Monday, October 28, 2013

Short Absence

The Rad Trad will be taking some time off this week, but hopes to publish a review of Brideshead Revisited this weekend. The Rad Trad's father will be having a knee replacement tomorrow and will require assistance—which in turn requires quite a bit of driving—for the next week or so.

November is coming, which means prayer for the dead. Please visit the new page, accessible by the tab at the top, where readers can list any faithful departed for whom they would like the Rad Trad or any other fellow readers to pray in the next month.

Please pray for the Rad Trad's father.

God bless.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Back Alive

Just as the Rad Trad had told Pseudo-John that he was upgrading from his "crap" automobile, the Rad Trad hit a wall, or a skid plate to be more precise. The Rad Trad recently purchased a very nice vehicle and had it shipped to his little New Hampshire abode. No sooner had the Rad Trad taken it on a leisurely drive to visit a priest friend than the Rad Trad encountered a grinding noise on the highway!
The Rad Trad pulled into the breakdown lane, as vehicles raced past at 70+ mph, for an inspection, an inspection which revealed two nuts holding the front end of the skid plate had fallen out and that the plate had been dragging on the asphalt. This presented a twofold concern:
  1. How the hell do I drive with this defect?
  2. What if is breaks off? It would fold over as it broke, potentially damaging the underside of the car.
The Rad Trad resolved to pop the plate back into place, although with no bolts such a fix would not be a lasting one.
His Traddiness then enjoyed a leisurely day with his friend, who is a chaplain at a small Catholic college in central New Hampshire, and then, with the help of a student, applied duct tape to the front of his new car!
The priest blessed the car and the Trad arrived home safely. On tomorrow's agenda: the mechanic's garage.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wonderful Image

Charles Wild's Choir of Amiens Cathedral. This is a painting of Mass at Amiens Cathedral in northern France. The Mass is likely according to a neo-Gallican, local usage such as the Parisian rite we have been reviewing in the last month. The color is green, suggesting either the octave of Pentecost or the feast of a bishop. Coped cantors lead the plainsong in medio choro. The human elements of this image are also quite amusing, such as the careerists canons of the cathedral chatting amongst themselves while a few pious canons try to pray. The bishop assists from his throne. The bishop is wearing a light blue, the episcopal color of France, which went out of use before Fr. Wach and the Institute of Christ the King revived its use. The younger servers wear albs—the medieval practice—while the older ones wear sleeveless surplices, a northern European style much like something one would still see in a few Anglican settings.
A Mr. Douglas Yeo notes that one both sides of the choir a musician plays an instrument called the "serpent," a horn instrument popular in French ecclesiastical settings. Yeo comments that each choir stall had a unique Scriptural theme and those of the "serpentists" were Exodus 13:20-22 ("The Israelites leave, guided by columns of cloud and fire") and Genesis 37:25-27 ("The Ishamelite merchants arrive from Gilead").
This lovely image calls to mind the uniting and complete nature of the liturgy, in which all have their own role, even the lovely horn player. The communitarian obsession of the 20th century has, understandably, made many weary of the idea of the Mass and the liturgy as a communal action, but images such as these affirm that it is. The bishop and his brethren lead the people, as they are ordained to do, in the proper worship of God throughout the year, constantly recalling the revisiting the Divine mysteries, still accessible to those of us living in time.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Parisian Missal III: Sundays Per Annum

We again resume our inspection of the neo-Gallican missal used in Paris until the 19th century Ultramonantist movement succeeded in suppressing its use in favor of the Roman rite on the pretext that the Parisian usage was mucked with the Jansenist heresy. The previous installments in this series have found no strong traces on Jansenism. There have been elements of dramatic language found, some of insipid and uninspiring and some of it quite beautiful.

Looking very Roman
In part II one commenter noted that in earlier editions the folded chasuble was used during the same periods as it is used in the Roman rite and the other local usages, suggesting an intentional departure from the Roman praxis at a later point. One possible explanation is the political mood of the time. France may have intentionally attempted to assert a higher degree of spiritual independence from Rome than tradition allows and manifested this attempt by excising certain Romanesque vestiges; one would be hard pressed to find a vestment or liturgical item more Roman than the folded chasuble. But by this does not denote heresy (otherwise the 1962 and 2002 Roman Missals would be heterodox). It merely recommends us to notice political undercurrents fought on a liturgical battlefield.

To reiterate, here are the criteria used for Jansenism, from New Advent's encyclopedia (precepts of Jansen condemned by Innocent X's bull Cum occasione in 1653):
  • Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive (to keep them) considering the powers they actually have, the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting
  • In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace
  • To merit, or demerit, in the state of fallen nature we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity
  • The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it
  • To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men, is Semipelagianism (it is condemned because Christ did die for the sake of all)
With these points in mind, let us undertake the next data for our investigation, Sundays per annum. We have examined Holy Week and Pascha, and will now look to Sundays throughout the year, as these ought to be most indicative of what the faithful heard at a given Mass. We shall have a peak at:
  • The first Sunday of Advent
  • The second Sunday after Epiphany
  • The third Sunday of Lent
  • The tenth Sunday after Pentecost
  • And the last Sunday after Pentecost
The selection of these Masses is intentionally random, so as to ensure an unbiased sampling.

First Sunday of Advent

Advent is the richest, more beautiful and lively season of the liturgical year in the Latin liturgy. According to Gregory Dix Advent is of Gallic origin and came to Rome in the latter part of the first millennium. The Sundays of Advent have the twofold purpose of recounting the plight of the world before Christ while also looking forward to the joy of His coming. The Masses are repeated throughout the week. Certain friends of God quite relevant to the Nativity arise throughout Advent. St. Nicholas of Myra, renowned for his charity and his defense of the Word Incarnate athwart the arch-heretic Arius, appears, as does the Immaculate Conception of our Lady (or the Conception of the Blessed Virgin if one prefers St. Pius V's Dominican adjustments). The season intensifies with the "O" antiphons, layered in Old Testament typology, and concludes with the birth of God made Man.

In the Roman rite the first Sunday of Advent has three concurrent themes:
  • Creation: the liturgical year re-lives the Divine revelation, making the first day of the year also the first part of the human story. Man, mired in his sins, cries to the Lord for redemption: "To Thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, oh my God, I put my trust" (Psalm 24, Introit of the Mass).
  • Awakening: spiritual awareness for the birth of the Lord. "Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night it passed and the day is at hand" (Roman 13, epistle of the Mass).
  • The Second Coming: when the world ends, Christ will come again, not as an infant, as He did in Bethlehem, but in fully glory. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away" (Luke 21, Gospel of the Mass).
How does the Parisian rite compare?

The Introit is nearly the same, except the versicle, also from psalm 24, differs ("Be mindful of me, oh Lord, according to Your mercy and your goodness" instead of "Show, oh Lord, Thy ways to me and teach me Thy paths"). The collect is the same as in the Roman rite, with a choice of votive orations to add, recommending Ecclesiae tuae and the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin. The epistle differs by a few words ("knowing that" is omitted and St. Paul's concluding remark added "and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences"). Does this difference reflect Jansenism's disregard for the body and favor of external disposition towards grace condemned by Innocent X? Only if St. Paul was a Jansenist. The Gradual is not taken from psalm 24, but from Isaiah chapter 62; this choice picks up nicely on the Gospel text about the Second Coming and the seasonal theme of the Incarnation ("Behold the Lord has made it to be heard to the ends of the earth, tell the daughters of Sion: behold, the Savior comes, behold his reward is with him, and his work before him"). The Gospel pericope comes from the same place as in the Roman rite, but is somewhat longer, extending beyond Our Lord's admonition about the longevity of His teaching to the point where He commends His Apostles to prayer, lest they become ensconced in the snares of those who confuse the faithful. The offertory verse is from psalm 24, but not the same as in the Roman books. Although different, the secret conveys the exact same message. The preface is the neo-Gallican Advent preface found in the 1962 Missal. The communion verse and post-Communion prayer are non-descript.

