Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Feast of Ss Peter & Paul (or the Feasts of St Peter & St Paul?)

Palatine Chapel in Palermo
Today at Lauds I read the collect for the Commemoration of St Paul followed by the antiphons, versicles, and collect for St. Peter. Whenever the feast of one arrives a commemoration is always made of the other in the various pre-Conciliar rites, but why on this day is St. Peter commemorated rather than the octave of Ss. Peter and Paul? Better yet, why is there a day called the Commemoration of Saint Paul when there was a feast of Ss. Peter & Paul yesterday?

The answer is actually missing in the texts of yesterday's Offices and Mass. On the feast of Ss. Peter & Paul there is hardly any mention made of St. Paul in the Mattins readings (other than allusion by St Leo), the antiphons on the Major Hours, and none at Mass save for the collect. This underscores a subtle oddity in the liturgical history of the Eternal City: June 29th was not the single feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, but it was the feast of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul, two feasts in one day.

As Pierre Batiffol recounts in his History of the Roman Breviary, feasts in the first few post-Nicene centuries were often unique to the churches of Rome and celebrated in honor of the saints whose relics were contained there. By the time of St. Gregory the Great Rome had declined to a meager population of about 30,000 from its Imperial peak of a million. Yet the devout in his small population could ambulate through the vast city to churches that held the relics of saints and celebrate the vigil and Mass with the Lord Pope of the City with relative ease, the origin of the "stational churches" of great feasts, vigils, and fasting days that are still observed during Lent to this day. As such, feasts of multiple saints usually pertained to the saints buried in a given church. Sancti Apostoli in Rome holds the bones of Ss. Philip and James, and so the transfer of their relics to that church elicited their feast on May 11. The same would have been true earlier this week for Ss. John and Paul. But this feast of two saints is precisely what would not have happened on June 29th or 30th....

Instead, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wall and the Vatican Basilica of Saint Peter would each have observed the feasts of their patronal saint whose relics rested beneath the main altar. In times of old the Pope would begin the evening at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside for the vigil (Vespers, Mattins, and Lauds) and continue until day break, when he would travel to Saint Peter's on the Vatican Hill for the celebration of the Mass. Because the Mass took place at the Vatican Basilica the Missal texts that come down to us are for the patronal feast of that particular church just as any pre-John XXIII hand missal gives St. Peter's as the station for June 29. The 10th century Gregorian Sacramentary gives June 29th as the feast of St. Peter, despite mentioning both Apostles in the oration, and June 30th as the feast of St. Paul. By the Middle Ages June 29th was conceded as the feast of both Saints, in accordance with ancient prerogative, and the uniquely Pauline Offices and Mass of June 30th were rebranded as the Commemoration of Saint Paul giving the Doctor Gentium the due he would one have received on June 29th in the Basilica that assumes his name.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Service of Vespers

Solemn Mass? It has been six years since I last saw one. Vespers? I have not seen the service of Vespers in five weeks and I miss it much more. I would even go as far as to say I could live with a spoken Mass provided I could attend Vespers every Sunday evening, the perfect consummation to a perfect day.

Last year I wrote about my recent re-discovery of Compline after sticking to the Major Hours and also the Byzantine Office for several years. Compline, for myself and for many readers, was our initiation into the Divine Office if only because it could be said before bed, it was simple, and it hardly changed day to day. Vespers, however, was for myself and another reader, our introduction into liturgical prayer properly speaking. Raised in the 20th century Roman Church, the parish Mass can be taken for granted, new or old rite. We are required to go to Mass and we can find its celebration more or less heuristic and devout depending on our own disposition and devotion. The Office, unlike Mass, is seamless and can only really be celebrated one way, without pause for theatrics, spoken prayers, or deliberate gestures. It begins as it ends, imploring aid for those who need it: Deus in adiutorium and Fidelium animae. The service may not confect the Holy Eucharist, but it does enter into Eternity as much as the Mass and into the proprietary nature of the day even more so than the Mass for great feasts.

First, at the Oxford Oratory, I heard Vespers again where I first heard the service at all. The rite was Sunday after Ascension according to John XXIII's rubrics, which Oxford follows more stringently than the mishmash service at Brompton. "Back in the day" there were probably more people from the 11AM Solemn Latin Paul VI Mass who went to Vespers than people who went to the 1962 low Mass at 8AM. The reasons are probably varied: traditionalists are very likely to have families in tow, which is a complication toward the evening; people who go to the high Mass are likely more interested in grand liturgical gestures; perhaps the greater attendance at the new rite ensures that even with a lower percentage of people interested in Vespers a greater number will be from the new Mass. Regardless, Vespers and Benediction still gathers about 50 souls. The music was Gregorian plainsong according to the Solesmes method. The provost, Fr. Daniel Seward, officiated.

