Saturday, May 31, 2014

Who Was Malachi Martin?

Some time ago I acquired the hobby of learning more about early figures in the traditionalist movement (there will be a series on some of the less prominent persons in a month or so). One figure, who I have never been able to understand, is former Jesuit priest Malachi Martin.

Martin studied at Louvain, earned three doctorates, was ordained following the Second World War, had stints at Oxford and Hebrew University, worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and was an adviser to Cardinal Bea (SJ) and Pope Paul VI. At some point during the Second Vatican Council he was laicized by Pope Paul and moved to New York City, where he won the Guggenheim fellowship twice and worked as the Religion Editor for William F. Buckley's journal National Review (he was Mary Ball-Martinez's superior and her opinion of him is more than apparent in her books). In the above video he is interviewed by Buckley on the program Firing Line about his book Jesus Now.

His early post-priesthood books displayed liberal undertones and a more broadly Christian perspective. In the 1980s his work threw the rudder hard right. He championed Marcel Lefebvre and Ultramontanism (yes, both at once) as well as writing a generally reliable exposé on the Society of Jesus called Jesuits. At some point in the late 1980s or early 1990s his books and appeal branched into the world of conspiracy, world domination, and late night talk radio. His Windswept House purported that Lucifer was "enthroned" in St. Peter's Basilica during Vatican II, almost a reverse Sacred Heart enthronement. He delved into the world of Masons, Bugnini, and Cardinal Casaroli—all working to overthrow the Church and create a "new world order."

Most bombastically he claimed to have been a secret priest all along, not laicized, providing Sacraments to the "underground Church" and performing more exorcisms that Fr. Gabriel Amorth (as an aside, Martin did write Hostage to the Devil, which is a summary of five exorcisms performed by other priests). He believed John Paul II was a good pope surrounded by evil people preventing him from following the demands of Fatima. He also believed the Pauline liturgy to be more or less invalid on all counts. As a result of all these disparate things he had a broad audience: truckers and late night radio listeners looking for a good scare story about demonic possession, ordinary Catholics seeking to discuss private devotions or Fatima, and hard line traditionalists who wanted simple explanations for what happened in 1962. Somehow his audience could include a sedevacantist, Art Bell, Richard Williamson, and a man making a FedEx delivery.

All of this elides into one question, who was Malachi Martin? Was he a furtive priest fighting the devil and exposing the "Novus Ordo Church?" Was he a liberal gradually overcome with buyer's remorse? Was he an opportunist who used varying parts of Christianity, especially Catholic traditionalists, as a cash cow? As long as there is YouTube there will be questions about Malachi Martin.

As an aside, his Art Bell interviews are great late night entertainment for those occasions of insomnia. He had a soft, velvet voice and was an excellent conversationalist. Combined with talk of murder, Masons, the Papacy, demonic possession, and American callers the result is the modern version of a campfire ghost story!

Note: the series next month (if I ever finish the series on French rites) will cover some of the less luminous early traditionalists. The goal of the series will be to show what the emerging traditionalist movement looked like prior to the FSSPX's rise to prominence. Nowadays it seems everything is a variation of their position ("indult" traditionalists, the "Hermeneutic of Continuity" traditionalists, sedevacantist traditionalists etc.), yet this was not always the case. With the help of some correspondents who knew these people, I hope to cover:
  • Fr. Quintin Montgomery-Wright
  • Fr. Ronald Silk
  • Mary Ball-Martinez
  • Fr. Bryan Houghton
  • Anyone else readers can suggest!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nostalgic Literature

My books are currently locked in a storage facility somewhere in Houston, 250 miles south of me, leaving me a dearth of reading material. By a stroke of luck I came across a sale of 19th century books in hardcover at the local library, eight or so works for $15. I imagine the library is trying to clear out room to expand their Blu Ray holdings.

The books I acquired are hardly the high brow literature of James Fenimore Cooper or Victor Hugo, but I think these works do at some level reflect the popular sentiment of the age. The novels Waverly by Walter Scott, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, and the D'Artagnan works of Dumas all yell "nostalgia" at the top of their parchment lined lungs.

Waverly describes the romantic folly of a young man named Edward Waverly, educated in many subjects and knowledgeable in none of them. He falls for the Jacobite cause and Bonnie Prince Charlie (whose father's perplexing tomb I saw at St. Peter's Basilica, Iacob III, Rex Anglorum). His venture with the band of Scottish usurpers was doomed from the start, but the charm of the undertaking clouded Edward's judgment. The Scarlet Pimpernel rescues French nobles from the guillotine during the Revolution and rescues the 19th century nobility from their declining relevance during the Baroness's time. And the D'Artagnan romances glorify a France and a chivalric spirit which Edmund Burke declared dead half a century earlier.

These novels are nostalgic lamentations for an era within living memory, but certainly gone and never returning. Gone were the days of treks and aimless adventures through the highlands. Gone were the days of noble patricians guiding society out of obligation and not self-interest. Gone were the days of impulsively gallant knights willing to sacrifice all for king and wenches.

Conversely, other writers attempted to compensate for the loss of old Europe by moving adventures to new settings amenable to the scientism of the age. My current book, Jules Vernes' remarkably dull Journey to the Center of the Earth, brims with optimism about the potential for science to pave the path of the coming age. The protagonist and his uncle engage of what we are supposed to believe is sophisticated debate over minutiae concerning minerology and geology. The impolite dullards are the norm people, such as the village priest and his housekeeper. H.G. Wells took scientism to an unhealthy level. Both authors wanted to move the conventional adventure story to a new setting and found moderate success.

Technology has not brought new platforms to traditional behavior, nor has it induced healthy new behavior. Submarines did not continue the swashbuckler. Some technology, if anything, has limited human behavior. Social networking, to my mind, is an unmitigated disaster. Almost everyone one knows via Facebook one knows in real life. Rather than meet in person for dinner once a week people swap mind numbing messages about mostly nothing. They exchange so much menial information so frequently that when two people do have the rare encounter they sit in silence with nothing to discuss. Email is far more tolerable to me, given that it does the same thing as a letter and in shorter time; I hardly think email, unlike the blue thing Facebook, substitutes for real human contact.

So many cheerleaders for science, particularly in biology, seem positively giddy about the potential to change human nature. Would we still be human at that point? Industry, modern democracy, and technology, although useful, have not so much changed human nature as much as they have curtailed it. I find myself sympathizing with those who yearn for "simpler" times not because I am a Luddite, but because those times were more humanly vibrant. Maybe I need to get out less....

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bringing Back Sinners: A Personal Reflection on Communion for the Divorced & Re-Married

My perspective here is hardly original or unique to my own experiences, but it is a perspective that no one has discussed in the forensic exercises over Cardinal Kasper's proposal to admit the divorced and re-married to Communion under some pastoral regulations that everyone knows full well will not be enforced strictly. The reason the Church does not admit, and historically has not admitted, those who left their spouse and married again to Communion is because the Church wants sinners to repent and turn back to God. The matter really is not theological, but pastoral. It is that simple. Get sinners to turn back to God.

Daily I witness two intensely close and violently torrential cases of ex-communication, restriction from receiving Communion, that perturb me. Those cases are of my father and one of my best friends.

My father married during the year the Second Vatican Council convened, fathered three children (of whom I have met two, and only seen one in the last seven years once), divorced in 1972, received a letter of ex-communication shortly thereafter, and married my mother in Methodist rites in 1974. He goes to Mass perhaps once a year if the good Lord disposes him to do so. The setting varies: the old Mass, the Pauline Mass, and once the Divine Liturgy (which he insisted was not really Catholic). Religiously my father is a product of the 1950s. He never knew what happened at Mass. He just knew all the respectable people went there for their 25 minute service and followed it up with an omelette. A few times a year he would go to Communion, of course after confessing all his major sins and fasting. No one goes to Communion in sin and without preparation. Having been ex-communicated since 1972 he still knows and believes that much. Once he attempted to go to Confession, but found the priest meddlesome and unhelpful, which turned him off from reconciling with the Church. The shell of his 1950s Catholicism is all he has left. He is my father and I love him dearly, but his life could be called one of disappointments and some bitterness to boot.