From the weekday lessons after
the first Sunday of Advent
Perhaps more suspicious to the Roman authorities than banal propers was that the Missal prescribes the Sunday Mass to be repeated on weekdays, but offers proper readings for Wednesdays and Fridays. Jansenists famously echoed the demands of their ancestors in heresy, the Protestants, in demanding more Scripture in the liturgy. So surely this is an example, no?

Not exactly. The Sarum rite, which one could argue dates to the late eleventh century, follows the same pattern, although with different readings. The rite of Lyon, also French and much older than the rite of Paris, follows the same pattern and with the same readings. These variable weekday readings for repeated Sundays throughout the year seem to be a feature of the Norman liturgy. Unlike the modern Roman liturgy, which has three years worth of daily readings, the proper readings in this rite seem deliberate and limited so that they might link with the repeated Sunday Mass and provide coherent instruction.

When considered in its historical context, the first Sunday of Advent displays both common material with the Roman rite and some local variations descended from the rites of northern France, which were sparsely used by the 19th century.

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The second Sunday after Epiphany begins with a different, and less cogent, Introit than the Roman books. The Roman rite recounts the earth's rejoicing at the Lord (psalm 65), Who made and commands it, very fitting given that Jesus manifests His dominion over matter in the Gospel account of the Wedding Feast at Cana. The Parisian rite merely asks "Who is like Our God" (psalm 76). The collect is the same and the epistle in the Parisian Missal begins one sentence prior to the Roman Missal's pericope. The Gradual is different, but similar in theme (God as the Almighty protector of Israel). The Gospel lesson is exactly the same. The offertory, from psalm 85, speaks of the Lord's unique works and that all people shall adore before Him, again departing from the Roman rite's terrestrial theme in the propers. The secret, very fittingly, asks the Father to transform the bread and the wine, as His Only Begotten transformed water into wine at Cana. Finally the Mass heeds God's sanctification of the physical. While is differs from the very simple Roman secret of the same day, it conveys the same idea present in the Roman proper chants. The Communion verse is an odd choice ("If I do my Father's work, believe in this work, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in Him" John 10) compared to the Roman rite's (John 2:7-11). The post-Communion oration is the same. Again, there is an option to use a different set of readings should the Sunday Mass be repeated on Wednesday or Friday.


Third Sunday in Lent

This day's Mass is remarkably like the Roman Mass of the day. The Introit, collect, Epistle, and Gospel are exactly as in the Roman rite. The Gradual asks that the Lord "confound those who seek my soul" (psalm 34) rather than the Roman rite's excerpt from psalm 9. The tract borrows from psalm 124 instead of Rome's psalm 122. Both versions follow the theme of the Lord as protector as adumbrated in the Introit. The offertory chants differ, but not in a way worthy of note. The secret follows the same intention and structure as the Roman rite, but with different wording; the prayer, which asks God to expunge the sins of the people, is hardly the substance of a sect who believes in irresistible interior grace. The Communion verse, which calls God the "tower of strength in the face of the enemy," is more aligned with the theme of the Mass than the Roman rite's text. A cunctis nos is the post-Communion oration in the Roman rite. Paris opts for a more dramatic prayer, beseeching the "infusion of blessing" upon the people, which repels the "diabolical snares." This prayer differs from the Roman Mass's, but in some sense, again, maintains the theme of the Mass more effectively.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dominica per annum
The Roman Mass for this Sunday teaches the faithful about Christian humility and the littleness of man before God, for good works are inevitably the work of the Holy Spirit. The epistle, taken from St. Paul's first missive to the Church in Corinth, reminds the Christians there that "dumb idols" had them lost, but by the Holy Spirit they were converted unto Christ and that all good deeds and gifts they now exercise emanate from that same Spirit. St. Luke's Gospel recounts the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee; the former left justified because he acknowledged God's place over him, while the Pharisee was blinded by his arrogance and left unfulfilled. The Communion verse is fittingly borrowed from psalm 50 and the post-Communion oration petitions God to grant aid to those "whom Thou dost not cease to renew by Thine divine Sacraments."

The first half of the Parisian Missal is almost exactly the Roman text for this day. A mix of texts from psalms 114 and 137 as well as the prophet Isaiah comprised the chant. The line from psalm 137, "[He] recognizes humility," is quite reasonable for this day. The offertory, from chapter 9 of Judith, continues the theme of humility whereas the Roman pericope from psalm 24 speaks of trust—though trust in a higher power of course is an expression of humility. The secret, as has been the case in prior Masses, is more germane to the lessons than in the Roman rite: "We beseech You, oh Lord, that by the merit of this sacrifice, you abundant blessing may come upon your faithful people," that they may receive the grace they desire. Again, desiring grace is hardly a Janesnistic petition. If anything a Jansenist would hold that grace is narrowly accessible. The post-Communion oration is odd, and perhaps suspicious, in that it divides the "sinners" and the "just" in a way unlikely to be found in the Roman rite: "Grant us that by these sacraments, oh God, humility and sincerity of heart, by which You reform sinners to justice and promote the just to glory." This curious composition is actually somewhat new. After consulting a scan of a Parisian Missal (thanks for the link Protasius) from 1300 and comparing it with the Sarum books, I found that both shared an older post-Communion, Tui nobis Domine. This odd prayer may be the most serious "red flag" in the Parisian rite thus far, although given the surrounding prayers it is hard to justify a strictly Jansenistic reading of this oration.

Last Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday represents and anticipates the end of the world, the general resurrection, and Judgment. Both the Roman and Parisian books utilize Colossians 1:9-14 and Matthew 24:13-25 for the lessons. Whereas the Roman rite reuses the proper chants from the previous Sunday, the Parisian rite has proper propers. Indeed, even the collect and secret match today. The post-Communion prayer in the Roman rite asks that the Sacraments heal whatever is corrupted in our minds, while the Parisian prayer asks that God, the "cause of our good merits," to increase His mercy over us. The chants in the Parisian rite are far more Apocalyptic than the Roman rite, but far from heterodox. The Introit is composed of verses from psalm 118 "blessed are they who walk in the law of the Lord." The Gradual borrows from Revelation 10, "And I saw a great throne...." tying in very nicely with Our Lord's foretelling of His Second Coming at the end of time to "judge the living and the dead," as the Creed affirms.

Conclusion and Next Installment

Aside from one very strange oration in the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost the Parisian Missal, both dramatic and unique, displays no innate signs of Jansenism or heresy. Indeed, many of its local features it shares with Lyon and Salisbury.

Next we shall have a look at two great feasts' Masses and two Masses from the "Commons" used so often throughout the year. We will conclude with one last installment on the votive prayers and then switch to the rite of Lyon.

If readers have any suggestions for which of the great feasts they would like examined, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Rad Trad's One Year Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the Rad Trad's first ever post, a sort of meditation on the East-West schism after attending a marriage between two Catholics—one cradle and one from a Russian Orthodox/Jewish background. This blog began as the brainchild of the Rad Trad's best friend, who suggested he start this little endeavor as an outlet for relaxation and expression.

For the first several months readership was remarkably low, so low I dare not speak of numbers. Around the time Benedict XVI abdicated the Papacy the Rad Trad wrote a very brief series on the Papal Coronation as it existed before Paul VI, which garnered some interest, but not quite lasting. The two real "breakthroughs" in readership came with the Rad Trad's descriptions of Holy Week before Pius XII's novel rites and with his series Reasons for the Reform of the Roman Rite, which traced the broader causes of the 20th century upheaval in the Roman liturgy. Both sets of posts were meant to spread information and begin serious conversation about what happened to the Roman rite in the 20th century, something beyond the conventional Traditionalist claptrap ("Everything was perfect and Plasticine in 1962 until evil Freemason Bugnini came out of the shadows....") and ahistorical modern ignorance ("Well the Church always changes her liturgy, the new liturgy is true renewal, and has brought about nothing but good fruits"). These posts were featured on the St. Hugh of Cluny blog, the St. Lawrence Press blog, and various internet fora. Recently the Rad Trad has noticed an enormous increase in links via Facebook, but Blogger does not allow him to backtrack the links to the pages which advertise his posts.