The most pleasantly surprising service was Vespers according to Paul VI's Liturgia Horarum in Latin at Westminster Cathedral, where a reader left me after spending an afternoon in London with a bottle of wine. Westminster Cathedral, in the fashion of the more proper Anglican institutions, maintains both a professional male choir and a school of young boys who sing the Office daily; the choir also sings a high new rite Latin Mass daily. The singing is some of the best I have ever heard in person and a far cry better than the Sistine Screamers. Vespers was for (what should have been) the Octave Day of the Ascension of Our Lord. The theme of the new rite Vespers, which is the only public celebration of the new Office I have ever seen in my life (like the Latin Novus Ordo it is rarer than its old rite counterpart), began with the Veni Creator hymn, an odd choice given that Pentecost was some days away. Then were sung three psalms, or possibly psalm fragments, then a vernacular reading, and a priest recited some intercessory prayers. All in all, this Vespers lasted 20 minutes and perhaps 30 people attended, although 150-200 probably came in for the following Mass.

The Kyrie from the evening Mass at Westminster Cathedral, set by Orlande de Lassus

Last came Vespers for Pentecost Sunday at the Brompton Oratory, sung alternatively by their professional choir and the Fathers in choro. The provost, Fr. Julian Large, celebrated with the aid of four coped assistants who intoned the antiphons before an assembled congregation of probably 100-150. Vespers of Pentecost Sunday may be the most beautiful in the entire Roman rite. The antiphons are brisk, succinct, generally in a major key, and come as powerfully as the Holy Wind of which they speak. Is there a more moving hymn than the Veni Creator

I have known Byzantine Vespers these past six years, the psalter of which never changes day to day, which the exception of odd times of year like Bright Week. The Roman Vespers has considerable variation with seasonality and the odd major feast. Also, whereas the Greek service tends to flow continuously, Roman Vespers builds up like the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, culminating in the offering of incense at the altar during the Magnificat. A rediscovery of the old Suffrages and Commemorations might re-orient the Magnificat into the climax of the service rather than the bittersweet end that it generally is.

I wish Vespers would proliferate the United States. For those with a well equipped parish it may well be the next thing to ask of one's pastor. If he asks why the service should be scheduled when so few would attend just answer, "For God's sake, man."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Legal Force of Tradition

The Roman Church is much more traditional than it was twenty years ago, but one cannot say tradition governs that Church, at least not the way it once did and some hope it might one day govern again. The Church is ruled by men, by bishops and other representatives of the Apostles who may or may not faithfully execute their sacred charges. A general guideline of administration has been received for these times. No, not the Didache or the canons of Trent; no, it is the 1983 Code of Canon Law, a modern reduction of a slightly less modern consolidation of authority.

On its own a code of law may be a good thing. The code could provide the same protections and processes in Church law that Common Law does in secular administration. The problem is that while the "spirit" of secular law is often alive and well with regard to trial by a jury of one's peers or property rights, the 1983 Code of Canon Law does little regarding Christian living other than set widely ignored minimums which make establishing a stronger standard of Catholic life difficult.

Take, for instance, fasting.

The Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, still take fasting very seriously; the more ethnic the parish the stricter the observance. Lent, to the best of one's ability, admits one vegan meal a day after sunset. In practice the vegan diet is more widely observed than the Spartan quantity, but the spirit and a degree of the letter remain. Less fasts for the Apostles, Dormition of the Blessed Virgin, and the Nativity of the Lord fill out the rest of the year. One cannot say fasting is not a legal requirement of the supposedly non-legalistic Eastern Churches. Fasting and abstinence are laid out in the canons of various synods of Eastern bishops and their antiquity has not made them any less binding than current law. The difficulty in observing the fasts and abstinence often results in genuinely pastoral accommodations and the encouragement to do as much as one can during those seasons. Does tradition of this sort, so embedded in Christian life and the basic outlook of repentance that it cannot be reduced to mere custom, have a force of law where standards lack?

