My morning coffee with homemade scone and my side-wise viewing of the Stage 4 of the Tour was enriched by the reading of Fr. Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment. He, also in stages, has been commenting on aspects of the Roman Canon (aka 1st Eucharistic Prayer).
In Part 3, Fr. H made a point that is close to my thought about the collision of East and West in our attempts at liturgical revitalization of our Catholic identity. My position is to let East be East and West be West.
Our Catholic identity was devastated after the Council, particularly due to a loss of the sense of the transcendent in our worship and our church buildings. In well-intentioned attempts to undo of the damage, some have thought to appropriate elements of Eastern Christianity, which did not undergo such a dramatic loss of the transcendent. They started to “byzantinize” our Latin churches.
No. We have our own Latin traditions which ought to be recovered. Our Rites can accomplish the same, if they are restored and used. We have our own music, rites, architecture, art. I sincerely admire and enjoy the Eastern Divine Liturgy. For a couple of summers in Rome I lived with Ukrainians and sang with them on a daily basis. I, however, am a Roman and Latin priest. I have my own tradition and identity.
Back to Fr. H and Part 3. He wrote:
[I] would expect an Oriental Christian to feel most at home with the Eastern approach. There is a sense in which I would even agree with the idea that Diversity is essential to Catholicity! What I do wish to highlight is, quite simply, that they are different. And that they can’t just be taken into the kitchen and shoved into the blender and mixed up. One of the very few things I object to very strongly about Orthodoxy is that it sanctions ‘Western Rites’ in which an Oriental Epiclesis has been violently shoved into the Roman Canon. I would complain with no less vigour if some daft Latinising imperialist tried to mangle or eviscerate an Eastern Anaphora. Each of our rites has its own integrity, its own logic, its own grammar. Neither should be bullied into conformity with the other. To do so … I would go so far as to call it sacrilege.
At this point, I will add that I use only the Roman Canon when I happen to say the Novus Ordo. Only. I won’t use another Eucharistic Prayer.
Also, at this point, I will remind the readership that in the past I have said that Benedict XVI’s great gift to the Church, Summorum Pontificum, was a juridical approach to a long-standing problem that provided a foundation for a long-term theological goal.
Papa Ratzinger did not solve the historical and theological question of whether or not the Novus Ordo is really in continuity or in discontinuity with the previous iteration of the Roman Rite.
I contend that those questions remain to be studied and weighed. That said…
Now, moving to Part 4, we find:
If you go to a Novus Ordo Mass, the spine of the Altar Book will make a claim that it is the “Roman Missal”. But is it? Does it … I quote a British Television commercial … do what it says on the tin? [NB]I do not think that anybody who has carefully thought these things through could answer Yes. Fr Joseph Gelineau, described by Bugnini himself as “one of the great masters of the international liturgical world”, a liturgical radical who wholeheartedly applauded what happened after Vatican II, did not make that claim. He wrote “We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone.” He did not share the ignorant view sometimes put forward, that the post-Conciliar ‘reform’ was analogous to the edition of the Roman Missal published by the orders of S Pius V … (“If it was alright,” people say to us, “for Pius V to bring out his own Missal, why couldn’t B Paul VI do the same?”) You will all have heard and read that sort of thing; but you won’t have heard it from Gelineau. Gelineau was not ‘one of us’, but he was neither ignorant or stupid. He wrote “We must not weep over ruins or dream of a historical reconstruction …. we must open new ways to the sources of life, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees. But it would not be right to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further, and forward beyond the conciliar prescriptions”. [Consider that the Council Fathers gave only a few mandates about the reforms and then hedged them in with cautions about innovations and the true need of the Church. These mandates were dramatically, callously, systematically violated with the result that, later, Joseph Ratzinger would observe that the “reformed” rites were artificially constructed and suddenly imposed, thus violating the organic growth of worship over time.]
At the opposite end of the academic spectrum from Gelineau, Fr Aidan Nichols points out that [And here is the link to the stuff about Eastern liturgy with which this post began…] “the Rite of Paul VI contains more features of Oriental provenance than the Roman Rite has ever known historically, and notably in the new anaphoras, for these are central to the definition of any eucharistic style”. (He goes on to suggest how the Novus Ordo could be used, and that it could be renamed as the ritus communis). A very distinguished Anglican liturgical scholar, Dr G G Willis, wrote that “Rome has invented in its recent rites a hybrid form … The Roman rite has hitherto kept out the epiclesis, as being inconsistent with its theory of consecration, and the introduction of Oriental elements (seen also in the acclamations of the people, which the new Roman revisions have introduced) would be better eschewed”. Another mighty Anglican scholar, the late Fr Michael Moreton, was very firm and resolute about the need for the exclusive use of the Roman Canon. So should we Latins all be. The chaps that know, know. [Qui habet aures audiendi audiat!]