As of this moment the Rad Trad has received 38,555 hits, currently averaging about 200 per day. After a day or two without a post the average drops to about 150. Days with liturgically oriented posts get 250-350 views. Every month, except June and July (likely because it was summer) readership has increased. Last month, September, was the best to date, with 7,464 hits. The five most viewed posts to date are:
  1. The Practical Effects of Ultramontanism (587)
  2. Book Review: The Banished Heart (451)
  3. Good Friday: Mass of the Pre-Sanctified (391)
  4. The Roman Rite in Transition (325)
  5. Reasons for the Reform of the Roman Rite Part I (290)
The most commented-on posts are FSSP Priest Caught Celebrating Versus Populum!, the review of Dr. Hull's Banished Heart above, and the most recent posting on the Parisian Missal.

More importantly the Rad Trad has been privileged to correspond and learn from many of his readers (you know who you are) about the faith and our Lord. It is a blessing.

Lastly, the Rad Trad will now unveil the blog's new patron saint (and will give him a permanent presence once he figures out how to side bar material): St. Felix of Valois! The last lesson in the second nocturn of Mattins for St. Felix's feast should give readers a hint as to why the Rad Trad took Fr. Capreolus' suggestion for this saint's patronage:
"There Felix wonderfully devoted himself to the promotion of Regular Observance and of the Institute for the redemption of bondsmen, and thence he busily spread the same by sending forth his disciples into other provinces. Here it was that he received an extraordinary favour from the blessed Maiden-Mother. On the night of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the brethren lay all asleep, and by the Providence of God woke not to say Mattins. But Felix was watching, as his custom was, and came betimes into the Choir. There he found the Blessed Virgin in the midst of the Choir, clad in raiment marked with the Cross of his Order, the Cross of red and blue; and with her a company of the heavenly host in like garments. And Felix was mingled among them. And the Mother of God began to sing, and they all sang with her and praised God; and Felix sang with them; and so they finished the Office. So now that he seemed to have been already called away from glorifying God on earth, to glorify Him in heaven, an Angel told Felix that the hour of his death was at hand. When therefore he had exhorted his children to be tender to the poor and to slaves, he gave up his soul to God (upon the 4th day of November) in the year of Christ 1212, in the time of the same Pope Innocent III., being four-score-and-five years old, and full of good works."
Tonight is first Vespers of the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. May we all be aware that the saints, God's friends, are also our own and let us be cognizant of their presence among us as St. Felix was.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Are You Saved?

(Preface: the Rad Trad is not a universalist)

There has been some resurgence of interest in a video, posted below, by one Fr. Robert Barron about the population of hell. Fr. Barron gives an enthusiastic reaction to the writings of mid-20th century writers who resurrected interest in Origen's "restoration" (apokastasis) view, that all creation, including all persons, will be restored to a proper relationship with God.

Origen and Fr. Barron clearly fall opposite the view of the consensus of Western Doctors such as Ss. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, whose view of Original Sin began with the thesis that all the world is damned, but God, in His kindness, plucks a few persons out of the eternal stir fry. St. Leonard of Port Maurice recounts a tale in his famous sermon on the subject of a man who died at the same moment as 30,000 other people, five of which were saved (0.017%); the Rad Trad personally finds this number absurd given how high infant mortality rates were prior to the 20th century. The Council of Florence (Cantate Domino) and Boniface VIII (Unam Sanctam) certainly attempted to limit the number saved to a minute figure.

The Eastern Fathers have a more varied view on the matter. St. John Chrysostom certainly thought a very small number would be saved ("Out of this thickly populated city with its thousands of inhabitants not one hundred people will be saved. I even doubt whether there will be as many as that!"). Ss. Isaac of Syria and Gregory of Nyssa thought all would be saved. Does it have to be all or nothing?

Given the presence of a convent of Feeneyites in the Rad Trad's area, the Rad Trad actually finds himself defending universalism as a hypothesis (as opposed to a "reasonable hope"). Saints in the earlier days of the faith found no trouble reconciling universal salvation with Christ's words on Hell and the damned. Sometimes the meaning of things Our Lord said becomes obscure in translation. For instance a Greek priest once told the Rad Trad the "The King of Heaven is upon you" has a stronger meaning in the original, almost saying "The Kingdom of Heaven is immanently accessible to you here on earth." The Rad Trad, not a believer in universal salvation himself, does think that, if constructed along orthodox lines, the salvation of all can be a reasonable idea. Promoting it to a hope—an expectation for God—asks too much.

What frustrates the Rad Trad when he does occasionally defend the viability of this thesis is that those who advance it today do not do so on orthodox grounds. Origen was probably condemned unjustly at the Fifth Ecumenical Council three centuries after he died. He was the first "theologian" in the modern sense of the word and was bound to err on many matters, given that he was treading new territory. He did not have the opportunity to hear the Church adjudicate concerning his novel doctrines and adjust them accordingly. His restoration theory, which informed his views on salvation, were what brought about his condemnation centuries later and yet that is precisely what interests Fr. Barron and others in the modern day. The presentation of this view is supported by vague notions of "mercy" as the expense of justice, almost as to say that God is a giant marshmallow. This contrasts sharply with St. Gregory of Nyssa's view that people will be saved because the soul belongs to God, but that many souls will have to undergo a painful purification from their sins and the passions of the world to be worthy of Heaven. In this sense Gregory's views differ from those of Origen, although the Orthodox are not very wild about either one. Whereas Gregory's view maintains God's mercy and justice, the more modern view, rooted in Origen, overlooks or eschews justice in favor of mercy alone.

Is everyone saved? Is nearly no one saved? The Rad Trad thinks the honest, humble answer is "We don't know who or how many are saved." And given that we do not know, we Catholics would do well to take special care for our own souls and an interest in the souls of others. That is the evangelical call.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lesser Known Fathers VII: St. Theodore the Studite on Icons

For those of us on the Gregorian calendar this past Sunday was the Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in the Byzantine rite. This Council once and for all condemned iconoclasm and affirmed the right and necessary place of holy images in the Divine worship. Unfortunately the circumstances surrounding the iconoclasm controversy would eventually lead to the Photian schism, the effects of which continue to our present time.

We have already covered the writing of St. John of Damascus on the Holy Icons, but the significance of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and the celebration of its Fathers this week inspired the Rad Trad to examine briefly the writings of St. Theodore the Studite on the matter, perhaps the last major writer concerning the icon controversy. Theodore was born in 759 and raised for a bureaucratic career, but diverged from the set path and joined his uncle Plato's monastery. Circumstances brought Theodore to Studios monastery in Constantinople. Emperor Constantine VI exiled Theodore for opposing his divorce and re-marriage, holding that an emperor had not the competence to override the decisions of the Church concerning marriage. The next emperor, Michael II, permitted Theodore a partial return from exile, but would not permit the Saint to enter the Byzantine capital. Theodore died on November 11, 826, the day before his current feast.

For practical purposes, this post will be shorter than previous installments of the Lesser Known Fathers series, given that much of what St. Theodore says has already been said by St. John of Damascus.

Studios monastery
First, Theodore refutes the common objection that the creation and veneration of icons violates the second commandment, which prohibits the worship of images and idols. Not all images are made equal. The commandment against the fashioning and veneration of idols and images does not equate with images as the Christian is acquainted with them. Theodore establishes that the veneration of an image or icon for the Christian is actually veneration of the prototype of the image through veneration of a replica. The attention and worship is directed toward the prototype, be it God, a mystery, an angel, or a saint. The Christian does not glorify and give honor to a plank of wood or smudges of paint. His devotion seeks the original through the copy.