A friend of mine was raised in a lesbian household with a distant father and, after having gone through some 1980s Catholic education, drifted away from a faith which I do not believe he ever really understood. He was a rambunctious child straightened out by a decade and a half of service in the infantry of the United States Army. He worked ground zero after 9/11 and toured Afghanistan, burning out his lungs in the process. During his army stint he married in a secular ceremony a wonderful woman who has never been anything but kind to me. Since then he has strayed in the annals of academia and all the dismaying tendencies therein. Whenever I visit him in his house I am received with the greatest affection and hospitality. He always takes me to Confession on Saturday night and Mass on Sunday. And on Saturday nights he stares at the Confessional, joins the line, and then walks away at the last moment saying he will take too long. At Mass he refrains from Communion, instead remaining on his knees in meditation.

According to the laws of the Church and the Church's traditional understanding of marriage there is no way either my father or my friend are married. They are both lapsed Catholics who married without the witness or blessing of the Church and remain in such arrangements. They cannot take Communion and in no way do I wish for this situation to change.

The de facto ex-communication of these two loved ones is the only thing keeping them close to the Catholic faith, to taking it seriously. My father's mind clings to two facts about Catholicism, that one must be clean of sin to partake of Communion and that he cannot partake of Communion. My friend's matter is the same way, although my friend's conscience does tear at his heart. It is my hope that these two dear people will one day return to the Church, even if it be the hour of death, when all worldly attachments and interests that mire us in sin fade to dust and we must see God, not as we imagine Him to be in our tinted looking glass, but as He actually is. I hope that before death they both wish to ask God's forgiveness and petition the Church to receive the Body of Christ worthily.

The Church always places repentance before the celebration of the holy things of God. Both the new and old Roman Masses begin with a general confession of unworthiness. In the older rite the people, or the deacon, repeat this confession prior to the reception of Communion. At Compline, the hour prayed before going to bed, our must vulnerable state, we again pray for the forgiveness of sins by saying the Confiteor and asking for the Lord's protection. In the Byzantine rite the priest prays "Lord, forgive me the sinner and have mercy on me" before the celebration of Orthros (Mattins and Lauds) and Vespers; he will say "God have mercy on me a sinner" after the anaphora and before his own Communion. And lastly there is the long "Lord, I truly believe and confess...." before the Communion of the congregation. One must turn from sin to God prior to participating in the sacred rites of the Church. Is not the same true in eternity? Must not one repent before entering into the Kingdom of God?

What of the Orthodox approach? What of it? I think it is wrong, but I cannot see how it would be helpful in this day and age. When the Church of Constantinople decided that marriage can die and one can re-marry twice given the proper state of mind and a heavily penitential effort prior to the new union, the spirit of penance was alive and well. People fasted from all meat and dairy products during Lent, the pre-Christmas fast, and the Dormition fast. Even though I think the practice wrong, I cannot deny that it could be done in the right spirit. All of that is gone now. The Church now requires fasting two days of the year: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Further more, the modern age would confirm that the Church was changing her outmoded teachings, not forcing people who failed their vocations to do penance. The adaptation of the Chalcedonian-Orthodox discipline would be a disaster in practice in this day and age. To admit the divorced and re-married to Communion will not make those in question grateful to the Church for her mercy and understanding. Rather they will hear all the talk of the "Body of Christ" and the confessions throughout the liturgy and think to themselves "So it was not really such a big deal after all."

So again I say the only thing keeping my father and my friend close to the Church is the very fact that they cannot go to Communion. They know that the Church guards something sacred which they still, on some level, believe and would like to receive yet cannot. When time purges these men of all that ties them to the world they will have the option of repenting and reconciling to God before death or the other, less attractive option. It is precisely because they cannot repent now that they still believe in God, Christ, the Church, and the Eucharist. To remove their barrier from Communion will not bring either my father or friend to Mass with any regularity. It will merely tell that the Church does not consider what she does at Mass very important. It will tell them that the Church was bluffing all the time.

If the Church does not admit these men to Communion then they may still believe something important resides in the Catholic Church and wish to return to it. I can very much envision this one fact returning my father to the Church at some point before he dies and my friend sooner than that. My friend especially wants to repent and to go to Communion. Why remove the impetus? I want nothing more than for these two men to enter heaven, but not without repentance first.

The Church's power to loosen and to bind the sins of men has brought back into the fold men like Oscar Wilde, Voltaire, and John Wayne. Why not my father and my friend, too?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Allatae Sunt

A fascinating bull on East-West issues by Benedict XIV, Papa Lambertini. Much of the material is still relevant today. Some of it, particularly the tone, is a bit dated (the Roman rite, being the rite of Roman, is naturally superior to all others and hence none can transfer to a Greek rite from it.... yeah....) yet most of the bull constituted a firm foundation for re-establishing Communion between the various Churches. Of keen interest is the Pope's reverence for Eastern customs and traditions (the liturgy, married clergy, reservations about pushing the Filioque on them). All this during the Counter-Reformation of all periods!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prevalence of the Feeney Thesis?

Having lived in New Hampshire I am familiar with the "Feeneyites," followers of the deceased Jesuit Leonard Feeney, a professor of Literature at Boston College who held a very strict interpretation of Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. On the Feeney scheme one must undergo sacramental water Baptism and profess juridical union with the Pope in Rome to be Catholic and hence saved, no exceptions permitted (Cardinal Cushing, a capable politician friendly with the Americanist Kennedy family, found this very embarrassing and put a lid on Feeney). I find the idea to be at best historical spurious, but I am not going to talk about Fr. Feeney's opinion itself. I am more interested in its prevalence.

New Hampshire was my first exposure to this perspective. The "Feeneyites" run the St. Benedict Center in New Hampshire which offers the '62 liturgy, promotes Immaculate Heart devotions, and prints biographical information on Fr. Feeney. They have competition from a rival group in Massachusetts. The Byzantine Catholics found the position mind boggling. Thinking this was an insulated issue, given that Feeney lived in Massachusetts, about 40 minutes from New Hampshire, I moved to Texas and forgot all about it. Now I am told that there are some upholders of this position at the FSSP church in the Dallas area, Mater Dei. Ironically the FSSPX clergy are more willing to "crack down" on "Feeneyism," possibly because it was condemned during the "good old days." This does not seem to be a "traditionalist" issue per se. The group in New Hampshire attended the Pauline Mass at a local parish under they formally reconciled with the bishop of Manchester and were granted permission to erect their own facility.

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Texas. Are there followers of this idea where you lived my dear English readers? How about ye Portuguese? And readers in Spain? Americans are of course also invited to respond! Do please say something about the circumstances (social background, the rite of Mass used, and anything else that might be useful in aiding our understanding).

Pontifical Liturgy in the Snow

Above is a Pontifical Divine Liturgy for Christmas celebrated in the snow 
a few years back. The devotion of the faithful in inspiring. Then again
the Ukrainian Catholics were baptized by fire during the Cold War
and have largely continued in that zeal. The political circumstances that forced
the Liturgy outside are explained in the opening of the video.

Having heard a lot of Ukrainian since moving to Texas, I must say that what is
sung here sounds a bit different. Could is be Slavonic, the mother tongue of
Ukrainian and Russian? Any experts in Salvic languages out there?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sodalitium Pianum

Here is a link to a long overview of the history and influence of the Sodalitium Pianum, Benigni's anti-Modernist quasi-police force. The article gives a particularly astute summary of how it shaped the various traditionalist accounts of the 20th century overhaul in Rome (FSSPX, sedevacantism, integralism etc). For example, some have accused John XXIII of being a communist because he drew the ire and wrath of the Sodalitium for supporting a local labor strike as a parish priest (ironically that sent him into diplomatic work and accelerated the rise of an otherwise common priest).

