Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Solutions for the Current Crisis

Fr Hunwicke recently suggested the White Lady in partial tribute to Our Lady's appearance in Lourdes. Some others might recommend it as a general elixir for the complications and tribulations of being a Christian in post-Christian age, with creeping paganism, an inept hierarchy, and the rather obvious fact that part of the remedy for the clergy will involve the on-going exposition of scandals by these same clergy. I have my own set of standby elixirs, cures, and general fixes for your problems.

For a Rough Day: the Old Fashioned

The original cocktail and, according to some, still the best. A cocktail is just sugar and water (simple syrup), bitters, and any spirit. The substitution of other sweetening and bittering agents made the original cocktail known as the "old fashioned" way of making it. While most prefer Bourbon, Rye is more traditional and makes a superior drink; the spice in Rye cuts through the sugar, while sweet Bourbon is typically lost in the general mix of the drink. I prefer to make my Old Fashioned with Cognac, which is a softer drink and has a richer flavor.

In a rocks glass:
-2 oz spirit
-enough simple syrup to make a puddle in the glass
-one dash of Angostura bitters
-one dash orange bitters

Add large ice and stir until desired chill. Garnish with an lemon twist and an orange twist. Express oils over the drink and drop the twists in.

For a Rough Week: the Martini

An evolution of the Old Fashioned, the Martini is a gin cocktail made with vermouth as the sweetener instead of simple syrup. Made with sweet vermouth and in a balanced ratio, this drink is much more flavorful, rich, and interesting than the "dry Martinis" of the Mad Men era, when a "dry" Martini somehow meant less and less vermouth. A "dry" Martini is just a Martini made with dry vermouth instead of the 19th century, pre-Prohibition norm, sweet vermouth. Dry vermouth is preferable unless one can acquire a truly proper sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes, or something similar. Good sweet vermouth has a flavor profile similar to Port, just more moderate and better for mixing. A good sweet Martini is rich, herbaceous, and underlines the citric notes in the ingredients. A good dry Martini is juniper forward, clean, and crisp.

In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin (Beefeater, Berry Bros., skip the Hendricks)
-1 oz of vermouth
-two dashes of orange bitters

Add ice and stir until desired chill. Strain into a chilled Martini glass or champagne goblet. Garnish with a lemon twist expressed over the drink.

For Reunions: the Vesper

"Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet" Ian Fleming asked for, shaken over ice and served with a lemon peal in a deep champagne goblet. A variation on the Martini and named for the double agent in Casino Royale—hence the vodka, the Vesper has a few problems for the home drink-maker. First, is that good vodka has no taste and bad vodka tastes terrible. The second is that Kina Lillet is no longer made. At the Duke's Hotel, where Fleming invented the drink, they substitute the modern Lillet Blanc aperitif wine with a few dashes of Angostura bitters to compensate for the quinine in the original Kina Lillet. I make it the way they serve it at the Duke's Hotel, only I omit the vodka in favor of more gin.

Enjoying a Vesper in its birthplace
In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin
-1 oz of vodka
-1 oz of Lillet Blanc
-one dash of Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a Martini glass or champagne coupe. Garnish with an orange twist for a little sweetness on top.

For Afternoons: the Rivoli 75

The French 75 is really just a Tom Collins topped with champagne instead of soda water. On its own it is a fine drink, but at the Ritz of London the Rivoli bars makes its own version of its called the Rivoli 75. It uniquely calls for yuzu juice, the juice of an obscure Japanese citrus fruit; if unavailable, make a juice consisting of two parts lemon juice to one part orange juice. The Ritz does not add simple syrup, but I think it cuts the tartness of this drink and balances it out. This is a perfect drink for the mid-afternoon, between luncheon and Martini hour.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of London style gin
-0.5 oz of simple syrup
.0.5 oz of yuzu juice
-one dash of grapefruit bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute or goblet and top with either champagne or the sparkling wine of your choice. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit expressed over the drink.

