We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Monday, December 1, 2014


It is of the essence of reading that one proceed in such a way as to be really open to not finding there what one expects to find, what one has in fact surreptitiously substituted for what was actually there, to be discovered, had one been properly receptive. As Heidegger phrases it, one should be open to undergoing an experience with the unexpected.

Of course, a word must also be said for not wasting one's time reading what is not worth reading. So when the NLM tells me about a book which avows

For most of the early Christians it was a given: the Book of Revelation was incomprehensible apart from the liturgy ... It was only when I began attending Mass that the many parts of this puzzling book suddenly began to fall into place. Before long, I could see the sense in ... the prominence it gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary (12:1-6) ....

I say to myself: not to be perused.

Where did this idea come from? Could it be bad liturgical revision?

I heard Signum Magnum sung for five years in a row, to my sorrow. The new Introit is taken from the Apocalypse of St John and is entirely irrelevant to the feast. What does a woman clothed with the sun have to do with Our Lady's death?

What indeed? Even the USCCB avers, in its commentary, that

* [12:1] The woman adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars (images taken from Gn 37:9–10) symbolizes God’s people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (Rev 12:5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (Rev 12:6, 13–17); cf. Is 50:1; 66:7; Jer 50:12.

Now, of course, a good image is simply not accessible by one, simplistic metaphoric gloss. It must have many, possibly contradictory, meanings. But, on the other hand, not all things are possible.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very sympathetic to the idea that the Apocalypse is a book structured around liturgy and a liturgical cycle - cf. Austin Farrer's The Rebirth of Images - but the liturgical cycle it is built around is Jewish; Dix refers to the scene of the 24 elders in The Shape of the Liturgy also & suggests it is based on early Eucharistic rites.