Look at even more of “Desiderio desideravi”

Continuing our look at Desiderio desideravi (aka Desideedee).   The letter, as I wrote before, is a mixed bag.   It seems divisible according to the voice and topic.  That probably reflects authorship by different people or groups.

Continued from HERE. The section I’ll look at today smacks of Francis, because it get into his old accusation of Gnosticism and neo-Pelagianism.

What is “Gnosticism”.  The term, from Greek gnosis – knowledge – applies to some heresies of the early Church.  A common element was that salvation was gain by knowledge that only a few could possess.   This idea of salvation by a more or less “secret” knowledge was a corruption of Christian faith in contact with false religions of the East.

What is “Pelagianism”.   This applies to several strains of heresy named after a British priest who was an early promoter, Pelagius.  At its core it involves the rejection of Original Sin.  Death is due to human nature, not because of a fall.  Baptism doesn’t forgive the guilt of Original Sin, but is rather like a admission ticket to Heaven.  Grace is not necessary for salvation.  Rather, on our own account, by our own effort, we can attain Heaven.  Grace makes it easier, but it is not necessary.  After the Pope in Rome confirmed the condemnation of Pelagianism by the Council of Carthage in 416, St. Augustine uttered his famous,

Iam enim de hac causa duo concilia missa sunt ad Sedem Apostolicam: inde etiam rescripta venerunt. Causa finita est: utinam aliquando finiatur error! Ergo ut advertant monemus, ut instruantur docemus, ut mutentur oremus. …

Indeed, the result of two councils about this matter were sent to the Apostolic See (Rome): and the rescripts (responses) have come back.  The case is closed: would that the error was over!   Therefore, let us admonish them to take notice, that we will teach so that they will be instructed, that we pray that they will change their minds.  (s. 131.10)

This is the text whence we have the distilled phrase “Roma locuta est. Causa finita est.”  Augustine didn’t actually say that… but that’s what he meant.

Let’s see a couple paragraphs of Desideedee.   My emphases and comments.


19. If Gnosticism intoxicates us with the poison of subjectivism, the liturgical celebration frees us from the prison of a self-referencing nourished by one’s own reasoning and one’s own feeling. The action of the celebration does not belong to the individual but to the Christ-Church, to the totality of the faithful united in Christ. [Except to those who desire traditional forms.  Or lace.  Lace is bad.] The liturgy does not say “I” but “we,” [Credo Confiteor… Lavabo…] and any limitation on the breadth of this “we” is always demonic. [!] The Liturgy does not leave us alone to search out an individual supposed knowledge of the mystery of God. Rather, it takes us by the hand, together, as an assembly, to lead us deep within the mystery that the Word and the sacramental signs reveal to us. And it does this, consistent with all action of God, following the way of the Incarnation, that is, by means of the symbolic language of the body, which extends to things in space and time.

[What I find exasperating about this talk of “Gnosticism” is that it is precisely in a kind of “secret knowledge” about the “spirit of the Council”, something between the lines and words of the actual texts of the documents, that some have forced into a super dogma by which they intend to re-interpret everything, the Church’s history, doctrine, worship especially.   They have a secret knowledge of the Council’s “ecclesiology” which they use as a bludgeon.  If you stand in the way and resist, they slam you with it as the only acceptable ecclesiology, admitting no other possibility.  If you do not conform instantly, you are “against the Council”, which is the last remaining, apparently, sin that cries to… I dunno.. Pachamama, I guess.]

20. If neo-Pelagianism intoxicates us with the presumption of a salvation earned through our own efforts, the liturgical celebration purifies us, proclaiming the gratuity of the gift of salvation received in faith. Participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice [thank you for adding “sacrifice”] is not our own achievement, as if because of it we could boast before God or before our brothers and sisters. The beginning of every celebration reminds me who I am, asking me to confess my sin and inviting me to implore the Blessed Mary ever virgin, the angels and saints and all my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God. [Correct me if I am wrong, but that is just one option in the Novus Ordo.  Isn’t there a “penitential rite” without the Confiteor?] Certainly, we are not worthy to enter his house; we need a word of his to be saved. (cf. Ma 8:8) We have no other boast but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (cf. Gal 6:14) The Liturgy has nothing to do with an ascetical moralism. It is the gift of the Paschal Mystery of the Lord which, received with docility, makes our life new. The cenacle is not entered except through the power of attraction of his desire to eat the Passover with us: Desiderio desideravi hoc Pascha manducare vobiscum, antequam patiar (Lk 22:15).