None other than the Common Doctor warned against men altering their own laws and weakening their effect:
"Consequently, when a law is changed, the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished. Wherefore human law should never be changed, unless, in some way or other, the common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect. Such compensation may arise either from some very great and every evident benefit conferred by the new enactment; or from the extreme urgency of the case, due to the fact that either the existing law is clearly unjust, or its observance extremely harmful." Summ. Theol. II.97.2
Another Dominican, Saint Pius V, was aware of this in making the Curial Missal and Office the normative rite for Latin Christianity. Rites more than two centuries old retained the force of obligation and could only make way for the Roman rite with the mutual consent of both the ordinary and the unanimity of his cathedral chapter, which often happened only out of laxity. The problem in this case is that the current Code of Canon Law asks very little, tradition asks very much, and the latter is a hard case to make to people who prefer the niggardly standards of the former.

The aim of tradition, in the sense of this post, was always to cultivate the dictates and continued presence of Christ in the Church. Christ sanctified fasting by spending forty days in the desert to subdue what is wanting in human nature and in doing so subdued Satan, too. Our Lord even put fasting on par with prayer as a necessary means of driving out devils (Mark 9:29)—how many devils have we that we refuse to confront? In the kalendar the Church historically pairs fasting with feasting so as to unite ourselves to the sufferings of Christ and to share in His joy afterward. This is most visible from Septuagesima until Whit Wednesday, but also during the vigils of great saints and the ensuing feasts in their octaves. Ember days and Lent once saw abstinence on par with Eastern custom until the dawn of the French Revolution. Keeping vigil, of which fasting was a part, was so integral to medieval feasts that a feast would be considered a lesser occasion if it lacked a strong vigil. Now fasting is required two days a year and, in the United States at least, accompanies the previous six Fridays of Lent as the only days which do not permit substitute "penances" for abstinence. It is difficult for this writer, who is as guilty as any of having scallops and swordfish drenched in French sauces on Fridays, to conceive a way of convincing others to observe abstinence and fasting when the written law, equivalent with direct obeisance to the current episcopate in the eyes of some, asks nothing more. If something is not explicitly asked for how can its neglect be a sin?

To end this very inconclusive post, I leave you with another quote from the Angelic Doctor's dealing with law:
"All law proceeds from the reason and will of the lawgiver; the Divine and natural laws from the reasonable will of God; the human law from the will of man, regulated by reason. Now just as human reason and will, in practical matters, may be made manifest by speech, so may they be made known by deeds: since seemingly a man chooses as good that which he carries into execution. But it is evident that by human speech, law can be both changed and expounded, in so far as it manifests the interior movement and thought of human reason. Wherefore by actions also, especially if they be repeated, so as to make a custom, law can be changed and expounded; and also something can be established which obtains force of law, in so far as by repeated external actions, the inward movement of the will, and concepts of reason are most effectually declared; for when a thing is done again and again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgment of reason. Accordingly, custom has the force of a law, abolishes law, and is the interpreter of law." Summ. Theol. II.97.3

Sunday, June 17, 2018

I Could Attend Masses Forever and Not Be Tired

"The idea of worship is different in the Catholic Church from the idea of it in your Church; for, in truth, the religions are different. Don't deceive yourself, my dear Bateman," he said tenderly, "it is not that ours is your religion carried a little farther,—a little too far, as you would say. No, they differ in kind, not in degree; ours is one religion, yours another. And when the time comes, and come it will, for you, alien as you are now, to submit yourself to the gracious yoke of Christ, then, my dearest Bateman, it will be faith which will enable you to bear the ways and usages of Catholics, which else might perhaps startle you. Else, the habits of years, the associations in your mind of a certain outward behaviour with real inward acts of devotion, might embarrass you, when you had to conform yourself to other habits, and to create for yourself other associations. But this faith, of which I speak, the great gift of God, will enable you in that day to overcome yourself, and to submit, as your judgment, your will, your reason, your affections, so your tastes and likings, to the rule and usage of the Church. Ah, that faith should be necessary in such a matter, and that what is so natural and becoming under the circumstances, should have need of an explanation! I declare, to me," he said, and he clasped his hands on his knees, and looked forward as if soliloquising,—"to me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words,—it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfil their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: 'What thou doest, do quickly'. Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the Name of the Lord as He passed by, 'the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth'. And as Moses on the mountain, so we too 'make haste and bow our heads to the earth, and adore'. So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, 'waiting for the moving of the water'. Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation;—not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God's priest, supporting him, yet guided by him. There are little children there, and old men, and simple labourers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and scope of it. And oh, my dear Bateman," he added, turning to him, "you ask me whether this is not a formal, unreasonable service—it is wonderful!" he cried, rising up, "quite wonderful. When will these dear good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et Exspectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster."
From John Henry Newman's Loss and Gain, Part II, Chapter 20 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Cor Ad Cor Loquitur

