The former is my best consolation.

    I don’t know whether this is my Abraham and Isaac moment — I’ll have to see how it ends. For all I know, I’m more like sinful Israel into the clueless Babylon.

  2. asperges says:

    The comparison of good red steak with pureed carrots (or similar) is one I have often thought of, but the price of steak has considerably increased in the last 40 years – to say nothing of all the effort it needs to find it – and the habit of throwing a ready meal into the microwave for 5 minutes with no idea of its contents nor care for its outcome remains a serious problem.

    Since upgrading of the menu last Advent however, at least the quality of the vegetables – with more added meat content – has improved somewhat. If only now the sacked gourmet chefs are allowed back in the building, we shall all enjoy haute cuisine considerably more often quite soon!

  3. Clinton R. says:

    Thank you Father, for giving us good meat to chew on. Goop is for those who ball up their fists and stomp their feet and hold their breath until they are blue in the face when those mean ol’ bishops chide them on their heterodoxy. I enjoy reading how philosophy and faith come together. The great theologians, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas in particular, are essential in helping me appreciate the richness and depth of our beautiful faith.

  4. Bea says:

    We are all sinful, we are all clueless. Peter , the rock, was sinful, he denied Christ, yet on that rock HE founded The Church. God will guide you. A different vocation, but He guided me.
    It sounded like your consolation was a matter of ‘time” Diocesan vs 7 years Traditional priest. Is that right? Why hurry into something like “goop” when waiting will yield “meat and potatoes” We are starving out here in the pews, because we get “goop” (Thanks Fr. Z. for the analogy). We are not being fed. It’s God’s call, of course, but my grandchildren will need priests (like you?) to guide them in the future. Go for the Steak.

  5. Mariana says:

    Thanks, Father that was very useful! Also I’m happy to report I’m making osso buco for dinner tonight!

  6. kallman says:

    Thank you Father

    No room for “Mass 101 for dummies”, kiddy Mass, watered down but “Pastoral” Mass,
    just give us the meat and potatoes! (Preferably TLM), Yip!

  7. Kate says:

    For a long time, I thought my desire for more liturgical meat was vanity. After all, who did I think I was? Some theologian or something? If the priest’s simplistic homily was presented for our good, then there must be something good in it, and my desire for something more was pure intellectual vanity. I needed to learn not to want more depth, but to plumb the depths of the watered-down words and childish maxims to find the hidden meaning.

    I tried, and sometimes, through God’s good grace, I did find some insights, but for years, I was starving for more. I have found a few good priests in my area (and online; thank you, Fr. Z!) that are EXCELLENT. We have to drive thrity minutes or more to get to them, but they are so good, holy and smart that everyone in the family (including the kids) would much rather sacrifice the hour long round-trip commute than go to a Mass that gives them “goop”!

    If I may say a word about children:
    While babies may need “goop”, it’s clear to me that they move out of that stage very quickly. There seems to me to be clear parallel in Fr. Z’s analogy. As soon as children are easily able to eat and digest adult food, it would do them a world of good for their parents to set liturgical meat before them as well.

    When we travel or attend Masses at other churches for various reasons, the difference between children who have had a steady diet of liturgical meat and the children who have been fed “goop” all of their young lives is abundantly clear, and I always feel sorry for the goop-eaters.

    I don’t know how many of you lived your childhoods during the time of the kiddy Masses and can still remember them, but I remember thinking, even as a child, “There must be something more…”

  8. MPSchneiderLC says:

    Thanks. Here we can see how much better the new ICEL is. As far as flow and keeping the same length, I would rather here it than your literal version in mass.

  9. Pingback: Meat Not Goop « An Ex-Con's View

  10. philologus says:

    This is excellent exegesis. Thank you, Father.

    About largior – this is also the root of the English word “largess” or “largesse”, a generous granting.

    It is a rich word in precatory Latinity! Those who pray the “Suscipe” (“Take, O Lord…”) will recognize it from the line:

    Quidquid habeo vel possideo mihi largitus es
    Whatever I have or possess you have bountifully given to me

    Speaking of Augustine and the intellect as divine largesse…

    Quantum enim apparet ex donis ingenii, quae iam tibi largitus est Deus, profecto sapiens eris, si te non esse credideris; atque ut sis, ab illo qui facit sapientes, pie, suppliciter, instanterque poposceris; et malueris errore non decipi, quam errantium laudibus honorari. (De Anima et eius Origine 3.1)

    So far as it appears from the gifts of the intellect, which God has copiously granted (largitus es) to you, you will indeed be a wise man if you do not believe that you are; from Him who fashions the wise, piously, humbly, and pressingly beg that you may become so [i.e. wise]; and that, rather than be honored by the praises of strays, you may prefer not to be deceived by straying.