[What I find exasperating about this is the fact that, if Pelagianism is about “DIY… Do It Yourself”, so is the Novus Ordo.  First DYI of all is the very rite! It was a DIY project by the Consilium that went way beyond the intentions of the Council Fathers who voted on Sacrosanctum Concilium.  This is where “Gnosticism” and “Pelagianism” intersect: the “experts” who cobbled together the Novus Ordo knew better than the Church what the Church intended.  The Novus Ordo was DYI and it is itself a DYI because of all the options.  The options themselves create another strain of Gnosticism, whereby every priest and bishop has his own way of saying Mass and he is sure that his way is the right way (otherwise they would do something else). Parish Masses can differ wildly within cities, not to speak of countries. Talk about “intoxication”!  Have you seen what some priests become, up there in front of people?  Talk about turning worship into “being about me” and not about the “assembly”.]

Rediscovering daily the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration

21. But we must be careful: for the antidote of the Liturgy to be effective, we are required every day to rediscover the beauty of the truth of the Christian celebration. I refer once again to the theological sense, as n. 7 of Sacrosanctum Conciliumso beautifully describes it: the Liturgy is the priesthood of Christ, [NB: no quotation marks… SC doesn’t say that in that way, but it sort of says that.] revealed to us and given in his Paschal Mystery, [SC 7 doesn’t talk about the Paschal Mystery, but 5 and 6 do.] rendered present and active by means of signs addressed to the senses (water, oil, bread, wine, gestures, words), so that the Spirit, plunging us into the paschal mystery, might transform every dimension of our life, conforming us more and more to Christ.

[“Paschal Mystery”.  Everything is “Paschal Mystery” these days.  I am all for the Paschal Mystery.  I get how the rites themselves make the baptized present to the sacred mysteries we celebrate and make those mysteries present to us.  I get how, as Vonier teaches, sacramental reality is not less real than sensible reality.  However, the problem with most of the jibber jabber about the Paschal Mystery is that it gets reduced to the Resurrection.  SC 7 hadn’t done that yet.  As a matter of fact, it says that the Mass is a sacrifice.  This is the corrective that needs to be stressed whenever there’s lots of talk about the Paschal Mystery.  As Trent emphasized dogmatically in Session 22, the Mass is a sacrifice which is propitiatory.  It is the sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner, the same Victim/Priest (by the ministry of ordained priests), the manner alone of offering being different.  There are some, such as the theologians of the SSPX, who are deeply suspicious of any talk of the Paschal Mystery, in which term they hear echoing the exaggerations and wanderings of the “ressourcement” writers of the 20th c.  They aren’t wrong.  However, in the offertory prayers of the TLM the priest says that he offers the sacrifice to the Trinity in memory of the “Passion, Resurrection and Ascension”.  In the Roman Canon at the Unde et memores we remember the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension.  The “anamnesis… remembering” in this case is more than just a recollection of a past event.  In the context of the Canon, during the renewal in an unbloody manner of the propitiatory sacrifice by the Priest/Victim Christ (in the person of His ordained priest), the sacred mysteries are made present to us and we to them.  While Mass is the SACRIFICE of Calvary, in a preeminent way, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also a making present of, yes, the Resurrection and Ascension.  Moreover, there is a sense in which the Mass is the culmination of the entire history of salvation, foreshadowed in God’s work as in, for example, the very first pasch, the Passover and Exodus which the Hebrews would “remember” through history, though not in a way that they thought they were renewing it in a new manner.  I’ll stop.  The problem is that, these days, the “Paschal Mystery” is about the Resurrection, to such an extent that the propitiatory sacrificial dimension of the Mass is virtually smothered.]

22. The continual rediscovery of the beauty of the Liturgy is not the search for a ritual aesthetic which is content by only a careful exterior observance of a rite or is satisfied by a scrupulous observance of the rubrics. Obviously, what I am saying here does not wish in any way to approve the opposite attitude, which confuses simplicity with a careless banality, or what is essential with an ignorant superficiality, or the concreteness of ritual action with an exasperating practical functionalism[Which would also have to include a kind of minimalism that is a very dangerous and distorting tendency, the dreadful notion that so long as a sacrament is valid, then nothing else matters.]