One plus of this article is that is distinguishes between the many folds of "Modernism," between some people who really were outright heretics and others who simply were not neo-Thomists and did not know when to bit their tongues.

The article perhaps glosses over other factors in the understandable reactionism of early 20th century Catholics, such as a century of anti-clericalism, socialization of Church property, industrialization which ruined local communities, an endless series of nationalistic revolutions, and migration. Did all this warrant Pio Nono's (or Pio No No) "prisoner in the Vatican" approach? Unlikely, but I can hardly criticize those who supported Action Francaise in the 1920s. They wanted a Catholic country, or at least security for the Church, and if not for Cardinal Gasparri they perhaps would have had it.

And now Mr Bond, we will issue a new encyclical and
there is nothing the Holy Office can do to stop us!
The other matter where I think both liberals and traditionalists, and this article, are off is the subject of the Freemasons. No, there is not a master president of the "lodge" in an office under the United Nations headquarters plotting the destruction of the Church like a James Bond villain. This does not mean we should ignore the Masons. They were not, and are not, an organization in a corporate fashion. Structurally the most proximate thing to them would be terrorist cells in that one "lodge" is created from another and becomes an independent entity. The Masonic lodges gave primitive liberalism—political and philosophical—a forum for discussion and a means of social cohesion. This means that there was no Masonic conspiracy against the Church. It does mean that many who joined a given lodge were already disposed against the Church (like Calles of Mexico) and had access to the resources of like minded individuals. One cannot dismiss their importance outright just because the parody of them proved to be unsubstantial. Many clergy probably joined the Masons or had affiliation with them, either because of their own liberal beliefs or because they thought these new intellectual trends offered a means for making the Church relevant again. Indeed the particular Roman Pontiff about whom I have unique views may have associated with a greater number of "lodge men" than his predecessors or successors. This does not mean he was an "agent" or "on the other team," but it means that he may have held sympathies for their political liberalism, their optimism about the new age ushered in by technological shocks, and their views of the relationships between the Church and other parties. The Masons' relevance in the early 20th century is overestimated by some seeking an easy explanation for the total collapse that transpired and too easily dismissed by those wishing to distance themselves from crackpots.

Either way, read the article!


Above is an explanation of a service I have seen countless times during Orthros (Mattins & Lauds), but never heard aloud aside from a few words. A priest of some Orthodox community explains the Proskomide, the preparation rites for the bread and wine prior to the Divine Liturgy. The prayers are heuristic and indicative of a liturgical theology that takes the reality of the opus Dei during the Eucharist seriously.

As an aside, the priest is likely wrong when he says that the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom originates in St. John Chrysostom. I am told that St. Basil is the most likely to have had extensive influence on the Byzantine rite named for him. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, like the "Ambrosian rite" of Milan, is probably named for the most prominent bishop of the diocese that used it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Modern Music

I was asked by an eighth grader recently what sort of music I like. I replied that I like Classical music and various kinds of chant and choral work. She said, "Oh that's old stuff, like from the '70s, isn't it?" His Traddiness nearly choked on the air he breathed.

We must remember that we live in a post-Beatles society and almost all music is now saturated with traces of their subversive influence, traces of immature sexuality, rebellion against a now gone social order, and inane rhythm. 

As a rule of thumb I avoid most all music that has a bass line and drums, making an exception for some jazz work. I know very little about "metal music" given its relative lack of popularity where I went to high school, but I am more than familiar with "rock n' roll." What an indictment it is that Elton John—a very unique individual to say the least—is by far one of the most "normal" and "talented" in his industry, especially since he has produced such insightful work as "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting." The Beatles take the cake in my book. Who could possibly top the word "I am the Walrus. I am the milkman. I am the egg man."

Music does not have to be intelligent or complicated to be enjoyable. Indeed a great deal of music is wonderful because of its lack of pretension and its brevity. Even a waltz can be soothing to the ear. Mozart made a career of writing such light music. Mozart also turned out great symphonies (41 being my favorite) and of course his Requiem Mass. While against the use of orchestras at Mass, I will say that his Requiem Mass is actually usable at a real Mass, given the modest length of the Kyrie, Offertory, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is purely a theatre piece.

Perhaps a cure for the youth would be a prescription to learn an actual instrument other than the guitar. I can think of no greater means of appreciating Bach than playing his work on an organ, nor a greater way of knowing Beethoven than by playing his piano works (that is how I came to love Beethoven). Regardless, the future generations must learn that [good] music predates them by much more than a generation or two.

The Lyonese Missal Part IV: Feasts & Commons

Progressing with our exposé on the "Jansenism" of the local rites of France alleged by those who wished to effect the abandonment of those uses in favor of the Tridentine Roman liturgy. Thus far no discernible traces of Jansenism have been found in the rites of Paris or Lyon.

What has been found is a series of deviations and differences from the Roman rite which vary in their contribution to the Church catholic and their accord with custom. As mentioned the Gallican and neo-Gallican rites omit the previously utilized Roman psalter in the propers in favor of the Gallican Vulgate translation of St. Jerome. Similarly, many proper texts which once matched the Roman rite have changed, sometimes by evolution and sometimes by outright alteration. Many of the new prayers are quite beautiful and reflect the vibrant religious and literary life of the age. Others are vividly visual and replete with excessive talk of immolation and other eccentric wording. While many of the contrasts between the French rites and the Roman mother rite can be said to be in poor taste, none of them thus far show signs of heresy.

In our series let us continue with two sets of propers for both major feasts and from the Commons. Let us examine Epiphany and the Assumption feasts as well as the Common for a virgin martyr and the votive Mass of the Holy Trinity.


The feast of Epiphany is the third most important in the whole of the Catholic Church. Pascha relives the Resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Pentecost celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles who in turn used this dwelling presence of God to multiply the Church throughout the world. Epiphany celebrated the "appearing" of God in many venues: the appearance of the Christ child to the magi, marking the first time Gentiles ever met God; the changing of water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana manifested Jesus' divine power over matter; and the feast in general recalls Christ's spiritual birth in eternity (indeed some second century writers opposed celebrating a lesser birth in time); on the octave day the Baptism in the Jordan is celebrated, wherein the fullness of the Trinity was finally revealed to mankind and Christ began His public ministry. After Pentecost no octave is as rich in content and beauty as the eight days of Epiphany.

This Mass differs substantially from the Roman rite, in the synaxis sharing only the Collect and the Gospel pericope. The Introit in the Roman tradition and in the Lyonese Missal do have the same theme, that the Lord of all has come to dwell and rule among men, "Adore the Lord in His holy court, let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, and may they say among the nations: the Lord reigns" (Introit, taken from psalm 95). The epistle (Ephesians 2:8-18) reminds the faithful that they are saved by faith and that faith is a gift from God, not a human fabrication or action. Faith was given to the world by God, faith which was known only to the Jews—and even then only in part—before the coming of Christ and His salvific work which manifested God to all mankind. Is this not the purpose of the Epiphany?

The Roman gradual mentions Jerusalem, surge et illuminare, Ierusalem, the type of the Church and of heaven. The Lyonese texts eschew Jerusalem and call upon the "ends of the earth" that they "may be converted unto the Lord." These variations are not of faith, but of perspective. The Lyonese Mass, in line with St. Paul's epistle, expounds the universality of God's revelation in His appearance to men, even unto Gentiles. The Roman Mass instead celebrates the fulfillment of the type that is Jerusalem in the Church and also the quasi-type of Heaven that is the Church.

The real treasure of this Mass however is the sequence Ad Iesum accurrite:

"Run to Jesus,
Lower your hearts
To the new king of Men.

"The star broadly preaches,
And faith inwardly points
To the Redeemer of all.

"Here offer gifts
giving freely,
but given in the heart.

"This will be the most accepted
Offering of the Savior,
A sacrifice of the mind.

