As we celebrated the Ember Days for Lent, I started doing a little bit more research on Ember and Rogation Days, with a view to wondering how I might be able to explain to my faithful, especially my school kids, what these are all about. As I con…
For my parish I have been busy preparing a Guide for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, principally for the children in my School and Religious Education programs. I have added that to the Advent/Christmastide one in my Dropbox. It is a rather lar…
The oldest honor for clerical church musicians is the office of canon which arose out of the group of clerics in the see city who gathered around the bishop to sing the daily solemn Mass and the liturgy of the hours. These became the cathedral canons and, where centers for the solemn liturgy developed outside the cathedral, these centers came to be known as collegiate churches, because such churches were staffed by a college of canons or team of priest colleagues.
Because of their proximity to the bishop, canons became his closest advisors and administrative assistants and, by the beginning of the second millennium, when the Roman cardinals were winning the right to elect the bishop of Rome, cathedral canons got the right to elect the diocesan bishop and to administer his vacant or impeded see. The upshot was that the erstwhile church musicians became leading figures in the local church administration, the canons’ manifold administrative duties soon got in the way of their musical and liturgical duties and the latter suffered.
In order to fulfill their liturgical and musical duties in greater comfort canons had developed certain distinctive vestments to be worn during the long offices in choir in unheated stone churches. In time, these came to be distinctive insignia of canons and part of their distinctive privileges of dress. In some cases the granting of these distinctive vestments would become part of the papal system of clerical honors and provide the precedent for the honors of dress bestowed on papal prelates.
In the twentieth cantury Rome began creating honorary chapters of canons. There had long been honorary or supernumerary canons in chapters of canons. Franz Xaver Witt (1834-1888), who founded in 1868 and lead for many years the German Caecilia Society and revived interest in renaissance polyphonic sacred music, was made an honorary canon of the suburbicarian cathedral of Palestrina. Likewise, his successor Franz Xaver Haberl (1840-1910) had ad honorem his canon’s stall in choir there. Honorary canons have a stall in choir and the title and dress of a canon, but they cannot participate in chapter nor in the revenues of the chapter nor have they liturgical duties. But now entire chapters were constituted as honorary. An example is the parochial Church of San Sosio Martyr in Fractamaiore in the Diocese of Aversa, Italy, made a collegiate church ad honorem in 1923. The pastor was to become the archpriest and sole dignitary of the new collegiate church and its ten curates would be the canons. The archpriest was conceded the use of a cap-pa magna in choir equipped with a muskrat (muris pontici pellibus) cape in winter and a red silk one in summer; the canons got for choir dress a red mozzetta and all could wear the rochet with red lining under the lace of the sleeves. Their choir duties were attenuated and the curate-canons were removable at the will of the bishop and so lacked the life tenure normal to canons.
The tradition of Roman involvement in the erection of collegiate churches reached
its apogee when the Holy See began in 1783 bestowing the title of minor basilica on certain distinguished churches. The title and its associated privilege arose among the distinguished collegiate churches of Rome and came to be a sort of papal “ennoblement” of a church. For the church’s canons the title brought the privilege of wearing the prelate’s rochet and the cappa magna in choir. The basilica in limine was a purely Roman type of collegiate church with purely Roman privileges. It was now being inserted into the local church and today minor basilicas with special links to the Roman pontiff are to be found throughout the Catholic world.
The canonry had begun as a local liturgical and musical function and had later become a local clerical honor. By the nineteenth century and with its culmination, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the creation of chapters of canons under Canon 392 had become entirely co-opted by Rome, and the conferral of chapter dignities by Canon 396 had been reserved to the Holy See.
“The most ancient college of domestic prelate was the protonotaries apostolic. Descended from the scribes who wrote down the confessions of the martyrs in the early church, these papal notaries came by the reign of Pope Gregory the Great (590- 604) to form a scola notariorum or college of notaries headed by a primicerius or precentor. Not only did this papal corps have the function in the apostolic chancery of authenticating curial documents, but notaries also served as papal nuncios and papal judges delegate.”
At the turn of this century Pius X effected notable reforms in the papal household through his 1905 reform of the papal household, Inter multiplices, and his 1908 reform of the Roman curia, Sapienti consilio. These measures aimed at structuring the Holy See on more functional lines and at codifying and simplifying the privileges of the clerics of the papal court. In his reform Pius X placed the protonotaries apostolic at the apex of the minor prelates of the papal household. While his 1905 motu proprio pruned some of their extensive privileges, Pius X, nevertheless, left the protonotaries apostolic with many privileges. Like cardinals and bishops, they were by law privileged to maintain a private chapel where Mass could be offered. Before Vatican II, Mass could only be celebrated in a sacred place (such as a church or private chapel) and the erection of a private chapel required an apostolic indult. Hence, the right to such a chapel was a coveted privilege.