23. Let us be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time, gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed. Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down. But even if the quality and the proper action of the celebration were guaranteed, that would not be enough to make our participation full.

And so we get to “active participation”.

That last bit, however… which does that describe most positively (if I can put it that way): Novus or Vetus?  Observance of rubrics… care of celebration… sticking to the ritual so that the sacred mysteries will be encountered more readily.  Which?  Novus?  Vetus?


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  1. WVC says:

    “The Liturgy does not leave us alone to search out an individual supposed knowledge of the mystery of God. Rather, it takes us by the hand, together, as an assembly . . .”

    This is as incoherent as people who claim their individual personal pronoun is they/them. How on earth does the Liturgy take US (plural) by the hand (singular), together (plural), as an assembly (plural)? How could it be that if we all individually go on a journey to the same destination, we don’t arrive there unless we all go to that destination “together” and not “singly”? This type of blathering drivel makes no sense on a literal, metaphorical, symbolic, or figurative level.

    It’s just dumb.

  2. The Vicar says:

    If your thinking were LESS PELAGIAN and LESS GNOSTIC, you would see it’s about WE and not about I or YOU.

    And that’s VOSOTROS to you!

    Worry less about circular reasoning and the total absence of logic, and more about global warming and synodality.

    Then you will see the genius of Vatican II and great documents like Desi Arnaz Babalu.

  3. Three comments:

    1: A man is in a crowd of people. Suddenly he feels another person’s hand in his pocket. The man turns and sees a thief in a mask running away with the man’s wallet. The man races after the thief but is not able to catch the thief. The man goes to the police and says “SomeONE stole my wallet. THEY went that way.” Why does the man use THEY in this case when clearly it was only one thief who stole the wallet? Because the man does not know if the thief is a man or a woman. This usage of THEY is recorded in the English language going all the way back to before Shakespeare. We do not say “He or She went that way.” That would be ridiculous.

    2: It just occurred to me that Desiderio desideravi and Traditionis custodes before it are both examples of Francisco trying to proselytize traditional Catholics.

    3: It would be nice if Francisco would himself read Sacrocanctum Concilium. If Paul VI really wanted follow the council he could have done it. There already existed many vernacular translations of the mass and other sacraments. All Paul VI had to do was have the local bishops submit the one they liked to the Vatican and get it approved. Since the translations were likely already in existence there would be no need for copyrights. Everyone, rich and poor alike, studied or illiterate alike; could just continue to have the mass, even in the vernacular free of charge.

    But that is not what Paul VI did. He instead had men who did not know Latin well enough make a new mass and then translators who didn’t know either Latin nor English well enough translated it. By doing that both the original text in poor Latin and the translated text in grammatically incorrect English were copyrighted by Paul VI. Now the only way to have the mass was to PAY money and be smart enough to figure out what any of this new text was supposed to mean.

    And the new mass is STILL copyrighted. For shame. The mass should be above such things. Just imagine if our lord Jesus, after teaching everyone how to pray “Pater Noster” then turned around and copyrighted the prayer. And with all the money the Vatican got from the sale of Paul VI’s books which they FORCED parishes to buy, the Vatican doesn’t help the poor but instead buys oil refineries off the coast of Angola.

    Even the new Liturgy of the Hours was copyrighted. Pius X was able to reform the office without forcing people to buy books from the Vatican.

    Solution: Release all the new liturgical books to public domain. Let rich and poor alike sue whatever means they have available to make copies for study and implementation.

    Create a new Sui Juris church that follows the older books with its own hierarchy and can small step by small step incrementally reform the liturgy to allow vernacular if Sacrosanctum Concilium really wanted it that way.

    “But then there will be two different Latin rites.” So what. There is more than one Sui Juris church that follows the Byzantine right. In fact, EVERY Sui Juris church follows the same rite as another Sui Juris church with the lone exceptions of the Latin rite and the Armenian rite. Let the Latin rite have a Sui Juris church that follows the old books faithfully and let there be peace.

