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Author Topic: Ultramontanism and Catholic liturigical reform  (Read 1221 times) Average Rating: 0
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John Larocque
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« on: April 22, 2010, 03:25:16 PM »

A fascinating essay posted on TheAngoCatholic blog by Fr. Chadwick of the TAC, from an essay forwarded to him by Dr. Geoffrey Hull. It covers a lot of territory. Dr. Hull authored
Banished Heart: Origins of Heteropraxis in the Catholic Church
.

The blog link is here:
http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/04/the-proto-history-of-the-roman-liturgical-reform

There's some great quotes in here, very much in the mindset of the SSPX, in which Tradition (capital T) is placed above papal authority. The references to the practices of the churches of the East caught my eye (compared favourably to the Roman attitude). Some salient bits:

Quote
Indeed Mediator Dei, so often cited by traditionalists, makes it clear that the Pope “alone has the right to permit or establish any liturgical practice, to introduce or approve new rites, or to make any changes in them he considers necessary”. The tragedy is that in making this forceful statement with the evident intention of safeguarding our liturgical inheritance, Pius XII set before the Church a Pandora’s box which his successors were tempted to open, and did....

Considering much of what has taken place in the sanctuaries of the Latin Church since Mediator Dei, Pius XII’s reversal in that encyclical of the historical principle legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, i.e. “let the rule of prayer establish the rule of belief”, is no less disturbing:

Quote
“Indeed if we wanted to state quite clearly and absolutely the relation existing between the faith and the sacred liturgy we could rightly say that the law of our faith must establish the law of our prayer:’

This liberty taken with a theological tradition going back to apostolic times has been considered by some a most serious flaw in an otherwise excellent exposition of Catholic teaching on the liturgy. The maxim quoted above was first expressed in the fifth century by Prosper of Aquitaine in an anti-Pelagian treatise entitled Indiculus de gratia Dei, and it is commonly shortened to the aphorism lex orandi, lex credendi ...

The basic meaning of the teaching is that in the traditional liturgy we have the oldest witness to what the Church believes, since Christians were worshipping God in public well before the first theological treatises were composed. Living tradition is bipartite, its two aspects distinct yet interrelated. ‘The rational aspect of Catholic Tradition consists of the Magisterium which interprets Sacred Scripture and apostolic teaching, while the sacred liturgy constitutes its symbolic and mystical aspect, and the latter has a chronological primacy over the former. Given, therefore, that the sacred liturgy is not something arbitrarily devised by theologians but theologia prima, the ontological condition of theology, the Church’s teachings must always be in harmony with the beliefs that the traditional liturgical texts express. This is of course very different from George Tyrrell’s modernistic abuse of Prosper’s maxim, by which doctrines are valid only insofar as they are found in the liturgical texts and have produced practical fruits of charity and sanctification.

However, given the normative and testimonial nature of the liturgical tradition whose historical growth hag its own dynamic, there can be absolutely no question of artificially restructuring sacred rites to make them reflect new doctrines or new doctrinal emphases, which is precisely the Protestant approach to liturgy.

This rigorously conservative attitude on the question of ritual reform is also the constant teaching of the Eastern Churches. The Russian Orthodox theologian George Florovsky makes the same point rather more bluntly when he says that “Christianity is a liturgical religion. The Church is first of all a worshipping community. Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second”. It is the Christians of the East who have best preserved the classical Catholic approach to worship and who consequently have preserved their litugical traditions intact in modern times. The present liturgical chaos in the Western Church is due in no small part to the emphasis that Latin Christians have always placed on dogma, with the consequent tendency to regard the liturgical texts as a mere locus theologicus, a means to an end, rather than a living source of doctrinal truth. Thus orthodoxia, which originally meant ‘right worship’, gives way to orthopistis ‘right believing’, or orthodidascalia ‘right teaching’. When taken to the extreme, this exclusive emphasis on the rational culminates in that heresy which rejects the living components of tradition in favour of the written records of the Early Church, the Bible and Patristic writings, and which we know as Protestantism and full-blown Jansenism. The rejection of the liturgical tradition thus implies a rejection of the Church itself.

In the light of this typically Western aberration one can understand the Orthodox jibe that Protestantism was hatched from the egg that Rome had laid. For according to Timothy Ware,

Quote
“The Orthodox approach to religion is fundamentally a liturgical approach, which understands doctrine in the context of divine worship: it is no coincidence that the word ‘Orthodoxy’ should signify alike right belief and right worship, for the two things are inseparable. It has truly been; said of the Byzantines: ‘Dogma with them is not only an intellectual system. Apprehended by the clergy and expounded to the laity, but a field of vision wherein all things on earth are seen in their relation to things in heaven, first and foremost through liturgical celebration’”

A similar outlook is by no means absent in the Latin West today, even if it is a minority view. Commenting on Pius XII’s reversal of Prosper of Aquitaine’s dictum, American Benedictine liturgist Dom Aidan Kavanagh notes that:

Quote
“To reverse the maxim, subordinating the standard of worship to the standard of belief, makes a shambles of the dialectic of revelation. It was a Presence, not faith, which drew Moses to the burning bush, and what happened there was a revelation, not a seminar. It was a Presence, not faith, which drew the disciples to Jesus, and what happened there was not an educational program but His revelation to them of Himself as the long-promised Anointed One, the redeeming because reconciling Messiah-Christos”.

