Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rutler with a retrospective on frail and dubious historical papacies

Rev. George W. Rutler, "Benedict’s Decision in the Light of Eternity" (Crisis Magazine, February 13, 2013). An excerpt:
What God knows is not necessarily what God wills. Each pope is guaranteed the protection of the Holy Spirit from fallible definitions of faith and morals, but to suppose that each pope is there because God wants him there, including the unworthy successors of Peter, comes close to the unforgivable blasphemy against the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Twenty year old Benedict IX was at least as nightmarish as his successor Gregory VI who usually is counted with his predecessor among the popes who relinquished their office....

The Petrine office is not indelible like Holy Orders, and in 1415 Gregory XII nobly and efficiently made his resignation a kind of security for healing the Western Schism. Dante was so frustrated by what he considered dereliction of duty, that he put the abdicated Celestine V into the Inferno but that was his own Commedia, when the Church, not in fancy but in fact, knew he is in Heaven. In 2009 photographs were widely circulated showing Benedict XVI leaving his pallium at Celestine’s tomb, and many commentators then thought that this was more than a gesture of incidental piety.

As with the Spiritual Franciscans as a whole, almost in tandem with the earlier Montanists, Celestine V proved the utter impracticality of dovelike innocence without serpentine astuteness, and Boniface VIII was as right as was John XXII in condemning these “Fraticelli.” But Boniface also proved the desperate shortcoming of cleverness without innocence. Benedict XVI’s serene retreat to pray will not be like the last months of Pope Celestine who might nearly qualify as a martyr for the terrible treatment he endured for ten months until death when immured in the walls of the Fumone castle in Campagna. Celestine was confined to an unsanitary cell hardly large enough for a bed and an altar. We see in this the contempt that venal souls have for the motives of the humble, and Celestine was nothing if not humble. The role of Boniface in Celestine’s degradation has often been sanitized, but, as John Henry Newman wrote in the Historical Sketches: "glosses are put upon memorable acts, because they are thought not edifying, whereas of all scandals such omissions, such glosses, are the greatest.” ... Read more >>
[Hat tip to J.M.]


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Rutler's glossing over of the slender and to some extent misleading accomplishments of Benedict's papacy leads me to this rewrite of the Newman quote: “glosses are put upon unmemorable acts, because they are thought diplomatic, whereas of all kindnesses such obfuscations, such glosses, are the most deplorable.”

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Misleading? It depends on how credible you find the "reform of the reform" accounting of the fifty year aftermath of V2. In my case, not very.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Ralph. Moi aussi

The Brick By Brick Bund and other conservative Catholics have studiously ignored the reality which is this...

(SEPTEMBER 12 - 15, 2008)


Friday, 12 September 2008

Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office:

What do you say to those who, in France, fear that the "Motu proprio' Summorum Pontificum signals a step backwards from the great insights of the Second Vatican Council? How can you reassure them?

Benedict XVI: Their fear is unfounded, for this "Motu Proprio' is merely an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim, for those people who were brought up with this liturgy, who love it, are familiar with it and want to live with this liturgy. They form a small group, because this presupposes a schooling in Latin, a training in a certain culture. Yet for these people, to have the love and tolerance to let them live with this liturgy seems to me a normal requirement of the faith and pastoral concern of any Bishop of our Church. There is no opposition between the liturgy renewed by the Second Vatican Council and this liturgy.

On each day [of the Council], the Council Fathers celebrated Mass in accordance with the ancient rite and, at the same time, they conceived of a natural development for the liturgy within the whole of this century, for the liturgy is a living reality that develops but, in its development, retains its identity.Thus, there are certainly different accents, but nevertheless [there remains] a fundamental identity that excludes a contradiction, an opposition between the renewed liturgy and the previous liturgy. In any case, I believe that there is an opportunity for the enrichment of both parties. On the one hand the friends of the old liturgy can and must know the new saints, the new prefaces of the liturgy, etc.... On the other, the new liturgy places greater emphasis on common participation, but it is not merely an assembly of a certain community, but rather always an act of the universal Church in communion with all believers of all times, and an act of worship. In this sense, it seems to me that there is a mutual enrichment, and it is clear that the renewed liturgy is the ordinary liturgy of our time.

I am not Spartacus said...