For Early in the Evening: the Sidecar

The Sidecar is a sour style drink, one of French origin as evidenced by its use of Cognac. As with the Rivoli 75, I add simple syrup because I appreciate the balance it brings to an otherwise tart drink. Use a VS label Cognac; the quality of a VSOP or XO will get lost in the drink, but something unlabeled will be quite harsh. Lastly, do not be tempted to cheap out on the Cointreau for triple sec or orange curacao, those are Novus Ordo orange products.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of Cognac
-1 oz of Cointreau
-0.5 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-0.5 oz of simple syrup

Shake vigorously over ice until the noise of the ice hitting the shaker becomes high pitched, meaning the dilution is sufficient. Prepare an chilled Martini glass by adding a dash of sugar to the rim. Strain the drink into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Late in the Evening: the Last Word

The ultimate hipster indulgence, but actually a damn fine drink. If you do not like cherry liqueurs—and I do not—then you can omit the Luxardo.

In a shaker:
-1 oz of any gin
-1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-1 oz of Luxardo maraschino liqueuer
-1 oz of Chartreuse

Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Enjoy

A Hot Day: the Mai Tai

A tiki style drink invented by Trader Vic, the Mai Tai is a delicious drink that has unjustly fallen out of favor because, like the Old Fashioned and the Martini, it spent a lot of time in the hands of incompetent bartenders. You will often see nonsense involving pineapple juice and grenadine, but a true Mai Tai is a simple, refreshing drink best made with a dark, spicy rum. The original recipe does call for orange curacao, but I find Cointreau makes a more exciting, vivacious drink.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of dark or medium rum
-0.75 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-0.75 oz of orange curacao (Cointreau works better)
-0.5 oz of orgeat (can substitute simple syrup)

Shake over ice for a good long time to get proper dilution; this drink should not be too strong. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Take a few sprigs of mint leaves, slap them to release the essential oils, and add as a garnish.

And there you have it, a list of "solutions" for any occasion on which you may be irritated by something your coworker or bishop may have said. Saint Ignatius recommended the faithful discern the spirits. Why not follow that advice?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy (BOOK REVIEW)


The world knows Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Does it know Tim Berners-Lee? The world knows "Uncle Joe" Stalin. Does it know Ion Mihai Pacepa? Jobs gave us the iPhone and Zuckerberg some blue website, but Berners-Lee gave us the internet. Stalin took over Eastern Europe and committed genocide, but Pacepa inculcated materialism and jealously into the hearts of academics and undergraduates throughout the West. The real work of changing the world is so often obscured by those who later reap its laudatory recognition.

Similarly, Paul VI is given the credit for the final form of the Roman liturgy which emerged in the late 1960s. Responsibility for the Liturgia Horarum and Novus Ordo Missae do inevitably fall upon Giovanni Bautista Montini, who signed his regnal name under the decrees promulgating their uses, but the creation of these rites belongs to the less known and more obscure Annibale Bugnini.

We know the name Bugnini and we know the product of his work. What we do not know is the man and his life. We do not know how the man who changed how we pray actually prayed himself. We do not know how the man who influenced how we related to God himself related to God. We do now know how the man who wrote the liturgy himself understood the liturgy. Yves Chiron's Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy does not answer all of these questions, but it does open a substantial aperture into the life and decisions of a man whose traces remain in the trace of every western Christian.

The Author

Yves Chiron is a French essayist and historian who has written extensively on the history of the modern papacy, the saints, and the contemporary state of the Church. A traditionalist, but a staid one, a Francophonic correspondent likened him to a "more intellectual version of Michael Davies". Not many of Chiron's works have made it into English, but Annibale does reflect an objective approach to the sensitive subject matter, an interest in connecting the facts, and a respectable refrain from voicing an opinion until the end of the work.

The Book

Annibale Bugnini was born near Orvieto to a sharecropper and his wife. The fifth of seven children, Annibale came from a pious family that attended the great feasts of the Church and made an annual pilgrimage to Santa Maria de Scopulis during the Paschal octave. Half the children went into the religious life, Annibale himself into the Vincentians. 

Chiron follows his subject through his religious studies in Sienna and his initial interest in liturgy. He loved the major feasts with tremendous enthusiasm and would readily put on a cassock in the sacristy of any church if given the chance to introire ad altare Dei. Liturgy, Chiron suggests, was an enthusiasm for Bugnini. His real interest was in managing people, a skill which would inform his life's work much more than his expertise. A student in Sienna, he wrote his dissertation on the role of committees during the Council of Trent. 