Although the origins of many of the offices of the pontifical household are very ancient, it will be seen that the current mass of monsignors is largely a phenomenon of the nineteenth-century when the centralization of the Roman Church reached its apogee. Clerics and laity alike were transformed into supplicants for papal honors and all grace and favor, all perquisites and precedence, were seen as deriving from the pope and were fitted into a Roman honors system. The pope became the sole fons honorum in the western church and all honors were seen as in his gift.
Purple silk became the tangible mark of Roman favor, and taking purple silk ever more copiously came visibly to mark the progress of a clerical career. It signaled the success of the young upwardly-mobile ecclesiastic much as a progression of post- nominal initials marks the advance of a British civil servant.
In the first paragraph of Inter multiplices Pius X explained that the reason for reforming and codifying the privileges of minor papal prelates was to protect the episcopal dignity. He noted that bishops were successors of the apostles and, even given the primacy of honor and jurisdiction due the successor of Peter, bishops were sacramentally his peer. Nevertheless, over time, concessions of privileges to minor prelates and extravagant interpretations of them had encroached on the episcopal dignity. His aim was to prune such excesses.
Over the centruies papal indults had conceded the use of the miter and of other pontificals and of increasingly splendid choir dress to minor prelates, to abbesses, and to the canons of cathedrals and other distinguished collegiate churches. Sometimes, as in the case of canons of minor basilicas, this splendid dress was the use of the violet cappa magna or of a rochet or of a violet mozzetta or of the mantelletta or even of a purple prelatial cassock with train. All of the papal concessions to canons and other ecclesiastics had the effect of making bishops look bland by contrast with these minor prelates, for as yet bishops, like simple priests, wore but black birettas and black skullcaps.
Earlier papal initiates had likewise attempted to redress this situation. In 1867, by his brief, Ecclesiarum omnium, Pius IX granted to all bishops the privilege of wearing the purple skullcap. Two decades later in 1888 by the motu proprio, Praedaro divinae gratiae, Leo XIII permitted all bishops the exclusive privilege of wearing a purple biretta in order that there might be a well-marked difference between the appearance of bishops and of simple priests. These two pieces of legislation set the tone that Pius X and Vatican II would follow and, in particular, established a policy of assigning specially colored headgear to particular sacramental orders. With bishops now wearing purple skullcaps and purple birettas, purple came to seem the color of the episcopal order and not merely of the papal court. This nineteenth century pro- episcopal and color-coding policy, Paul VI would extend more rigorously in his post- Vatican II reform.
The deepened ecclesiology of Vatican II implied that ecclesiastical honors, like church life, would be restructured on the conciliar model. The church marches forward in time on her pilgrimage to her heavenly end and so the post-conciliar perestroika could not be merely a return to the status quo ante of the early period. Thus, all honors would not be local. There would be roles for both the local Church and the universal pastor.
While the principles of subsidiarity and collegiality demanded that locally-based initiatives and honors be respected, lamentably, most of the reform thus far has been at the center. Little had been done in the local church except as a sort of revanche against the age of papal monarchy. Today there appears in many places to be a distaste for papal honors, whether for musicians or others. Nor has there been much effort to create an honors system within the local church — except that in some places the order of deacon is now conferred on the sort of laymen who thirty years ago would have received the Order of Saint Gregory.
Since the coming into effect of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the Latin Church has permitted the restoration of the system of musical honors which flourished during the early period. The new Code places entirely within the power of diocesan bishops the erection of collegiate churches and the creation of chapters of canons within them. Three years ago in these pages I published a canonical map showing how this might be done entirely without resort to Rome. To canonical clients faced with the suppression of their parish church I have suggested the transformation of parochial churches into collegiate churches. These would be centers for the solemn liturgy and for the preservation and cultivation of sacred music and they might be staffed on a part-time basis by retired or semi-retired priests and so not exacerbate the shortage of priests. While becoming burgeoning centers for the preservation and cultivation of the treasury of sacred music, such collegiate churches and their chapters of canons would be the creation solely of the local bishop. The recourse to Rome in vogue for at least the last five hundred years has been rendered unnecessary by the 1983 Code. Once again the local church can honor its senior clerical musicians by making them canons (or honorary canons) of a collegiate church of its own creation.