Here is a link to an apt theme song for the well-intentioned reality-deniers in the Brick By Brick Bund

Anonymous said...

You have given me food for thought. Have either of you read THE SPIRIT of the LITURGY by the then Cardinal Ratzinger? If so would you care to comment on it?


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

I read "The Spirit of the Liturgy" several years ago. It would have been a fine set of liturgical meditations if drawn from the traditional mass. But It was written in the Novus Ordo era, for application to the NO "liturgy." IMO, this makes it, for all the depth and profundity of many of its passages, a total misfire. Briefly, here's why.

If we were to pay attention to the meaning of the words we use, we would not describe the Novus Ordo as a liturgy at all. Here's why: If you read the latest GIRM, which is supposed to be such a wondrous improvement over its predecessor, you see a junkpile of exceptions, distinctions, and alternate versions. Latin has pride of place, BUT . . . . Gregorian chant is the liturgical music of choice EXCEPT WHEN . . . . etc. For every rubric there is an exception. For every prayer there is an alternative. Even the canons multiply like kudzu. You understand that I am only skimming over the problems here.

All of this is contrary to the very idea of liturgy. Whom God loves He chastises. To stand before God is to experience fear as well as reverence. Therefore the prayers that are offered to God are chosen, each word, with extreme care, and offered each time word for word, with no variation in diction or modulation. To put it briefly, liturgy is the codification of belief, the foundation upon which the house of doctrine is built, and for that reason must be absolute in its consistency. For most of the life of the Church, comfort and confidence was drawn from the utter staunchness and consistency of the TLM liturgy (of course, over that time minor adjustments have been made, prayers added or removed, but always with extreme care and not a little trepidation). It is that concern with sameness and consistency -- which have traditionally been viewed as the hallmarks of reverence and purity of intent -- that makes a liturgy liturgical.

This is worlds apart from what passes as liturgy at the hands of Bugnini's committee. Where once there was fear, now there is celebration, jokes, and frequent rounds of applause – rather like a meeting of Fred Flintstone’s Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. Where once there was sobriety over the transsubstantial reliving of the death of the Son, there are now typically hugs, gestures and greetings over the often somewhat rowdy and jocular representation of the Last Supper. I'm sure I don't have to review with you the ridiculous extremes of the past forty years, nor to stress the point that the NO liturgy is unique, novel, innovative, each time that it is said by each and every priest who says it. Properly speaking, the Novus Ordo is not liturgy at all, but anti-liturgy -- a chipper-shredder of liturgy, a producer of novelty.

In view of all this, Cdl Ratzinger’s book is nothing more than a statement of preferences as to how he – a single priest – would prefer that the NO be said. No one is required to pay any attention to it whatsoever. Ratzinger says tomayto, Fr Puddinghead says tomahto – indeed, let’s call the whole thing off. If its foundation were the traditional Latin Mass, “The Spirit of the Liturgy” would make sense. But with its foundation in the silly putty of the Novus Ordo, such a book makes no sense whatsoever. Reading it is like imagining McDonalds with a dress code, and a greeter handing out ties.

And that is all I have to say about "The Spirit of the Liturgy."

Pertinacious Papist said...

Thoroughgoing dissection, Ralph. Incisive and insightful. Much food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I much appreciate your comments Ralph. Thank you.


I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Anoymous. Read Work of Human Hands a well-documented study by the provocative Priest, Rev. Anthony Cekada.

He attacks the Lil' Licit Liturgy like a male Pit Bull attacks a pink-collar-wearing Pomeranian bitch.

His many funny, both sly and wry, asides alone justify the cost of the book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks IAN Spartacus

Is Rev. Anthony Cekada a member of the SSPX?
I see that his book is not in Kindle form. I usually don't buy hard copy anymore due to eye problems. But I have Iota Unum somewhere and one of the commenters said that there is a chapter in there about the liturgy. I'll take a look at it to refresh my memory.


Anonymous Bosch said...

No, Donna, Fr. Cekada is a member of the splinter group calling itself the Society of Pope Pius V. His book is a masterful THEOLOGICAL critique of Pope Paul VI's new mass. The fact that the author is a sedevacantist doubting the legitimacy of the papal succession does not detract from the seriousness of the challenge his book poses for the NEO-Catholics of the contemporary (badly leaking) Barque of St. Peter.