Tuesday, October 24, 2006

CIEL 2006, Part 2: The Papers

[NLM Readers have been very patiently awaiting this report. Your patience is appreciated as it takes awhile to come up with an adequate summary of so many scholarly papers. Readers will recall that I posted Part I of this report, The Oxford Experience, The Liturgies, The Fellowship, whose focus is self-evident. Part II focuses upon the actual papers delivered. The heart and soul of a CIEL Colloquium. Please freely repost or print.]

CIEL 2006 Oxford Colloquium. Held at Oxford University, Merton College, Sept. 13-16, 2006.

II. The Report on the Papers Delivered

by Shawn Tribe

It is the presentation of academic research papers which drive a CIEL Colloquium. It is this which ultimately brings together an international audience of scholars, clergy, religious, lay men and women; people from all walks of life and all manner of vocation, joined by a common bond that is the love of the Roman liturgical tradition and a desire to explore the depths of its riches that it might be better nurtured, fostered and lived. Indeed, if there is one aspect for which CIEL has become known, particularly amongst the hierarchy, it is that of a scholarly and non-polemical organization. This tradition continued in Oxford.

A total of twelve papers were given in the course of the Colloquium. Of these, many of the most recognized names in present-day liturgical scholarship were present, men and women whose work is acknowledged and respected amongst various authorities in the Church. As such, the Oxford Colloquium was brought to the very fore of Catholic liturgical scholarship. In addition to the inherent benefit this provided for the gathered delegates, it also brought an opportunity for these scholars to confer and to listen to the work of their colleagues, thus allowing for a potential cross-fertilization of ideas and themes to emerge both during the Colloquium and after it in their own respective work.

Present at the Colloquium were, Professor Eamon Duffy (author of The Stripping of the Altars), Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang (author of Turning towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer), Dr. László Dobszay (author of The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform), M'l'Abbé Claude Barthe (author of Beyond Vatican II), Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid (author of The Organic Development of the Liturgy), Rev. Dr. Laurence Hemming (of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena and author of numerous philosophical works), Fr. Joseph Santos (an expert in the Bragan rite), Dr. Lauren Pristas (of Caldwell College, New Jersey, and author of studies on the revision of the prayers that occurred in the liturgical reform as well as the Society of St. Catherine of Siena Research Fellow in Liturgical Theology), Fr. Gabriel Diaz (a Russian Catholic priest in Paris, France), Fr. Nicola Bux (a professor in Bari, Italy), Dr. Christina Dondi (of Lincoln College, Oxford) and Dr. Sheridan Gilley (emeritus of Durham University).

As mentioned, the theme of the Colloquium was “The Genius of the Roman Liturgy: Historical Diversity and Spiritual Reach.” The papers presented considered matters such as the variety of uses and rites in the historical West as well as the spiritual power of the historical liturgical forms of the Roman rite. More specifically, topics included “Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Organic Development of the Liturgy”, “The Development of the Feast of Corpus Christi and its Place in the Church's Sacred Year”, “Liturgical Exegesis in the Middle Ages: The Mystical Meaning of the Ceremonies of the Mass”, “Poetry in the Latin Liturgy”, “Music Proper to the Roman Liturgy”, “The Early Development of Christian Latin as a Liturgical Language”, “Pope Benedict XVI and the Liturgy”, “Theological Foundations of the Liturgy that are in Need of Restoration”, “Liturgies of the Military Religious Orders”, “The Rite of Braga”, “Roman Liturgy and Popular Piety” and “The Liturgy and Theology”.

There were three venues for the delivery of these papers. In the evenings the papers were delivered within the Merton College Chapel. During the daytime hours they were delivered at the University Examination Rooms and on the final day, at the Sheldonian Theatre. All were magnificent venues which aided in establishing the academic tone of the Colloquium. It was impressive as well to see these large venues quite full; a testament to the success of the Colloquium, as well as to the growing interest in CIEL in the English-speaking world, to whom the previous Colloquia had perhaps been less accessible due simply to language barriers. The representation from North America was particularly unprecedented and thus bodes well for CIEL's work and further expansion there.