After ordination to the priesthood, Bugnini made two pivotal moves which would determine the direction of his ecclesiastical career. First, he accepted the directorship of a failing liturgical journal called Ephemerides Liturgicae, which had fallen to 96 subscribers; under Bugnini's niche interest in "pastoral liturgy", readership increased into the thousands. The other major step was Bugnini's first and only pastoral experience as a weekend chaplain in a poor Roman suburb [presumably] celebrating low Mass for the locals. Here, he nursed his "pastoral" angle on the liturgy by having a "reader" hold up large cardboard signs which commented on the Mass or translated the priest's words into Italian and which prompted the congregation to reply in Italian. Something new was in the mix.

We then follow the aspiring liturgist to the Le Thieulin conference in 1946, a gathering of like minded promoters of the Liturgical Movement and all its aspirations. Here Bugnini met Dom Beauduin, Yves Congar OP, and the progressive Georges Chevrot. The mutual meeting effected the formation of the Centro di Azione Liturgica, which gave this particular brand of the Liturgical Movement its form and Carlo Braga his first job. 

Bugnini played his modest part in the Pian reforms to Holy Week, in which he was a passive secretary more than an active participant. After the election of John XXIII and the calling for an ecumenical council, Bugnini was appointed secretary for the new commission charged with drafting the Conciliar agenda and documents regarding the liturgy. Here emerged what the author astutely denominates the "Bugnini method." 

Normally, a secretary functions as a minute-taker, an envoy for someone in greater authority, and a delegated staffer. Bugnini employed his talents for bureaucracy and used his unique position to create various factions within the preparatory commission, isolate them, and then dictate their agenda to them. He created thirteen subcommissions, each dedicated to a particular function such as vernacular, sacred music, concelebration, the Office, and more. No one subcommission could influence the work of another subcommission nor consult them. Everything had to be done through Father Bugnini. 

In the preparatory commission, Bugnini set the agenda for each commission and by putting hitherto unconsidered matters on the table, he moved what political scientists call the "Overton window" such that some movement on these issues was inevitable. Wary of backlash, Bugnini instructed members of the subcommissions drafting sections of what would be called Sacrosanctum Concilium not to be too forward in their views on the vernacular, concelebration, or the extent to which they desired to reform the entire liturgy:
"It would be most inconvenient for the articles of our Constitution to be rejected by the Central Commission or by the Council itself. That is why we must tread carefully and discreetly. Carefully, so that proposals be made in an acceptable manner (modo acceptabile), or, in my opinion, formulated in such a way that much is said without seeming to say anything: let many things be said in embryo (in nuce) and in this way let the door remain open to legitimate and possible postconciliar deductions and applications; let nothing be said that suggests excessive novelty and might invalidate all the rest, even what is straightforward and harmless (ingenua et innocentia). We must proceed discreetly. Not everything is to be asked or demanded from the Council—but the essentials, the fundamental principles [are]." 
In 1962, Bugnini was informed that Ferdinando Antonelli OFM would be named head of the Conciliar commission on the liturgy. Bugnini, in a risible fit of extraordinary self-entitlement one usually only sees in college sororities, wrote everyone he knew asking for the job, citing his "bitterness" and the harm done to his reputation. At the same time he was fired from his job teaching at the Lateran University. He appealed to Pope John, who either willed his dismissal or consented to it.

Bugnini's double edged sword, Sacrosanctum Concilium, passed muster in Saint Peter's Basilica during Vatican II; even Archbishop Lefebvre voted for it (although bishops were hardly given the time to read the documents). Now Giovanni Bautista Montini was Pope Paul VI and he restored Bugnini to his secretariat on the Conciliar commission. What is most impressive, and new, in Chiron's research is that he has uncovered Bugnini's takeback of control of the reform project. The Consilium, under the nominal leadership of Cardinal Lercaro, was to be dissolved and the reforms to the Mass and Office would descend upon Cardinal Larraona and his Congregation for Sacred Rites. The Consilium managed to appoint itself reformer of the liturgy.

From here, we are familiar with the history. Our author does, however, supply us with new and useful tidbits, including the startling reaction of the 1967 Synods of Archbishops who viewed three experimental Novus Ordo Masses in the Sistine chapel. A two thirds majority was needed to approve the new rite and only a third voted against it, a fact already known; what was largely unknown is that another third of bishops, uncomfortable with the new Mass and equally uncomfortable opposing the Pope, voted "present." Pope Paul eventually saw a spoken rendition of the Novus Ordo himself and suggested numerous changes (returning the Kyrie, keeping the triple Agnus Dei, and retaining the Last Gospel). Apparently the new Mass was to have even less of the old Mass than it does now.