Indeed the radical impulse to destroy the entire liturgical tradition and go back to Eucharists in the manner of the Last Supper is the inevitable consequence of applying the criteria of theological analysis to the sacred liturgy which, as a slowly growing humanly-ordered thing, cannot possibly have “come from the Lord complete and perfect” as Bossuet the elder said of the deposit of faith.

Quote
I come finally to the other immediate cause of the liturgical revolution, a new and particularly destructive form of ultramontanism, which in my view is the only way of explaining how recent Popes could have made such an astonishing about-turn on the question of liturgical tradition. The term ‘Ultramontane’ first coined by the French Gallicans of the seventeenth century, normally refers to those who supported the definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility in 1870. However, on the popular level ultramontanism has manifested itself in the cult of the person of the Pope, which hardly existed before Pius IX, but is still very much with us today. In the nineteenth century the enemies of the Ultramontanes were the Liberal Catholics; the Ultramontanes of today, who abide loyally by all the decisions of the Papacy, rejecting criticism and even discussion of any of them, are opposed not only by the heirs to the Liberal Catholic tradition, but also by the Traditionalists. Fully aware of the consequences of their action, traditionalist Catholics feel bound in conscience to criticize certain aspects of the Second Vatican Council and to reject the official and unofficial liturgical reforms that ostensibly issued from it.

To the Ultramontane mind, which is also the mind of the Popes of our day, one cannot adopt the traditionalist stance and remain authentically Catholic. It is often not appreciated that in the discussions preceding the dogmatic formulations of the First Vatican Council, Pius IX strongly favoured the interpretation of Papal Infallibility as meaning Papal inerrancy in matters of Church discipline as well as in dogmatic definitions, an exaggerated claim at odds with the teaching of the Church. But when – so the story goes – Fr. Guidi, Superior General of the Dominicans, pointed out to the Pope that his idea of Papal infallibility was against Tradition, Pius IX angrily reminded him that “La tradizione son’io!” – ‘I am Tradition’, a symptom of Papal megalomania providentially checked by the Holy Ghost.

Unfortunately, there is ample evidence today that the modern Popes consider themselves the infallible arbiters of disciplinary and liturgical tradition rather than its respectful custodians. John Paul II, for example, has been known to act arbitrarily and inconsistently in contravention of established liturgical law. One famous episode was during his visit to West Germany in 1980 when, in contradiction to the firm Papal policy of not giving Communion in the hand, he administered the Sacrament in this manner to a small boy by way of exception, thus establishing an irrevocable precedent. On another occasion, I am told, the Pope incorrectly knelt during a Papal ceremony in Rome, and when his Master of Ceremonies discreetly directed him to rise, John Paul remained on his knees and retorted pointedly: “II Papa s’inginocchia!” – “the Pope is kneeling!”. With such a subjective attitude towards liturgical tradition, unthinkable in any of the Eastern Churches, it is understandable that the modern Popes and the ultramontanist Curia should view traditionalist rejection of the liturgical reform as incompatible with Catholic orthodoxy which they narrowly understand as right belief and right morals.

From the traditionalist standpoint, it is an abuse of power for the modern Papacy; however orthodox in its dogmatic teaching, to Command the faithful to accept an anti-traditional liturgy in the name of obedience to the supreme ecclesiastical authority. If the Papacy, in an official document, can reverse a fundamental teaching of orthodox Christianity by totally subordinating the liturgy to the interests of new ‘orientations’, one is forced to conclude that recent Popes, in turning their backs on their own past for whatever noble motives, have placed themselves above Tradition and abused their position as the supreme legislators in disciplinary matters. For a Catholic to make such an admission is painful, and from the ultramontanist point of view disloyal, not to say actively schismatical.

There is unlikely to be agreement on this question until the Holy Father comes to a deeper understanding of his own action in re-legalizing the traditional Roman liturgy, which logically considered, entirely contradicts his thinking on the post-conciliar reform, which is substantially that of Paul VI and of the episcopal conferences. Yet this contradiction which has created a dynamic tension in the Church must ultimately be resolved, and we may optimistically regard it as a sign of hope for the eventual restoration of the patrimony of which Latin Catholics have been unjustly deprived. In the meantime, as Archbishop Lefebvre remarked shortly after his audience with Pope John Paul II in 1978: “We can at least pray to the Blessed Virgin that when he becomes aware of the enormous difficulties he will meet in the exercise of his power as Pope, he will reconsider his stance and perhaps conclude that he must return to Tradition ".
« Last Edit: April 22, 2010, 03:26:42 PM by John Larocque » Logged
Andrea
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2010, 04:08:31 PM »

This looks very interesting, thank you.
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2010, 02:20:37 AM »

"In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

Pope Benedict XVI, July 2007

Benedict has repeatedly said the traditional Roman rite was never abolished and has also intimated in the past that the pope could not lawfully do so.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 02:29:02 AM »

"In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

Pope Benedict XVI, July 2007

Benedict has repeatedly said the traditional Roman rite was never abolished and has also intimated in the past that the pope could not lawfully do so.
Christ is Risen, Alleluia


Pope Benedict has launched some devastating attacks on the Novus Ordo, or at least what it has become.   He views the Mass as the greatest threat to Catholicism.  It has become the Weapon of Mass Destruction in the Catholic Church today..