This contrasts with the second commandment because, when considered in context, the second commandment has little application in the realm of icons. The Jews were forbidden images, more or less, because no one had "seen God at any time" prior to the coming of the Second Person of the Trinity (John 1:18). Without any comprehension of God in a form discernible to human beings the veneration of images would eventually slip into idolatry, the worship of images as though those images were gods in themselves. Even during Old Testament times God exempted the Jews from this commandment under His Divine providence. For example, God explicitly commanded the Israelites to fashion two cherubim, forming the "Glory Seat" on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18). Similarly, He demanded the same Israelites create a bronze serpent which healed snake bitten persons (Numbers 21:8). Given the proper intention and disposition, God is glorified in the veneration of holy icons and images.

This gives way to the second, and far more interesting, aspect of the iconoclast controversy: how an image relates to its original, its prototype. St. John of Damascus briefly touches upon this topic in his third discourse, but does not delve. St. Theodore does.

An image can be venerated as a proximate to the original because the original is intelligible to those who offer it their honor. The iconoclasts, among whom Orthodox translator Catherine Roth nearly counts St. Gregory of Rome, insisted that icons were ill-suited for Divine worship because God cannot be circumscribed to human understanding and human reason. Man cannot know God.

St. Theodore constructs a dialogue between an iconophile and an iconoclast—who he plainly calls the "orthodox" and the "heretic" respectively—in his second treatise in order to set up an explanation for how mankind can know God. He quotes St. Gregory of Nazianzus in saying Christ is God "Circumscribed in the body, uncircumscribed in the spirit (Treatise 2.1, Gregory ep. 101). Similarly those who respected the image of the Byzantine emperor did so because they knew the emperor to be a flesh-and-blood person who could be seen with human eyes (Treatise 2.28).

Is there not a circumscription to the risen Christ? Eastern, and Western, theology holds that Christ's resurrected body was a renewed, transformed one, so glorious and different that it was unrecognized by the Lord's own disciples (St. Mary Magdalen at the tomb) or even by His Apostles (on the road to Emaus). This body could appear and disappear at whim. Surely the resurrected Lord's image should not be venerated (Treatise 2.41-47), but rather treated with the same alien respect as the Jews treated God, in their vague understanding, in the Old Testament. No! This same Christ walked and talked and ate as His Apostles and as He Himself did prior to His Passion. Even the risen Christ is very knowable through the human senses.

Given that the common objectors to images, be it iconography or Roman statues, are protestants in our day, one argument of the iconoclasts is amusing: "'We grant,' the heretics say, 'that Christ may be represented, but only according to the holy words which we have received from God Himself; for He said, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' obviously implying that He cannot be represented otherwise than by being remembered. Only this image is true and this act of depiction sacred'" (Treatise 1.10). Effectively, iconoclasts believed the Eucharist to be the only viable depiction of Christ because the gifts on the altar are Christ. Of course, Theodore rebuts, the Eucharist is the most fitting remembrance of Christ, but an image need not be of the same essence as the original, as the Eucharist is of Jesus (1.10-11).

One last point of interest is the Cross. Some apparently worried that veneration of the mysteries of Christ and of the saints would detract from veneration of the Cross (1.15), which is done at the end of Divine Liturgy. Of course there is a limited amount of wood from the True Cross to venerate, so the faithful adore fabricated crosses. If this is acceptable, why would icons not be? Christ hallowed the cross by making it worthy of His passion. Is not the same true of His other mysteries?

We are beginning to see that written theology has progressed beyond the first millennium and the Fathers. Yet these men and their writings remain singularly important, not just for tracing what the "early Church" (as though it is not the same as today's Church) believed, but how the Church believed. The average quasi-secular person today, when he walks into a parish to observe a Mass, is not going to ask about Aquinas' concept of form-matter-intent for the Sacraments. He is going to ask more basic questions: does God exist? Why worship Him? How does He matter to you? Why do you Catholics do what you do? The writings of the Fathers are more instinctive and accessible for the layman.

Some time in the next week I hope to put up a post on five random Sunday Masses from the Parisian Missal and a review of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chant: A Hermeneutic of Continuity?

The droning and the vocative exclamations are interesting, but listen to the actual melody of the Kyrie eleison. This particular setting dates to the 6th century and evolved into Kyrie XII, used in the Mass below (relevant part starts at 6:25). Here, if anywhere, is an example of liturgical continuity between the ancient and the more recent. The above chant I imagine was still used during the papacy of Innocent III, when the un-Gallicanized Mass was still celebrated once a year by the Pope (a tradition effectively axed by the Franciscans).

Thanks to Marko for bringing the error to my attention. The text has been updated to reflect that the Kyrie in question is XII and not XIII.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Parisian Missal II: Holy Week & Pascha

We now continue our probe of the longstanding allegations of Jansenism against the neo-Gallican liturgies of Paris and surrounding dioceses with a look into the Holy Week rites and the feast of the Resurrection as celebrated in the Parisian Missal. To reiterate from the previous post on the subject, here are the criteria used for Jansenism, from New Advent's encyclopedia (precepts of Jansen condemned by Innocent X's bull Cum occasione in 1653):
  • Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive (to keep them) considering the powers they actually have, the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting
  • In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace
  • To merit, or demerit, in the state of fallen nature we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity
  • The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it
  • To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men, is Semipelagianism (it is condemned because Christ did die for the sake of all)

Palm Sunday

St. Genevieve monastery
The rites of Palm Sunday begin prior to Terce, as the lord Archbishop of Paris blesses lustral water for use in the blessing of palms. The setting for the rites is the main altar of St. Geneveieve, a monastery founded for the saint's honor by King Clovis I and destroyed by the despicable anti-Christ Revolution. In some sense this parallels what was done in Rome in the first millennium, when the Pope would bless palms at St. Mary Major and then process with the Roman clergy and faithful to the Lateran Cathedral for Mass. The Archbishop blesses water wearing choir dress and a black stole. The proper blessing of the palms takes place from the epistle side of the altar. There are two short collects—far in beauty and didactic quality from the Tridentine Roman rite—for the blessing. The first addresses "God, Whose Son for the salvation of mankind descended to earth from heaven, and at the appointed hour of His Passion came to Jerusalem on an ass and was willing to be called and praised as King by the crowds, bless and make worthy the leaves of these palms, that all who bear them, by the gift of your blessing, overcome the temptation of the ancient foes in this age, and in the next may be worthy to appear to you with the palm of victory and the fruits of good works, through our Lord Jesus Christ etc...." The prayer, somewhat loquacious and banal, could not be more objectionable to Jansenism. They speak of good works, being made worthy of salvation, and participating in the Divine life. Hardly the makings of irresistible grace and the impossibility of keeping on the path to salvation. The second prayer appears to be a re-worded version of the prayer used in the Roman rite after the aspersion and incensation of the palms. The palms are distributed, with no music prescribed, and the Asperges me takes place as usual, with the celebrant in amice, alb, cincture, stole, and cope (if he is the Archbishop, maniple otherwise).

The procession leaves the church and, either at the Crucifix at the nearest cemetery or at the nearest public place, the deacon sings chapter 21 of St. Matthew with full Gospel ceremonies, recounting Our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem. The clergy and all in attendance venerate the Crucifix, if the ceremony takes place in a cemetery, and the procession continues with the singing of the hymn Ave Rex noster. The Archbishop or celebrating priest has the option of delivering his sermon after the Gospel rather than at Mass. The procession stops at the gates of the city of Paris (if the Archbishop celebrates) or at the doors to the church (if a priest celebrates with his parish) and the Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit ceremony takes place as in the Roman rite. The Missal even gives advice on how to reduce the ceremonies of the day should the weather be prohibitive. The procession enters the church, presumed to be Notre Dame Cathedral, Terce is sung, the celebrant assumes the chasuble, and Mass begins.