If the reform of the honors system at the local Church level lagged, that on the papal level was accomplished almost at once. Basically the Pian structure of 1905 was maintained, but the obsolete elements were removed or updated in accordance with Vatican II principles. Though radical, the reform respected acquired rights and hewed to precedents, while at the same time excising necrotic matter with the deftness characteristic of a skilled surgeon. For few reforms are cut from whole cloth.
Protonotaries apostolic created before the reform retained their privileges, but they were also permitted to abandon the use of the mitre, which henceforth would become an exclusively episcopal ensign among the secular clergy. This permission was necessary, for canon law does not allow someone who enjoys privileges by virtue of his membership in a class individually to give up the right to those privileges. Were a member of a group free to surrender such rights, the rights of the whole group would be harmed. Thus, the reform was careful to retain the rights of the group while permitting individual members of it to renounce their right to the mitre. Pontificalia insignia did provide that protonotaries apostolic created after the reform should not have the use of the mitre and so its use was abolished prospectively. From such prelates the reform took no vested right.
After the reform there were but two grades of protonotaries, numerary and supernumerary. The former were the old participating protonotaries while the latter were the old protonotaries ad instar. The canons of the Roman major basilicas, who in the 1905 legislation had been called supernumerary protonotaries, now lost that designation, although they continued ex officio to enjoy the privileges of supernumerary protonotaries in their own rich store of privileges. At the same time they expressly remained part of the pontifical household, even if it is no longer seen as necessary to create for them some special rank within the papal prelature of grace.
The class of titular or “black” protonotaries, which Pius X had merely reformed, was now sub silentio abolished. By 1968 this group was composed largely of episcopal vicars general. In the Vatican II ecclesiology, which sees the Church as a communion of communions, it was no longer necessary to fit episcopal vicars general, vicars capitular, and diocesan administrators into a papal cursus honorum. Like the diocesan bishop, they derive their rank from the local Church they serve. Their bishop is the head of that local Church and they are his vicar or locum tenens. No longer is the Church seen as the ecclesiastical analog of a unitary state in which bishops are but heads of prefectures.
At the same time, with the advent after Vatican II of the episcopal vicar to the list of local ordinaries (cf. canon 134), the suppression of this class of “black” protonotary exhibited great good sense. But for this reform many of the clerics in today’s episcopal curias would have had a just claim to be ranked as titular protonotaries and this grade of prelate would have become quite glutted.
The Pauline reform insisted on calling domestic prelates what they had in fact by and large become in the nineteenth century, honorary prelates of His Holiness. Moreover, their old Latin name, antistites urbani, was de trop after Vatican II had placed the accent on sacramental orders, especially the episcopal order. It is, after all, as antistite nostro that one prays for the diocesan bishop in the Latin original of the Roman canon of the Mass. No wonder the reform speedily decreed that new honorary prelates of His Holiness should never bear this quasi-episcopal title nor use the rochet (episcopal surplice).
The mantelletta and mantellone were also prospectively suppressed, for, henceforth, the reform would ground privileges to ecclesiastical attire in the sacramental order of the wearer rather than in the jurisdiction he held. This reform aimed at ending the divorce between theology and canon law, orders and jurisdiction. Thus before the reform, as choir dress, a cardinal outside Rome, a primate in his region, a metropolitan in his province, and a residential bishop in his diocese wore a mozzetta over his rochet and cassock. In other places (and in all places in the case of an auxiliary bishop) the mantelletta replaced the mozzetta. After the reform, like a cardinal, any bishop — auxiliary or diocesan — could wear his mozzetta anywhere in the world, for now it was a badge of his episcopal consecration rather than of ordinary jurisdiction. In short after the reform garments ceased to be emblems of jurisdiction. Given the new sacramental principle, the mantelletta and mantellone were now rendered obsolete and so they were no longer appropriate dress for clerics of the pontifical household.
Like so many other reforms after Vatican II, it was more a culmination of earlier reforms than a new departure in itself. With great care it followed principles of reform laid down by Vatican II and these themselves were often only further developments on earlier papal reforms. But the Pauline reform of 1968 and 1969 is notable in that it followed these principles systematically and with determination at the highest level in the church.
Some may cavil at the Pauline reform for its relative colorlessness. But Sacrosanctum concilium, article 124, set forth the relevant aesthetic canon: “noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display.” Perhaps this aesthetic has not worn well after a quarter of a century when Bauhaus has become passe and when the post- modern style cultivates the baroque fancy for the boldly curvilinear and the brightly colored. But to blame the reform for the vagaries of fashion is unjust. With speed, precision and theological clarity the Pauline reform incorporated the reform principles of Vatican II into its reformed system of honors for clerics.
