Monday, October 31, 2011

Hymn for Vespers of CTK, EF

This hymn is not from the Mundelein Psalter, surprisingly enough. Yesterday (for the first time alone) I prayed the Office from a 1965 breviary, which did soooooooooo much to help the personal spirituality frustration about the divergence of calendars! It's translated as prose, but that doesn't make the hymn any less lovely:

We acknowlege You, Christ, to be Lord of the ages, King of the nations and only master of man's soul and heart.

The wicked mom screams out, "We don't want Christ as king," while we, with shouts of joy, hail You as the world's supreme King.

Christ, peace-bringing Prince, subject rebellious souls to Your rule, and in Your love lead back to the one fold those that have strayed from it.

For this, with arms outstretched, You hung, bleeding, on the Cross, and the cruel spear that pierced You, showed man a heart burning with love.

For this, You are hidden on our altars under the form of bread and wine, and pour out on Your children from Your pierced side the grace of salvation.

May the rulers of the world publicly honor and extol You; may teachers and judges reverence You, may the laws express Your order and the arts reflect Your beauty.

May kings find renown in their submission and dedication to You. Bring under Your gentle rule our country and our homes.

Glory be to You, Jesus, supreme over all secular authorities; and glory be to the Father and the loving Spirit, through endless ages. Amen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review (sort of): The Ottaviani Intervention

Long before I ever conceived of entering graduate studies in liturgy, there was a small study group in college. Among the first important names that came up during this study group was The Ottaviani Intervention. This essay, it was explained to us, was written and sponsored by some cardinals shortly after the Council, and it really iterated all the major things that were “wrong” about the novus ordo, those elements that were dramatically changed to the detriment of the Catholic faith – an example being the mention of the Parousia, of Christ's Second Coming, in the embolism of the Our Father, thereby speaking of the future presence of Christ after He had just been made present in the Sacrament of the Altar.
After obtaining the book at a used theology book sale, it was with heavy heart and high expectations that I opened it to read this groundbreaking report.

Maybe my senses have been dulled by the “multicultural” liturgy that was forced upon me at the FDLC conference last week, but the Ottaviani Intervention didn't shock me. In fact, I thought its authors were overreacting in quite a number of places. I must be less traditional than I'd thought.

Some of the accusations that didn't surprise me were probably very potent ones in their day, but have lost much of their fire through repetition. I really don't get excited anymore that the notion of sacrifice was completely excised from the offertory rite. The special effects in Star Wars (the original trilogy, of course!) were groundbreaking in their day, but when I watch them now, they're old hat at best. Doesn't make them less true, but explains my lack of response.

Other issues that I dismissed have been nuanced over time and corrected with translation. We are on the third typical edition of the Missal of Paul VI (i.e., it's been revised twice since 1969).

There was some hair-splitting and stretching, of course. Apparently, by having the priest say, “Do this in memory of me” rather than “As often as ye shall do these things, in memory of me shall ye do them,” the Church has caused people to lose focus on the sacramental action being re-presented, and instead think of the Eucharist as a commemoration. I understand that it's a big deal to change any text in the canon, but this comes from the very next verse in Scripture and means so nearly the same thing...

Then there are the overstatements. Most of these had to do with the novus ordo being Protestant in theology. As much as I am usually wildly entertained by inflammatory statements about Protestants made by Catholics trying to preserve Catholic identity (favorite: Ralph Adams Cram!), the statements in the Ottaviani Intervention – in addition to being vaguer and much less witty – just strike me as untrue, at least judging by today's variety of Protestants.

But the reaction that surprised me most was when I thought, “Oh. Well, that assessment is true, but actually I think you're kind of wrong for caring.” Theological ideas I have always taken for granted – like the baptismal priesthood of the laity (different in kind from the ordained priesthood but present nonetheless) – were held up as examples of the crazy ideas promoted by this liturgical reform.

Too, I thought its authors were just as nearsightedly obsessed with sacrifice as modern whiny traditionalists. (Admittedly, both also acknowledge the doxological element, the need of glorifying the Triune God, so I suppose they're two-trick ponies.) I don't mean to suggest that sacrifice is not an absolutely essential element of the liturgy, especially the Eucharistic liturgy (although, in light of Ratzinger's statements in Spirit of the Liturgy, I can't help but ask what is meant by sacrifice, but that's a topic for another time). But where is their eschatology? What about the legitimate communal aspect of liturgy, which is of its very nature a communal act? What about the communicant's moment of intimacy with the God of all creation? Not to mention the liturgy's cosmic dimension? Yes, sacrifice is absolutely essential, but let's not be reductionist here, people.

It's been forty years since the novus ordo was promulgated. The Church is still standing. One can argue that she'd be in better shape now had the Mass never been reformed – but one could make just as strong an argument that she'd be in worse shape. At this point in time, despite the various traditionalist communities around the world, the piety of the vast majority of Catholics has been shaped and formed by the novus ordo. Certainly some of the theological trends preserved more strongly in the old liturgy are less clearly understood by many. But the world has not become Protestant. Catholicism is as virile as ever.

Is a book like this worth reading, for a scholar of the liturgy? Sure. It was a landmark book in its day: shocking, unusual, and insightful. Is it likely to be relevant to the average interested reader? Less so. If you're looking for traddy liturgical books, I'd still send you to the early 20th century long before I'd recommend Cardinal Ottaviani..

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Martyrdom

“Would you be a martyr for the faith?”

Again and again I hear this question – often enough, in the homily for the memorial or feast of a martyr (or group of martyrs, like yesterday).

But martyrdom has really never struck me as all that difficult a thing. Sure, it would be sad to leave behind all those I love, and it'd be absolutely terrifying to effectively volunteer to be killed, but the alternative is committing apostasy in the most cowardly manner. Go big or go home, essentially, and with my disposition, it’s plain that I'd regret going home for the rest of my life. It'd be easy to die for Jesus.

So the focus shifts to white martyrdom, to the everyday things: swallowing your anger at that guy who just cut you off; treating that person who thinks you're an idiot just as kindly as you treat your best friend; doing your best to remain healthy yet accepting without complaint the inevitable decays of age. (I feel like I'd have better examples of this if I were a mother; feel free to chime in the combox, ladies!) I already strive for virtue in my everyday actions; the reminder is helpful, but not earth-shattering.

However, the everyday martyrdoms grow deeper still. The most striking thing, to me, about the story of Isaac Jogues, centers around his return to France after years of mission work in what is now the U.S. He was so deformed from the tortures he'd suffered that his brother Jesuits did not even recognize him! And yet, after a few years back at the monastery, he asked to go back. To return to the people who cut (or bit) off his fingers and marred his face, among so many other tortures! After all they'd done for him, he genuinely loved them, still wanted to bring Christ to them. And he did, until they martyred him.

Now that is a style of martyrdom I ought to work toward: deep, self-giving love for those who have given me only pain. That kind of love is indeed divine.

Iesu cuius corpus percutientibus, et genae vellentibus, dedisti, miserere nobis.

Iesu fortitude Martyrum, miserere nobis.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Important Things I Learned This Weekend

Absolutely nothing compares to the deep joy of reuniting with loved ones after months or years apart.

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