    But of course us lay people who have no choice but to attend the Novus Ordo are helpless in all of this. Not like Francisco will ever hear my words.

    Beatrice says it well:
    ” I cannot be a man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving.”

  4. Fr. Reader says:

    @WVC Calm down, it is just a metaphor. And it makes sense. It is just that you don’t like it.

  5. Not says:

    Only for the intelligent? Patron Saint of the Priesthood, St. John Marie Vianney. The worldly standards did not think him intelligent but his spirituality brought them all to shame. Would have loved to hear his dissertation on the Novus Ordo.

  6. Lurker 59 says:

    The liturgical action isn’t the action of “Christ-Church”. That is false. The liturgical action the Trinitarian action of the Son of God done through the Holy Spirit directed to the praise and glorification of the Father. In so far as man might participate in this action, it is in so far as he is conformed to Christ, has put on Christ, and that Christ acts in him. The unbaptised man has zero participation in the liturgical action, for Christ is not in him.

    It is not a “We are the Church” https://www.hopepublishing.com/find-hymns-hw/hw4145.aspx (read ponder compare).

    In #19 from “Rather, it takes us by the hand, together, … –ff”, this word salad strikes me right away as both allusion to certain “theologies” as well as obfuscation to hide the redefining of terms. Notice the shift in ” And [the liturgy] does this by means of the symbolic language of the body, which extends to things in space and time.” which shifts the primacy of the actor away from Christ and localized it within the community. It is the community’s “sign-symbol” language that actualizes the celebration.

    This said, here is the point where we (or I) can say, even if the premises were to be accepted that underlines the massive rupture in the “sign-symbol” language between the NO and TLM. The only way to get around that is to suggest that the sign-symbol language of TLM is corrupted — pull a Luther. I’d argue that is what is being said here and elsewhere without saying it.

    @Fr. Z. You are correct. One parish that I was at for around a decade never did the Confiteor. Also note the “demonic” I confess….

    “The Liturgy has nothing to do with an ascetical moralism.” — No, it has everything to do with it cf. 1 Corinthians 11:29. If this is not understood, one does not understand what it looks like to live the life of Christ.

    #21 Pascal Mystery language doesn’t line up with Eastern Catholicism/Orthodox discussions of this topic. It strikes me as packaging Protestant theology in Catholic wrapping.

    #22 This is a glue trap. Nobody is coming down on liturgical abuses in the NO to the point that I’d argue that what TLM people consider abuses (ie not following the rubrics) is not what NO powers that be consider abuses (adding TLM elements to the NO). TLM is very much about limiting the expression of the community so that the action of God can be manifest. The NO is about heightening the expression of the community because it is through these sign-symbols that one is ‘lead by the hand of God to the newness of the spirit.’

    #23 The key here is “do as I say” not the “follow the rubrics”. It is also more of a “believe what I believe”. It is not a do/say what the Church does and has done throughout its history. That would be reading VII in the light of Apostolic Tradition and the sensus fidelium, which you cannot do.

    It is important not to read into these documents things that they are not. They should be read with the light of the “spirit of VII” and the light of rupture because that is, to borrow VII, the spirit in which they were written.

    And if that is the wrong way to read them, I am sure that I will be quickly corrected by those that agree with the documents.

  7. I’m not a philosopher nor deep intellectual…but it seems to me that (and I don’t know the proper term) this is a case where what’s being employed is “the less true the conclusion is, the more words we have to generate and publish and the louder we have to yell to attempt to disprove the weakness of the premise that is its basis.”

    2+2=4. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Is it that hard?

    It’s almost like there are people who are paid by the word to generate those documents (and bonus points for being able to include worn-out hippy-dippy 1960s cliches to boot). Our Lord used simple parables, spare of words, to get his point across. The more convoluted and imprecise language you use…the more it can be manipulated (truth becomes a relative, personal feeling) to mean whatever you want it to mean.

    Bah. More of the same drivel from people I really wonder whether they actually believe.

  8. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    Regarding the key term “Paschal Mystery”, and the five car pile-up that surrounds it now at the beginning of the 21st century, I think it would be important for us all to step out of the fray for a moment and examine the meaning of the term. As a traditionalist/manualist/restorationist, one must remember that words have definitions and not fall into the trap of the modernist usage of language, where, as Humpty Dumpty tells Alice “The question is, which is to be master – that’s all.”