"I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves
today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy.”


"In its practical materialization, liturgical reform has moved further
away from this origin. The result was not re-animation but devastation.

Pope Benedict XVI
~~~~~~
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 02:39:18 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2010, 08:27:05 AM »

Yes he has. In the past he has likened the liturgical movement culminating in the Second Vatican Council to the uncovering of a masterpiece painting which had been somewhat obscured by layers of wax. But what we got after the Council, he says, was a devastating pollution of the painting itself.

His project is to restore the rupture, an effort he has been steadily working on since he came to the Chair of Peter.
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012, 12:10:14 PM »

I got the book in the mail and was surprised at the depth of its sections on Rome's relationship with its sister churches. The sections on what happened after Vatican II were not all that new to me, but he presented it in a context different from other Catholic traditionailists. Dr. Hull categorises all the various Eastern "separted churches" (Byzantine, Oriental, Jacobite/Nestorian) under the broad banner of "Orientals" and describes how the Latin church vandalized all of these other rites, centuries before they destroyed their own. He described the Maronites as the "first Uniates" and described the process of "latinization" with them. There's additional sections on the assault on the Syro-Malabar liturgical customs and the Syrian Jacobite Catholics and the Melkites. After having undone the missionary work of SS. Cyril and Methodius, there were sections on the successful attempts to Latinize the Slavs everywhere except Croatia, where they managed to hold on to the Old Slavonic Roman liturgy. There's a lengthy quote from Alexis Toth on a meeting with bishop John Ireland, describing the American Ruthenians as a group with no support either from Rome or their compliant Greek Catholics hierarchs in the old country. They really had nowhere else to go except to the Russian Orthodox. Toth's canonization a century later is described as an ecumenical setback, and lays the blame squarely at Rome. The central thesis is that Roman imperialism and ultramontanism hatched the modernist egg of the Novus Ordo.
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 03:26:59 PM »


The central thesis is that Roman imperialism and ultramontanism hatched the modernist egg of the Novus Ordo.


Not to mention perpetuation of said egg since the Pope recently began appointing all bishops.  I'm interested in this read, but am also very weary of it.  It sounds very biased.
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John Larocque
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2012, 03:41:31 PM »

I skimmed ahead to the last chapter to see where it was leading. There was a paragraph where he states bluntly that the separated Eastern churches have kept the fullness of the Catholic faith, despite being out of communion with the bishop of Rome. Yet the institutional Catholic church has allowed what he calls "heteropraxis" (heterodoxy or other worship/glory) - i.e. the Novus Ordo church is Protestantism at Prayer under the Pope.

He briefly touches on some of the EO/RC flashpoints. He defends the orthodoxy of a form of filioque (i.e. "through the son") from a doctrinal standpoint - citing Pope Leo, Maximus the Confessor and even Gregory of Palamas, but described its inclusion in the creed as "heteropraxis", forced upon the latin church by later imperial pontiffs (undoing Pope Leo). I haven't read the section on Florence. He stated that divorce was re-introduced into the Roman Empire (and the Byzantine church) through Emperor Justinian.

Patriarchs have the right to modify the liturgy, but they do so at their own peril, when they are at odds with tradition. Liturgical "antiquarianism" - rolling back liturgical forms (the prayer of the people) to some preconceived notion of the way it used to be - was condemned by previous popes. Yet it underpinned Luther and Cranmer's Mass, Jansenist liturgical reforms in France, and the Novus Ordo.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 03:47:28 PM by John Larocque » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2012, 03:45:53 PM »

i.e. the Novus Ordo church is Protestantism at Prayer under the Pope.


I giggled when I read this.

In seriousness though, wouldn't that be an accurate description of the Anglican Ordinate?
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John Larocque
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2012, 04:04:26 PM »

He tossed in a footnote that some Anglo-catholics are liturgically more "orthodox" (with the Cranmer mass and their "technically invalid" orders) than Roman Catholics. There's a bit at the end of the chapter about the issue of "validity", as if the "text" of something becomes more important than the "context" or authenticity. He equates orthodoxy with "orthopraxis" or right worship and argues that it should be the starting point of any discussion.

The liturgical revolution in the Roman Catholic church is not always seen as one of the dividing points with the Orthodox, but a few years ago Patriarch Bartholomew made passing reference to it a few years ago in a speech, I think, somewhere in the US.

Edit: here it is, the "ontologically different" reality speech from the EP:
http://evlogeite.com/?page_id=16
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 04:11:40 PM by John Larocque » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 10:52:46 PM »

i.e. the Novus Ordo church is Protestantism at Prayer under the Pope.


I giggled when I read this.

In seriousness though, wouldn't that be an accurate description of the Anglican Ordinate?

Why would you think that?...serious question.

M.
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