Newman as a young man
"Newman," a Jesuit once said, "was the first person to have an original thought since Saint Augustine." Newman and his original thoughts earned a renewed vivacity during the middle years of Benedict XVI's pontificate culminating in the cardinal's beatification in 2010. Newman, perhaps not unlike Saint Joseph, became something of a projection board for whatever was one people's minds. Converts rightly looked at Newman's journey from Calvinistic Evangelicalism to the "one fold" of the Church as a blueprint for their own path. Others more active in politics and politicking called Newman's non-Scholastic, near-Patristic outlook the inspiration for the Second Vatican Council. I have even heard a very few, more old fashioned traditionalists wag a disapproving finger at John Henry's memory because he prioritized individual experience over objective reason, anticipating the relativism of the post-War days. Yet Newman endures among those who read him rather than read about him, which alone makes him worth understanding better.

His personal motto, "heart speaks to heart," conveys Newman's thought in his own time so suitably that it should be the lens for interpreting anything he wrote. His Gain and Loss is something of a fictionalized intellectual autobiography, not a straight novelization of his conversion. In Gain his protagonist, the eager to please Charles Reding, studies for the Anglican ministry in mid-19th century Oxford amid the whirling ideological vortex of the day: what to make of Catholic's absolute claims to truth; whether Anglo-Catholicism was a legitimate expression of Anglicanism or a Romish perversion; the rectitude of the Evangelical wing and their fundamentalist concept of faith; and the gradual dying out of via media, old fashioned Anglican clergy like our hero's father. Reding wishes to know the truth of what his co-religionists believe and whether or not even that is true.

In Reding's Oxford, and Newman's, reason simply fails as a singular tool for discerning true religion and salvation. Reason aids in breaking down falsehood, but it also produces some wildly irreligious views of its own. Early on Reding and his fellow students recall Paley's statement that all of Christ's miracles were entirely "reasonable" and that revelation ought not be construed as a "mystery" because He would not reveal anything about Himself that He would not want us to understand. In his own relationships Reding finds faults and inconsistencies both within others' views and within his national Church's as a whole, given that the diversity of the former means there can be no binding doctrine with the latter. In dilating with an Evangelical acquaintance he is told that faith is the instrument of salvation, even if the Prayer Book does not agree with this. Faith produces good works if the faith is true; good works do not improve faith or work with it, as the Romanists say, but rather descend from it. Reding can pick this idea apart from Scripture and from other Anglican sources without finding any resolution. This intellectual and spiritual vagrancy suits his cynical other half, Sheffield, just fine, who comes to similar conclusions than those of Reding without Reding's burning desire for truth. Sheffield is fine signing onto the Thirty-Nine articles and consigning their purpose to creating a consensus. For Reding this just will not do.

The "solution" to the nigh impossible equation of computing salvation is to descend to the heart. Reding, like Newman, never felt inclined toward marriage because from an early age he never found himself alone, but instead always sense the presence of another within him, following him and with him in his every thought and movement. He never wanted to welcome any impediment to this presence which could only be the indwelling of the Trinity after Baptism. Dostoevsky speaks of a similar presence attributable to Jesus Christ Himself just prior to the Grand Inquisitor dialogue in The Brothers Karamazov. Our Lord returns and walks through the streets of late medieval Spain; people acclaim Him and follow Him, dropping whatever they happening to be doing after beholding His countenance and knowing, from within, that this is Christ. It is a similar presence that Newman describes in less verbosity than the Russian. Reding, if he desires to hear anything, desires to hear from those who speak to that presence.

The first definitive attraction to the Church for Reding is that the Catholic Church might well be God's prophet on earth. God spoke through prophets in ancient times and revealing previously unknown truths is a hallmark of real religion. The Catholic Church's absolute claim to truth and his own Church's intellectualized indifference means that Reding, who admittedly knows nothing of the "Church of Rome" or its particular teachings, holds that either the Catholic Church is God's prophet on earth or there is no voice for God on earth. And if the Catholic Church does speak for God then its doctrines are not a set of propositions worthy of consideration; instead the Church is a teacher to whom the faithful should listen as students.