One last insight provided by the author is a debasement of the long held rumor that Archbishop Bugnini was a subversive Mason, a member of the Lodge bent on destroying the Church from within. When Paul VI decided to abolish both the Consilium and Congregation for Sacred Rites, he elected to create a new commission to handle the regulation of his new liturgy. Bugnini was the obvious choice, but was, inevitably, not the choice. Why? The author sides with those who think Pope Paul was simply tired of Bugnini, his methods, and his antics.

Montini intended to sent Bugnini on a Papal Embassy to Latin America, but Bugnini objected on the grounds of his ignorance of Spanish. Instead he was sent to Tehran. Those who believe him to be a Freemason have their roots in Cardinal Oddi, who started to Tito Casini that he had seen evidence that Bugnini was an affirmed member of the Lodge. Archbishop Lefebvre repeated this rumor in 1975 and began an accusation that lingers until our own day. Ironically, while in his second exile, Bugnini wrote to Paul VI suggesting that Lefebvre and the Seminary of Saint Pius X be given permission to use the old Mass under similar conditions to the "Agatha Christie Indult" in England; he was ignored and Rome's relations with the French missionary deteriorated.

Conclusions

There is much more in Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy that cannot be covered in a simple review: his influence on papal ceremonies, his war against the collegiate churches of Rome in their effort to preserve Gregorian chant, and his very human reactions to the political situation in Iran. 

Chiron has given his reader much food for thought without explicitly telling them what to think. The cover of this book is, fitting, a picture of Msgr. Bugnini against a page for the introductory rites of the Novus Ordo Missal. We can see any number of option greetings, aspersions with lustral water, or a penitential rite. The choice is left with the reader of the Missal. Similarly, conclusions about Bugnini are left with the reader. To the progressive, he will be a noble warrior who patiently dealt with the Baroque liturgical establishment in Rome until he found the moment to spring forward and initiate renewal. To the traditionalist, Bugnini comes across as a double dealing, mealy mouthed ignoramus who spent decades destroying sacred things and replacing them with his own machinations. The moderate and the conservative, however, are so confronted with facts that they have no where to hide, no where to talk about the misinterpretation of Vatican II or the silvering linings of the reform; either Bugnini was a scoundrel or the agent of reform.

Chiron only departs from his dispassionate facts and gives an opinion on the last page. The opinion is his own, but Josef Ratzinger supplies the words:
"On the other hand, the liturgical reform enacted after Vatican II made 'the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm'."

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ultramontane Holy Week


Until quite recently, good discussion on the rites of Holy Week was not readily available. In the past few years traditionalists have found themselves able to critique the rites of Pius XII on their own merits and often reverted back to older usage irrespective of last year's Ecclesia Dei (RIP) indult. Consideration tends to focus on the antiquity of the older rites, their more popular appeal in terms of ceremony, their theological cohesion, and their greater conformity to the traditional liturgy.

Once upon a time the best and most powerful objection was that the 1955/6 Holy Week represented an experiment with the Pauline reforms in mind. The FSSPX accepted the changes as did a large congregation of sedevacantists. The hold outs in the old days tended to be sedevacantists who would not touch anything that smelled of the new rite, regards of its own demerits. As such, we find Anthony Cekada respectfully telling Pius XII that he would prefer to retain the Presanctified Mass on Good Friday because Paul VI, his successor, later wrote that the Pian changes were meant to evolve the reformed liturgy. There is no question of the rites themselves representing something troublesome or ill-fit for use because a pope published them.

In this stance, the Reverend Father Cekada represents an older form of Traditionalism that looks back to the halcyon, Ultramontane days before Papa Giovanni and upholds their standards as normative, whereas modern, mainstream Traditionalists who recognize Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope find him wanting and are cured of whatever Ultramontanism Pius XII or Benedict XVI may have planted (the former by desire and the latter by his good deeds). Indeed, could the revival of Holy Week in the Trad world have transpired without the less legalistic, more pastoral papacy of Francis?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sterile Families: Are We Dogs?


I avoid the subject of religion in the office, not because I shy away from our Catholic faith or because I find any shade of embarrassment in it. No, it is because my boss and a few coworkers are very Evangelical Baptists who take any alternative perspective on Christianity to be an insult against them. Why, once I let be known that I could happily go a Sunday or three without hearing a sermon only be told that not having a sermon "ain't Biblical." I mentioned that the Catholic Mass is significantly older than Protestant rites and does not necessarily foresee a sermon unless the bishop is there to deliver it. I think I would be met with more tolerance drinking martinis in the Middle East.