    Fr. Maurice de la Taille, in his excellent book “Mysterium Fidei,” expends his efforts at length to defend the Mass as a sacrifice, and to prove that the resurrection and ascension of our Lord are actually a part of this sacrifice. This is all done heavy with reference to the Church Fathers, using the Councils and St. Thomas as signposts of orthodox interpretation.

    I also think this point of view plays out in the liturgy of the Roman Rite. The consecration, separating the Body and Blood, represents the passion. The comixture of the Particle and the Chalice, the resurrection. The Sacrifice is only actually consummated at the communion of the priest. I’m not doing justice to these concepts here, but hopefully my meaning is sufficiently clear. The point being that the content of the “Paschal Mystery” is, all together, what constitutes the Sacrifice of the Mass as a whole. The separation of these things is, I would argue, a merely mental distinction which is only in present in the mind of the distinguisher.

  9. WVC says:

    @Fr. Reader – Of course I don’t like it, but I don’t like it because it’s lazy, sloppy, and nonsensical. It most certainly does not work as a metaphor. Many other options would have worked:

    Like a shepherd, the Liturgy calls to and guides the sheep.

    Like a beacon on a hill, the Liturgy provides us a sure guide to our heavenly destination amongst the darkness and distractions of this world.

    Like strands of a sweet melody heard amidst the jostling of our noise filled world, the Liturgy can resonate in our ears, touch our memories, inflame our hearts, and inspire us to remember to seek out those things beyond the ordinary, beyond our routines.

    There are plenty of ways to craft a metaphor that communicates the point without being dunderheaded in mixing up plural and singular and breaking the metaphor by having the Liturgy take individual people by the hand all together. Especially when the imagery is situated in a passage whose chief (albeit wrong headed) purpose to to claim that the Liturgy is NOT an individual experience.

    But this meets expectations. Why bother to be precise in language? Why make the effort to be coherent with the imagery and phrasing being used? It’s not that big a deal. People will figure out. Spirit of VII and blahblahblahblabh. Whatever.

    Just because the overwhelming style of our age is aimless verbal diarrhea doesn’t mean I have to pretend it’s anything other than stupid.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I wonder if the problem with “Paschal Mystery” as a term (since we’ve already shown that it far predates Vatican II) is that in Italy, Spain, France, etc., “Paschal” means Easter first and foremost, with Passover as the secondary meaning for Christians.

    Whereas English speakers sorta take it more by what it means, so we’re more likely to think “Lamb of God” and less “It’s Easter morning outside the tomb.”

    Usually English speakers get the short end of the stick, so it would be cool if we were the beneficiaries of our language, for once.

  11. TonyO says:

    What I find exasperating about this is …

    One of the things I find exasperating is that my own experience of the Vetus Ordo, after having nearly all of my early memories being of the Novus Ordo, is that it was ONLY BY THE VETUS ORDO that I really began to get the council’s “active participation”; and that so far from any pelagian attitude, the Vetus Ordo reinforces in me a very, very clear sense that my salvation is God’s work, that what I contribute is NOT opposing him; and that so far from any subjectivism or gnosticism, the Vetus Ordo stands in direct opposition to these errors. Moreover, in my discussing with others, I find that my own experience is largely similar to many others.

    Hence, as far as I can tell, for all of the motivating factors that Francis is citing, he should be promoting the use of the Vetus Ordo, and not trying to suppress it. Even if he isn’t willing to admit that the Novus Ordo never was conformed to what the Council ACTUALLY demanded for reform, he should be willing to say that having BOTH forms of the mass is better than having just one. He should be asking for ALL parishes to have at least on Vetus Ordo mass, so people can be exposed to it and notice the differences, and think about them, and ask about them, and be able to grasp what is true in the Novus Ordo because of what is true in the Vetus Ordo. To the extent that Francis thinks that the Vetus Ordo is a problem, it seems (to me) it is precisely to that extent he NEVER UNDERSTOOD the mass he grew up in, and that forces me to wonder about a lot of his commentary on all subjects.

  12. Fr. Reader says:


  13. katerinanatalia says:

    Where does Pope Francis see The Neocatechumenal Way fitting in as a unique expression of the Roman Rite?

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