This, then, is the post-conciliar reform of the honors system for clerical church musicians. It remains to be seen if bishops will exercise their faculty to erect collegiate churches and create canons (and canonesses) to encourage the cultivation and preservation of the solemn liturgy and the treasury of sacred music. These have now languished for three decades in the American Catholic Church, but with encouragement they may once again be cultivated, preserved and honored in a manner hallowed — as we have seen — by the most venerable traditions of the local Church.
Galles also published in the Summer 1985 issue of Sacred Music an article called “Papal Musical Knights” (pp. 13-20).
It would seem from here, then, that, the whole complicated system of clerical honors was an organic outgrowth of a rich liturgical life, which also had its counterpart in the administration of the local church. Secular canonical life at the diocesan level and the papal court over time
became conflated. St Pius X and Paul VI both effected reforms based on ecclesiological and practical principles. But neither succeeded in decentralizing the whole system. Perhaps bishops who can no longer candidate priests for the capella papale under the present rules have another option. If the present desire for decentralization is real, then what is to prevent diocesan ordinaries from establishing their own forms of clerical honorifics? What would prevent them from breathing life into an often defunct, but ancient, tradition of collegiate chapters of canons, which would lead an exemplary liturgical and common life, and also bring back some of the color and diversity of the Roman Church? Considering that paonazzo is the color of episcopal livery, and not just cappella papale, could it not also be integrated into the clerical vesture of local chapters of canons, whose constitution would not be subject to Roman interference? Just a thought…
One of the greatest challenges in pastoral ministry is how to explain as much of the riches of the sacred liturgy as we can to the faithful. Here in my parish, we are putting together a series of guides for our school and RE families to introduce…
avoided falling into the trap of writing an article about What did Pope Francis Really Say?
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t read article after article trying
to propose the authentic interpretation of the Holy Father’s words or his
intentions. In these pages I have always
argued against a papal maximalism based on a new ultramontanism, even as I
often wrote glowingly of Pope Benedict’s liturgical theology. I focused on that theology, not because the
man who wrote them was the Bishop of Rome, but because there is something perennially
valid, relevant and beautiful in his writings.
The New Liturgical Movement will continue, regardless of who occupies
the Throne of the Fisherman. Having a
Pope who understood the Movement, and was a mighty contributor to it, was a
great boon, and we are all the better for it.
Now is the time to boldly proclaim and work for that vision, not because
a Pope likes it, but because it is beautiful!
interesting time for us to be working towards that vision within the
Church. There are calls for Reform on
every side, and I must say that this increasing clamor for it leaves me
cold. I have on the same bookshelf books
by Kung, Lefebvre and Weigel, people who arguably would not want to have been associated
with each other, but who for me represent human attempts to diagnose problems
and come up with solutions. Lots of
people are putting their hope in Pope Francis and Co. to reform the Church
according to the way they think the Church should be run. They assure us that if these structural
reforms are carried out, the Church would look a lot more like Jesus, and that
would be a good thing.
nobody who is actually involved in these discussions cares one jot or tittle
what a parish priest from Carolina has to say about the subject, but I keep
coming back to the same thought: Shouldn’t we start from Jesus, and then these
things would take care of themselves? If
as individuals and as a Church we came alive in Christ in holiness, then it
seems to me that the support structure of the Church’s work would be renewed by
that very fact. To do it the other way
around seems to be putting the cart before the horse. But then again, that is all above my
lot of optimism that Church reform would be successful if just X, Y, or Z
happened. There are loud voices that
assure us that if the Church had a more democratic operating system, then all
would be well. But as I look at what is
happening in the American Republic today, I have few reasons to hope that will
go well. People seem to think that the
Church either has to be a totalitarian dictatorship swathed in the trappings of
monarchy or a well-oiled business-like representative democracy. Political categories seem to be driving the
discussion. But theology teaches us that
the Church is unlike any other kind of organization. She is a communion, and so the way she looks,
functions and governs is entirely different than any other kind of model. Shoehorning reform proposals into political
categories risks forgetting that it is not democracy or monarchy that shape the
Church, but communion. And that does not
look like any political model.
lot of talk against clericalism, careerism and triumphalism, but there are as
many conceptions of what all that means as there are people who assure us that
they are all evils. There is a lot of
talk about people who are reactionaries, nostalgic and Pelagians, but these are fast becoming convenient labels people
are using against their adversaries, no matter what they actually believe.
there is a lot of talk about externals.
What should the Church look like?
There is an obsessive concern with the image of the Body of Christ. If we do X, Y, and Z, then maybe people will
view the Church in a different light.
