Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Two Recent Articles of Interest

Here are a couple of items which I am sure our readers will find interesting. The first comes from Dom Alcuin Reid, via the website of the Monastère Saint Benoit in La Garde-Freinet, France, of which he is prior, where it was originally published, and Catholic World Report’s reposting of it. The piece was written “to assist those considering whether Almighty God is calling them to a monastic vocation with us”, and contains some refections on the place of the liturgy within the Christian life which will certainly be useful more generally.

“...we are monks following the Rule of Saint Benedict in its classical observance. But that, of course, places us in the very heart of Catholic Tradition. A monk lives from the Church’s living Tradition, from her Sacred Liturgy and the Word of God alive and acting in it, from the Fathers, the teaching of the Councils, etc., not as a museum curator, but as one drawing ever new from these great riches in attending to the daily duty of the further conversion of his own life, in addressing the circumstances and times in which his monastery finds itself, and in providing the contribution God’s Providence has in store for it in the Church and in the world.

From our fourth Palm Sunday photopost of 2018, the blessing of aalms at the Monastère Saint Benoit.
... To be sure we celebrate the older forms of the Roman and Monastic rites, in Latin with Gregorian chant. We have received the Holy See’s permission to use the pre-Pius XII form of Holy Week and of the Pentecost Vigil. The use of these great riches of the Church’s Tradition is not a political statement, however. It is a conviction, certainly, which we will not compromise, that their full and integral celebration best sustains and nourishes monastic life, that they go hand in hand as it were. This is nothing at all extraordinary, but something quite natural and life-giving.

Of course, these rites have their place in the wider Church. They must not be confined to monasteries. Thanks be to Almighty God they are becoming more widely known and available. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI wrote ‘It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.’ What better place to do this fully, beautifully and fruitfully on a daily basis than in a monastery?”

At the website of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Dr Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, and Secretary of the International Federation Una Voce, has published an excellent article titled “The Novus Ordo at 50: Gain or Loss?” a response to an article published there last by Dr Mary Healy, Professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, titled “The Gift of the Liturgical Reform.” (Our own Dr Peter Kwasniewski published a response on One Peter Five, which we reproduced here.) Dr Shaw goes through her main points one by one, but his main argument can be summed up very simply in quoting a single sentence. “The weakness of her paper is in its characterization of the older Mass.” And so, to give just one concrete example:

“On celebration facing the people or the ambo, Prof. Healy writes: ‘Although in the earliest liturgies the celebrant faced the congregation, within a few centuries the practice changed so that, during the prayers, both the celebrant and congregation faced east, which meant the celebrant had his back to the people.’

Her footnote reference in this passages reveals she is basing her claim on scholarship dating from the 1940s (Josef Jungmann) and 1970s (Johannes H. Emminghaus). Scholarly fashion has moved on. While not universal in the earliest centuries, worship ad orientem was widespread. Nor is this surprising, given the tradition of praying towards Jerusalem found in the Old Testament (Dan. 6:10); the Synagogues of Our Lord’s time were sometimes oriented to Jerusalem. Again, the idea of a ‘shared meal,’ to which Prof. Healy appeals, does not suggest people facing each other over a table: in antiquity, dinner guests sat (or reclined) on one side of a table, to be served from the other side, just as they are depicted as doing in ancient representations of the Last Supper.”

Our congratulations to Dr Shaw for his valuable and charitable contribution to this debate.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: