Thursday 24 June 2021

Good Read 2.


My notes on the second chapter of Michael Davies book, "Pope Paul's New Mass".
This chapter details many of the documents from a bewildering assortment that came out of the Vatican in the 1960s concerning liturgical changes.
Reading through this chapter gives one a sense of how the Church in the 1960s changed from being Mission to being a bureaucracy. I was a boy in the 1960s and even then I had a strong sense of how strange and unreasonable were the many changes in the Mass and the number of missals that we got through in a few years. As we know, what took place in the Church during the late 1960s was a Public Relations disaster.
What took place during these years was anything but that which the Second Vatican Council had asked for. As Davies says in this chapter, "the Council did not order a new Order of Mass but a revision of the old." (p57)
The reform of the Church's Liturgy requires, as Pope Benedict said, a care study of "Sacrosanctum Concilium", the Council's Document on the Liturgy. The Council did not ask for a butchering job!
Reading through this chapter makes one aware of just how much in a rush was the Committee which Pope Paul VI established to implement the Council's wishes. As a result, the "contrast between the theory and the reality of liturgical reform" (p40) could not have been greater.
Davies puts his finger on the essential thread running through these documents; that what really matters "is not what they authorise that was not authorised before, but what they forbid that was not forbidden before." (p37) And that their authors secured papal endorsement for their revolution. (p42)
Davies again keenly sees another key principle - that in Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution "Missale Romanum" of 1969, the Pope derogates (modifies) from Quo Primum in ending the prohibition to use any other Rite than the Missal of Pius V. (cf,53) But he does not at the same time abrogate that Rite.
This, together with what Davies set out in Chapter 1, enables us to see the Missal of Pius V as a Rite that belongs to the Church, a Rite that belongs to the very reality of the Church and to all the baptised. And that what took place in the late 1960s amounts to an unprecedented act, one of imposing on the baptised a Rite that it had neither possessed before, nor had asked for. What took place in 1969 had never happened before in the life of the Church. What took place in the late 1960s could be seen as an act of clericalism - an executive committee of clergy demanding something of the whole Church. Whereas, what Quo Primum did, was to secure the Missal of Pius V - which already belonged to the faithful, as properly their possession. Quo Primum and Missale Romanum are two very different acts, neither is excluded by the other, but they are so different in their approach that, I don't think, we have even begun to reconcile what the second act did, and therefore, how these two acts relate with one another. The reality is that the Missal of Pius V belongs to the Church, as it always did. The Missal of Paul VI has come, seemingly, out of nowhere. Where does that leave us?
Now, I do realise that the right to use the Missal of Pius V is a complex issue. Various Indults, together with Summorum Pontificem, have brought this issue forward. But there remains the implicit reality that anyone in the Church has the moral right to either celebrate or participate in the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of Pius V. 
Pope Benedict's call, that the Church should study Sacrosanctum Concilium goes to the heart of what needs to done - to bring into focus the status of Quo Primum and Missale Romanum, and of how they are actually related, and of what that means for the Liturgical Reform to date.

Sunday 20 June 2021

A really good read.

At the end of the year I will post on the books that I have read during 2021. However, the book that I am presently reading is so good that it deserves its own comments.
I'm reading Michael Davies' "Pope Paul's New Mass". I bought and read this book in 1980 and have picked it up again. What a fantastic read! A thorough-going appreciation of the changes to the celebration of the Mass that took place in the 1960s. I have been making some salient notes as I read and will post these here. For purposes of reference, the edition that I am reading is:
Michael Davies, Pope Paul's New Mass, Angelus Press, 1980. And the references that I will make refer to the pages in this edition.

