23 February 2014

Liturgical Indicators in Holy Week

In Holy Week this year, I will find it interesting to see what happens on ...

(1) Maundy Thursday. What will our Holy Father do? Will he, like last year, disregarded the law confining those whose feet he washes to the half of humanity called viri (don't write in trying to convince me that this does not mean males)? A year ago he was recently elected; he had made decisions in a hurry; and some of the rhetorical reaction to what he did was probably excessive. This year, he will have had time to think and to take advice and to decide.
(a) He can change the Law. I am not keen on this because the current use with regard to the pedilavium is of great antiquity and has meaning. But I am not the Church's Summus Legifer. If he changes it, then the Law has changed. I am neither antinomian nor sedevacantist.
(b) He can follow the current law. One would assume that this is, in the very least, the fall-back position of any Catholic cleric.
(c) As I pointed out much earlier, he could do the pedilavium, formally and liturgically, in accordance with the law. Then, extraliturgically, he could go out into the streets and perform this vivid acted ikon  of Humility in any way that takes his fancy.
(d) Since the pedilavium is not compulsory, and, indeed, only entered the Missa in Coena Domini comparatively recently, he could omit it during the Liturgy, and, separately, do it extraliturgically.
(e) He could do the same as he did last year. In this case, he will be teaching either
     (i) that the Roman Pontiff is above the Law; in other words, that he is not a member of the Church like every other Christian, subject to its Magisterium and its discipline, but Some Other Type of Arbitrary Being set above the Church; or
     (ii) that it is lawful for anybody to disregard liturgical Law when they consider that they have a compelling reason.

(2) Good Friday. What will the SSPX do; indeed, what have the SSPX done on recent Good Fridays?
(a) Have they used the the 1962 rites but with the form of prayer Pro Iudaeis composed and imposed by Pope Benedict XVI? If so, they have, in my view, behaved rationally and lawfully.
(b) Have they continued to use the 1962 rites without making the change mandated by Benedict XVI? If so, this conduct would seem to me irrational and unlawful. Because
    (i) the 1962 Holy Week Rite is not some set of liturgies which came down fully-formed from Heaven, nor one which was handed down intact from early times. It was devised by Archbishop Bugnini and imposed by Pope Pius XII, then revised and inserted into the Missale Romanum and imposed by B John XXIII. It represents a very considerable modification of what the Roman Rite did previously. Thus the forms found in 1962 have precisely the same legal and customary force (and no more) as the Prayer Pro Iudaeis imposed by Benedict XVI. Unless one is a sedevacantist, it is purely arbitrary to accept the massive alterations decreed by Pius XII and to refuse the change made to just one prayer by Benedict XVI.
    (ii) There is a more historical approach to liturgical authority which sees it as essentially resting upon what Ancient Tradition has handed down to us. Benedict XVI, laudably, gestured towards this attitude when, in issuing Summorum Pontificum, he commented that what has been sacred cannot become forbidden. If the SSPX regard this as the essence of liturgical authority, I would have to express much sympathy for them. And, in this case, they will have reverted to the Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae which preceded Pius XII. And, of course, in using that ancient set of usages, they will not have changed the Prayer Pro Iudaeis. Because Benedict XVI did not impose his own new composition upon the pre-Bugnini, pre-Pius XII, rite; he imposed it on the 1962 rite.

I would be interested if readers were able to refine the logic I have tried to follow in all this. I will be less interested in comments which are merely forcefully phrased expressions of personal preference or prejudice or dislike.

9 comments:

Patricius said...

But what will you do on those days, father?

Don Camillo SSC said...

Or, I suppose, he could dispense himself from observing the law on a particular occasion, as he could dispense from any purely ecclesiastical law.

ansgerus said...

FSSPX rejected the new Good Friday prayer with following comment, which can easily be found on fsspx.org via the search engine installed there:

"Our comment:

Because of pressure put upon him by people outside the Catholic Church, the pope thought he had to change the venerable Prayer for the Jews which is an integral part of the Good Friday liturgy. This prayer is among the most ancient; it dates back approximately to the 3rd century, and thus has been recited throughout the history of the Church as a full expression of the Catholic faith.

It is worth noting that Cardinal Kasper’s comments — which we may consider as authorized — make of this amputation a real transformation and the expression of a new theology of the relations with the Jewish people. It is in keeping with the liturgical upheaval which is characteristic of the Council and of the ensuing reforms.

Though the necessity of accepting the Messiah to be saved has been kept, we can only deeply deplore the change."

It is not clearly stated here that the new prayer is not to be used in FSSPX, but this is the actual practice of the FSSPX as far as I could personally observe. It might be different from place to place, but what I heard in the last years was the pre-1962 form (with "perfidis"), but with genuflection and with the amen at the end of the first prayer: probably a typical FSSPX-example of liturgical inconsequency.