"Gold makes love
and the myrrh of life makes holiness,
And may frankincense be vows of the heart.

"The King is known by gold,
The Man by myrrh is nurtured,
And by incense He is the God of all nations.

"Judea, be joyful people
And do not envy the Gentiles to whom
Was revealed the mystery.

"After the shepherds,
The faithful Magi
Join in the consort.

"Who to the Jews advocates
Christ, he gathers peoples
Under one house.

"Bethlehem is today
All of the Church
Newly born.

"Christ reigns in hearts,
And in the defeat of rebels
He makes His domain. Amen."

(I apologize for the poor literary quality of the translation, it is my own)

The Gospel, Offertory, and Secret are identical with the Roman rite. The post-Communion oration builds on the Pauline text earlier, thanking God Who in His "ineffable mercy called us from the shadows and dignified us in the admirable light" for the gift of faith. Perhaps this prayer, or prayers similar to it, aroused suspicions of Jansenism, which builds upon the Calvinistic interpretation of St. Augustine's concept of free will. Under the Calvinistic and Jansenistic scheme of free will, faith is a grace that God gives to the individual which he cannot chose to accept or decline. The person is very much the chattle of God. The Catholic Church rejects this notion of grace and faith. The oration in question certainly could be read in a Jansenistic fashion when perceived in a vacuum. In context the prayer belongs to a series of prayers and texts that thank God for the gift of faith, particularly for giving it to all nations and not just to the Jews as He had in previous times.

Verdict: orthodox.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Roman Mass for this day, prior to 1951, was one of the most beautiful Masses of the entire year, beginning with the Gaudeamus omnes Introit. Lyon calls for a procession prior to the Mass during which verses of the Magnificat are sung continuously. The Introit is the rather dull Tenuisti manum dexteram meam. Interestingly, the Collect for the feast is the same as in Sarum and in the Dominican rite:
"We beseech You, Oh Lord, let us be aided continually by the sacred feast of this day, whereon the Holy Mother of God underwent death in this world, and yet could not be held by the chains of death, who did bring forth Your Son Our Lord."
The Collect is something of a two-for-one, calling for the above prayer on the feast and the beautiful Famulorum Collect of the Roman rite for days within the Octave and the Octave day. The lesson is taken from the same part of the Johannine Apocalypse where Pius XII's fellow reformers found the Signum mangum Introit for the new Assumption Mass. This passage however has the preceding verse "And the temple of God was opened in the sky and His ark of the covenant was seen in the temple." This underscores Our Lady's importance: she is the new ark of the covenant that carries not the written Word, but the Word Himself; she fulfills the role of the ark and of the Temple; she is a type of the Church and the mother of the Church. She is not a solitary neon blue figurine surrounded in kitsch stars, the sort found in the dollar section of a department store.

Is it just me or is something different?

There is a sequence, Plaudamus cum superis, which follows the Marian typology closely. The Gospel is the Lucan account of the Visitation of the Virgin to her cousin St. Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner. A unique interpolation follows the Canon of the Mass. After the Libera nos Domine the deacon goes to the Gospel corner, the subdeacon to the epistle corner, the priest genuflect, turns to the people, and the choir sings the antiphon Sub tuum praesidium confugimus. A versicle is sung followed by an oration to the "King of kings" that through the intercession of Mary He may deign to protect the "most Christian king" and those who are under his domain. One wonders why the monarchists in France today have no interest in this rite? The post-Communion again differs from the Roman rite, but is unremarkable.

Votive Mass of the Holy Trinity

This Mass is more or less the Roman Mass with some alterations. The Introit is now Misericordia Domini plena est terra rather than the familiar Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitas. The Collect, Epistle, Gospel, and Secret are the same. The Gradual and Offertory verses as well as the Communion verses have been changed to conform to the emphasis given to the power of the Trinity in the Lyonese Introit, whereas the Roman Introit and proper chants simply repeat "Blessed" in many variations to describe the Trinity. The post-Communion is a wordy [by Latin standards] thanksgiving glorifying the Trinity in the Persons' functions and a Roman lesson in theosis:
"Lord God, Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth in named, grant to us that through Your Spirit we may be strengthened inwardly in [Your] power, and to know the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, that we may be filled in the fullness of God."

Virgin Martyr

The Roman Office of Virgin Martyrs is my favorite of the Commons. The Mass however is a different matter. The Roman Missal gives two Masses for Virgin Martyrs, as does Lyon. Both Lyonese Masses appear to be variations of the Roman Mass with different Introits. The Collects of both match their Roman counterparts (Deus qui inter and Indulegentiam nobis). The second Mass, Casta generatio, retains the lesson from Ecclesiasticus (the first Mass in the Roman Missal) while the first Mass in the Lyonese rite finds an epistle from 2 Corinthians ch. 10. The Gospel in the first Mass matches the first Roman Mass perfectly. The Secret and the various post-Communions use vivid language describing "the Lamb," of course Christ, which the pure virgin martyrs follow and imitate.

This Common, as with one Mass mentioned in the previous post in this series, demand a thesis that the original sin of the French rites, other than not conforming to centralization, is a mangling of texts. Many of the new texts contribute to the Church's understanding of the holy mysteries. Many restore medieval praxis. And yet some, such as the swapping of the Gospel texts and some spelling errors, display a degree of experimentation that might have demanded an intervention, albeit on a much smaller scale than the virtual suppression of the French rites that occurred under the Ultramontane purge of the liturgical fabric of the Church.


Next week we will wrap up the Lyonese Missal with the votive orations and compare them with the Roman prayers. I do hope some of you are enjoying this series, which I fear might only appeal to specialists.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Schmemann the Uniate? The Heretic?

One reader sent me this letter by an irregular "old style" Greek Orthodox bishop named Chrysostomos of Etna. In it he accuses the insightful liturgical theologian Alexander Schmemann of deviating from the Fathers, of dismissing "St. Constantine the Emperor" and his contributions to Christianity, and being a "Uniate." If any readers are familiar with Schmemann take a look. Many [traditional] Catholics and Orthodox with liturgical interest love Schmemann.

Post-Modern Critical Theory and Sports Media

How shall we describe Post Modernism? As that thing that follows Modernism? "Modernism" was the name given to the intellectual trends of a democratizing Europe, shedding the vestiges of Christianity and the former political order while maintaining the social framework and preserving it during a transition to a new society more in conformity with the beliefs of those who sought to usurp the usurper capitalists and eventuate an egalitarian populace. Post Modernism is what comes after that....

Modernism, meant in its philosophical and not Pian usage, was an abject failure. For all its manifold errors, and there were many, it rightly assumed objective truths could be found given the right frame of mind. Advocates of Modernity often did not believe in God or the value of marriage—one example among many—and hoped that with efficient and accessible rhetoric the masses would meet their conclusions. Post Modernist critical theory contrasts starkly with its Modernist antecedent. The Post Modern critical theorist hopes to alter perceptions of reality by means of his critique. The difference is subtle in approach yet drastic in effect.

The most prominent example of Post Modern critical theory in action can be seen not in the New York Times, nor on the campus of some dreadful Ivy League school, but on ESPN, the Disney owned sports media channel. For the last several months this channel has given near daily coverage to the second to last player picked in the NFL draft, a defensive end named Michael Sam, for no reason other than that the player in question is openly gay.

Sam admitted to his homosexuality some months ago and has garnered relentless media attention ever since. In college Sam had a productive, although over-achieving career. During the Combine, a physical skills test for NFL scouts, he performed poorly and his draft stock tumbled. During the draft—seven rounds during which each of the thirty-two teams pick—Sam fell and fell and fell until the St. Louis Rams (my favorite team) picked him second to last (the last player picked is called "Mr. Irrelevant"). Sam then gave his significant other a peck on national television, dealing a blow to remaining decency standards everywhere.