Today these same fine folks were discussing their preferred methods of sterilization after having children. One, who is "saved" (from what?), let it be known that she "got her tubes tied" during the c-section to deliver her third child. Another said his mother forced his father to get a vasectomy after child #2 only to need a service herself due to cancer. And another's got "fixed" the day her daughter was born. They looked at my unease in utter confusion and a polite that quietly said, "I cannot believe you are so prissy that you refuse to acknowledge how normal and necessary these things are."

Sterilization and contraception have come full circle on our day. The early feminist pioneers of these methods of contravening children were invented for the purpose of positive eugenics. Promoters, like Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger, intentionally targeted poor and minority communities for these products hoping to weed them out of the general populace while more suitable types proliferated at a controlled rate.

In our own day the poor continue to reproduce like rabbits and, unlike fifty years ago, when blacks had more stable marriages and lower illegitimacy rates than whites, they generate children into broken environments. By contrast, the bourgeois American white collar workers have grown accustomed to certain things: a reasonably sized house, one good vacation a year, exorbitant university educations and savings to go along with them, and general comfort. The idea children are a calling unto their own is utterly removed from this lifestyle. Children represent a few years of annoyance followed by a decade of congratulatory events, games, graduations, and engagements.

Most bothersome is the attitude toward the marital act in this bourgeois mindset. The couple see intimacy as something more essential than children and financial comfort more important than meeting minimal financial support. The partners inevitably objectify each other as means of fulfilling desires. They are not one flesh any longer than it takes for both of them obtain their wish and go back to their own entertainments.

Perhaps the two bravest things one can do today are to take up a religious vocation and to start a true Catholic family. Both constitute total abandon to normal ambitions and comforts. The family may have it harder, as the monk in his cloister is removed from a social and financial system pitted against him. The family must remain as one, even as Christ and the Church are one, against the vicissitudes of a derisive society that looks at each additional child as a downgrade in potential future vacations.

Their more secular counterparts will have the opportunity to be happy, living comfortably and without bother, with nothing growing on their consciences, and enjoying each day and each sensation as it comes in their sterility. Then again, I may be describing my old sheepdog Godfrey.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Bugnini & Pacelli

"You remember Eugenio, don't you?"
I have spent the last two weeks in a hospital room along side my ailing father, who the other day went to Confession for the first time in many decades. During my time alongside him in his convalescence I was able to start Yves Chiron's Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy, the first genuine biography of Msgr. Bugnini and a book which I hope to review this week or next. For many reasons it is an interesting book, bringing to light many aspects and details of the reform process which are lost in the propaganda narratives on both the conservative and liberal sides of the aisle. Among these details is the liturgical reforms of Pius XII.

We know about the Vatican II preparatory commissions, which included Msgr. Lefebvre and Cardinal Montini; they did not like each other well before 1975. We know about the parliamentary tactics at "the Council." We know about the Consilium and its members. We are inundated with facts about the Vatican II reforms. What we do not know as much about are the Pius XII reforms. We know what they were (common of Popes, three new Holy Saturdays, a new Holy Week, compressed feast ranks, no subdeacon if one wanted, dialogue Masses and much more). We know less about the people and process behind it, or at least we did until now.

Papa Pacelli's first reform was that of the psalter, re-translated from Greek into Latin by Augustin Bea, SJ, whose work was received with the criticism adauget latinitatem, minuit pietatem. Pope Pius held the accuracy of the psalter close to his heart and took the popular clerical disdain for the project, written off as "German pedantry", very personally. Down, but not out, he and Cardinal Salotti decided to convene a commission interested in the "general reform" of the Roman liturgy in 1946. The date is quite crucial because Mediator Dei and the "Pian Commission" followed in successive years. Other than the inversion of St. Prosper's dictum lex orandi, lex credendi, the most pivotal part of the encyclical comes in the pontiff's acknowledgement of organic development as the natural mode of liturgical maturation and then derogating all liturgical authority to the Holy See alone (MD 58). Far from restricting the more radical elements of the Liturgical Movement, the pope was taming them and culling from their number. Ferdinando Antonelli, OFM, a member both of the Consilium and Pius XII's group, would call Mediator Dei a magna carta for the healthy part of the Liturgical Movement.