The Passion sung on Palm Sunday in the
old Roman rite
The Introit, Collect, Epistle, and Tract are exactly as in the Roman Missal for Palm Sunday. The Gradual is taken from psalm 21, as opposed to 72 in the Roman rite. The Passion and Gospel from St. Matthew are exactly as in the Roman rite, but done with different ceremonies. In the Roman rite three deacons of the Passion—vested in amice, alb, cincture, stole, and maniple—sing the Passion until the burial, at which point the deacon of the Mass removes his folded chasuble, dons the broad stole, recites the Munda cor meum, and sings the burial as the Gospel of Mass with full ceremony. Here the deacon of the Mass does everything as a Gospel reading. Wearing his black dalmatic (no folded chasubles in this rite), he receives the celebrant's blessing, carries the Gospel book in a normal procession to the ambo, incenses the book, but does not sign himself or the book, nor does he greet the people with Dominus vobiscum. Instead he announces Passio Domini nostril Iesu Christi secundum Mattheum and sings the text straight through with a short pause for silence at Our Lord's death. One wonders if the reformers of the 1950s and 1960s were imitating this (minus the extra parts for lay lectors). The Creed is sung. The propers for the Mass of the faithful are different. The secret asks that the faithful "feel" with Christ, Who was "Humbled and made obedient even unto death." The Communion verse is the greeting from chapter 1 of the Apocalypse/Revelation of St. John. The post-Communion oration speaks of Christ's Passion as the "remedy You have provided" for our sins, so that we may not come to the judgment of suffering. If anything, this sort of language would disturb a Roman theologian not because the prayer is Jansenistic—for it certainly is not, but because it does not speak in basic, legalistic terms in vogue at the time.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday

 The Masses all differ somewhat from the Roman rite, but like the Roman rite they focus their attention on the coming Passion. The Spy Wednesday Mass has different readings (Wisdom 2 and Jeremiah 26) from the Roman rite (Isaiah 62/3 and 53), but the same unique, Ember Mass-like structure.

Mass of the Lord's Supper

Thursday's unique liturgical features begin after Lauds with the absolution of public penitents by the Archbishop of Paris. The choir, prostrated, sings the seven penitential psalms and then, with the Archbishop, who wears a red stole, makes its way to the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents. Apparently parish priests were capable of reconciling public penitents, too, as the Missal notes some might do the ceremony after Sext or None. Either way psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 are sung followed by some versicle prayers, five collects, and then the actual absolution. In the first collect the priest or Archbishop notes that he is "first in need" of the Lord's mercy; the second asks that those who have "deviated" from the Holy Church may receive the fruits of penance; the third is a simple prayer for forgiveness, as is the fourth; the fifth, and longest, addresses God as the maker and restorer of mankind and beseeches Him, in so many words, not to let the souls of the penitent slip away to damnation. Then, mercifully, comes the overdue absolution. Again, the language differs from what the Roman mindset of the time expected, but nothing heterodox permeates the text. If anything the concept of God as the restorer of mankind should enjoy a prominent place in the family of rites within the Latin Church.

A note reminds the sacristan that at Mass two hosts are to be consecrated and that at the cathedral the chrism will be blessed. The liturgical color is red (white being a Roman quirk).

The Iudica me psalm is omitted from the prayers at the foot of the altar, even though the Gloria is sung, as in the Roman rite. The first half of the Mass emphasizes Christ's priesthood and relationship with His friends, the Apostles, whereas the Roman rite tends toward the betrayal and Passion in the Introit and Collect. The Introit in the Parisian rite borrows from the Epistle to the Hebrews (ch. 5) and the Collect asks for "an example of the humility and the mystery of His love" that we can follow, as He died for our sins and "rose for our justification." The word "justification" comes across as odd in this place, but the surrounding texts does not necessarily hint at unorthodoxy. Perhaps one may read that in saying the death of Christ gives us "justification," Christ covers for our sins as the Reformers believed. But the Catholic understanding of "justification" is holiness and sanctification, what the Greeks call theosis or deification. The constant talk of "restoration" of mankind in other texts for Holy Week suggest the more orthodox interpretation rings true.

The readings are the same as in the Roman rite. The Gradual, from Hebrew chapter 4, again emphasizes Christ's priesthood whereas the Roman Gradual borrows from Philippians. The Creed is sung, as in the Roman rite. The offertory verse is from Ephesians 5 ("Christ loved us and gave himself as an oblation and victim to God, in sweet fragrance"), as opposed to psalm 117 in the Roman rite. Here we see the theology of the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the Parisian rite developing. The Roman rite has a very diverse array of themes within its Mass, encompassing the entire day's role in salvation (the betrayal, the foreshadowing of the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood etc.). In contrast the Parisian rite has a narrow focus on Christ as a priest preparing to offer Himself for the sins of the people. This is an entirely orthodox concept, in line with St. Paul's epistles and the typology of the Old Testament temple system. If anything, it also reminds one of the sacrificial nature of the Passover meal Christ ate that night, which prefigures His own delivery of us from death.

The variations in the Canon of Mass are exactly as in the Roman Missal. After the Communion of the faithful and ablution of the vessels the Blessed Sacrament is incensed and carried in a "usual procession" to the altar of repose, placed on the altar, incensed again, and reposed in a place prepared (presumably some sort of receptacle). The procession returns to the sanctuary and completes the Mass with Vespers. Vespers here are done as in the Roman rite on Holy Saturday: psalms are sung with antiphons, followed by the Magnificat and the post-Communion prayer, which doubles as a Vespers collect. The psalms are 114, 115, 119, 120, and 127. The altar is not incensed during the Magnificat, but the clergy in choir are. The dismissal is Ite, missa est.

After Mass the acolytes strip the altar. Before Compline the celebrant washes the altar with wine and then immediately proceeds to the Mandatum. The Archbishop washes the feet of twelve clerics; the dean washes the feet of twelve boys; and the parish priest washed the feet of twelve paupers. With all the ceremonies of a Mass, the deacon sings the Gospel of the day and then the celebrant washes the feet of the appointed persons. The antiphons differ from those of Rome, but are Scriptural and pertinent. The collect at the end is the same as in the Roman rite. After the Mandatum the celebrant blessed bread and wine for the faithful using the same prayer most of us use before meals ("Bless us oh Lord, and these Thy gifts....); a lector sings chapter 13 of St. John's Gospel; finally comes Compline.

Good Friday

The little hours are not sung in choir, but are sung apparently. The Mass of the Pre-Sanctified takes place after None. A procession, without candles or incense or a cross, brings the ministers, vested in black, to the main altar. After a quiet prayer, as in the Roman rite, the ministers rise, ascend the altar, the celebrant kisses it, and the ministers move to the Epistle corner. As in the Roman rite a lector reads the lesson in the Epistle place (in this case Exodus chapter 12, the second lesson in the Roman rite). Psalm 108 follows as a tract and it all concludes with the same kneel-stand-pray structure as in the Roman rite, in this case with a rather banal collect. The second lesson is the suffering servant prophecy from Isaiah 53; the Missal instructs no title to be sung, which is fine because the printer forgot to put the title in anyway. Two cantors in albs sing psalm 139 as a tract, the same as in the Roman books. As on Palm Sunday, the deacon of the Mass prays the Munda cor meum and carries the Gospel book in procession, but goes to a lecturn in medio choro rather than to the ambo and sings the entire Passion, again combining the Passion and Gospel of the Roman rite into one text, without introduction or incense. Unlike on Palm Sunday, but like a Requiem Mass, the celebrant does not kiss the Gospel book at the end.