And so yet again Catholics become divided over what we should look
like. Laypeople and clerics who are
usually mild-mannered, law-abiding citizens of Church and State see a picture
of a cardinal in lace and silk and start frothing at the mouth like it’s the
end of the world, and launch hateful attacks against people they have never met
from the safety of their computer screens.
Other laypeople and clerics watch a video of a cardinal in chasalb and
peace signs and the same dynamic ensues.
We are told bowing and scraping to priests and bishops is medieval, but in
order to be modern we must bow and scrape to the opinion of the world.
there is a lot of talk about freedom.
Everyone thinks they have a right to be heard, and everyone is entirely
sure they are the ones with all the answers.
But at the same time, they insist on excluding those with whom they
disagree from the discussion. The more
people clamor for dialogue, the less they seem to actually want to listen and engage,
the less they want to go down the arduous path of working together towards a
claim the charism of infallibility, but I am confident that these are all adventures
in missing the point. Clericalism,
careerism and triumphalism do not exist because there also exist certain
titles, privileges or vesture. They
exist because original sin has wounded human nature and we are not fully
converted to Christ. Men do not become
monsters because they are named monsignors, and sinners do not become saints
because they are simpletons. A new
iconoclasm may succeed in replacing all of the vestigial Baroque panoply of the Counter
Reformation Papal Court we are told is evil with modernist minimalism, but we
will have just exchanged one form of externalism, formalism, for another. We will have gone from a war over image and
externals to the dictatorship of polyester, and we will wake up after the smoke
clears and realize that nothing has really changed, because men will always
find a way to sin.
doubt in my mind that there are sincere people who are intent on razing the
bastions to end the Church as we know it because they are confident that a
kindler, gentler Church will rise from its ashes. One of the fascinating things is that
everyone from sedevacantists to secularists think Francis will be the catalyst
for this. Will he do this at all? Will he do this by sanitizing conciliarism by
collegiality, ignoring Ottaviani’s warning that the first collegial act of the
Apostles was to abandon their Savior?
Will he do this by imposing it by papal fiat? These are the questions that are turning in
people’s minds today. I confess that I
have stopped looking for answers to those questions, and sought refuge in
Jesus, in prayer and hope.
that there are young people out there, clergy, seminarians and lay faithful,
who have bought into Pope Benedict’s vision for a New Liturgical Movement and
the admirable exchange that can happen between the Ordinary and Extraordinary
Forms of the one Roman Rite. Those same
people also have the same desire to reach out to the “existential peripheries”,
get the Church out of the sacristies into the streets, and proclaim the Mercy
of God to the world. Pope Francis’
actions resound in their hearts as Pope Benedict’s resound in their intellect. They don’t want to have to choose between the
Reform of the Church starts from exchanging one set of externals for another, and
not from Jesus, then they will feel themselves as orphans. Any new found freedom in the Church will
exclude their voice, and thus compromise any contention that all are truly
welcome in the Church. Not that there
are not other visions within the Church that are good and noble and holy, but
to eviscerate by words or deeds what has gone before, is to risk alienating
from the center, from the heart of the Church, a great source of energy and
life these young people bring to the world.
The National Catholic Register has published an article on the parish I have the great grace to serve, Prince of Peace. It is written by a parishioner, Brian Mershon, who has been a tireless supporter of the Extraordinary Form in Upstate South Carolina. He has sung in the Latin Mass schola, his sons serve at the altar and his daughters sing at both Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Masses. The article focuses, as you will read, on the link between liturgy and evangelization.
Read the rest here.
Read the rest here.
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article on Chant Café entitled Sacra
Liturgia 2013 and the Transformation of Traditionalism. It was meant to be more a report on the
conference itself and how what was seen of “traditionalism” there was a very
different variety than that caricatured by detractors from various vantage
points. I was surprised,
therefore, at how the article has been engaged by authors and Commentariats of
blogs representing a plethora of viewpoints across the Catholic spectrum. Raising the question of whether the
traditionalist phenomenon is undergoing its own transformation has obviously
touched a nerve. So perhaps it
might be the time for me to elaborate a little.
“traditionalism” first gets on the radar screen of the Magisterium with the
thought of Bonald and Lammenais.