Where critical theory enters the matter is here. ESPN, hoping that this man would be selected in the third round, has allowed commentators to go on air and writers to publish articles on their website which speculate Sam was picked so low because he is gay. I agree with them, although not for the reasons they give. Given his average physical talent and his marginal success against elite opponents in college, no team other than the Rams thought he was worth the trouble. With him, every day of training camp, would be a media circus, an inundation of questions about the gay political agenda, about his "making history," and pressure to put him on the team for reasons un-related to sports. The Rams either took the risk on him because the pick was so low that they would not lose anything if they have to release him or because the pick was so low that they could afford to bring the press attention to themselves. Either way, the days of Kurt Warner are long gone in St. Louis.

ESPN's talking heads, Skip Bayless among them, insist that it is the NFL's uneasiness with gay people forced Sam's drop in the draft. He was so good in college, how could he not go in the top three rounds of selection? Sam is a trailblazer, a bold pioneer for gay rights in their politically correct minds and their agenda is entirely focused on political correctness. The NFL is not anti-gay. The NFL is not anti-anything if it will cost them money. Really I cannot think of any non-governmental business in these United States more disconnected from its fans than the National Football League. A few weeks ago the League banned use of the infamous n-word, that mispronunciation of the word Nigerian so commonly used in Southern America to describe black people derisively and by black people in America to describe each other casually. Use of this word now warrants a 15 yard penalty and probably a fine. Going back to the Michael Sam issue, a player on the Miami Dolphins found the aforementioned smooch distasteful and was suspended and fined by his team.

Most telling about the entire affair is the comment box section below articles on ESPN's website. As a rough guess I would estimate upwards of 80% of fans are tired about Sam's sexual preferences being used to excuse his low selection and the endless coverage of him. NFL fans in America are as average as can be. They are a broad cross section of the country, white and black, rich and poor, and unlike the other major sports leagues the NFL has a not insignificant female following. The NFL has a reputation as being a part of Americana. The fans right now, reflective of the nation at large, are not very interested in the gay agenda, but they are not exactly anti-gay either, at least not as the press imagines them to be. So the press engages in Post Modern critical theory by constructing a straw man, a red herring narrative of discrimination against Sam, an active adversity opposing the "rights" of oppressed people such as himself. Recently I have heard him compared to Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson in baseball (who, unlike Sam, were good players). Yes, the fans see through it, but they will still go to the games, buy their tickets, buy their merchandise, buy their television viewing packages, and watch the Super Bowl. And then when this generation of fans dies their children will have known nothing but the modern and accepting NFL, epitomized by its hero Michael Sam, who so bravely stood athwart the bigotry of the day to bring people like him to the NFL. And that new generation will think its fathers foolish.

This pattern occurred many times in the past. Most prominently it transpired on American university campuses (or should that be campi?) after World War II. Prior to the War the great American institutions had minimal exposure to the growing Marxian schools in Europe and the sexual radicals like Freud and Simone de Beauvoir, although Freud did give a series of lectures in the United States. G.I. loan bills in hand, many veterans sought education after the War and were shocked to find atheism, Marxism, and leftist party politics occupying the lecture halls of the greatest of schools. William F. Buckley Jr's God and Man at Yale is indicative of the reactions wrought by the paradigm shift. Buckley recounts that the head of the religion department called himself "80% atheist and 20% agnostic," quite a change given that Yale's president mentioned Christ prominently during the commencement exercises just years earlier. Buckley's generation, the "Greatest Generation" as Americans call that group, did not lose its faith. The universities did not succeed there. The universities did succeed however in creating a newly presumed norm though, wherein God does not exist, a socialized economy is an inevitability, traditional social frameworks are at best antiquated and at worst indicative of backwardness, and those who oppose the myth of progress are stupid bigots. The children of the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, went to college two decades later and swallowed the new story hook, line, and sinker. Beneath the white picket fences, the chromed cars, the new televisions, the burgeoning wealth, and the post-War confidence, a new America was fostered. The facts did not change. The narrative changed, which in turn changed the facts.

Was not this the plan of the dedicate Post Modern critical theorists at the universities all along? Is this not the plan of ESPN with regards to Michael Sam? Dare I ask, is this not what happened in the Catholic Church in the 20th century?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mass at Ottobeuren

Our good friend and sainted pontiff Zephyrinus seems to have a great appreciation for baroque ecclesiastical architecture, particularly the architecture of Ottobeuren monastery. While the Rad Trad is not exactly "dead nuts" on baroque himself he can admit freely that when done properly (which is expensive and why it rarely works) baroque can be a wonderful liturgical setting. Above is a video from the FSSP's annual trip to Ottobeuren which always concludes with a Mass. One sees the advantage of chant in a baroque setting, it creates liturgical continuity with the past and prevents the Mass from becoming the "opera of the poor" which characterizes so many vulgar polyphonic propers.

Take a peek!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Catholicism and the Good Life

Today a group of friends and I ate what can only be termed a gastronomical good lunch. Thousand day aged gouda cheese, white Bordeaux, salmon filet with a cold dill sauce, choux, gelato, and a sweet white French dessert wine. I will spare you Fr. Zzzzzzz style pictures, but you get the point.

One of our clan, who has broad travel experience and a refined palate, insists that the Catholic faith and gastronomy go hand in hand—all this after discussing the anchorite monks of Egypt. In a break from the brutally functionalistic view of life held by most pagans and the excessively decadent outlook held by the rest of pagans, have not Catholic countries traditionally produce a balanced lifestyle? Is not the "good life" as we now understand it also the Catholic life?

I am not sold on the theory, but the empirical evidence is quite strong. The "first daughter" of the Church, France, produces the best food, wine, and cheese on the planet bar none. Italy, Spain, and Portugal follow suit. Lebanese Christians have their own outstanding foods, particularly their breads for holy days (get some Epiphany bread!). I find the example of Italy less convincing, but I am not partial to Italian food owing to their pathological abuse of the tomato.

My friend's counter example was English food. Indeed, in one of Agatha Christie's stories Captain Hastings asks Hercule Poirot something to the effect "Oh, you don't like our English cuisine?" to which the sleuth replies, "England does not have cuisine, it only has food. And the day England attempts to make wine is the day I return to Belgium!"

"What of gluttony?" readers ask. What of it? Francis recently canonized John XXIII, a pope so rotund my father called him the "five by five pontiff." The Angelic Doctor was so round that his desk had a cutout so he could sit at it; St. Albertus Magnus called Thomas "the ox" for just cause. And St. Therese's face retained more than a little baby fat. Holy people recognize God in many good things, a well fed life among them!

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"

Friday, May 16, 2014

Yet Another Dallas Church. They Just Get Stranger and Stranger

First order of business is podcasts. I know very little about them but two readers have independently suggested I attempt to produce some. Should any of you think this a worthwhile endeavor (those of you who know what my voice sounds like know it is not!) suggest a topic or two and I will mull it over.

Now on to the day's material. Every church I visit in this area is progressively stranger and stranger. The first church I saw was St. Francis of Assisi in Frisco, a modest attempt at Romanesque which, as Rubricarius pointed out, did not entirely work owing to the ceiling, but which was an interesting none the less. Then I went to a pair of Byzantine churches and St. Thomas Aquinas in Dallas, each good representations of what a parish ought to be. Then I came upon this bereft barn and St. Jude's, both very.... modern and.... pastoral....

With every new parish I find that evidence for the complaints Catholics have made for the last seven decades about the decline of Church architecture. When I lived in the northeastern United States churches tended to look more or less the same as they did prior to the mid-20th century. Yes, a great many were "wreckovated" and some were re-modeled with a forward altar, yet the integrity of the buildings usually survived. With the death of American cultural Catholicism in the 1960s and 1970s and the influx of Mexican immigrants to Texas very few "traditional" looking parishes from the "old days" survived in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Almost everything is new and monstrously repulsive, an aesthetic assault on those of good taste and piety! Worse than being ugly, these edifices, aside from altars and crucifixes, have no discernibly Christian features! Today's feature could well have been a rented venue or a local cinema.