Unlike the Vatican II preparatory sections and the Consilium, Bugnini spent most of his time on Pius XII's commission as a secretary and observer rather than an administrative leader and visionary. Hired directly by Pope Pius after reading his pastoral articles in his journal, Ephemerides Liturgicae, Bugnini was a conscientious worker who did little in the discussions and work groups. Bugnini, Antonelli, and the rest of the initial study group published a generally forgotten work called Memoria sulla Riforma liturgica, which highlighted a general desire to reform the Martyrology, the Office, the kalendar and festive system, liturgical music, Canon Law, and the Mass itself (over 343 pages). Pius's interest in the Mass is unclear, as the Memoria suggested the Mass itself would not change much, but vernacular would be introduced and the popular manner of participation would forcibly evolve. Organic change by committee.

In 1958, the year of Pacelli's death, the Commission drafted an instruction on the liturgy with a particular focus on sacred music. The document, issued fittingly on September 3rd, defined several levels of "active participation", giving popular singing of the Ordinary chants a nod of approval, but expressing a greater desire for the laity to join in singing the proper chants of the Mass! Aside from being ridiculous musically, the proper chants were a clerical function before the Ordo Romanus I in the year 800, when Latin and proto-Italian were still very similar languages. The document permitted hymns to substitute for the propers when such music might incite "devout feelings".

Perhaps most eye-popping among the Commission's internal reporting are the results of an international survey sent to 400 bishops concerning potential reform of the Breviary. The most popular things demanded were simpler hymns (23%), vernacular (18%), and a single nocturne at Mattins (17%), meaning the vast majority had no interest in these things at all, but were eventually given them in time.

So, what was the Vincentian priest, Annibale Bugnini, doing while Antonelli, Bea, and others were plotting to cut Patristic lessons from Sunday Offices? When Pope Pius declared a Holy Year in 1950 Bugnini saw an opportunity to repeat an experiment he concocted some years earlier in a poor Roman suburb. He attempted to publish a book geared toward pilgrims and their priests called La Nostra Messa, his first attempt at "paraphrasing" the existing Roman Mass. His Vincentian superiors took a look and point blank refused to publish the work, but Bugnini self-published the 36 page pamphlet through the printer of his journal, Ephemerides.

What was La Nostra Messa? Bugnini's "paraphrase" of the Mass, edited by his disciple, a young Carlo Braga, was effectively an instructed narration of the Mass read by a "commentator" or "reader", a role which would reappear in the transitional Mass of 1964-9. The priest would celebrate a spoken Mass quietly with his server while the reader—"a priest, member of Catholic Action, or a woman"—would verbalize descriptions of what was going on during the Mass and suggest certain pious thoughts or prayers people might consider during these moments. During the Lavabo inter innocentes the reader would tell people the priest was washing his hands so he could touch the Body of Christ shortly. This incessant noise would only stop for the consecration; otherwise, he or she would continue to blather through the Roman Canon. Bishop Charriere of Lausanne criticized this dialogue Mass as an imbalance between between the priest and the people, but the damage was done. The Holy Year meant two printings of La Nostra Messa were sold and made their way to parishes with modern-minded priests that year; by 1962, twelve editions of the pamphlet had come off the press, some 1,500,000 copies.

Even five years ago one would occasionally hear that Pius XII's pontificate provided genuine liturgical reform, in contrast to those novelties of Paul VI. Time, scholarship, and continually expanding use of the pre-Vatican II rites have effected one conclusion: it all needs to go. Give us the real Roman Liturgy, please.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

St. Joseph and the Thomists

Whilst perusing the local parochial bookstore one never knows what one might find amidst the piles of pre-owned volumes of forgotten preconciliar lore. Some will be seminary castoffs, some will be dust magnets with even dustier theology, and some will be a long-lost collection of Thomistic Josephology.


A Thomistic Josephology is a collected edition of articles written between 1961-1966 by James J. Davis, O.P. for the purpose of examining "the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas on St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ." I had never heard of this collection before finding it on an unassuming shelf, and even a search online comes up with scarcely any results.

Those who remember my old series on Josephology may recall a brief installment concerning the relevant doctrines of St. Thomas. What I treated summarily, Davis treats with over 300 pages of commentary and quotation, both in translation and out of it. Indeed, the bulk of the word count can be found in the Latin footnotes.