It proposed that human reason in and of itself is radically unable to
apprehend truth, and thus it is faith alone which provides the certainty of truth. It was a reaction against Rationalism,
and Vatican I responded with its thundering declaration in Dei filius preserving the legitmate sphere of reason in
Traditionalism was a kind of fideism, and as such, was condemned.
not have the same sense in Catholic discussions today. In fact, like the word “pastoral”, it
has been used to mean just about anything under the sun. But most often it is attached to a
certain type of thought that harbors criticism of Vatican II and its
aftermath. It is by no means a
homogeneous phenomenon, and unfortunate attempts to paint it with the same
dark, ugly brush stroke have served only to obfuscate and anger
critics and criticized.
that, the second half of the twentieth century has been marked by two main
strands of traditionalist thought: (By the way, this is built upon the analysis of Nicla Buonasorte in the book Tra Roma e Lefebvre, and I do not count it is particularly original)
spirit in its Gallican form, affected sometimes with a sympathy for
counterrevolutionary political thought, could perhaps be incarnated in someone
like Mgr Louis Pié, Archbishop of Poitiers (1815-80). Its attachment to, and its own declension of, the scuola Romana of neo-Scholastic Thomism
in the wake of Leo XIII’s Aeterni Patris,
after the Modernist Controversies during the pontificates of Blessed Pius IX
and St Pius X, developed a remarkable homogeneity of thought as a system by the eve of the
Council. This theological position
can best be seen in the works of Fr Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
(1877-1964). The position was
deeply suspicious of anything outside of the system, as it were, and the advent
of the nouvelle théologie, and
especially its apparent triumph around Vatican II, was deeply worrisome to
those who took this position. As
French seminarians in Rome around Vatican II saw that theology, and its
practical consequences, in the ascendant, they rallied around Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre (1905-91) as someone who in his person was emblematic of the best of the
école française. The Society of St Pius X, and, to a
lesser extent, some quarters of the communities founded from them and returned
into communion with the Apostolic See, to a greater or lesser degree reflect
this position even today. Wherever
positions are at variance with the thrust of their own neo-Scholastic Thomism,
they tend to be rejected.
prevailing neo-Scholastic Thomism of the world of the pontifical university
system, at least intellectually, shares much of the same humus as its French counterpart. Where it differs is in its ecclesiological roots. Whereas French Ultramontanism was in a
sense a reaction to, and in some sense conditioned by, Gallicanism, the Roman
school was more properly papal.
For it, the geographical closeness of the Pope was more consistently
formative, and, uncomplicated as it was by parries with Gallicanism, it was
(ironically) much more firmly attached to the Roman See than the French. Garrigou-Lagrange can be seen as the
type of theologian who bridged both schools. Where the two schools depart is less a matter of substance
as regards their crititque of theological and pastoral trends outside the
system, but in terms of their deference to Rome.
The iconic hierarch of the Roman school, and counterpart to Lefebvre,
was Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa (1906-89). His sense of Romanità figured more prominently in his thought than a Gallic version of Ultramontanism. His book Gethsemane (1980) substantially reflects the criticism of both
schools of the theological and pastoral trends in the Church. What separates Siri from Lefebvre, is
that Siri was able to continue in visible communion with the Church by
accepting Vatican II in a nuanced fashion that might today be called closer to
a hermeneutic of continuity, and all without breaking visible bonds of communion as a result of his critique.
say that contemporary traditionalism tends along this binary path of école française and scuola romana, it does explain some of the differences among
traditionalists, differences which must be grasped if an accurate portrayal of
the movement is to be had. While
both remain skeptical of much of the theological and pastoral climate of the
post-Vatican II Church, the latter reflects a hermeneutic of continuity much
more than the former, which stressed, sometimes almost exclusively,
say that both strands could continue on as they were throughout the pontificate
of Blessed John Paul II. Both were
synonymous for those who accused them all equally of being traitors to the
Council, and both also substantially continued in the same vein of
critique. Ecclesia Dei of 1988 may have granted more access to people to the
classical Roman liturgy, which became the most potent symbol of traditionalist
resistance. But it did little to
change the perspectives of either school of traditionalists or their
that. On the surface, the Bavarian
theologian belonged to the same nouvelle
théologie that both schools found suspect. His dealings with the affaire
Lefebvre had gained him some modicum of respect, albeit it at a distance,
with the école française, which grew
in numbers as the scuola romana became
the preserve of some very few circles in Italy. French traditionalism was imported as a missionary endeavor
along with the Mass of the Ages all over the world.