The University Examination Rooms: Applause following one of the Papers

The very first paper given, given Wednesday evening in Merton College Chapel, was that of Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity and President of Magdalen College at Cambridge University, titled “Pope Benedict XVI and the Liturgy.” In this paper, Duffy traces the development and evolution of the present pontiff's liturgical thought from his upbringing, through to the turbulent times surrounding the Council, and finally up until present times. Duffy highlights the influential role of the Liturgical Movement and in particular, the thought and writing of Romano Guardini for the young Ratzinger. This had an two-edged effect. On the one hand it brought with it a sense of the central importance of the liturgy, but on the other, it also brought with it some of the more modernizing tendencies of the times, which would result in the Ratzinger of the conciliar era being a critic of the pre-conciliar liturgy. Following the Council, Duffy highlights the change of course that Ratzinger's thought would take upon the radicalization of the ends of the Liturgical Movement, which had shifted away from a balance of prudent reform, conservation and restoration to much more radical and fundamental liturgical change. Ratzinger would understand this to be disastrous and as representing a fundamental betrayal of the work and goals of Guardini and the original Liturgical Movement. Duffy further highlighted that the prohibition of the former missal at the adoption of the Missal of Paul VI was very distressing to Ratzinger, something he understood as unprecedented and as a break with ill effects. This leads us to the present time.

The fundamental understanding that Ratzinger has very much relates to the principle of liturgy as something which is received rather than something conceived. In other words, the sacred liturgy is not something we invent, but rather which develops gradually over time, and of which we are servants and caretakers. Further, the liturgy is not a self-centered affair, but is rather most primarily focused upon God. Duffy spends a great deal of time on Ratzinger's critique of the overemphasis upon the “meal” concept of the Mass which many liturgical reformers promoted. From this meal emphasis flowed a number of notions, most especially the matter of the orientation of the priest of the altar, which, after the Council, turned almost exclusively in Mass said “versus populum” -- something Ratzinger is also critical of. Finally, Duffy also touches upon the present pontiff's views of active participation and what that does and does not mean.

Fr. Michael Lang, of the London Oratory, at present a Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London, gave the second paper of the colloquium the next morning in the splendid University Examination Schools, which are almost directly across the street from Newman's church of St. Mary the Virgin. Fr. Lang's paper was on the subject of “The Early Development of Christian Latin as a Liturgical Language.” Fr. Lang began by detailing the history and development of Christian Greek and Latin and some of the inherent differences therein. As well, he gave a general consideration of the principle of sacred, or hieratic, language, including its history and its fundamental characteristics as inherently conservative and stylistically different from common linguistic use. One of the most interesting points of this talk hinges on this very point. While in some cases this idiom was the result simply of sacred language remaining fixed while common language developed, Lang points out that this was never the case with regards Christian Latin, which was highly stylized and thus never a part of the common, or vulgar, tongue in its usage. Lang further discussed the gradual movement of the Latin church from the Greek language to the Latin language which was to have an important role in aiding the Church in evangelizing the previously pagan Roman society, and particularly the aristocratic classes. But as Lang noted, making the assumption thereby that this was a concerted, principle-based effort to vernacularize the liturgy would be a faulty assumption as the liturgical Latin used would have been quite difficult for the average Roman to understand – not to mention those in Europe whose languages where not rooted in Latin, such as the Celts or Visigoths.

Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang delivering his Paper

Professor László Dobzsay teaches at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; he delivered a paper, “Music Proper to the Roman Liturgy”. Prof. Dobszay put forward a consideration of the place of the proper Roman liturgical chants and their role in the sacred liturgy. He began his paper with a comment that most scholarship with regards the liturgical reform has focused upon the Ordo Missae. However, he reminds, the Roman liturgy is not solely made up of the Ordo Missae but also is concerned with the question of the content of the propers of the liturgy, of the cycle of scriptural readings, of the Divine Office, and of the administration of the sacraments. It further pertains to the music of the Roman liturgy, particularly the chants of the Roman church, which is the ultimate focus of his paper. Dobszay analyzes the question in detail and argues that the chant is not a mere accompaniment of the liturgical rite, but a fundamental component of it for it has an important role in delivering the contents of the sacred liturgy of the day. In this regard, the proper chants are as fundamental to the Roman liturgy as are the other prayers and readings. Dobszay thus asserts that to exclude these chant texts actually has an effect of “mutilating” the message of the liturgy.

The Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid presented a paper on “Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Organic Development of the Liturgy” wherein he began with a pertinent call to all involved in the liturgical debates of the past few decades to move beyond simplistic, dated characterizations and assertions that would demonize either party and to consider anew the Second Vatican Council's call for organic development within the liturgy. Dr. Reid sets out to contribute to this task by examining Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and further considers what authoritative commentators of the time took it to mean. These, he proposes, provide us with tangible and credible interpretive keys to resolving these questions.