Chapter One. The development of the Roman Rite.
This chapter contains three elements:
1. The best concise description, that I have ever read, of what the Liturgy is.
2. The best concise description of the historical development of the Liturgy that I have read to date. On page 5 the author notes that the Second Century reference to the priest as 'celebrant' was due to the word 'priest' having pagan connotations. In fact, by the Second Century, the three-fold division of 'bishop', 'priest' and 'deacon' was already established. Substituting the word 'celebrant' for 'priest' today is much more anomalous.
3. An analysis of what the Bull Quo Primum Tempore is. This is the Bull with which Pope Pius V published the Roman Missal of 1570.
This Bull established the Roman Missal as an act of the Council of Trent. This was the very first time that a Council or a Pope had legislated on the Liturgy. Up until 1570 the development of the Liturgy had taken place in an entirely organic way, and it had come under "Customary Law" (how general practice is accepted and protected.) Quo Primum adds Positive Law (which specifies or prescribes a particular practice) to this. Specifically, Quo Primum established that no one, other than the Pope, could make changes to the Missal on his own initiative. (Cf, p14)
In looking at how the Liturgy could develop after Quo Primum, the author speaks of an important distinction that must be made. Namely, the legal right of a Pope, and his moral right. The Pope can legally change the Liturgy, but would it be morally right for him to do so. (Cf, p14) Under this distinction, a change to the Liturgy must represent a continuation, but not a contradiction of what has gone before. (Cf, p15)
Thus, a future Pope could legally abrogate (abolish) the Missal of Pius V, but would he have the moral right to do so?
Quo Primum possesses three characteristics that would affect the moral right of a Pope:
1. Its aim is that one Missal should express the faith of the Universal Church.
2. It sought not to establish a new form of Liturgy, but rather to restore the ancient Roman Missal. In other words, it codified the organic development of the Liturgy, rather than enacted an artificially procured form of the Mass.
3. It is the act of a Pope expressed with the full force of Apostolic authority, in conformity with uninterrupted tradition. 
(Cf, 16)
This is wonderful stuff!

Thursday 17 June 2021

Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 9 and Conclusion


My notes on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 9. The Spirituality of marriage and the family.
The Pope speaks of the “spirituality of the bond”, of how spouses can depend upon one another. Yet he is clear that they can depend upon Christ even more.
This chapter does not present the spirituality of marriage and the family in the hierarchic way that we have inherited; that for Christian people who marry, Christ is mediated to them in a new way through their marriage, and that they mediate Christ to one another. The call within Christian marriage is for spouses to form their mutual relationship on the pattern of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
There is a strong sense then, in this chapter that the Christian family is the same as the natural family, but with a Christian gloss. But there is no indication from Pope Francis about the Christian identity. In other words, if a person does not know Christ, he or she is not going to find him through marriage and family life. The foundation for every person is to find Christ, and whoever you are, once you have found him, you will find how he is mediated to you. Amoris Laetitia gives no indication of how a person, who has not found Christ in life, might find him marriage.
Summary of my notes.
There is a natural goodness to marriage and family life, but in Amoris Laetitia, the natural and supernatural goodness of marriage are blurred. The consequence of this is that Pope Francis presents marriage and the family through rose-tinted spectacles. He robs them of their ideal, but does not present them for what they really are. Amoris Laetitia can easily come across as a form of Clericalism – the clergy taking down to families. What the Magisterium should be doing is to give a vision of marriage and the family that flows from people who have given their lives to Christ. But if spouses don’t know Christ, how will they find him in their marriage and family?
Reflecting on Amoris Laetitia puts me in mind of the chicken and egg syndrome. Which comes first, the Church or marriage and the family? It is clear that Christian marriage and the family flow out of the Church. But this is not at all apparent in Amoris Laetitia, and so today’s pastoral problems remain, all stacked up, with no clear route forward. The Pope’s Letter reads as though it precedes John Paul II, rather than follows him.
I hope that some good will come out of Amoris Laetitia, particularly as a help to young spouses and those who will prepare for marriage. I often think of St Bernadette of Lourdes who, when asked by the Blessed Mother to drink the water, found that she had first to dig and clear away the mud, before she could discover the clear water. The problems of our age are many, but the path to travel on is Christ. Christian spouses who have submitted their lives to Him are truly great lights in the Church and in the world.

Monday 7 June 2021

Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8

 My notes on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8. Accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness.