But Benedict was also to challenge that école française as well. His overtures to the Society of St Pius X and his increasing
questioning of the implementation of Vatican II became a pietra d’inciampo for the traditionalist world (and a scandal for those who hated it). Were they a ruse to lure the faithful
into Modernism, or were they a sincere gesture of a loving pastor concerned for
unity in the Church? In all of
this, Benedict XVI emerged, not as a liturgical traditionalist, but as a
liturgical pluralist. While he
remained committed to the Council and to the initial motives for the nouvelle théologie’s departure from
Scholasticism, he also gained the confidence of many traditionalists, who
migrated from a more polemical anti-Roman attitude of the postconciliar école française to a nuanced hermeneutic
of continuity which was a kind of rebirth of the scuola romana.
traditionalists within the Church, as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was
introduced to more people, especially the younger with no historical memory of
the affaire Lefebvre, a new
Ratzingerian strand of traditionalism seems to be emerging.
now a new Ratzingerkreis emerging in
the traditionalist world? The école française in many ways risks
disintegration as the Society of St Pius X experiences its own internal
divisions and spinoffs, such as sedevacantism and strict observances. The classical scuola romana approximates many of the traditionalist communities
who have followed the path from Ecône back to Rome. But now there are many people, who are perhaps a bit more
open to certain insights outside of the pre-conciliar manualist theological
tradition, such as those of Ratzinger, who now find themselves engaging the
same critiques of the traditionalists, but from within the desire of a
hermeneutic of continuity. Such a
school of tradition is no mere reincarnation of Ultramontanism in its
neoconservative Amerophilic form.
It is embued with the classical liturgical movement, with an eye to the
Patristic age, the East, as well as certain insights of the nouvelle théologie. One thinks of a Ratzinger scholar
like Tracey Rowland as perhaps more of an example of this type of thought.
traditionalism, like Catholic liberalisms of the 19th century and
the post-Vatican II era, is a critical resistance movement. Both shy away from a facile “everything
is alright in the state of Denmark” false piety that is lamentably very much
alive in self- identifying “conservative” Catholic circles, which carry forward Ultramontanism
after a series of popes and a council have disavowed the possibility of any
such attitude being authentically Catholic. Both also caution against a one-sided fundamentalist reading
of Vatican II, a reading which arguably is hardly tenable given Blessed John
XXIII’s inspiration for the Council to break with anathematizing people and invite them to dialogue in charity.
essentially critical spirit for long without descending into bitterness, a lack
of communion, decreasing charity, and the rise of ideologism. If traditionalism (or for that matter,
antiquarian strands of liberalism) remains fixed in a position according to
which the true nature of the Church is such that, to be who she really is, the
Church must return to a status quo ante,
regardless of whether that ante is 313, 1054, 1570, 1962 or 1968, it cuts
itself off from a dynamism which makes the Tradition living and present to every
the participants in Sacra Liturgia 2013 have moved beyond traditionalism as a
particular school of thought tied into a certain time period and critique,
towards a desire for profound immersion into the Traditio which is the glory of the Catholic religion. And that transformation, whether it be
caused by or only chronologically successive to the Benedictine papacy, is, for
me at least, a sign of hope for the Church, the real Gaudium et spes of the 21st century.
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arguably could never have taken place during the Jubilee year of 2000 when I
entered the seminary in Rome. In
fact, it could not have been conceived of even in the wake of the election of
Joseph Ratzinger to the throne of St Peter in 2005, just before I was ordained
to the priesthood. I was reminded
of just how much things have changed when I went this week early in the morning
to St Peter’s to offer Holy Mass.
was really not all that long ago in a Church that thinks in centuries, I could
easily walk into St Peter’s, and a few side altars would be busy at 7am with
some few priests, mostly Vatican types or pilgrims, offering the Novus Ordo Mass in various
languages. Every once in a while
you could spot the Latin edition of the Missale
Romanum 2002, but not very often.
To even speak of the Missale di San Pio Quinto was to invite a reaction
which could quite possibly result in expulsion from the Basilica of the Prince
of the Apostles. Sure, there were
a few brave souls who had the indult who would produce a Missal from within
their cassock pocket, but always with the Missal on the left side, and without
altar cards, and fudging the rubrics just enough not to get caught.
when I went this time. The
sacristy of St Peter’s, which used to be so delightfully quiet on an early
weekday morning, is now a hive of activity. Priests and pilgrims from all over the world find themselves
at every single usable altar of the Basilica. Altar cards adorn several altars in the North Transept, and
one can see several of the Pope’s ceremonieri
and other Vatican officials going back and forth from those altars
celebrating Holy Mass in the classical Roman rite. More than once I had to wait for an altar, and some priests
eventually gave up after waiting in line for more than 2 hours to say Mass. (Private Masses have a very small
window of time in the Basilica, and either you get it in between 7 and 9am or
over the Basilica, in various languages and uses of the Roman Rite, and in
Latin in Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. Many of the kids from the Preseminario San Pio X have now
learned to serve the Extraordinary Form, which some of them call, irony of
ironies, la Messa nuova. And the queue for the altars reserved
for the Extraordinary Form was so long one morning I just gave up and
celebrated Mass in Italian.
