22 June 2008

Organic development

May I briefly ask anybody who reads this blog to give me any helpful thoughts they may have on this subject? My problem: I understand the principle that liturgy should evolve gradually and organically, and approve strongly of it. But what happens when there has been a rupture in the past? As an Anglican, I might have had in mind the rupture of 1559, when, overnight, the Sarum dialect of the Roman Rite was replaced with (substantially) what we now call 'the 1662 Rite'. But let's consider instead the rupture over a period of less than half a decade when the Missal of S Pius V (substantially) was replaced with a rite which had important structural and textual and ritual differences: for example: the interface between the Canon Romanus silently in Latin, and the pseudo-Hippolytan prayer in ICEL English, is violent and nonorganic.

Fair enough: that should not have happened. But it did happen, and well over a generation ago. The cuckoo in the nest of the Latin Church is now established and, as we might say, 'in possession'. What are we to say to someone who uses the doctrine of organic development to argue for nothing more than the slowest and most gradual process of Reforming the Reform?

There were Catholic Anglican priests who took over churches where Prayer Book Mattins was the communal rite 'in possession' and replaced it with the Tridentine Mass on their first Sunday. Was this organic?

4 comments:

Steve Cavanaugh said...

What are we to say to someone who uses the doctrine of organic development to argue for nothing more than the slowest and most gradual process of Reforming the Reform?

I think that there are a couple of things to say to someone who would use the concept (doctrine sounds too strong a word) of organic development to put a brake on the reform of the reform.

The first is that the rubrics in the current liturgical books (along with the accompanying instructions from Rome found in documents such as Musica Sacra) should be followed. Anything that is being done opposed to such directions is not legitimate. If a parish has become accustomed to liturgy in ways that depart from these instructions, the priest should gradually, with decent and patient explanation, restore the liturgy. This must be done gradually: people must be made aware that such changes are in fact a restoration, that these are not simply the whims of the current incumbent, and ministers (altar servers, lectors, choirs, et al.) must be properly trained. One can't just change everything over and expect to win hearts and minds.
Following that, elements that are permitted in the new rite but not required (such as maniples in vestment, six candles on the altar instead of two, etc.) can be instituted. Again, reforming the reform is not so much a matter of reforming what we do as reforming our minds and hearts, of seeking to glorify God with the best we have, and the priest really must teach his people that. Because this reform will involve Christian life beyond liturgical worship. It is a good lesson of history that the Anglo-Catholic priests of 19th century England were often also pioneers in service to the urban poor.
Finally, I think that instituting some of the elements that contribute to the "beauty of holiness" can be introduced outside of the Sunday morning Mass in services such as sung Vespers and Benediction. Leading people to worship God with the full panoply of our liturgical tradition (for the preservation of which we RCs have you AC CofE priests to thank in many cases) will likely lead the people to request at Mass as well.

johnf said...

Father

The reform of the reform has finally come about when the number of priests in the Catholic Church in England and Wales is at an all time low and getting smaller. Parishes are being combined and priests overworked. If priests throw up their hands and ask 'how can we take on yet another initiative under these circumstances?' one can see their point.

A priest some years ago told me the the congregation influences the priest rather than the other way round.

Congregations are comfortable with the happy-clappy glorias, the applause for the children when they come back from their liturgy group and sing their twee songs right in the middle of the offertory (sorry to be grumpy), the (to me anyway) intrusive singing of inappropriate hymns at the communion.

It's going to be a long hall, requiring patience and good humour. Organisations like CIEL and the LMS are not going to wither away yet. The reform won't happen in my lifetime, but I shall just have to grin and bear it, and find the pure stuff where I can.

By the way Father, last Saturday I was at Winchester Cathedral for a Solemn Tridentine Mass - is this the first Roman Catholic Mass there since Queen Mary I's time? Presumably she would have heard the Sarum Rite, so it could be the first Tridentine Mass ever.

Everyone's profound thanks go to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral and Bishop Hollis of Portmouth for giving permission. That is real ecumenism in practice!

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

It's certainly my idea of Ecumenism! And my humble church by Oxford railway station is always available for tridentine worship, whether celebrated by me or any priest in good standing with the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Archbishop of Birmingham, or Bishop Fellay! John

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

It's certainly my idea of Ecumenism! And my humble church by Oxford railway station is always available for tridentine worship, whether celebrated by me or any priest in good standing with the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Archbishop of Birmingham, or Bishop Fellay! John