Far from embracing moral relativism Newman saw all too well that excessive intellectualism would lead to religious relativism; only ten years after Newman published Gain and Loss Darwin published his Origin of Species and threw a poorly prepared world into a fit and left little sure other than the heart.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Vatican I: An Eastern Perspective

Adam DeVille wrote The Long Shadows of the First Vatican Council, an insightful article that provides some removed perspective on the centralization following Vatican I which made Vatican II possible. A few observations I hope readers can discuss:

  • Vatican II was a reaction to Vatican I, as Mr. DeVille claims. It was also caused, in part, by Vatican I's channeling all the administrative power in the Latin Church to Rome and neutering bishops of the governance of their dioceses.
  • The aforementioned problem came from the collapse of Catholic culture and Catholic governments during the various mid-19th century nationalistic revolutions. The result is a "secular" Church, a Church that exists in the world but is not fundamental to it.
  • Pursuant to this last point, I re-link to my "The Pre-Conciliar Church," which touches on how the "perfect society" model of the Church developed in the 19th century and informed the popular imagination until Vatican II ripped it up.
  • Mr. DeVille is right in jealously guarding bishops' apostolic rights to govern their dioceses. I once held to the idea that patriarchal and synodal powers ought to have their own say, but a longer historical view reduces patriarchs and synods to practical matter of administration, better suited to administer than Roman congregations but no more or less fundamental to the exercise of Apostolic ministry than those same Roman congregations. The most authentic mode of teaching and government is that of the bishop.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

English Traddie-dom

The state of Traditionalism in the English Church has a few lessons for the wider Church and for those who seek to promote the old rite and its accompanying doctrinal perspective beyond the reaches of small communities. The real state of English Traddie-dom is that, aside from some growth here and there, in larger places it has stagnated. This is not the case globally; the old Mass continues to expand in the United States, Italy, and Africa; but it does carry some meaning for Catholics in thriving places.

What does stagnation look like? It means one could not reasonably split a Mass community up into two separate Masses and justify either service. The tell tale signs of this are 1) constancy in the number of Masses and 2) constancy in the congregations of existing Masses. The 8AM "EF" Mass at the Oxford Oratory still has the same 150-200 people it did seven years ago and probably the same number it did ten years before that, when the bishop asked for a 1962 Mass to assuage potential devotees of the FSSPX. Similarly, I did not notice any difference in the number of Masses offered within the Archdiocese of Westminster from seven years ago. The 9:30AM Mass at Saint James, Spanish Place, boasted the same congregation as the Oratory, although it competes with half a dozen other spoken Masses and a sung Mass at Saint Bede's, Clapham Park.

Catholicism in England itself, like the general English population, has not flourished very much one way or another in the last several decades. One would presume the Traditionalist crowd would get a larger portion of a shrinking pie, like they are in the United States or France, but this is not the case. Instead, Oratories and Oratorian takes on the Pauline Mass are abounding and taking those very slices. The last few years have seen Oratories emerge in Bournemouth, York, and Manchester, which doubles the number of Oratories from just five years ago. Attendance at the Oxford Oratory's 11AM Solemn Latin Novus Ordo has dipped a little; it is no longer standing room only because "Several churches in the diocese are now imitating what we do and people no longer feel compelled to drive two hours to Mass," one priest told me. So why is the Latin Mass of Paul VI, which has never caught on anywhere else in the world, out-doing the flailing Latin Mass of Pius V?

One answer is that people see different things at a 1962 Mass in London than they do at a Brompton high Mass. Someone who has never seen a pre-Conciliar form of the Roman Mass will walk into a church and witness a priest speaking garbled Latin in an echo chamber for 45 minutes, perhaps stopping to give a short sermon and Communion; yes, it is why the church was built, but that does not make it more accessible to the uninitiated of 2018. By contrast, someone who walks into an Oratorian-styled Mass sees something he knows and which happens at a familiar pace, the readings are in his own tongue, and rather than hearing a spoken Mass he hears the finest Renaissance music sung by a professional choir; in short, he sees an inspiring variation on something he already knows and takes it to be something very different. A large percentage of parishioners at these sorts of conservative or traditional settings are converts from Anglicanism who like loud organs, strong hymns, well done services, and the like. The old rite low Mass may be more consonant with Charles Reding's observations in Newman's Loss and Gain about the Catholic Mass being focused on the priest offering Sacrifice, not the congregation, but that may not help get people in the pew.