The first two-thirds of the collection very straightforwardly quote Thomas on his few Joseph-related passages and a many other vaguely related passages. These come not only from the two Summas, but also from the Catena and Thomas's scriptural commentaries. If there is one thing Davis is not it is lazy; his thoroughness could be considered pedantic, but in reality he has provided a helpful compendium of all that St. Thomas could possibly be argued to have written about St. Joseph. Davis establishes Thomas's arguments with their many dependencies on St. Jerome, particularly his doctrines of Joseph's vow of celibacy and of an actual marriage between Joseph and the Virgin Mary.

At around page 190 Davis descends into the odd realm of later Thomistic speculation. Suarez's "order of the hypostatic union" appears, as do many arguments according to fittingness. Davis actually does address the problem of Joseph supplanting the older belief in St. John the Baptist's preeminence, and admits that there is no simple solution to the problem. His section on the virtues and gifts of St. Joseph do not admit that he was in possession of every possible spiritual magnificence. He suggests there is much to doubt at the doctrine of Joseph's sanctification in the womb, and also at the idea of his resurrection and assumption. He traces the origin of some now-forgotten quotation attributed to Thomas about the great patronage of St. Joseph and proves it false. All things considered, this is a very reasonable work and not one to be easily dismissed like many devotional books. It would be better if those popular works were all replaced by this forgotten volume on the shelves of Josephite devotees.

Indeed, one wishes that Davis had applied his intellectual powers to a study of the Church Fathers and not restricted himself to Thomas's immediate influences and to the speculations of his followers. It is good to have a collection of Thomistic thought on St. Joseph, but Davis is too prone to accept Thomas's argument as a fait accompli rather than the thought of one Doctor among many, all working within an existing tradition. Many times Thomas is proof-texted in the way a Baptist might quote St. Paul. (In the prefatory material it is boasted that it "is obvious that the sole sources for this work are the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas," as if that were not indicative of a problem.)

This is a good reference volume for those who don't wish to rummage through their multi-volume set of the Summa Theologica for quotes, but it is not a useful survey of Church teaching and tradition on St. Joseph. Sadly, one comes away feeling that it could have been thus if the author had only been willing.

St. Joseph the Workingman, pray for us!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Problems with the Eastern Communion


Have you ever experienced trouble with the Eastern Communion? I have. 

No, not the collection of churches themselves, but the actual administration of Communion in the [Byzantine] Eastern Churches can be an occasion for trouble. Much has been made about Communion in the hand in the Roman Church and not without just cause. It subverts the received reverence for the Body of Christ, has lent itself to abuse in the act of giving Holy Communion, and once in a while can permit a Satanist or militant Muslim to acquire a Host with the intention of desecrating the Word Incarnate. The Eastern practice does not lend itself to these exact problems, but that is not to say it is without issue entirely.

The same difficulty with Communion in the Greek rite Churches is that it is almost always administered using a long, ornamented spoon. The Holy Bread must be cut into very small portions in order to remain steadily on the spoon without sliding and the administering cleric must be careful not to impart too much of the Precious Blood other than what has soaked into the Bread.

Unfortunately, the Sacred Species still tends to come off the spoon at least once in a while and end up either on the purificator (Byzantine houseling cloth) or end up directly on the floor. This is further complicated by the fact that children and the elderly often have trouble timing when to open or close their mouths as the spoon approaches. For the split second the Body of Christ is as vulnerable as during His earthly sojourn. At least once every half year some of the Precious Blood ends up on the floor. Thankfully, the Holy Bread more often than not is caught either on the diskos or the purificator. The other week one of our readers attended my parish and found some of the Blood dripping onto the cuff of his shirt.

There is, however, a Byzantine Church that retains ancient practice and has a safer Communion for it. The Melkite Catholic Church retained the pre-Byzantine practice of giving Communion by means of intinction at the hand of the cleric. Practically, this means the deacon holds the chalice next to the priest, who in turn holds the diskos with the Holy Bread. The priest, using his hand and no additional implement, dips the Bread into the chalice and then puts it directly into the communicant's mouth just as would be done in an old rite Roman Mass. The diskos, usually larger than an ordinary Greek one, doubles as a sort of Communion plate, catching any stray liquid or particulars. As the priest directly holds the Body of Christ, the precarious moment when things tend to go wrong is also eliminated.

Communion accidents in the Byzantine rite probably pale in contrast to irreverences in the modern Roman rite, but they remain something avoidable.