Dr. Reid proposes that the keys to understanding Sacrosanctum Concilium and its call for liturgical reform may be found within that document itself, laid out in the beginning of it as its general principles for the restoration of the liturgy. There do we find the familiar call for active participation in the liturgy on the part of the faithful. The primary means of this was not through an activistic interpretation, but rather is proposed particularly through the means of liturgical education for both the clergy and the laity alike. In reference to more specific liturgical reforms called for by the Constitution, the methodology of any reforms was also defined as being organic in nature, and where need for reform could be genuinely and certainly required, having carefully considered historical, theological and pastoral aspects. Reid is careful to point out that this created no controversy amongst the Council Fathers, and was even tightened up to ensure clarity in the manner of reform, which is credibly demonstrative of the fact that the Council Fathers did not understand this to be an open door for radical innovations, but simply prudent liturgical reform. Expert commentators of the time further confirm this conservative intention of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and prior to the voting upon the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Reid informs us that the Council Fathers were assured that while there was a call for some reform to the Ordo Missae, that the Ordo Missae that had developed down the centuries was to be retained. To further clarify this, although he grants they are purely anecdotal in nature, Dr. Reid details his survey of the remaining Council Fathers, performed a decade earlier, many of whom confirmed the conservative intention of the document and of many of the Fathers of the Council.

Dr. Reid concludes his paper with a critical thought about the liturgical positivism that has entered our time with regards to the liturgy and the exercise of authority. This resulted further in a principle of “organic progression” which allowed for a relativistic relation to the Roman liturgical tradition, reform within the context of organic development and ultimately with regard the Conciliar decrees themselves. Tangibly, it is a de-objectivization of the Roman liturgy in favour of a subjectivist understanding whereby we might form the liturgy as we think it ought to be, and in turn then give that subjective determination the objective weight of the tradition and of legitimate authority.

He concludes that if we use the interpretative keys found within the conciliar document on the liturgy itself, as well as the interpretation of the experts of the time, and consider the testimony of the Council Fathers, it becomes a fair critique that organic development was not respected and thus it is only reasonable that the liturgical reform must be looked at again.

Dr. Cristina Dondi of Lincoln College, Oxford presented a study on, “The Liturgies of the Military Religious Orders” wherein she presented her research on the Templars and the Hospitallers and their liturgical books. This study detailed their relation to the liturgy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – which itself was, Dondi tells us, derived from a variety of Western sources in accordance with Latin usage at the end of the 11th century. She further explores variations in the local liturgical uses of these orders, including where they may have or may not have adapted to the local liturgical customs, festivals and uses., and their development in other locales, through the advent of the printing press, and beyond the Council of Trent.

Dr. Lauren Pristas of Caldwell College, New Jersey presented a paper on “The Development of the Feast of Corpus Christi and its Place in the Church's Sacred Year.” In her paper, Dr. Pristas looks at the relationship between the celebration of the Lord's Day and the mysteries of the liturgical year from an historical as well as theological perspective, considering how the Church, through these, has and continues to present to us the mystery of our redemption. From this basis Pristas then examines the origins and development of the feast of Corpus Christi and draws that back to a theological consideration of its place within the Church's liturgical year and the illumination of the Paschal Mystery.

Dr. Laurence Hemming introduces Dr. Lauren Pristas

Fr. Gabriel Diaz, a Parisian Russian Catholic priest, presented “Poetry in the Latin Liturgy”. Fr. Diaz details the early history of Christian poetry and hymnody which found a special expression in the hymnody of St. Ambrose of Milan who created a Christian poetic language and whom might be considered the father of Christian hymnody. During the passing centuries, more and more poetry was incorporated into the liturgy. Of particular note in the earlier period, aside from Ambrose, were the poetical works of Prudentius which were culled for the creation of hymns, as well as the hymnody written by Fortunatus for various liturgical events. Through this ongoing venture was the Latin liturgy gifted with such poetical masterpieces as Pange Lingua Gloriosi, and Veni Creator Spiritus. After this initial cataloguing, Fr. Diaz discussed the introduction of hymns into the Divine Office and concludes with a critical consideration of the reforms to Christian liturgical poetry undertaken by the renaissance humanists

Abbé Claude Barthe spoke on “Liturgical Catechesis in the Middle Ages: The 'Mystical' Meaning of the Ceremonies of the Mass” wherein he discusses the role and importance of the mystical-spiritual sense of the Mass, or in other words, allegorical interpretation of it. Fr. Barthe spoke of the mediaeval liturgical commentators and the patristic link to an allegorical or typological interpretations of the Sacred Scriptures. In this exercise, the mediaeval commentators look behind the letter of the liturgical ceremonial, art and architecture to arrive at the deeper spiritual symbolism to be found. In the course of his paper, Barthe lists examples of some of this commentary, as well as provides a useful summation of the major mediaeval liturgical commentators. Barthe in particular focuses upon William Durandus, the most substantial liturgical commentator of the middle ages, and his Pontifical and Rationale Divinorum Officiorum. From there he details the decline of this allegorical tradition in explicating upon the liturgy, particularly after the reformation and with the rise of Renaissance humanism. Barthe comments as well that this decline is paralleled by the rise of scientific criticism in relation to Biblical studies. This decline was completed in the twentieth century when such allegorical commentaries were near contemptible in status. Barthe is careful to not write off the development of scientific critique and the good and value that is found within them, but he is careful as well to distinguish as well between rationality and rationalism. There is a place for this scientific study, but as Barthe wishes to note, there is also a place for allegory, and a place for it to be taken seriously as a domain of liturgical study and inquiry.