The other factor may well be the Traditionalists themselves, who have often been their own worst enemies; one thinks of Tracey Rowland's attempt at some Traddie self-criticism back when Rorate Caeli still enabled comments. In England the problem has not been as pronounced as the visceral attitude of '90s American traditionalists, but recusancy does still attract its cranks. The real problem with any spiritual movement that has to fight political battles—and Traditionalists are a prime ecclesiastical example—is that spiritual focus and spiritual values can unintentionally be subverted by an ideological outlook intent on conforming the world to one's views. This, again, may be less prevalent in England since a good portion of the Traditional rite Masses in England are run by diocesan priests who perform older rituals out of pastoral duty and person interest. Then again, the issue may not be with clergy as much as laity, who desire holiness and wisdom, but have historically contented themselves with the promises of the Rosaries and the errors of Vatican II. What emerges then carries the danger of a hypocritical Catholicism, a flock that does the right things but carries little to no sign of sanctity.

This last issue, like the "visceral attitude of '90s American traditionalists", may well be solving itself with age and the gradual replacement with new blood. In 2011 one could still start a conversation at coffee hour after the 8AM Oratory Mass with the words, "The Novus Ordo is a horror show." Today those same people would justly roll their eyes and keep to their own chatter.

If proponents of the old rite wish to see Waugh's "fire burning among the old stones", then, regardless of whether they live in London or Liberia, they must do something to attract those soldiers who are "farther in heart than Acre or Jerusalem."

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Monastic Office: Early "Renewal"?

Practically every alteration, deformation, and mutation that touched the Roman liturgy in the last century came to the faithful clergy and laity with marketing buzzwords from the Holy See like "renewal", as if the liturgy had died, or "restoration", as if the novel practices now prescribed had existed in this form at some prior point. Papa Sarto spoke of the older Roman Office in very harsh terms while calling his psalter "restitueretur." Pius XII repeated his Venetian predecessor's language after he restored Holy Week by tossing the rites, Offices, and unique ceremonies out the window for new ones. And then, of course, came the paterfamilias of "renewal", the liturgy of Paul VI, which failed to maintain even the form of similarity with the past like Sarto's psalter, which preserved some aspects of the Office for major feasts and the 150 psalm weekly schedule. Everything became new, nothing was different, and all was fixed.

The Roman Breviary went through no less than four sets of revisions in the 20th century, each leaving less the genius of the original Office than the former. What many critics of the liturgical reforms, myself included, often fail to realize is that these changes, like those to the Mass, happened gradually and under the influence of others who belonged to the places and communities where these concepts originated. The psalter of Divino Afflatu looks much more like the "Jansenist" Offices of 18th and 19th century France than it does that of Saint Pius V. In the same vein, the rubrics and schedule of Offices in John XXIII's breviary strangely resemble those of the Monastic Psalter in force three decades earlier. What were those features?

First, and most characteristic of John XXIII's Breviary, the Monastic Office underwent a reduction of supposedly quintessentially Roman feasts, both in number and in kind. Just as the 1960/2 Breviarium Romanum observes one feast of Saint Peter's Chair, so does the Monastic Diurnal of the '30s, although it previously followed the Roman praxis in observing both Rome and Antioch. Some uniquely Benedictine feasts even saw mergers in the case of saints whose historicity was deemed dubious in the early 20th century. A few alterations to the Monastic sanctoral did make clean up certain aspects of the kalendar, like transferring the octaves of Saints Benedict and Scholastica outside of Lent, where they would no longer impede the penitential season.

Second, the days of the kalendar underwent substantial revision of rank and kind. Double feasts previously enjoyed three nocturnes of four lessons each at Mattins throughout the year, except the summer when they had three. The revised kalendar provides three lessons per nocturne throughout the year and only one per nocturne during the summer. Semi-Double feasts were generally made into something equivalent to Third Class feasts in the 1960/2 Roman rite and feasts that were previously Simples found themselves more akin to John XXIII's "Commemoration" rank. The reforms did retain the traditional Semi-Double Offices for days within octaves.

One wonders why these Benedictines required a reduction in their Offices? Perhaps they needed time to buy suits and sit on liturgical reform commissions?