Martin Mosebach will be familiar to a number of readers as a trenchant traditionalist, and the author of The Heresy of Formlessness. The talk below is the best thing I’ve read on liturgy and tradition for a long time. Any traditionalist who can should read it – Ed.
It’s tricky with contemporaneity: when you try to grab and hold onto it, you end up holding the dead tail of a lizard in your hand. Arrested contemporaneity is necessarily always about to go out of date. The radical form of the liturgy, by contrast, cannot go out of date because it does not belong to time, but moves outside of time.
by Martin Mosebach, Roarate Caeli: address Given at Holy Innocents Parish, New York, May 12, 2015 – translation of a talk Mosebach was asked to give by the Bishop of Limburg/Lahn on Ash Wednesday 2013.
When it became apparent in the early 1950s that television sets would soon be in many households, German bishops deliberated about whether it would be wise to allow or even promote television broadcasts of the Holy Mass. Indeed, people thought about such questions sixty years ago and they asked the great philosopher Josef Pieper for an expert opinion. In his opinion, Pieper rejected such television broadcasts on principle, saying they were irreconcilable with the nature of the Holy Mass. In its origins, the Holy Mass is a discipline of the arcane, a sacred celebration of mysteries by the christened. He mentioned the lowest level in the order of priests – done away with following the Second Vatican Council – the ostiary, or doorkeeper, who once had to ensure that the non-baptized and those temporarily excluded leave the church and move to the narthex following the liturgy of the Word. The Orthodox still do so in some places; the call of the deacon, “Guard the doors” is heard in every Orthodox liturgy before the Eucharist. While in Georgia I once experienced this demand, often merely a ceremony of a recollected past, being taken literally. A monk approached me, fell to his knees and apologetically asked me to leave the church since I, as a Roman Catholic, was not in full agreement with the Orthodox Church. I gladly acquiesced as I think not everyone has to be permitted everywhere all the time. Sacred places and holy acts are first declared quite plainly by the drawing of boundaries and such boundaries must somehow be visible and palpable. Still, anyone who has not given any thought to the dubiousness of filming the Mass has perhaps on occasion felt uncomfortably moved when they saw believers receiving communion on television or as the camera rested on the face of a celebrant chewing the host. Are such feelings truly only atavistic, produced by ancient magical fears? Other cultures are also acquainted with an aversion to photography. It is as if it would disturb a spiritual sphere.
So it is all the more surprising that a photograph of a Mass has become very valuable to me.
I don’t really think that there are Vatican officials who get together over an espresso and say to one another “Let’s come up with a totally obscure document, and a questionnaire full of incomprehensible purple sentimentality, to discourage ordinary people from filling it out, and ensure that any answers we do get will be impossible to analyse, so that we can control the agenda. Mwahaha”. But I do think there’s an agenda here, which is to subvert the church’s traditional teaching on marriage.
by Lyle Dunne
After pleading with you all to complete the Synod questionnaire – thanks, to anyone who did; you deserve years off Purgatory – I completed it myself; there’s a copy below.
Before doing so, however, I began to have grave doubts (even graver than the ones I previously expressed) about the whole exercise.
Was it in fact an attempt to stifle public comment, or failing that, turn it into an incomprehensible welter of verbiage? Was it the result of a misunderstanding, whereby a document sent out to bishops as a basis for consultation was cut-and-pasted into an unanswerable questionnaire?
There certainly seems to have been a bit of the latter going on. As Patrick Kenny argues in the National Catholic Register, “the questions themselves were not designed for ordinary laypeople”.
(In fact many seem to be impossible for anyone to answer, as I think examples below show.)
He goes on to explain how this arose:
The idea of surveying laypeople seems to have arisen from a letter by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, asking that the entire document be distributed to deaneries and parishes so that feedback could be gathered from local sources. Somehow or other, this normal consultation process transformed into a rather haphazard series of diocesan “opinion polls” accompanied by potentially unreliable statistical analysis.
(Here he’s speaking of the first Synod document and questionnaire; it seems the second is a perpetuation of the same error.)
Like the new pope, he walks among us.
By Lyle Dunne
I’ve never been sure about Bill Murray. Ghostbusters was fun, Groundhog Day very clever, but Lost in Translation seem a more apt title than its makers intended, even on a re-watching after a visit to Japan. And I haven’t seen St Vincent.
And he’s a bit, well, weird. Even by Hollywood standards, ie even apart from what could best be described as a complicated moral life, and marital history.
Yet the truth can emerge from surprising places. In a free-ranging interview of Murray by Catherine Shoard of The Guardian, the question of religion came up:
His parents were Irish Catholics; one of his sisters is a nun. This conspicuous religion adds to his broad church appeal (there’s a citation from the Christian Science Monitor on his golfing memoirs). You don’t need to ask if his faith is important to him. He talks about how 19th-century candidates risk not getting canonised because the church is keen to push ahead with the likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa. “I think they’re just trying to get current and hot,” he smiles.
By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post
…67 percent chose the word “classic” to describe their ideal church. Only 33 percent preferred a trendy church as their ideal.
Churches fitted with ornate stained glass windows may not become a thing of the archaic past just yet, noted one church construction company.
Although presently the stained glass industry has been experiencing a decline in business, research among younger Americans indicates that stained glass could experience a comeback.
Derek DeGroot, architect with the Aspen Group, a company that specializes in building churches, explained to The Christian Post on Monday the current trend.
“Although certain denominations still use stained glass traditionally, many mainline protestant denominations that we designed & built for have seen an apparent decline in the use of stained glass in the recent past,” said DeGroot.
“However, there are new discussions that stained glass is seen more favorably by younger generations.”
By Peter Kwasniewski, New Liturgical Movement, November 2014
Editor’s Comment: I received this some time ago (you’ll note it refers to events toward the end of 2014) and have been vacillating about whether to post it. (Happily the issues are not time-critical.) In the end I decided to, not because I believe the author sustains his thesis with absolute conviction – I have considerable sympathy with the commentators on the article, whom I strongly suggest you read – but because it raises some important points.
If you want my five cents’ worth, I think the problem lies in identifying liturgy as a means to a HUMAN end, such as creating unity among worshippers or bringing people into the Church. Worthy though these aims may be, they are not the point of liturgy.
The broader questions of whether the encounter with Christ Incarnate should best be seen as a means to the Glory of God, or whether the Sacrifice of Calvary, and hence that of the Mass, is primarily a means of securing our salvation, I am content to regard as above my pay grade.
Catholics today might sometimes be struck by the passionate conviction of the younger generation of Catholics who are fighting for the cause of the Sacred Liturgy. It is as if we are fighting for dear life, in a struggle to the bitter end, against our mortal enemies. The reason is simple: we are doing exactly that.
It is no exaggeration to say that there is a fundamentally false view out there, very popular nowadays, as captured in this paragraph from Whispers from the Loggia of November 24:
The office’s [i.e., Congregation for Divine Worship’s] new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis’ own liturgical approach—as one op summarized its principles: “Go by the book. Don’t make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy’s always a means to an end—not an end in itself.”
That’s the error in a nutshell: the liturgy is a means, not an end.