  11. Cathy says:

    When I was little our pastor would begin his homily, Jesus Christ is Lord! He had a manly voice, and this proclamation would shake the rafters. There is something so consoling, confident and, yes, meaty, when God-fearing men are manly. There is something frightening when they are not.

  12. Random Friar says:

    I’m sorry, I’m still focused on the steak. Everything after that is kind of a blur.

    What could you expect of me? I am a Domini canis

  13. I’ve come to greatly appreciate many of the new OF propers, to the extent that–dating back to my initiation by Father Z in early WDTPRS days–I incorporate their Latin originals (and new English translations) in my daily devotions. Although my most conspicuous interest is in the traditional Mass, I wonder whether–in the original (and legitimate) liturgical movement–there was a sense that the emphasis in the older EF propers was too exclusively negative. And hence that the negative needed to be balanced with the positive. Of course, one can well argue now that–in the OF propers as in most everything else–the pendulum swung way too far, so that the new propers are too exclusively positive. Which personal feeling may be why I actually pray daily both the EF and OF propers.

  14. Yes, we have been starved into submission over the last half-century or so, starvation being a recognized procedure among totalitarians.

  15. Ray says:

    re: Miss Anita Moore, O.P.

    This is a bit of a stretch. Christ promised His Holy Spirit or from fifty years ago, if you’d like, His Holy Ghost, would be with us to guide us and keep us from error. Do you think he has reneged on His promise? Our church has provided us the means to hear Mass in the vernacular or Latin, take advantage of it. In both cases, Christ provides His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity to us mere mortals.

  16. Bender says:

    Thank you Ray for providing the “grown up” perspective.

    A true grown up understands that the Church is and was guided by the Holy Spirit with respect to the Mass and that, in the One Holy Mass celebrated in the Ordinary Form, we receive the Bread of Life, not blasphemous “goop,” a Bread of Life and medicine of immortality that is certainly far superior to expressing a desire for worldly things like thick red steak and Cabernet, which is what true children superficially see and focus on.

    [Your comment puzzles me. First, you – you, not I – introduce the notion “blashpemous”. Then, you seem not to grasp, as most reasonable people do, the use of an analogy. Your comment… puzzles me.]

  17. Luvadoxi says:

    I try to appreciate that the Mass is the Mass, but when it starts with “Sing a New Church” I start Mass angry. Any suggestions on how to offer it up????

  18. Ray says: This is a bit of a stretch. Christ promised His Holy Spirit or from fifty years ago, if you’d like, His Holy Ghost, would be with us to guide us and keep us from error. Do you think he has reneged on His promise?

    No. But Christ warned us that the tares would grow up with the wheat, and that the net would catch bad fish as well as good ones, so the guidance of the Holy Spirit is not a pledge to keep the Church out of crisis. The Holy Spirit has in fact permitted many dire tribulations to afflict the Church. The fact of His guidance does not allow us to ignore the evidence and dismiss as a paranoid fantasy the assault on the liturgy, and thus on people’s faith, perpetrated by enemies working from within. Preserving the Church from error means He enables the Church to preserve intact the Deposit of Faith, but it does not mean that He has removed man’s capacity to sin or do stupid, destructive things in this life.

  19. Pingback: Liturgical meat, not goop | Catholic Canada

  20. Ray says:

    re: Miss Moore, O.P.

    What order of preachers do you belong Ms. Moore? Surely the Dominicans would not claim any of the hob goblin heresy you spouted in your last post. [?]
    My initial comments to you were specific in nature and are irrefutable if you are a practicing Catholic. If I have offended you, Madam, I’m sorry. However, I will not sit by and let heretical and mean spirited comments go by unaddressed.
    What I said after your first post, I stand by. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is no more Catholic now than back before Vatican II and the Eucharist is now as it was then, the real Presence of Jesus Christ. Who are the totalitarians you referred to in you post and how do they starve us into submission? I’m a practicing Catholic, go to regular Confession and Communion, belong to the Knights of Columbus and the Legion of Mary, so I’m not a whacked out Catholic. I’m a main stream Roman Catholic that believes the Church and it’s magesterium can’t error. I was taught these beliefs by great women religious from a prior age that didn’t need to be spanked by our Church hierarchy as we are seeing today.