The solemn collects are nearly the same as in the Roman rite. Either anti-Roman hostility or printing error has omitted the "N" usually put as a placeholder for the Pope's name (it may well be a printing error given the mistaken omission of a Scriptural reference for the Isaiah prophecy). The prayer for the "Holy Roman" Emperor is changed to a prayer for the "Most Christian" King of France. As in the Roman rite, no genuflection is made in the prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

A more substantial, and beautiful, variation comes during the unveiling of the cross. The ministers and choir return to the sacristy and removed their outer vestments and all remove their shoes. The choir returns to the sanctuary. Two deacons (wearing amice, alb, cincture, red stole, and red maniple) carry a crucifix from the sacristy to the altar while four priests in copes (two in red and two in black) act as cantors. The cantors sing Popule meus, and the Latin and Greek versions of the Trisagion in alteration with each other. Each time the Trisagion is sung all genuflect. The deacons hand the crucifix to the celebrant, who unveils it as in the Roman rite (Ecce lignum cruces etc.). All make three genuflections and adore the crucifix. After the adoration, while the choir sings Pange lingua, the cantors shed their copes. The subdeacon sings the verses found as responses to Crux fidelis in the Roman rite in alteration with the choir, which sings the aforementioned Pange lingua. Then the clerics stand before the crucifix and sing Vexilla Regis in alteration with the choir, singing Vexilla Regis prodeunt as a refrain while the choir sings the actual verses. Here we see that the choir element of the adoration of the cross was lost in the 1570 Roman Missal because that "Tridentine" rite was actually made for the Papal chapel and not for public churches or cathedrals. This set of ceremonies was, and is probably more in line with the Roman tradition that what one sees in any Roman Missal from 1474 through present day. The dramatic transfer of the crucifix from the sacristy to the altar, with the Trisagion sung, is lost because of the limited space in the Papal chapel; so the Roman (Papal) ceremony stuck the crucifix on the altar, making the Trisagion superfluous, so the hymn migrated to the reproaches. Much of this survived in the Dominican rite.
The faithful then adore the cross.

At the end of the adoration a short antiphon is sung ("Above all the woods of tree, you alone are high, on which the life of the world hung, on which Christ triumphed, and death conquered death forever"). The ministers resumes their outer vestments (chasuble, dalmatic, and tunicle), pray an abbreviated version of the prayers at the foot of the altar at the Epistle side, and a procession (with cross, candles, and two thurifers) heads to the altar of repose. The Blessed Sacrament is incensed, brought to the altar, and placed on a corporal. The deacon and subdeacon put water and wine into the chalice and the celebrant immediately sings the Pater noster. No offertory-like liturgy as in the Roman rite. The priest's communion follows the Roman rite exactly.

Again, after the ablutions Vespers follows immediately. Psalms 123, 128, 139, 140, and 141 are sung. The antiphon on the Magnificat recalls our Lord commending His spirit. When the Archbishop celebrates, for some reason, Vespers are sung from the altar and not in choir. Compline follows immediately.

Holy Saturday

The little hours are sung today, after which the images and statues of the church are unveiled and a large candle is placed on a large stand in line with the center of the altar, but outside of the sanctuary area. A an abbreviated version of the Litany of the Saints is sung by six white-coped cantors using the processional ceremonies (ex. Cantors: Pater de caelis Deus, miserere nobis; Choir: Pater de caelis Deus, miserere nobis); the saints contained within the litany seem ad hoc. A fire is lit, either in the sacristy (had better be well ventilated) or (more likely) in the vestibule. The sacred ministers wear white, with stole and maniple, but no outer vestments (chasuble, dalmatic, or tunicle). The fire is blessed using the exact same three prayers as in the Roman rite. The grains of incense, held by a coped acolyte, are blessed with the Roman prayer as well. The fire is aspersed and incensed. There seems to be no triple candle or any unique way of bringing the fire to the Paschal candle.

The deacon asks the celebrant's blessing, as in the Roman rite, and, according to the Gospel ceremonies, sings the Exsultet, although to a different melody than that of the Roman rite. Like in the old Roman rite, and unlike in the post-1955 Roman rite, the deacon actually carries out the actions mentioned within the texts of the prayers (lighting the candle, inserting the incense).

The Paschal Candle remains burning until Compline on Pascha the next day. It also burns at Mass and at Vespers throughout the Octave, from first Vespers until Compline on Ascension Thursday, and from the last prophecy at the Pentecost vigil until Compline on Pentecost Sunday. It should also be lit on great feasts that fall within Paschaltide.
After blessing the Paschap Candle the ministers return to the sacristy and assumed violet vestments, including chasuble, dalmatic, and tunicle. They return to the altar, the celebrant kisses the altar, they go to the Epistle corner, and read along as lectors read the prophecies aloud. The first prophecy is the account of Creation from Genesis, as in the Roman rite; it concludes with the genuflection and collect as in the Roman celebration. The second prophecy, Exodus 14, is comprised of the same text, tract, and collect as in the fourth lesson in the Roman rite. The third lesson, from Isaiah 4, has the same text and tract as the eighth Roman lesson, but the collect differs; its organic language recalls Christ's parable of the vineyard workers and of the concept of yielding "good fruit"; the prayer speaks of the faithful as "branches" of Christ "the true vine" who brought us out of Egypt "through the font of baptism" and asks that the "thorns of sins" do not prevail, but that we may be endowed "with good fruits perpetually." The collect is a bit wordy, but somewhat insightful and reminds one of the organic nature of the Church. The final prophecy is from Isaiah 55, save for the first sentence the same as prophecy five in the Roman liturgy. There is no tract and the collect at the end asks God to protect those whom He has called to the Church in the impending baptism.

The priest sings a prayer facing the people, that the Lord may look kindly upon the devotion of the people and sanctify the bodies and souls of those about to enter the mystery of baptism. The ministers assumed white vestments (maniples, stoles, and copes). Coped cantors begin another litany; this litany addresses the Holy Spirit (Spiritus Sancte Deus, miserere nobis), but not the Father and only the Son in the opening (Christe, audi nos); St. Genevieve is mentioned in the litany; the emphasis at the beginning on the Holy Spirit suggests that this litany calls down the Paraclete upon those about to be baptized. A procession forms and heads to the baptistery. The blessing of the font and water uses the exact same texts and ceremonies, and nearly the same melodies, as in the Roman rite. The one difference is that the holy oils are infused, then the catechumens baptized, then the altar, cross, clergy, and faithful are sprinkled with the water from the font. In the Roman rite the aspersion precedes the infusion of oils.

The procession returns to the sanctuary as the choir sings a third and final abbreviated litany, again distinct from the others. The ministers put on white Mass vestments and begin the prayers at the foot of the altar, with the Iudica me, while the litany functions as an Introit, as in the Roman rite. Textually the first half of the Mass is identical to the Roman liturgy. Two choir boys, not the celebrant, introduce the Alleluia. The secret is different, but it is a very simple prayer for the neophytes. The Paschal preface is sung and the variations in the Canon are the same as in the Roman books. As in the Roman rite the Agnus Dei is omitted and psalm 116, with a triple Alleluia antiphon, is sung as Vespers. However Gloria Patri et Filio etc is not sung in the psalm nor during the Lavabo at the offertory; the reason is that the Resurrection is anticipated, but has not yet happened! The antiphon on the Magnificat again varies from the Roman rite, but says the same general thing, recounting the women heading to the tomb. The post-Communion prayer is again for the newly baptized. The dismissal is Ite, missa est and the Last Gospel is read. There is no double Alleluia on the dismissal in the rite of Paris.


The Mass of Pascha—or Easter Sunday—differs little from the Roman rite. The Introit is "Christ has risen from the dead, alleluia. Death is swallowed up in victory, alleluia. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting? Alleluia." It is not quite as beautiful as the Resurrexi Mass in the Roman rite, wherein the Lord speaks actively announcing His own resurrection, but there is a Byzantine quality to be loved in this variation. The theme of Christ conquering death is the point of Pascha in the Greek tradition: "Christ is risen from the dead and by His death He has trampled upon death and given life to those who were in the tombs" is repeated constantly in the Divine Liturgy from Pascha until Pentecost.
The collect is the same, as is most of the Gradual. The verse in the Alleluia is different, coming from Roman rather than Corinthians. The sequence is the same, as is the Gospel. The offertory verse is taken from psalm 117: "I do not die, but live, and will speak of the works of the Lord." The Secret is different, but the rest of the Mass is, again, the same. The dismissal is Ite, missa est.

