Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sacra Liturgia UK: Day 3

The third day of Sacra Liturgia UK began with an interesting talk by Dr Clare Hornsby, The Council of Florence of 1439: Diplomacy, Theology and the Arts in Early Renaissance Italy.

Dr Hornsby's paper was more historical than liturgical, but speaking from the perspective of someone who perhaps does not know as much as he ought to about the Council of Florence, it was very interesting. She guided the participants through the art, music and architecture of Florence in the 15th century, looking at the impact that the Council had on the city. The impression of the Eastern bishops when they came to Florence for the Council lasted for several decades afterwards, in the art, architecture and music we can still see and hear today, as did the declaration of unity between East and West (Laetentur Caeli) and the liturgical celebrations that accompanied it. It is unfortunate that the fall of Constantinople in 1453 meant that this declaration did not bear lasting fruit.
Fr Uwe Michael Lang was next to speak, with a paper entitled The Tridentine Liturgical Reform in Historical Perspective. He began with a contextualisation of the liturgical reforms that followed the Council of Trent, noting the importance of doing this:
I hope [to] provide a useful corrective to a powerful strand of liturgical scholarship, which understands itself as a highly specialised discipline with a proper methodology that at times appears set apart from the general trends of theological and historical research... Scholars who submerge themselves in the study of liturgy too often tend to ignore the context in which the liturgy evolved, as if liturgical texts were produced in a political and cultural vacuum.
The rise of nationalism, the nation state and colonialism, along with the humanist renaissance and the renewed interest in the Church Fathers (especially the Greek Fathers) are all important to bear in mind when speaking about the Tridentine reforms. The rapid expansion of the Franciscan order from the 13th century onward also propelled the move towards the standardisation of liturgical books, as the mendicant nature of Franciscan ministry made it difficult for them to keep on top of the many local variations. These variations were quite considerable: the calendar, rubrics, and offertory prayers, for example, were often different even from diocese to diocese. 
Fr Lang did, however, point out that this process of liturgical unification on the one hand went alongside a certain liturgical diversification on the other: the addition of new saints’ feasts, the proliferation of prefaces, tropes and sequences of uneven quality, and the multiplication of votive Masses were features of the period before Trent. By the time of the Protestant Reformation, the liturgical life of the Western Church, though not in a state of decay and decadence (as the picture is often painted), but it was confused and certain aspects were in need of reform. 
At the Council of Trent, the general consensus was that there ought to be a unified Breviary and Missal for the Western Church. In the event, the Council was not able to carry out this work itself, and the reforms were entrusted to the Pope, who set up a commission to carry them out. Fr Lang noted that there is almost no information about what this commission discussed, and no minutes of their meetings. However, we can look at the pre-Tridentine liturgical books to understand the 1570 Missal. It is possible to observe that the increased prominence of the simple form of Mass in these books meant that the ceremonial of the 1570 Missal was ultimately based on the Low Mass, rather than being a reduction of the Pontifical High Mass, and thus:
Consequently, in the post-Tridentine period, the gap widened between the “official” liturgy that was performed by the priest at the altar and the ways the laity found to participate in it.
The next paper was delivered by Bishop Alan Hopes, entitled Sing a New Song to the Lord: Towards a Revised Translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. Bishop Hopes started with the observation that the recent translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal brought into sharp focus the need for revised translations of those liturgical books that rely on the Missal to some extent - especially the Liturgy of the Hours. He outlined the progress made so far by ICEL and the various Bishops' Conferences involved, saying that it would likely be at least another four years before this project is finished.
The Bishop gave his opinion that there is much to be excited about in the work accomplished so far, notably the recovery of the hymnody of the Latin typical edition, the Liturgia Horarum. He noted that the draft translations of the office hymns do not rhyme, and that this translation decision means that they can be sung to chant or metrical tunes. Much of his talk was an examination of the principles and considerations of the upcoming revised translation: fidelity to the Latin text, nobility of expression, adaptability for singing and recitation, as well as bringing out the many scriptural and patristic allusions in the intercessions at Lauds and Vespers.
Currently, the Advent/Christmas volume is at the Grey Book stage (ICEL's final draft presented to the bishops), with the other volumes still at the Green Book stage (ICEL's initial draft). However, Bishop Hopes did give the conference the news that the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, containing saints added since the last typical edition, is at the Grey Book stage and will most likely be available for use fairly soon. He also noted that the CDWDS is currently preparing an official two year cycle of readings for the Office of Readings (long talked about!), which will comprise a fifth volume of the Liturgia Horarum, and that this is intended to be included in the upcoming revision of the English books.
The fourth paper of the day was by Prof. Joris Geldhof, entitled Liturgy Beyond the Secular. Prof. Geldhof proposed that we ought to look at the relationship between liturgy and secularism differently. Rather than starting from primarily sociological observations, reconstructions of history or philosophical analyses of culture. he suggested that we start with the things that are at stake in the liturgy: the economy of salvation and the paschal mystery. Stated differently, instead of asking the question "what is the liturgy?", we should perhaps begin with "where/when is the liturgy?"
In Prof. Geldhof's view, the West has suffered from a certain prioritisation of knowledge, and while the quest for knowledge in the realm of liturgy is fine up to a point, space is also needed for the mystery of the liturgy. In today's secular world, the biggest problem we face in our evangelisation is indifferentism - in other words, the secular obstacles to belief are primarily moral and spiritual, rather than epistemic in nature. Liturgy needs to be rooted in mystery: it is where the mystery of redemption is reenacted, and it is when the Body of Christ is seen and the mystical body, the people of God, become what they are supposed to be.
One of Prof. Geldhof's main contentions was that liturgy requires us to hold a middle-ground between, on the one hand, the extreme secularism that would banish all faith and religion to the private sphere and, on the other hand, an extreme view of religion that completely shuns the world and the secular. Secularism is not identical with worldliness, and this means that Christians can be at home in secular society - but, however, they do not belong there!
The final paper of the day, "Especially in Mission Territories" (SC 38)? New Evangelisation and Liturgical (Reform of the) Reform was given by Dr Stephen Bullivant, who began by observing that the new evangelisation is not actually all that new. The "intermediate situation" between the mission ad gentes and pastoral care described by St John Paul II in Redemptoris Missio 33 as the "new evangelisation" or "re-evangelisation" can be seen even before the Second Vatican Council, in initiatives such as the French worker-priest movement in the 1940s. Dr Bullivant described how many of the reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium were motivated by these neo-evangelistic considerations, "especially in mission territories" (cf. SC 38, 40.3, 65, 68, 119). 
The radical implementation of SC after the Council was in part caused, he suggested, by the Western world (i.e. Europe and North America) being considered "mission territory". Dr Bullivant gave the example of SC 119 on giving a suitable place in the liturgy to the musical traditions of mission lands, and noted that this paragraph was used as a justification for using folk, pop and rock music at Masses in the Western world to the near total abandonment of chant. And even in the face of the staggering lapsation rates of those Catholics who came of age during Vatican II and the immediate post-conciliar period, the folk and rock Masses persist to this day in more than a few places. It is difficult to see how the liturgical reforms after the Council succeeded in the aims expressed in the very first paragraph of SC, and in Dr Bullivant's view:
If it is the case - and prima facie, there are good grounds for thinking it is - that our liturgies often fail both "to impart an ever increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful" and "to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church" (SC 1), then it is Sacrosanctum Concilium itself that demands that the reforms be reformed.
The day ended with a Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior celebrated by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, with the London Oratory Choir providing the music for the Mass.
(More photos and extracts from the talks can be found at the Sacra Liturgia Facebook page.)

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