Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's good for the goose....

Patricius provides and interesting post on the question of Sacramental validity on his blog Liturgiae Causae. Whilst I will not pretend to agree with everything that he has to say he makes an excellent point to do with faithfulness to the rubrics not just for modernists but also for some traddies.

'What constitutes ''traditional'' in Tradworld? Is it preference for lace cottas to polyester albs? Or perhaps the Deacon chanting Benedicamus Domino on Corpus Christi? Yet such photos as the Palm Sunday one are spread about the traditionalist blogs as though they are a boon for the Church! '
Traditional Catholic belief is not about externals, the cut of your maniple has nothing to do with theological orthodoxy, indeed an almost pathological obsession with aesthetics could well indicate a smoke screen for serious theological error. It was once quipped, in a satire, that a certain 'ecclesial' movement was dying from 'gin, lace and backbiting' and that's the fear that I have for some quarters of the traditional movement.

Patricius' timely reminder gives two examples, with photos, both of which would be considered 'valid', perhaps not licit but certainly valid. I would want to add that whilst  it is much harder to stray into 'grey areas' with the traditional rites when you do it is a serious matter for the celebrant and his confessor. The traditional annual priests' retreat used to include an observation by a peer of how the retreatant said Mass. The retreatant then returned the favour. But back to Patricius;

'I never cease to be amazed at how little the clergy know about Liturgy - some years ago I MCd a Sung Mass where I had to tell the Celebrant to kiss the Altar and say the Orate Fratres - at the time I thought ''how many years have you been saying Mass?'
I do have some sympathy here with the poor celebrant. Like there are people who shouldn't be let near a car there are those who shouldn't be let near a sung Mass. Ten years on since ordination I'm afraid I couldn't celebrate the sung form of the rite with any confidence or accuracy. I also don't drive. Neither would edify the faithful.

Patricius is right to say that a laissez faire approach to the rubrics and texts of the traditional rites, even those proposed by some experts, are problematic however, he's also right,  that an obsession with ecclesiastical 'tat' is not the central problem and weeping and wailing over the depth of the lace is going to do little for the cause of the faith in the long run.


  1. Fr Raven, many thanks for the link - I am surprised you read my small blog.

    The point I was trying to get across in this post was that some Traditionalists have a tendency to consider themselves superior to the tambourine-waving yokels...whilst, if you look at the red vestments in that awful Palm Sunday photo, in reality the Trads are being no more traditional. What I find most annoying is that Trad bloggers (the most famous ones - whilst we liturgically-sensible bloggers are obscure ''extremists'') think that red vestments on Palm Sunday are wonderful news, and start cranking the Summorum Pontificum ratchet - the presence of birettas, Roman-style vestments, Mass (most of it in the case of '56 Palm Sunday anyway) facing Eastwards, and in Latin etc, whilst ignoring the real issues of faithfulness to Tradition. The '62 Rite is an aberration and heals nothing.

    Either you do the Old Rite, as contained in the liturgical books before Pius XII came on the scene, or you aren't traditional. The liturgical books of 1962 cannot solve any liturgical problems caused by the New Rite - you might as well try fighting fire with more fire.

  2. Thank you Father for drawing attention to this issue with which I strongly agree! Like you I disagree with Patricius on the 1962 books - in the main I think they do pass the test of continuity with tradition, and in any case approval by the proper authority trumps age.

    But the tendency of traditonalists to think that the rules don't apply to them is a real one. Understandable perhaps given the history of the movement, but something that needs to change!


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