Quick Thoughts

The Parisian rite displays an emphasis on sin and God's remaking of us that is hard to reconcile with Jansenism, steeping the claims against its Missal by Dom Prosper Gueranger in great doubt. The dramatic and communally oriented language is one that perhaps made the Ultramontanists uncomfortable, but thus far little in the Parisian liturgy could be interpreted reasonably as heterodox. Despite the organic language in some of the prayers, the liturgy on the whole has a stronger emphasis on sacrifice and immolation than even the Roman rite. The logorrhea of the rite focuses on sacrificial language to the point of diminishing return. Some of the prayers are repetitive, while others are actually very insightful. The ceremonies of Holy Saturday are very brief in contrast to those of the Roman rite, yet the adoration of the cross on Good Friday reminds us of something lost to Rome. In short, whatever its defects, the Parisian rite, as we have known it thus far, had its own legitimate and distinct place in the Latin liturgical tradition and the evidence proffered to justify its suppression is not thus far compelling.

Although with the Pope's name omitted on Good Friday, one can see why some would take issue with the rite....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Brideshead, Revisited

This week the Rad Trad intends to publish the next posts in two series, the Lesser Known Fathers and the examination of the French usages of the Roman rite. The Lesser Known Fathers will delve into St. Theodore the Studite's defense of holy icons, which builds on the solid foundation of St. John of Damascus' earlier writings on the same subject. In the series on French liturgy we shall have an overview of the Holy Week and Pascha Sunday Masses in the Parisian Missal. Stay tuned.
The Rad Trad is also re-reading Evelyn Waugh's nostalgic classic Brideshead Revisited. Doubtless, many readers are familiar with this prosaic masterpiece, which weaves a personal narrative and a long ago social setting into a story of God's grace. The brand of post-modern literature, to which most of us were exposed by our universities, lacks the aesthetic verbosity of Waugh, whose style re-fashions settings and moods on paper. The Word of God was spoken and the world came to be. The word of Waugh was written and an embracing reflection comes about. Waugh describes the Oxford of 1923 in the second paragraph of the first chapter:
"Oxford—now submerged and obliterated, irrecoverable as Lyonnesse, so quickly have the waters come flooding in—Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman's day; her autumnal mists, her gray springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days—such as that day—when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth. It was this cloistral hush which gave our laughter its resonance, and carried it still, joyously, over the intervening clamor."
Oxford devolved into a destination for upper-middleclass American tourists long before J.K. Rowling's harebrained, hackneyed Harry Potter stories. Whilst a student there the Rad Trad enjoyed deceiving fellow Americans on holiday. With one exception, they always enquired as to where the nearest Harry Potter attraction could be found: the library (Bodleian library), the dining hall (Christ Church College), the hallways (Theology faculty), and whatever else they could want. The Rad Trad obliged their requests, with either a heavily affected Yorkshire or Oxonian accent—depending on his mood. Often, after carrying down the High Street toward their destination, these poor site-seekers would chirp within the Rad Trad's earshot "Ooooh Jawhnny, don't you just love that English accent" or "Wasn't that a fancy voice" or even "I could just listen to British people talk all day." The bars are the only other form of entertainment in Oxford.
There is also an amusing description of the family house's chapel, 19th century art nouveau kitsch:
"The whole interior had been gutted, elaborately refurnished and redecorated in the arts-and-crafts style of the last decade of the nineteenth century. Angels in printed cotton smocks, rambler-roses, flower-spangled meadows, frisking lambs, texts in Celtic script, saints in armor, covered the walls in an intricate pattern of clear, bright colors. There was a triptych of pale oak, carved so as to give it the peculiar property of seeming to have been molded in Plasticine. The sanctuary lamp and all the metal furniture were of bronze, hand-beaten to the patina of a pockmarked skin; the altar steps had a carpet of grass-green and gold daisies."
Brideshead has developed a modern following focused on the sexual tension between its two main male characters, Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte. These modern pseudo-aesthetes usually neglect or deride the main theme of the book, God's grace, or the various characters who act of God's instruments—Cordelia and Lady Marchmain. Others who understand and appreciate the theme often cite Sebastian and Cordelia as the good souls of the novel and ignore Lady Marchmain. A letter by Waugh to A.D. Peters, published in the back of the Back Bay Books edition, sheds some light on the matter:
"Yes, Lady Marchmain is an enigma. I hoped the last conversation with Cordelia gave a theological clue. The whole thing is steeped in theology, but I begin to agree that theologians won't recognize it.... I am steaming ahead with the novel. It is becoming painfully erotic."

A review might be forthcoming.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Post #200: The New Church

This is the Rad Trad's 200th post, fitting as we are two weeks away from the blog's first anniversary. On the anniversary the Rad Trad will unveil the blog's new patron saint and give some statistics on the "state of the blog."
The Rad Trad is not much a fan of Michael Voris, although he thinks Mr. Voris is well intentioned and does say things that others shy away from saying. Recently Mr. Voris began a series called Dispatches, a program of five episodes recounting the state of affairs in the Catholic Church in America using the statistics published by the American bishops in the Official Catholic Directory, meaning the numbers presented are not the program's own, but the bishops'.
Here is the second episode in the series (begins 2:42), which would be more watchable if Mr. Voris would remain in one place!
In short, things are bad. A third as many religious sisters as a 50 years ago and double the average age. Half as many priests, but a tenth the number of seminarians (which also means many men who are being ordained now may not have been ordained in previous days). Mass attendance, in the United States, is also less than a third of what it was five decades ago and a net of 2,000 parishes have closed in the last two decades. All of this despite the population nearly doubling in the same period.
The organization of the Church in America is in a state of decay and it will eventually implode. The question in the Rad Trad's mind is: what happens when the Church structure does implode? Will bishops continue attempting to maintain, as they do now, the organizational features of the Church as it existed in their youth? A priest or two in every parish, several Sunday Masses, weekday low Masses, nuns, Catholic schools, and a lot of well funded social clubs? The reality is that this is no longer a feasible means of running the Church. The Rad Trad has written elsewhere on what happens when the Church is structured like McDonald's, so he sees no need in reiterating those points. Parishes built for three for four full Masses and two priests often have two half-capacity Masses and one overworked priest. This model not only suffers from lack of personnel, but it is very expensive. Running a parish can be financially plausible as long as the Masses are well attended and the congregation contributes. Beneficence remains, but attendance has dwindled. Barring a grand and immediate revival of the American Church, the old system will die, but what to do about it?
The Rad Trad hopes there might be a future in oratories and in collegiate churches (not to be confused with the Oratory of St. Philip Neri or collegiate churches full of retired monsignori). Living alone is not really natural. "Back in the day" there were usually two or three priests per parish. This kept the priests honest and also provided a normal social structure. It also meant parishes were well-staffed and could split duties among the priests rather than hire laymen (secretaries, financial consultants, lay catechists etc). Could an oratory system not recover some of this element and more? In the first millennium the priests of Rome, and in most European dioceses, lived in main houses in town and only went to the parishes for Sundays and feasts. Otherwise they would remain at the cathedral or main churches of the city and sing the Office and Mass daily there. There were two effects of this: 1-there existed fellowship in Christ among the priests and 2-the main churches became centers of Catholic life unto themselves. A large, beautiful church with the Divine Office and a high Mass daily is not just another parish, but a proper destination. Such places, where they still exist, are often the most vibrant churches in the area, as they practice the full Liturgy (the life line of the Church to Jesus Christ) and have full resources for running community programs (concerts, lectures, devotions, retreats, and the like). In most places though, the only different between a large church and a small one is the size. Nothing else. Whichever performs worse is not even likely to close, but to be "clustered" with some other parishes, stretching the priest and the utility bills further other more land and with fewer faithful.
Could an oratory system not be a solution to this coming predicament? Imagine that the city nearest you has only a few Catholic churches and that they are quite large and that their Sunday Masses are very full. Each one has 3-10 priests (depending on the town) who sing Mattins/Lauds every morning, offer Mass every hour, hear Confessions daily, the priests hold their own jobs (teachers, chaplains, chancery work etc), Vespers in the evening, and special events scattered throughout the week. Depending on the population of the surrounding area the church could perhaps run a school. Such a parish or oratory would undoubtedly be the center of Catholic life in the city, if for no other reason that it is one of the only churches and that it does everything well. Moreover, having all the priests under one roof and putting the faithful of the area in one parish cuts down on the overhead. Perhaps a few of the priests could go to small chapels or parishes in surrounding areas to celebrate Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. When a parish or chapel maintains a stable or growing congregation that could support two or three priests (no fewer) it could become an oratory. This modest proposal both cuts costs and improves the quality of return. It makes the church a spiritual focus and creates standards for future growth, unlike the current structure which seeks to stave off decay. The ancient Roman churches operated this way. Monasticism grew in Europe in the same manner. Monks were housed under one abbey's roof until enough there were enough monks to run a full second monastery, in which case an offshoot priory would be established. After time, if the priory proved itself viable, it could become an abbey. This system seeks to represent the faith in its fullest to a world that currently thinks the faith to be either a mere intellectual proposition or a social function. Complaining about Mass attendance and pointing at the "renewal" transpiring before our eyes will not recover the Church in the United States. Reorganization and reform must accompany renewal.
This proposed oratory system differs from the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in that it is a structure for the diocesan priesthood, not its own vocation centered around a particular saint's spirituality. And it differs from a collegiate church in that the priests in residence would have no special honors or revenues. Priests, although better supported, might make less salary in this system where one large congregation supports a great many priests, which could make it attractive to bishops and annoying to the rest of the clergy. Yet it is a start.
Do the readers have any better ideas?