  21. RichardC says:

    That was something to read. The imagery of man proceeding from God and then turning back to see where he came from is powerful.

  22. Glen M says:

    Can the Ordinary Form be offered reverently in a mature Catholic style? Of course, but what is the average Catholic to do when their parish and the closest around them serve the ‘spirit of V2’?

    Things weren’t perfect in the Church prior to the council and the Novus Ordo. Since the Holy Spirit is still in charge, why are we in this mess – this crisis? Perhaps most Catholics back then were superficial, just going through the motions. In order to get the Church back on track maybe a thorough cleansing was needed.

    The average Catholic should make the sacrifices and reparations needed: prayer, devotions, and the one hour drive to the closest Extraordinary Form in the middle of Sunday afternoon. The Biological Solution will take several years. We need to build the Church back up for the generations to come.

  23. Centristian says:

    Grown-up Mass with grown-up homilies. Much of what you wrote in this post is above my head. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but, more importantly, and I don’t mind that I have to do some thinking in order to grasp it. I ought to try to raise my thoughts to your level rather than expect you to come down to mine. Unfortunately, so many of your colleagues do not understand our willingness to reach upwards if only challenged to do so. If we’re often ignorant it is because we are kept so by clergy who talk down to us rather than challenge us to ascend higher. But, then, maybe many of them aren’t much brighter, themselves.

    Junk food liturgy with cotton candy sermons can be offered using any missal, of course, not only the Novus Ordo Missal. It’s true, nevertheless, that the Ordinary Form of Mass is more often than the ’62 Missal offered in an unpalatable way. When it’s served up right, however, it is a treat , even more so than the Extraordinary Form (at least according to my own taste buds).

    Bender: I’m sorry, but I’ve seen my share of the “blasphemous goop” that has often deformed the Eucharistic celebrations I have attended throughout the course of my life. Even when there isn’t outright blasphemy involved, however, there is still, quite often, plenty of “goop”. To say that the end result is still the transubstantiation of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ doesn’t make the “goop” acceptable, it makes it more odious still! The re-presentation of Christ’s Eucharistic action at the Last Supper deserves to be celebrated, does it not, in the context of a liturgy that reflects the awesome dignity of that action.

  24. Ray says: What order of preachers do you belong Ms. Moore? Surely the Dominicans would not claim any of the hob goblin heresy you spouted in your last post. My initial comments to you were specific in nature and are irrefutable if you are a practicing Catholic. If I have offended you, Madam, I’m sorry. However, I will not sit by and let heretical and mean spirited comments go by unaddressed.

    To what “hob-goblin heresy” do you refer? I think you are responding to something I did not say.

  25. Ray says:

    We are not being starved into submission by any totalitarian entity within our Church. If Catholic men and women have a problem with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in their parish, they should go eye ball to eyeball with the pastor and say what is on their minds. As long as the form and matter are correct at the Eucharist transubstantiation does occur. Each week the readings are the same everywhere, if the sermon is weak say something. If the music is wanting, try making some suggestions or get active in the choir. If we aren’t willing to put some of our skin in the game, our outbursts of displeasure on line are meaningless. Get involved in the choir, liturgy committee, parish council etc. etc. Most people just want to backbite anonymously, man or woman up and let the pastor and associates know what you are thinking and why.

    Certainly humans sin. God doesn’t want it but by His giving of free will, we humans at time choose evil over good. The Mass in the vernacular is not inherently evil. If the priest stick to the GIRM and rubrics the Mass is valid. Is one form more desirable, obviously so. Each person has a preference. In the past two or three years the Holy See has encouraged more priests to say the Latin Mass. I can tell you that I served the Latin Mass for 14 or 15 priests in my youth. Can remember vividly some priests who read through the Latin in a mumble/blur but in the end I still partook in His Body and Blood at Communion. A wise person once told me the Good Old Days Are Now. Last resort, change parishes or go to the Mass at a monastery near you. We(the laity) are both part of the problem and the solution.. Pray the rosary and ask Christ’s Mother to help, it will come to you.

  26. Ray, perhaps you ought to try turning down the heat, ratcheting down the emotions, and then reading what people actually say before you go accusing them of heresy. You still haven’t pointed out a specific heretical statement of mine, though I detect hints of an accusation that I have attacked the validity of the Novus Ordo. If so, that is false. I have never said anywhere that it is invalid. Other than that, my main offense seems to be to have said something you disagree with. That is not heresy. And I think this conversation has gone far enough.

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