The approach

The ticket desks. No kiosks apparently.

The holy water font?

It is no holy water font. It is a baptismal barque!
I took a sniff just to be sure and confirmed my
suspicion of chlorination.

It looks strange enough as is. The stain glass windows
depict nothing in particular other than the vague outline
of a crucifix and some Roman numerals one assumes correspond
to the Stations of the Cross.

Then I realized that the sanctuary is "sunken" to create a
theatrical effect. The lighting arrangement seems to agree
with this intention.

Not quite the traditional Roman choir style either!

It begs the question: why imitate the Evangelical megachurches and promote
an entertainment-focused style of religion? The protestants have always
and will always do it much better than us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The fuddy duddies at Time Warner have bungled my internet access. Trying to fix it....

Monday, May 12, 2014

Divine Wrath?

It is raining as in the days of the Flood here in northern Texas. Just today the Rad Trad offended God and decided to go to Confession just as the foul weather doubled in potency. At the apogee of the downpour the Rad Trad's car (the Tradmobile?) was stopped at a corner, waiting to turn on to the Dallas Tollway. Then, suddenly, a thunderous explosion shook the ground and the Tradmobile. His Traddiness looked up and saw that lightning struck the telephone pole next to the car and blew up the power transformer at the top. Fire and sparks descended upon the Tradmobile, although the rain happily prevented any damage to the car on the part of the searing heat. The traffic lights lost power and went into blinker mode. His Traddiness then hit the accelerator and sped to the nearby church to confess his sins, reminded by the Divine Wrath of his own mortality!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Christian Society?

One of the more thought provoking bloggers—with whom I sometimes, but not too often agree—is Fr. Anthony Chadwick of As the Sun in its Orb. He recently posted a piece that bids what he sees as a long overdue adieu to state religion and the long decayed relationship between Church and State. In his article he draws particular attention to the spiritual collapse of the Church of England, which still stands financially and institutionally with state aid. The gist of Fr. Chadwick's observation is that State enforced religion was an intrinsic corruption of Christianity and that we should be happy it is gone. I would like to present readers with some ideas to the contrary.

First let me distance myself from conventional "altar & throne" narrative one hears in the integrist parts of France (not that I mind those people, some of them are quite Catholic). Does God seek to create glorified nations or does He seek to glorify the soul? Old France, often given the name "First Daughter of the Church," was special because prior to the 18th century the faith thrived there, not because France's government exemplified Catholic virtue. England, which left the Catholic Church centuries prior to the French Revolution, has many sainted kings going back well before Hastings. France has one, St. Louis IX. 

Christian societies and Christian nations are only exceptionally created by kings and emperors. More often they are a recognition of a reality and a new social paradigm that already exists. Constantine legalized Christianity when a large fraction of his Empire was Christian. He even supported the Roman Church by building three basilicas and giving the Bishop of Rome the Lateran Palace, yet he did not make Catholicism the state religion. That did not happen for another six decades, by which time the majority of the Empire was Christian. Indeed Theodosius perhaps did his Empire a favor by championing Nicene Christianity, helping to end Christological struggles that put the stability of the Empire into flux. The forced conversions that followed the Baptism of St. Vladimir of the Rus' were quite a contrast. It took centuries for Rome to Christianize, followed by the rest of Europe (Gaul, Brittania etc.) and the normalization of Christianity as the state religion confirmed what already was. It did not stage a new political or religious scene.

Among the benefits of this normalization of Christianity as the state religion is that morals could now be publicly accepted in a Catholic context. It is not unthinkable that in the mid-fourth century extra marital sex and public gladiatorial games were considered good or acceptable behavior, even though Christianity was legal. The imperial recognition of Christianity as the state religion forced the gruesome gladiatorial games out of existence and ensured a taboo for extra marital sex—not that such behavior ceased entirely. Ought we not concede or even accept the probability that God used the Roman Empire to establish and grow the Church? Was there no greater point to the miracle witnessed by Constantine beyond the Battle of the Milvian Bridge?

Surely this is correlation and not causation though? Exactly! Most commonly Christianity becomes the faith of a nation and the social norm because it has changed the behavior, outlook, and direction of that polity. At some point government forces realize this and decide to "tap into" the Church's new influence or to use the Church for the sake of political cohesion. This is not necessarily good or bad. It can be either depending on the context. When Mussolini re-established the Church in Italy he did so with entirely malevolent intentions; his disdain for the faith was quite apparent when he refused to be photographed kneeling to the Pope and when he rejoiced that the "dog is dead" upon the passing of Pius XI. Au contraire Charlemagne spread the existing Christian society in Gaul and streamlined it to mold France. In doing this he aided the Church, but also those under his dominion by diffusing education through the subsidization of monasteries and proto-universities. 

"Christendom," the pre-1517 Europe, was quite unique in that it united an entire host of independent countries under one religious obedience. Yes, there were still wars, but little of the scale of what existed in the Roman days or what would exist in later days. The decision of Henry VIII to separate from Rome had far reaching impact beyond his marriage bed. It had implications beyond Protestantism. It showed the sovereigns of Europe that they could ignore the Pope in Rome, prioritize short-term national goals, and get away with it. Winston Churchill poetically surmises the result of Henry's execution of St. Thomas More and the ensuing schism: 
“The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness. Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”
A nostalgia lingers in many parts of these formerly Catholic countries. One of the verses of the folk hymn Immaculate Mary I believe says something like "Pray for us dear Lady/ Reign over us once more/ Be England thy dowry/ As in days of yore." This is not a yearning for the reign of Henry VII nor is monarchism necessarily a cry for a fictitious France under the Sacred Heart. Often it is a cry for the faith to be the norm again.

Many like Msgr. Lefebvre favored the Vichy government in France and the Francoist regime in Spain for reasons with which I sympathize. Yes, some madly thought a single strongman would restore a former national glory under the "Social Kingship of Christ the King." Others were simply fed up with a century and a half of violent anti-clericalism as existed in France. The Spanish lost their monarchy very early in their civil war, leaving Franco the fascist and the priest-murdering communists as the only options. Neither were attractive, but Franco was certainly the proverbial "lesser of two evils."

All this may be a moot point. Christian societies and Christian nations will not be returning to the Western world for a very long time. Europe has lost its faith. America is losing it. South America is becoming Protestant, which means it will lose its faith in a generation or two. The Catholic Church will, for the first time in a long time, have to live in a non-Christian society as the visible other, the outsider, the one in the world and not of it. The Church will have to lose a great deal of property and respect. She will have to evangelize many people who have never read even a paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount nor seen a Nativity scene during Christmas time. Christian societies and nations might emerge in Africa. I hope they do, but that does very little to help or hurt the Catholic Church in America, which was never the norm and damaged itself by exposing its morals and standards to proto-libertarian jingoism.

It is time to start again, but why reject the past?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Liturgy & Sacrament: Another Dialogue with the Maestro

Earlier the Maestro and I had a series of exchanges concerning the anaphora of Addai & Mari. Recently we discussed the relationship between the liturgy and the Sacraments, the proper place for each and the historic understanding of the Church in these matters. The Maestro brings a Scholastic perspective to the dialogue.

I am publishing this, with the Maestro's permission, because this is a discussion that needs to be had in public and not in private settings among people who already agree on everything. Readers, do feel free to chime in with comments on this one!

