Monday, June 18, 2007

English Translation excerpts form "The Traditional Communities of France"

[Dom Christopher wished to share the following excerpts, which he has kindly translated for us. I include his introduction and comments.]

The library here at St-Wandrille has just acquired a copy of Les communautés traditionnelles en France. As I was leafing through it, the first thing that struck me was the quality and the beauty of the photographs. But the text is of the same high standard as the illustrations; I was particularly struck by some reflections of Dom de Hédouvile, abbot of Randol, and Dom Coureau, abbot of Triors.

The first, by Dom de Hédouville, is about obedience, which, along with humility, is perhaps one of the two virtues that St. Benedict wishes most to see among his disciples. But since monastic life is simply a means of living to the full the implications of baptism, obedience and humility should be the distinguishing characteristics of any serious attempt to follow Christ.

"A major part of the exercise of our vow of obedience consists of asking permission. Asking the Holy Father for a permission that he invites us to obtain is a manner of recognizing his authority and living our filial and personal relationship with him. It has nothing to do with extortion, imposition, or anything like that. At the same time, we must always bear in mind that when we obtain a permission, we must receive it with humility."

The second, somewhat longer, is by Dom Coureau.

“A loyal co-existence [of those who use the Pauline and Pian Missals] seems to me to be an occasion for the first to rid themselves of contempt for the past ... and for the second, to rid themselves of an attitude of provocative confrontation with authority. The Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei has brought about the beginning a marriage of reason between the two Missals; we now need to pass from a level of forced co-existence to one of respect and compassion for persons. We also need to learn to see the value of one in the light of the other. The increased use of the old Mass cannot but invite nearby parishes to bring back incense and chasubles; the opposite is also true. The quality of certain “new Masses”, not as exceptional as it is often thought in the “traditionalist milieu”, obliges us not to fall asleep on the laurels of a too easy, too worldly, success, but to elevate the liturgical requirements of the faithful who come to us.”

A third, also by Dom Coureau, seems to be particularly apposite as we await a new Motu proprio.

“If, speaking of the new Missal, someone says “At last, we can pray!” and people have said such things, he denigrates centuries of liturgical practise, and he dishonours holy Mother Church by seeming to involve her in a conflict between generations. On the other hand, those who say “The pope has no right to touch the Missal of the ages”, and people have said that too, discredit the authority of the common Father of all believers, sometimes with a disrespect that reminds me of the attitude of Chem towards the drunkenness of Noah. Such attitudes cannot be pleasing to God. The contempt that I just mentioned reminds me of the murmuring of the people of the Old Covenant, a murmuring which Yahweh condemned with the greatest severity ... But once these traps are recognized for what they are, I believe that co-existence is of benefit for both Missals. For the old, because it receives the justice that is its due ... For the new because it receives a healthier basis, one that purges it of the 1970s preconceptions that ruined its credibility, and worse, brought the authority of Rome into a position of weakness.”

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