Christendom, Pope Benedict’s vision of liturgical pluralism had taken
root. There were no more
suspicious glances, clerical catfights or mutual recriminations. In fact, the spirit of peace and energy
that now reigns over St Peter’s on weekday mornings was also very much evident
at the Pontifical University Santa Croce this week for Sacra Liturgia 2013.
imagine such a conference being held even a short time ago, at least outside of
a dingy ballroom in a minor city with little interest and with some unsavory
characters around. But this event
attracted not only first-rate liturgists, hierarchs and theologians, but also
many laypeople, many of them very young, who were eager to learn and network
with other people all over the world who had caught on to Pope Benedict’s
vision. And of course, there was
the presence of the gliteratti of
that new grand salon, the
Blogosphere, and the knowledge that every thought, word and deed of the
conference was going to reach an audience that it would never have reached
before, merely because of advances in technology in service of tradition.
amazing than the quality of the speakers at the conference, which I could go on
about at length, and the beauty of the liturgies, which were celebrated in both
forms, was the spirit which animated it all. A conference which focused so much on the traditional
liturgy once upon a time not so long ago would have been the preserve of people
who have been caricurated, pilloried and described, sometimes not entirely
inaccurately, as rigid, reactionary and schismatic. Now, there are some in the Church today who still have not
grown up quite past employing this paradigm for any and every who darken the door
of a Mass celebrated according to certain books. But the atmosphere at Sacra Liturgia 2013 was not like that
occasional barb at liturgical looniness, it was directed, not in the service of
a critique borne from a desire to paint the Liturgical Reform as a Masonic plot
to destroy the Church, but from a desire to highlight a proper ars celebrandi. And those barbs, few in number, were
directed, not only against some of the most bizarre incarnations of the Novus
Ordo, but also the hurried, hapless celebrations of the 1962 Missal and the
psychopathologies of some who think that traditional Catholicism is a matter of
dressing like the Amish.
Overwhelmingly, the tone was positive. How can the entire Church develop a liturgical spirit via a
beautiful ars celebrandi for the
salvation of souls and the regeneration of society? One of the most arresting things I took away from the
Conference was the idea that ars
celebrandi is not just a matter of externals to which the priest must attend,
but a spiritual and theological orientation of the entire Christian
to the conference, I wondered whether some of the participants and speakers
might see it as a “last hurrah” for the Benedictine liturgical party within the
Church, and that it might be seen by its critics as the swan song for the
Benedictine reform. I wondered
whether we might lose time and energy in harsh denunciations of the liturgical
practices of Pope Francis, and turn on each other in division and hatred.
from the truth. This was a
group which truly “thought with the Church”, not in a slavish manner, but as
free men and women of God. We were
able to raise serious questions about the liturgical reform without having them
turn into gripe sessions or anticlerical bashes. There was a profound experience of communion, conviviality,
prayer and study.
of what has happened in the Church because of the Pope in whose honor the
conference was called. There are
many people who have discovered the beauty of the liturgy conceived, not in
restrictive terms as saying the black and doing the red of one particular Missal,
but in terms of an ars celebrandi which
respects legitimate diversity. A
traditionalism which looks only backwards, and only with an eye to criticism, while
it may contain some elements of merit with which the Church must dialogue, will
eventually run out of steam. But love for the liturgy, for God, for the Church and her shepherds, which is
the ultimate goal, not only of various traditionalisms, but of Tradition
itself, cannot stop at that. The Conference
was proof that traditional liturgy has a powerful dynamism for reform and
renewal when it is unshackled from the tired labellings and trench warfare of
the past. The sheer diversity of
the speakers and participants also point to the fact that the good insights of
the traditionalists can be brought in
medio Ecclesiae and transform the dialogue over the nature of the Church
and her worship in a way which is not tied to the past, but can do good for the
future. Far from being critical of
Pope Francis, a traditionalism freed from being tied into the critique of
Vatican II and crisis rhetoric, embued with a spirit of communion and the
spirit of the liturgy, shares in the desire of the Bishop of Rome for the
Church to reflect Christ ever more.
not a battle to be fought over and won by texts and rubrics, but an enchanting
participation hic et nunc in the
divine life, will anxiously look forward to the publication to the Acts of
Sacra Liturgia 2013. There they
will grasp a coherent vision of the Church’s life and worship which has, thanks
to Pope Benedict XVI, transcended this tumultous time and its wars and opened
up a way for the Church, not just towards the future, but towards the final
consummation of all things in Jesus Christ.
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