Maestro: A question along the lines of our discussions on liturgy and its relation to theology and revelation. The saying is "legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi" - the law of prayer determines the law of belief. My reading of Kavanagh did help me understand this saying a little better, although I still wonder the following things:
Are we saying that the liturgy determines what we must believe, i.e. the object of faith, or that the object is already there but that it is primarily in the act of liturgical worship that our act of belief is actuated, as it were? Kavanagh seemed to me to be explaining that the act of faith happens first and foremost in the act of worship, as a consequence thereof. The "faith" of which he speaks seems to be basically equivalent to the act or virtue of faith that is within the soul of the person who prays. This, in my mind, is to be distinguished from the faith, that is, the truths of faith themselves, or the object of faith. So what do we mean when we say the law of prayer determines the law of faith? That it determines, or constitutes, or builds the virtue of faith in us, or that it determines what is thetruth of faith?
The Rad Trad: If you, one Sunday morning 1980 years ago, saw a man who had been brutally executed a few days prior walking about, chatting with women and old friends, eating food, and passing through walls would you believe that he might be God because you figured out what he did or because you encountered him?
On Good Friday evening we had Jerusalem Mattins here (Mattins & Lauds of Holy Saturday sung late Friday night), the theme of which is the descent into Hades, the wait of Resurrection, and the resting in the tomb. There is a sepulchre set up in which a corpus is buried. The deacon explained to visitors that we believe these past events are renewed before our very eyes, that we visited Christ's tomb that night and that we await His Resurrection in time which is already in eternity. Now, does someone believe—Catholic or just Joe Off the Street—that he visited Christ's tomb because the Church worships that way or because he already believed it when he walked into the Church? Does the Church worship that way because she already believes in these events or does she believe because she maintains this in her worship?
My answer is simply "yes." To put these things in teleological opposition to each other misses the point and reduces the liturgy to some sort of play acting which culminates in the consecration and which might have didactic value. The liturgy is the Church's theology. The lex credendi is not so much what is believed as much as it is how and why it is believed, the sensus fidelium. In older times credo/credere meant "believe" in the way we mean it, but it also meant "ascent" because we ascent to God, we give ourselves to Him, which is vital to understanding the dialectic between revelation and faith which survives as a dialectic between liturgy and belief.
The resting in the tomb in obedience to the law, the descent into Hades and release of the dead, and the Resurrection are what the Church believes, but one must encounter these things to understand the how and the why of this belief.....
On that note, I cannot stand to bring non-Catholics to the Pauline Mass lest they get the impression that it represents Catholicism. Do you ever feel the same way? I had the interesting experience two years ago (and lost a neo-conservative friend over it) of going with some protestants to a Novus Ordo Easter Vigil wherein a mutual friend of ours was received into the Church. The next day we rented a car and went to the old rite for the Paschal Mass of the Resurrection. The reaction of the protestants could not have been more starkly in contrast to the previous night. Yes, they did not quite feel comfortable with the Litany of Saints and the literalism of the Communion rites, but the general lex orandi seemed almost un-obtrusive to their lex credendi. The Latin Mass the next day was dead against it and spoke far more to them about what, why, and how Catholics believe than any explanation I could have given.
When asking of God "Is it A or is it B?" the best answer is usually "Yes."
The Maestro: Alright, so my follow-up questions are these: 
Do we therefore say that the Pauline Mass or the Pian Holy Week is strictly speaking contrary to faith? I think you admitted to me once that it could be good if celebrated rightly. I just wonder how we can say this and maintain at the same time that such a change in the liturgy literally leads to a change in faith. Or do we even say this latter? Would it be right to say that, although what we must believe was not changed when the liturgy was changed, how we believe it, and perhaps even whywe believe it (this would need to be explained to me), was changed? Does that change amount to a loss of faith? Also, does the difference between the various rites of the Church affect how and whythe Catholics in those different rites believe? Why is variety in respect of these rites legitimate, but not so great variety in respect of changing the liturgy?
Finally, sort of on a tangent, by the account which you give of liturgy being the theology of the Church in which we encounter the actual mysteries of faith before our very eyes, I wonder how you would distinguish it from the seven sacraments. Or - and I have seen this objection made - is that enumeration a mere scholastic invention? The sacraments, by my understanding, are classically defined by the fact that they contain the actual graces which they signify. Their efficacy is ex opere operato. As such they are often distinguished from liturgy and other prayers and sacramentals, whose efficacy is ex opere operantis. The sacraments contain the actual mysteries they signify, whereas the others merely signify; their efficacy is accidental to themselves, and dependent on the disposition of those who pray. The Mass is the selfsame sacrifice of calvary, because the Eucharistis the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ; whereas, it would seem to be the convention to say that that the liturgy is not itself literally an encounter with the mysteries of which it speaks, but only brings them to mind. Obviously, you don't seem to consider the liturgy in quite this way - and I am strongly attracted to that idea of liturgy. But how would it account for the sacraments? 
 The Rad Trad: My how thou art inquisitive! In better times you would be an excellent candidate for a degree at the Angelicum and a stint in the Holy Office, possibly followed by a professorship and a fake (errrr "auxiliary") bishopric!
I, as a private individual, do not consider the Pauline liturgy, the Pius X Office, or the Pius XII unHoly Week necessarily contrary to the faith as much as I consider them removed from it, alienated and distanced like an estranged family member. The Pian Good Friday is gutted, irreverent, stupid, a-historical, politically correct and based on poor research, but its main sins are by omission. The problem with the Pauline liturgy is that one cannot really deduce how it ought be celebrated (if that is different from how it is normally celebrated) and what the intentions behind it were: you have Ratzinger's "continuity" line, you have the pseudo-historical researchers pretending to restore ancient liturgy like Braga, you have the ecumaniacs like Bea, and you have those obsessed with being "pastoral" like Bugnini. Who was right? Whose line best epitomizes the Pauline liturgy? It can be done well, but I am un-convinced that is the intended norm for it. The Church, in many decades, when this nonsense has passed or been replaced, will have to judge the matter. I am not giving answers. I am providing food for thought.
As far as changing the liturgy, it does not always mean changing the faith. Indeed it can augment the faith. At some point during the reign of Gregory the Great someone celebrated a Pre-Sanctified Mass, which became the Good Friday norm in the West and a weekday communion rite in Constantinople (next Lent go to one, it is amazing). It bridged the gap between the Mass and the Sacrifice on Good Friday. I think replacing it with a generic communion service (and that is exactly what Pius XII did, look at any hand Missal from the era that has a ritual for an extra Mass Communion ritual) was far more harmful that outright scrapping it. It sends confusing messages, whereas eliminating the service altogether would have been horrible, but sent no messages (other than that Pius XII and his Commission had little regard for the past).
Legitimate variation occurs when several expressions of one idea or fact of the faith are expressed according to local tradition. Continuing on the point of Good Friday, the Byzantine tradition has normal Vespers—during which the deacon sings the Passion—followed by a burial procession. It is the funeral of a King, a conqueror of death. It is the worship of His Passion. The Roman rite has that, but also the Pre-Sanctified Mass: On Yom Kippur proper Jewish people would bring animals to the Temple for sacrifice, the blood of which would "cover" their sins. The high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, sacrifice one goat and spread its blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant while confessing the sins of the people, sending them into the other goat (the "scape goat") which would be set free. What did Christ do other than act as priest, sacrifice, and scape goat? What is the Mass other than the immemorializing of that sacrifice? This is why the Pre-Sanctified Mass was so important! It was priest and sacrifice without consecration (well, maybe). A simple Communion service misses the point from both angles!
Altering the liturgy does not immediately alter the faith, but, if done poorly and out of sync with what preceded it, it will alter how people believe and hence their faith.
