24 September 2010

The dangers of schism and of ultratraditionalism

I recently commented on how Bishop Richard Williamson, of the SSPX, in attacking the 'conciliar Church', employed a concept of Intention which is contrary to what the Western Church has magisterially taught and practised for a millennium and a half. Persistent readers of my blog will recall that on two occasions I have done a long series on Concelebration, demonstrating that the Magisterium of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, and of the praxis of the Church for over a millennium conclusively regard, and in practice treat, Concelebration as being genuinely celebration in the real sense. I do this (although my own view is that the post-conciliar efflorescence of concelebrations is thoroughly unwholesome) because it is a fact. And I do it because the practice of Concelebration in the limited circumstances in which it was actually mandated by the Council has the AUCTORITAS of at least a millennium of of praxis in the Roman Rite.And today I wish to make an additional point.

Both within the SSPX and in the Traditionalist circles in full canonical unity with Rome, I sometimes fear a tendency to make up Tradition. Sometimes this is in violent reaction against abuses in those other circles who have themselves invented The Spirit Of The Council. But it really is no service whatsoever to the real Tradition of the Church and to its authentic Magisterium, and to the Auctoritas which is at the basis of good liturgical praxis, to lapse oneself into error or worse. We need to be soundly based in the wholeness of Tradition in exposing the abuses of the latter twentieth century.

And when correspondents, offering no response to facts I put before them, cheerfully retort that Williamson Is Right, I feel some degree of despair.

Tradition is not something which we each confect day by day so as to have a stick with which to beat those of whom we disapprove.

I have a considerable respect for SSPX (although I do think it took a wrong turn in deciding that 1962 has to be the authentic form of the Traditional Rite); one of my dearest priest friends was himself ordained by le grand archeveque. My copy of the SSPX Repertoire is more thumbed than many would think proper. And, as I have argued before, I believe that the current discussions between the Vatican and SSPX about the status and hermeneusis of conciliar documents could provide a gift to the entire Church.

But it is a fact that theological ... er ... eccentricity ... can result from from breaches in communion or from a distancing of oneself from the main body of the Church. Heaven only knows, we Anglicans can provide ample evidence of that.


Fr LR said...

E. Michael Jones' recent "Culture Wars" mag has a pic of bishop Fellay on it's cover greeting the faithful out of doors. He is mitered, bearing his crosier and dressed in tunical, dalmatic and chasuble. Didn't the rock band "Devo" (short for devolution) have a song called "The New Traditionalists"?

Flambeaux said...

So what are those of us raised in the wilderness to do, Father?

To where do we turn for authentic Tradition? How do we discern it who have never known other than pabulum and treacle?

I'll concede that Trads don't always get it right. But I don't see that there is an alternative for the harried layman.

Fr LR said...

Here's a link to the song I was thinking of:


johnf said...

Like Flambeaux I am somewhat confused. The 1962 Missal represents the Mass in its latest form before the radical changes post V2. So it remained in aspic so to speak during these 40 years in the wilderness.

And what else would we use during these 40 years?

But now since the Holy Father's motu proprio, the usus antiquor will no doubt resume its organic growth, with slow small changes of emphasis as the years roll by, without changing the form or scope. Just as it did for hundreds of years before.

An example is the change that the Holy Father recently made to the Good Friday prayers for the Jews to reflect the new way regard our elder brothers and sisters, and quite right too.

Rubricarius said...

JohnF and Flambeaux,

I think there are two issues:
a) the 1962 rite didn't remain in aspic but developed into the 1965 rite and the 1967 rite before the imposition of the Pauline Missal in 1970;

b) the SSPX originally didn't use the 1962 books in all its missions. In the UK for example the vigorous growth of the proto-Traditionalist movement under Fr. Peter Morgan used the pre-Pius XII books. The SSPX only adopted 1962 universally in 1983 - I believe that is what our blog host is referring too.

The '62 missal is bad enough but the office is really quite atrocious, Liturgia Horarum being a considerable improvement.

Flambeaux said...

I'm not disputing the chronology, or oddity, of the fixation upon the Missal of 1962.

My question is, as it were, more fundamental. If we're supposed to receive Tradition with our mother's milk, as it were, but we did not then how do we go about recovering it so it can be passed along to our children with theirs?

For context, I was born in the twilight of Paul VI's pontificate and raised in the US during the Silly Season. Apostasy was the natural consequence of that. The road back has been hard this last decade and things that should be natural or intuitive simply aren't.

Even recognizing the foibles inherent in Traditionalism, especially in its American manifestation, where else can one turn? And how, if we must individually discern what is or is not authentic Tradition, do we avoid the Protestant Problem?

Does that formulation of my question make more sense?

Heli said...

An excellent and indeed fundamental question, Flambeaux.
And given that its premise is true - that Tradition is, let's say (putting it neutrally) anthropologically required - many of us will need to take individual decisions about how much of a defective tradition we will de facto accept (see Thomas Hobbes on the philosophical point) in order not to be forced into a hermit's cave? I recall Evelyn Waugh's letter to the English hierarchy after Vatican II: what is the abolute minimum of the new liturgy that I am obliged to accept (and so on).