Monday, July 09, 2007

Our Feast of Orthodoxy: Thank You, Holy Father

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. 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."
Benedict XVI - Letter to the Bishops on Summorum Pontificum
THE CATHOLIC WORLD has a different landscape after 7.7.7; or rather, the contours of an ancient landscape are becoming once again discernible as decades of thick, disorientating smog and toxic fallout begin to disperse in the freshening breeze. In several pieces on this blog (the obsolescence of which becomes more gratifyingly evident to me by the minute), I have referred to the Second Council of Nicea (from which came the definitive resolution of the first Iconoclast crisis) - in particular, the famous fourth anathema on "anyone (who) rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the Church". This anathema, I have contended, has been quietly overturned in recent decades, and especially since the Council, in favour of a kind of magisterial positivism, without most Catholics noticing or caring.

We breathe the sterile air of iconoclasm today, I have argued, and have grown lightheaded on it. We have been tempted to rationalise and intellectualise the Faith, falsifying our own nature and contradicting the Incarnation - a very much graver matter than any mere questions of taste, ethics, modernity or culture. We have dared to consider the most holy and Christ-bearing things as mere legal prescriptions.

As far as the ancient Liturgy of the Roman Rite is concerned, this argument is now over. Its rights and privileges are permanently recognised and restored, whether or not it becomes more widely adopted in the near future. My expectations of the motu proprio were not high, but I find instead that they've been exceeded on practically every point, beyond the hopes of twenty-five years as a convinced and committed participant in the Traditionalist movement. Last November, I wrote as follows:
If the liberation of the Mass is the essential condition of rebalancing the Church - the sine qua non - at another level it seems to me that some kind of major teaching document on Tradition and Magisterium is urgently required, on the basis that the only means of moving those who now appear to think that the Catholic Faith is whatever the present Pope/latest Council says it is (and who, in a sense, can blame them?) - is a Pope himself telling them otherwise.
The truly momentous aspect of Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter is the one most commentators will miss: it is the Holy Father's implicit re-statement of Nicea II - that the whole tradition of the Church retains its permanent value; that whatever has been held sacred in the past remains sacred today and can never be be abrogated, despised or abandoned without contradicting the nature of the Church herself, and of her Faith.

For my own part, all the energy and time devoted to defending and studying the Ancient Liturgy can at last be turned with great joy and serenity to living and praying it "in the Church and with the Church".

From a full heart, thank you, Holy Father.
"Anyone who believes that the liturgy of the Incarnation and sacred images are intimately and essentially linked to faith in Christ - and actually come forth from Him - anyone who finds it easier to imagine the total collapse of religion than its continuance in the absence of liturgy, can be quietly confident about the outcome of the present catastrophe. As the example of Byzantine iconoclasm shows us, a hundred years is a relatively short time to overcome this kind of sickness...

On the first Sunday of Lent the Orthodox Church celebrates the end of iconoclasm with the great Feast of the Reestablishment of Orthodoxy". So it is my dream that one day, when this altar and so many other high altars are reerected, we shall be able to give thanks as we celebrate the reestablishment of Latin Orthodoxy."
Martin Mosebach - The Heresy of Formlessness, p.92

1 comment:

Ttony said...

We are in the bizarre situation of you playing Mole to my Badger. One of the unfortunate consequences of the Pope's decision to allow the Cardinal to stay put for a while is that it is the Cardinal who will set the tone for the implementation of the Motu proprio in England and Wales. Things will be rocky.

Still, you will probably become even more Tigger-like after the next Vatican document ...

But I share your joy and appreciate it.