This chapter reads as though it is the purpose of the whole Letter. At the beginning of para 292 Pope Francis acknowledges the ideal of marriage in a particularly good and full way, but he doesn’t then go on to propose or ask that this should be expressed pastorally by the Church. Rather, we should simply try to make better, whatever our situation is.
He speaks about the “law of gradualness”, which JPII had spoken of in his Letter Familiaris Consortio. Using this principle, JPII looked at the concrete situation, but then led people towards where they should be. But Pope Francis is really saying that the ideal of marriage is unattainable, so we should lower our view of the ideal. That since there is some goodness in whatever situation people are in, we should now re-envision marriage. This is very suggestive of Hegelian idealism rather than the Gospel; that we make up our experience of life rather than be Christians, recipients of a transforming gift of life.
He seems to be promoting human effort with a good slice of moralism added to the mix. However, human effort doesn’t make something Christian!
In speaking about the accompaniment of concrete marriage situations, and their discernment, by pastors is hardly practicable. And what makes pastors the arbiters of marriages? God created marriage – why should anyone put them under a microscope?
In para 305 the Pope seems to say, quoting himself, that if anyone is trying to live the Christian ideal of marriage, they are living only an outward show. So, the Pope makes it clear that, if there is no ideal for marriage, all we can speak about is people’s experience of marriage.
Since this chapter reads as an apologia for those who don’t want to have an ideal for marriage, the question arises, is this a Magisterial Document or it is simply a discussion document?

Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 7.

 My notes on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 7. Towards a better education of children.

The chapter is a summary of what the Church teaches and, whilst teaching nothing new, the Pope does enunciate some key elements; what freedom is, the formation of the will. But because this Letter is addressed to the many and varied contexts that exist in the world, this chapter is actually very bland. The Pope doesn’t here offer a vision, or a strategy, or tools for responding to today’s needs.
Today’s needs call for a concrete response. Recognising the superficiality of today’s culture should lead the Church to respond with a concrete strategy and engage people where they are at. The heart of this situation is indeed the family, which should be the source of culture. In reality, since the 1960s we have seen the compartmentalisation of the family; we have separated ourselves from the family and looked to new sources of culture. These are principally the media, technology and “youth culture”. “Youth culture has developed in such a way that parents are now excluded from what is going on in the lives of their children.
This chapter raises very urgent questions, how can we help to nurture the family and to help parents in their educational task? How can we nurture the lives of young people so that they can distance themselves from the pressures of the media? This chapter does not answer these questions.

Friday 4 June 2021

My notes on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 6.


My notes on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 6. Some pastoral perspectives.
This chapter presents a very full perspective of the Church’s role in nurturing marriage, from marriage preparation through to helping marriages and families to process the baggage that we can bring with us, as individuals, into marriage and family life. This last section is, I think, the first time that this dimension of marriage and family has been spoken of in a papal document. Pope Francis opens up the Church’s role in supporting marriage and the family. Although he does reference the sacramental dimension of marriage, his main focus is the human dimension. This is a shame, because both dimensions need to be opened up and better understood. It is God, not us, who creates something new in marriage. It is God, not us, who forms the covenant. But it is the choices that spouses make that shape their family.
The scope of the Pope’s treatment of the pastoral care of marriage and the family bespeaks a considerable infrastructure with much personnel. Presently in the UK, with the exception of some of the new ecclesial Movements, the clergy are the main agents of this pastoral work. If we were to really embrace what the Pope describes here, we would immediately need lots of gifted people involved. The clergy are not set up to do all that is needed.
This same scope of pastoral work, and need for staff, also presumes the capacity of the Church to process a proper human engagement with all these aspects of life. In the context of the UK, I don’t believe that we are ready to engage in this work. We don’t yet have the formed personnel, nor an adequate focus. We have not been developing and processing our life nor really engaging with the Teaching of the Church for many decades. Moreover, it is a very clericalised environment.
Reading this chapter, with its expansive panorama, made me think of the common assumption, made by many people in the UK, that the Catholic Church is a moralistic institution (an institution which tells you what you can do and what you can’t do), and perhaps in some cases people have indeed been led to make that conclusion. The Pope is right to point to the opening up of the pastoral scenario to a fuller vision, and to enable a fuller living out of the mystery of Christian marriage and the Christian family. In this vision, moralistic attitudes are inadequate. But to flesh out this vision will need concrete strategies and formed personnel.
May be an image of jewellery

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