Fr. Claude Barthe delivering his Paper

The Rev. Dr. Laurence Hemming, Dean of Research at Heythrop College, University of London, and the Society of St. Catherine of Siena, gave the final paper of the Colloquium, hosted in the magnificent Sheldonian Theatre. Dr. Hemming's paper, titled “The Liturgy and Theology” examines this important relationship. Hemming sets out to demonstrate how difficult it is to elicit a genuine theology of the liturgy one hand, and further to enunciate where any such theology must come. Dr. Hemming highlights the importance the Second Vatican Council gave to the study of the sacred liturgy in relation to other disciplines, and notes the unfulfilled nature of this direction, whereby the liturgy would not only be studied in all its aspects, but likewise would other domains of theology relate back to their connection with the liturgy. Hemming argues that today its study tends towards an overemphasis upon its pastoral aspects, as well as considerations of the historical nature and relations of the texts without relating that study to actual practice and belief. However, what is especially missing from this are the other aspects mentioned by the Council: the juridical, the spiritual and the theological. The importance given to liturgical theology relates to the fact that it is central to all other theological disciplines. (A way of expressing this point might be that if theology is the queen of the sciences, then liturgical theology is the queen of the theological sciences). It is from liturgical theology that all other domains of theology proceed and are subordinate to. This is because, as Hemming puts it, theology has its home in prayer, in openness to God, and this is first and foremost found in the Sacred Liturgy, which is the Prayer of the Church. Dr. Hemming further considers the importance of a rediscovered philosophy of being which considers the world which surrounds one, analyzing the question in relation to the classical-mediaeval framework and the modern, and in relation to the rationalistic and historiographic approach to the sacred liturgy that has become dominant in practice.

Dr. Laurence Hemming delivering his Paper in the Sheldonian Theatre

In the second part of his paper a very interesting point comes forth which he argues must be taken into account in any adequate approach to liturgical theology. The sacred liturgy is not so much to be immediately and universally intelligible (as is popular to say today) as though intelligibility were an end in itself. Rather, the liturgy is the means to intelligibility; the means, not the end, of coming to know God. As in the scriptures where we are told that we see now as only through a veil dimly, as now we have faith, but in the end we shall know, so too in the liturgy will there naturally be some incomprehension. In fact, Hemming argues that some incomprehension in worship is normal and even part of its character, and it has the valuable aspect of demonstrating our distance from God in our quest to become closer to Him. Dr. Hemming concludes his paper with his thoughts on some of the details of an adequate liturgical theology, which understands the liturgy to be centred around the Body of Christ and more basic even than the Scriptures or the Sacraments – being that through which they primarily flow. Finally as that (the sacred liturgy) which is truly sacred, and thus not arbitrary with regards to ourselves, for it is divinely ordained and that through which God's sanctifying power flows.

Fr. Nicola Bux, a professor in Bari, Italy, presented “Theological Foundations of the Liturgy that are in Need of Restoration”. In his paper, Fr. Bux takes one through fundamental theological issues such as the presence of Christ at the heart of the liturgy. He continues his theological considerations of the liturgy by looking at the efficacy of the liturgy through grace and in relation to the sacraments. Significantly, he also gives an exposition of the various forms of participation in the liturgy. Throughout his paper, Bux identifies liturgical and theological aspects which he argues to be post-conciliar over-emphases that came at the expense of the Roman liturgy and its theological foundations.

Time for questions followed each paper

On a final note, Fr. Joseph Santos of Providence, Rhode Island, gave a talk on “The Rite of Braga” wherein he detailed some of the historical and liturgical specifics of that ancient Western rite. Moreover, Dr. Sheridan Gilley gave a talk on, “Roman Liturgy and Popular Piety”. At the time of the publication of this report, these papers were not yet available for summarization.

As with all CIEL Proceedings, the present papers will all be made available in full and published in a handsomely bound volume so that the fruits of this liturgical research might reach outward beyond the Colloquium and into the hearts and minds of the bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and the laity.

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