Quick Reflection on the Canaanites and the Two Gods

We have all heard it somewhere. There are two gods: the theatrical and distant God of the Old Testament and the warm, fuzzy God Who gave us Jesus in the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is a distant Creator Who reigns down terror upon even the most remotely disobedient people while the New Testament God gave us His Son, the social revolutionary Who loves us all and will give us whatever we want. With such a conception of God(s), no wonder so many people read the Old Testament through foggy lenses.
The most commonly cited evidence in favor of this dichotomy between God as portrayed in the Old Testament and in the New is the massacre of the Canaanites by Joshua and the Israelites according to Divine directive (Deuteronomy 7). Many professional "apologists"—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—have put in their two cents concerning the mass death that ensued. The explanation usually goes something like this: God made them and God is just, so whatever God wants to do to the Canaanites is in accord with Divine Law. For the believer a well constructed variation of this argument suffices. For the non-believer this is petrol for the rhetorical fire. And for those with troubled faith this line of reasoning solidifies distinction between the atavistic "Old Testament God" and the benign "New Testament God."
What follows is hardly an "explanation" of what happened with the Canaanites, but the Rad Trad's private reflection on the matter.

This Was Going to End Poorly Anyway

An Egyptian Christian today may be more conducive to believing that the God of Jesus Christ and the God of the Old Testament are One and the Same than an American Christian today. The first world is so accustomed to false violence and so removed from real death that we who reside in "civilized" nations lose sight of the struggles of ancient times which are so very much alive in the world today. We practice violence in Call of Duty video games and can barely deal with the death of an octogenarian grandmother. We live in great material comfort. Even America's poor are far better off than the middle and lower classes of most other countries. We are desensitized to violence. So how could we possibly understand the way in which God's providence could utilize violence over three millennia ago? The theoretical Egyptian Christian has never really lost sight of this reality which might be why, aside from compelled conversions to Islam, Middle Eastern Christians have maintained a traditional view of the faith.
Go back to roughly 1,500 BC (or BCE if you must—what happened in 0 CE I wonder?). The Israelites have been expelled from Egypt, are the religious riff raff of the Middle East, have lived on bread for four decades, dealt with desert plumbing, and endured numerous battles for their survival. This is a brutalized, not a civilized, people, and God must deal with them according to their own understanding. The newer Catechism cites St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3, 20, 2) in saying "The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously 'by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other' and shed light on each another. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ" (53). The Canaanites were not a particularly polite people either:
For those ancient inhabitants of thy holy land, whom thou didst abhor, because they did works hateful to thee by their sorceries, and wicked sacrifices, And those merciless murderers of their own children, and eaters of men' s bowels, and devourers of blood from the midst of thy consecration, from the midst of thy consecration: And those parents sacrificing with their own hands helpless souls, it was thy will to destroy by the hands of our parents, that the land which of all is most dear to thee might receive a worthy colony of the children of God. Yet even those thou sparedst as men, and didst send wasps, forerunners of thy host, to destroy them by little and little." (Wisdom 12:3-8)

Clearly the Canaanites and the Israelites lacked the qualities necessary to produce a multicultural paradise akin to the ones the United States has created in the Middle East. These peoples had no concept of peace as Christians do, much less "first world" Christians. Violence and death came into the world by sin, but in this instance God re-directed the use of violence toward a greater eventual good: the entrance of the Son of God into the world through the line of the rulers of this new kingdom, Israel. God made an enclave for Himself betwixt two very brutal societies. Omnipotent as He is, God elected not to create an immediate state of peace. Instead He wanted mankind to learn a lesson by participating in His work, much like a child who is taught how to do addition by his parent rather than by having his parent do the problem for him.
Modern, effete ears ignore God's plan of salvation for people and instead absolute their own post-modern standard and private values, then judge God—Who exists outside of time—and people from 3,500 years ago by those values. This is spiritually deranged and intellectually dishonest.
A violent outcome in a sinful world was inevitable. Our perspective makes that difficult to understand. And those who ignore this reality of sin bifurcate the God of salvation into the mean Old Testament God and the warm New Testament God.


What Would You Have Thought?

Given the probity for human sacrifice among the Canaanites the Israelites may have displayed very little reservation about wiping out entire communities. Perhaps a more modern and extreme example will aid us in seeing the difficulty of this matter. Hernán Cortés famously waged war against the Aztecs of the New World and accidently killed off the entire populace by importing European diseases to which the Spaniards had unknowingly acquired immunity. Cortés' journal records the horrors of Aztec human sacrifice, the ritual killing of men, women, and children in order to appease idols. Some estimate that the Aztecs sacrificed 20,000 people every year. The death of an entire populace at the hands of colonialists is an objective tragedy. Yet imagine yourself to be a more timid Spanish soldier who, for military or national purposes, found yourself accompanying Cortés on his voyage. You may very well have been mortified at the deaths of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of natives and still have felt less remorse than you would have if this had happened in any other place, given the horrors committed by those now dead. I myself do not know how I would have felt on Cortés' journey; likely I would have eructated throughout the venture.
Perhaps a future example might also be illustrative. Are Christians hypocritical for upholding peace and defending a God Who authorizes the death of an entire people? This is certainly an appealing line for some. But in light of how the Israelites viewed the Canaanites (and, according to the Scriptures, how God viewed them), consider this example. In Texas the state routinely executes a great many capital offenders every year. Texas is also one of the more religious states in the United States. If future generations outlaw the death penalty and switch to a methodology for "reforming" criminals will they think pious Texans hypocrites for executing murderers?
These examples are not meant to be absolute. One difficulty is that the Canaanites were a whole community, not individual offenders. These parallels are only meant for mild consideration.

Enduring Standards

One fact often neglected by those of us who in modern times judge Christianity for the massacre of the Canaanites is that the massacre was never set as a prescription or standard for future behavior. Given the ambitions of the Byzantine emperor, the two centuries of the Crusades, and the long string of religious wars there was plenty of opportunity to elevate the invasion of Canaan and the killing of its inhabitants to the status of expectation, but this was not done. Christians, and Jews, treated this as a unique event not to be repeated. This suggests both a discomfort with what happened and a belief that it was meant as a step toward Christ and not a standard for His followers.


This is a simple and non-systemic reflection, not a bit of apologetics. You know where to go for that sort of thing. I am, like many of you, a simple Catholic trying to understand the Scriptures. A conclusion to this post ought to be simple: the Old Testament points toward Christ and the fullness of revelation. The war against the Canaanites is no exception.