Skip to comments.Catholic conservatives: A traditionalist avant-garde
Posted on 12/23/2012 3:59:26 AM PST by iowamark
SINCE the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world...
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members. The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now. In America it is up from 60 in 1991 to 420. At Brompton Oratory, a hotspot of London traditionalism, 440 flock to the main Sunday Latin mass. That is twice the figure for the main English one. Women sport mantillas (lace headscarves). Men wear tweeds.
But it is not a fogeys hangout: the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the wordand to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority...
The return of the old rite causes quiet consternation among more modernist Catholics. Timothy Radcliffe, once head of Britains Dominicans, sees in it a sort of Brideshead Revisited nostalgia. The traditionalist revival, he thinks, is a reaction against the trendy liberalism of his generation. Some swings of pendulums may be inevitable. But for a church hierarchy in Western countries beset by scandal and decline, the rise of a traditionalist avant-garde is unsettling. Is it merely an outcrop of eccentricity, or a sign that the church took a wrong turn 50 years ago?
(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...
Yes. Authenticity, historicity, piety — all wrapped up in a wonderful sensuality.
It is commonly argued that the Mass in the vernacular allows for a greater degree of participation for the congregation. It is also argued that the orientation of the celebrant toward the congregation during the Eucharistic prayer supports the “priestliness” of the layman.
I disagree with both position on purely aesthetic grounds.
I will state at the outset my belief that the changes to liturgy around the time of VCII, were made for the noble purpose of making the Mass more “meaningful” for a changing congregation (society) not a changing Church doctrine. I will stipulate that there was some motivation which was not noble, but I believe it generally to be in the minority.
An argument as to poor aesthetics in both the language and orientation of the celebrant rests on the definition of “meaningful” which was offered as a motivation. The use of the vernacular suggest that meaning can only be archived through the language of common use while disallowing the possibility of more profound meaning made possible by a language reserved for the sacred, eg. “one in being with” vs. “consubstantial with” - even in the vernacular we sometimes resort to words closer to the Latin to preserve meaning. If the purpose is to encourage “meaningfulness” the use of a language in flux due to common usage, misses the mark.
As to the orientation of the celebrant, I can only speak from experience. During the week I attended Mass at my middle-high school where the celebrant said the Mass in front of the altar with his back to the congregation, on Sunday I attended Mass at my parish church where the celebrant was behind the altar facing the congregation. At Mass during the week I experienced a greater sense of participation as the orientation and proximity to the altar of my body and that of the celebrant were similar. On Sunday, the celebrant became Christ in Leonardo’s Last Supper, and I, not even an apostle, was left out of the frame, a casual observer to a remote and distant rite, left only to speculate on the beauty of the face of the girl in front of me suggested by her glorious blonde hair.
I believe that the Mass should be aesthetically more like the girls face; physically suggested, but revealed only in the observers heart and mind. I had no words to describe the beauty of the girl I front of me before she turned around and I was left with nothing but words and disappointment.
I have a broader view of VCII, that has to do with issues outside of the Mass. From my point of view, this is when a lot of infiltration of the Roman Catholic Church by the leftist took place. This was when in a lot of churches “liberation theology” and “social justice” replaced the Gospel, and “Christianity” and “Catholicism” became the window dressing. Some of the infiltrators were openly Marxist, such as the Berrigan brothers and that Pfleger creep from Chicago.
And then there are the so-called hymns of Marty Haugen. Aaaaaaack! BTW he’s not Catholic, he’s a member of United Church of Christ. Dead liberal, not Christian by any Biblical standard.
Your reference to Pflaeger of St Sabina’s and other parishes was done by Bernadine. Sabina’s had a traditionalist parish pastor raising hell over the changes and that was happening ass well in several other parishes.
Every parish where this occured chiefly on the south and southwest side of Chicago had their pastors replaced by radicals. One pastor ,St Sympharosa, once declared pastor first thing the Sunday after his selection was to editorialize in the parish bulletin against the use of the atomic bombing of Japan.
Speaking from personal experience, I enjoyed the sense of history and permanence that came from converting to Catholicism in 2007.
However, when I went to a parish that offered the Extraordinary Form around two months ago, I was blown away by the beauty of the sanctuary (the church of Blessed Sacrament was over eighty years old at that point), the reverence of the congregation (of which many were the stereotypical ‘Catholic family’ with at least four kids each, which filled my heart with joy), and the sheer sense of holiness that pervaded the Mass. The priest was blunt and challenging in his homily, and was more than ready to call us out on the follies of our current society.
Compared to the relatively milquetoast homilies of my current parish’s priest (where I’ve been since conversion and confirmation!) and its rather barren ‘modern’ architecture, it was like seeing colors and hearing music for the first time.
I have been to two Tridentine Masses. I prefer the new Mass mostly because of the orientation of the Priest but also because I prefer the Mass mixed with English and Latin. However, I could see acquiring a “taste” for the Tridentine Mass if that is the only one available and eventually preferring that over the new Mass. Sort of like switching to non fat milk which I disliked at first but now cannot stand even low fat.
At the last Tridentine Mass I attended the Priest said in his homily that Judas is the only human we know for sure is in Hell........hmmmmmmm.