By the way, the FSSPX in several countries but not in France (in USA, Germany, England...) applied pre-1955 until the internal controversy with the group of 9 American priest led to the "official" introduction of 1962 in the entire FSSPX in 1983. Originally, the Monsignore was quite tolerant (or shall we better say "loose") on liturgical matters, and left it more or less to the decision of the individual priests what uses they like to follow. He personally also did not use - as far as I know - the LC (liturgical correct) footwear of a Bishop during solemn masses.

Thomas said...

The 2011 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, n. 33, on the Sacred Triduum, does not mention specifically that the "liturgical books of 1962" are to be used.

I don't think anyone has presumed an implicit permission based on this wording, but I have heard a second-hand report from a very knowledgable religious, who had talked with one of the authors, that the document intentionally left that clause ("according to the liturgical books in force in 1962") out of this section. If you notice, every other rite mentioned has the specification of "1962 books."

It seems like grasping, but perhaps, at least in 2011, the issue of the ancient Holy Week hadn't been definitively precluded by the Holy See. But using the ancient prayer for the Jews would surely be imprudent... and if publicized, the quickest way to get a final call on the issue by the Holy Father.

Eques said...

I find your logic quite compelling, Fr. I do find one possible problem with (1) (e) (ii). Since the Holy Father has the power to change the law, it does not make sense that he should take this approach when he could change the law to account for his compelling reasons. Therefore, should he avail himself of (1)(e), then the logical conclusion is that he considers himself "Some Other Type of Arbitrary Being set above the Church". Can we hope that he is simply acting illogically?

All of this points out a further difficulty. While you and Benedict XVI believe that "the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not 'manufactured' by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity." I cannot say, certainly from my perspective, that the gentlemen in power in Rome appear to believe this. In short, from my pint of view and certainly in my experience, they do *appear* to think of the Pope, and themselves as his agents, as "Some Other Type of Arbitrary Being set above the Church." Perhaps if this fact could somehow be charitably conveyed to them they might reform their behavior to create a different impression.

Rubricarius said...

It would be good to see Pope Francis wash the feet of thirteen poor people and to give them food and alms afterwards. If some of those people were of the fairer sex I would not be too bothered.

Leroy said...

I blog about this here regarding John 13: http://www.leroyhuizenga.com/2014/02/24/footwashing/

Cordelio said...

The SSPX uses the Holy Week rites as they were revised in 1955 under Pius XII (and Msgr. Bugnini) – which is how they appear in the 1962 Missal, I believe, with the exception of the perfidis in the prayer for the conversion of the Jews. In my experience, at least some SSPX priests retain the perfidis, which was omitted by John XXIII in 1959. The genuflection before the prayer for the Jews – added in 1955 – is usually included.

Interestingly, one of the points of disagreement between the sedevacantists who split from the SSPX in the 1980s was their insistence on the retention of the pre-1955 rites, and their literature frequently criticizes the SSPX for the apparent arbitrariness of accepting some heterodox Bugnini-driven reforms while disregarding others. With the benefit of hindsight, I would tend to agree that one can see the same dangerous spirit driving the 1955 reforms and the Novus Ordo.

My first missal was a Father Lasance missal with the pre-1955 Holy Week, and the scope of changes is remarkable – although still an order of magnitude less than the change from Tridentine to Novus Ordo. My personal hope is that, when the Church finally sorts out its affairs, the earlier Holy Week will be largely restored by Rome. Despite my liturgical preference on the question, however, I think Archbishop Lefebvre made the prudent choice to settle on the 1962 missal.

Simply put, it was the last version of the missal instituted by a hierarchy whose motives would not be considered highly suspect by an informed Catholic at the time. After Vatican II, the mask was off, and it was clear that those driving the reform were not merely interested in reforming rites, but changing the Faith underlying the rites. Then resistance to the changes became a duty.

By settling on the 1962 missal, Archbishop Lefebvre could be clear that it was not the principle that Rome can govern liturgical matters that was being resisted (which, like virtually any exercise of authority, is not limitless), but specifically changes that posed a clear danger to the Faith.

With respect to subsequent reforms, it is again a question of context. This is not Pius XII directing the inclusion of a genuflection before the prayer for the conversion of the Jews at a time when the proper Catholic doctrine was not seriously in question. Instead, it is a Pope who has been complicit in the liturgical revolution, at a time when most Catholics have mistaken ideas about the need for the conversion of the Jews, putting forth a revision to a prayer that obfuscates the clear teaching of the Church on this point.

viterbo said...

Rubricarius: my guess is the next plates of meat Francis First will probably wash on Mandy Thursday, will belong to lgbt false religionists - not to be a deplorable example of proselytizing, but simply to be wonnnne. I will wait until the ash of the ash has been smudged from the bowl of my diminishing capacities to see if I remain, yours truthfully, ignorant.