The Novus Ordo rite as commonly presented is not the Roman rite. [NB: Fr H inserts a note asserting, of course, the unquestioned validity of the rite, as do I.] I would grant it to be arguable that if one used only its First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, what one celebrated might still … just about … yes, I know there were outrageous tamperings with the Verba Domini … be fairly called the Roman rite, without infringing the Trade Descriptions Act too badly. But not a Mass celebrated using one of the new, Orientalised, epicletified, Eucharistic Prayers. And the pseudo-Hippolytan ultra-short Prayer is the one in almost universal and invariable use throughout the ‘mainstream Church’ … despite the hopes expressed in the GIRM that the Roman Canon be used on Sundays and Festivals. Accordingly, the Roman rite proprie dictus, it has to be admitted, has now almost entirely died out in most of the Latin Church, except in such places as Oratories and Ordinariates and the FSSP and Christ the King parishes. And, of course, the SSPX. [And if that is the case – and I think that it is – then what are the implications for our identity as Catholics of the Latin Church, Roman Catholics? More on this below.]
It seems to me a cause worth taking seriously, to restore the Roman Rite to use by using exclusively the Roman Canon. The GIRM itself has pointed to this by saying, in each edition it has been through, that “This Prayer may be always used” (Editio tertia para 365 semper adhiberi potest); a comment it makes about none of the other anaphoras.
Fr. H goes on with a few other concrete suggestions that are well worthy of your time, especially if you are priests or bishops.
Let me circle back to that issue of the Roman Rite having died out in most of the Latin Church.
I remind the readership, especially those readers who are diocesan bishops, that the Code of Canon Law, can. 249, requires – it doesn’t suggest or recommend or propose, but requires – that seminarians be “very well skilled” in the Latin language:
Can. 249 — Institutionis sacerdotalis Ratione provideatur ut alumni non tantum accurate linguam patriam edoceantur, sed etiam linguam latinam bene calleant necnon congruam habeant cognitionem alienarum linguarum, quarum scientia ad eorum formationem aut ad ministerium pastorale exercendum necessaria vel utilis videatur.
How is this translated on the Vatican website?
Can. 249 The program of priestly formation is to provide that students not only are carefully taught their native language but also understand Latin well [FAIL!] and have a suitable understanding of those foreign languages which seem necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of pastoral ministry.
Calleo is “to be practiced, to be wise by experience, to be skillful, versed in” or “to know by experience or practice, to know, have the knowledge of, understand”. Sure, “understand” can translate calleant, but in this context that is the weakest of our choices. We get the word “callused” from calleo. We develop calluses when we do something repeatedly.
So, calleo is already “well versed/skilled”. Then bene calleant is “let them be very well versed/skilled”.
Review also Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and Optatam totius 13, just to point to documents of Vatican II. … unless you “HATE VATICAN II!”, as the libs throw about.
Latin is necessary.
Its benefits are so numerous that they shouldn’t have to be enumerated.
And yet here we are, faced with a clergy of the LATIN Church who are nearly totally ignorant of Latin!
I ask you, Reverend and Most Reverend gentlemen, what does it mean for our Catholic identity if our clergy don’t know the language – and therefore what goes with the language – of their Rite and their Church?
Do you think that that’s a problem?
I do. I think that that vast gap is an opening through which the winds of the world’s ways and the smoke of Satan howl and, eventually, toss priests about on the deck of Peter’s barque with nary a lifeline in sight.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of these priests and bishops will respond, “We have so many more pressing problems to address!”
Is that so?
Our Catholic identity is THE pressing problem.
Our identity has been severely enervated over the last half dozen decades. Let’s do something about this, starting with elementary and high schools! Let’s do something about this starting in homeschooling!
We have to recover these lost tools or we will, very soon, begin to pay even more massively than we do now for the wounds to our identity.
Consider how the demographics of the Church are being reported. There are now more people who identity as former-Catholics than as Catholics, and the majority of the later barely go to church. What will that mean for, inter alia, vocations?
Oh… and by the way… when rectors or others stand up during ordinations to attest before God that the men to be ordained for the Latin Church have been properly trained…. is that true if they have no Latin? No, it is not.
So what are they stating before God and the Church?
In order to revitalize our Catholic identity, we have to revitalize our sacred liturgical worship. Everything starts there and returns there.
Our worship, especially in the Eucharistic liturgy around which all other rites orbit, is our source and our goal, our fons et culmen.
We are our rites.
No other activity, pastoral or not, rivals the importance of our sacred liturgical worship. No other activity, pastoral of not, will succeed if it doesn’t begin in and return to worship of God.
What we do or don’t do, what we lose or what we recover, has long-term impact on our identity and, therefore, on our vocations.
This is why it is so important for priests and bishops to prioritize liturgical renewal.
To do that we have to go beyond just “better” celebrations of the Novus Ordo (which, though valid, is compromised). Yes, “better” is also needed. But, what we also need, urgently, is the side-by-side use of our traditional Roman Rite, conducted in a stable manner, without tinkering, for a goodly long period of years.
What popped into my mind is a scene in the movie Seabicuit, in which the crafty trainer figures out why this amazing horse is not performing well. In the movie line, the horse had been treated very badly as a colt, thus limiting his potential.
Analogies limp, but that clip might give you a sense of what I am talking about.
It seems to me that, these days, priests are so beat up that it’s hard to tell what we are supposed to do. I can’t help feeling they’ve got us so screwed up running in a circle that we’ve forgotten what we were born to do. We have to learn how to be Roman priests again.
How do you do that?
That requires the Roman Rite in its fullness.
We are our Rites.