As to your second set of questions, I am not sure this line of thinking can be found in the Fathers or really anyone prior to the Scholastics. Even then, Scholasticism's popularity was limited to central Italy, the Roman Curia, and the University of Paris until the creation of seminaries in the 17th century. I do not find the distinction helpful. The Church requires us to go to Communion once a year, but to go to Mass at least once a week, probably hoping we will go to Communion during the Mass. To separate liturgy and Sacrament is a bit strange. The Sacraments—all of them—are liturgical by nature and were once done publicly. As someone with a bit of a shameful past I am not too eager to return to public Confession, but is it not interesting that until 1961 the rite of expelling public sinners on Ash Wednesday and receiving them back into the Church on Mandy Thursday was still used? Why was it that in the 9th century an announcement was made at Papal Mass during the Offertory telling anyone who was not going to Communion to leave? Baptism is by its very nature a public Sacrament: a person is "plunged" into the Church, into the new creation; it is why Baptism was always done on great feasts, particularly ones to do with water (Pascha, Pentecost, and Epiphany come to mind). To put the Sacraments in a vacuum and then say their "efficacy" depends on personal disposition is to say that the Sacraments depend on private piety! But what disposition meant in the middle ages, when that line of thinking developed, was almost certainly liturgical! I remember reading a letter from the 11th or 12th century from an English bishop to his faithful reminding them that going to low Mass did not meet their Sunday obligation: Mattins, Lauds, high Mass, and Vespers were the obligation! And you can bet anyone going to Communion did a week of fasting prior to reception. It was all part of the lex orandi. This is the trouble with minimalism, with reducing and defining everything holy to its bear bones. As times and definitions change concepts become fungible and we, centuries later, read them wrongly. 
So with regards to your questions (or were they objections?) I say "I agree, those terms jut do not mean what people often think they mean!"
The Maestro: Continuing on the sacraments. Just one minor thing - I didn't mean to say that the sacraments' efficacy depend on disposition. The distinction is that the sacraments are efficacious of their own power - although certainly the disposition is involved in the end result - but prayer and sacramentals and the liturgy are efficacious only insofar as they are expressions of a holy disposition. 
Anyway, what then would you make of the Council of Trent: "If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, or that there are more or less than seven, namely, baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, order and matrimony, or that any one of these seven is not truly and intrinsically a sacrament, let him be anathema."
Often that idea is connected to the divine institution of the sacraments, whereas liturgy - though certainly divine in a sense - is nonetheless said to have been instituted post-Christ or post-revelation. There is the doctrine that divine revelation - i.e. the revelation of the deposit of faith, that collection of the truths of faith - ended with the death of the last apostle, John. Part of that deposit, say the scholastics, is in the seven sacraments. Liturgy falls outside that deposit, strictly speaking. Because the sacraments are part of the deposit, having been directly instituted by Christ, their efficacy is straight from God; they produce their effects because God is working directly through them. Whereas anything outside that deposit is only efficacious insofar as it might be an expression of or an aid to piety in the soul men. The scholastics commonly classify this doctrine on the number of the sacraments and their divine institution as de fide - meaning it is heretical to deny. I am not sure of this; admittedly I am hoping there is some way to reconcile this with your idea. But again admittedly I am having a hard time seeing what it would be.
The Rad Trad: Concerning the Council of Trent, I agree with the canon entirely. The meat of the canon is that there are seven Sacraments (and not two as the protestants thought and not more as those who believed the coronation of a king to be a Sacrament thought). I will also say though that St Thomas did write famously Deus virtutem suam non alligavit sacramentis. We are bound to seven Sacraments where we know we can find God's grace. God is not bound and can do whatever He wishes (it was in the description when He took the job from all eternity).
Perhaps I am confusing your perception of what I am saying. I am not saying that the liturgy is a Sacrament or on par with Sacraments. I am saying that the liturgy is the proper place of Sacraments, that it exists for them and that to separate the two convolutes both apart from each other. What of the deposit of faith? Did the Church's liturgy not come into being as an expression of that deposit? As the place where people find that deposit? As the setting of those things Christ instituted? If the Sacraments can exist outside the liturgy why bother with the entire Mass? Why does the Church not simply do the consecration and place the Elements in the tabernacle? The liturgy may not be the deposit of faith, but neither is doctrine. Doctrine is an explanation of something, which I distinguish from non-negotiable dogma. I guess one could say Original Sin is not part of the deposit of faith then. It may not be in the "deposit" but it is part of Tradition, as much as the liturgy. 
As far as the notion of "efficacy," why do things other than the Sacraments only aid piety or provide expression? Again I return to the belief that the mysteries celebrated in the liturgy are not merely symbolic, but actually are revisited (the difference from a Sacrament being that grace is not directly and un-ambiguously conveyed). I would suggest, as a personal opinion open to correction, that an added benefit of receiving the Sacraments—Communion for example—in a liturgical setting is that it perfects and completes one's celebration of a divine feast or mystery by direct interaction with God through His grace. This Pascha began when the priest held out his candle and I took "light from the Light that is never overtaken by night and [glorified] the Christ, Who is risen from the dead," I walked about searching for Him with the myrrh bearing women, heard of his Resurrection at the Mattins Gospel, celebrated it at the Divine Liturgy, and culminated it by receiving Him directly in Holy Communion. Is not efficacy increased in such a setting, one hopes? There may not be a Scholastic term for this qualitative difference, but it is certainly something significant.
Again I repeat, when the Angelic Doctor wrote what he did and when the Council of Trent defined what it did, the congruity between liturgy and Sacrament was presumed. For reasons that are interesting and complicated, but not related to this discussion, the two drifted apart during the Counter-Reformation and a narrow, highly minimalistic and legalistic reading of Scholasticism developed. The conflict you perceive might be the result of reading the Scholastic literature on the subject as both complete and definitive. 
Allow me to introduce to you the first Scholastic. Low Mass supposedly originated in the 10th or 11th century when monks, out of devotion of their deceased brethren, sought to celebrate as many Requiem Masses as possible. I imagine one day, after the conventual Mass, one priest-monk popped on his vestments, took his chalice, bread, and book to the altar, and recited in 20 minutes everything that had been sung just moments earlier. Perhaps at the end of Mass the priest is greeted by a brother monk who came into the church for cleaning. Stupefied, the brother asks "You can do that!?" to which the priest replies "Oh yes! It valid and efficacious ex opere operato!" "Huh," says the brother, "I should tell Father Abbott, we could knock out two a day at that rate and that's twice as efficacious!"
I am irreverently tongue in cheek, but you see my point!
The Maestro: This reply does clear up a lot of things for me; thank you. So it is possible, in your account, to delineate between the Sacraments and liturgy in theory, although they are by nature meant to be connected. The liturgy is the proper setting of the Sacraments; and I suppose this is more than saying that it is merely an external aid to our devotion whilst participating in those Sacraments. 
On the distinction between ex opere operato and ex opere operantis, do you think it is a legitimate distinction in any sense? The Council of Trent, in the same session from which I earlier quote, appears to assume this distinction in another canon, wherein it states "If anyone says that by the sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred ex opere operato, but that faith alone in the divine promise is sufficient to obtain grace, let him be anathema." You do admit that the distinction between sacraments and liturgy is that the latter does not so directly and unambiguously convey grace, while it does reenact the actual mysteries rather than merely symbolize them. Could we then still say, at the same time, that they confer grace ex opere operantis? In other words, that a right disposition and participation by faith in these mysteries is requisite for grace to be conferred at all? Whereas the sacraments confer grace by their own power, even if the end result involves disposition.
These concepts do seem important in determining what are the rules of liturgical development. I haven't read Laurence Paul Hemming's book yet, but in his preface of one of Dobszay's books he blames this distinction between the kinds of efficacy as part of the origin of the corrupt notion of liturgical development that is responsible for the recent reforms. Basically his argument seems to be that if the efficacy of liturgy is dependent on the disposition of the person or of the Church, then the person/Church is automatically granted a great deal of freedom to change the liturgy. I'm wondering, though, if this distinction can still be preserved in some sense, while also maintaining as you do that liturgy isn't mere symbolism but is primary theology, a re-presenting of the actual mysteries of faith; and that this is enough to define the limits of liturgical development, which have been transgressed in the last century. 
The Rad Trad: I think what you write in your second paragraph is more or less on the mark with what I think, albeit using a different set of terms. The Tridentine Canon is concerned with affirming that the Sacraments have grace in and of themselves, that private belief or worthiness does not determine whether or not one receives grace (although it does influence what that grace does, for instance Communion in mortal sin). I certainly admit a distinction between liturgy and Sacraments. I reject the idea of a separation of the two.
Do read Hemming!