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)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Into the depths of the Western tradition"

More excellent meditations from A Real Live One, as excerpted and rearranged here (follow the link for the complete piece, in its original presentation). (We who have ἀφίκηται ἐν βορβόρῳ wonder: is there a way out?)

Is the pursuit of older forms of Western worship valid or of any real use? It has been at least a decade since I had the gall to claim I could answer that question. Personally, I suppose I would answer in the affirmative, but, either due to fatigue with the issue or because it is no longer relevant to me, nowadays I haven't the will to argue the point to any great degree. But there are enough people out there, in diaspora, who raise the issue and they are not the SSPX types, but rather the types who want to go down the rabbit hole into the depths of the Western tradition. If mainline churches do not offer a satisfying forum for these people, then what viable option is there?

In truth, not many ...

Option One: marginalization within an organization that is busy going somewhere else fast. (Been there! Done that!)

... one may pivot to traditionalist communities, although this option has its own pitfalls. There is [a] definite marginalized status traditionalist communities have in the Roman Church. Ecclesia Dei communities are irrelevant, as the Roman hierarchy, though tolerant of them, refuses to put the bulk of its institutional weight behind them and the majority of Roman Catholics view them as an odd curiosity or throwback at best ...

Option Two: marginalization within an organization that has neither the competence nor the interest to foster future growth (or, even, effective oversight).

Another option is Western Rite Orthodoxy, although this is a mire one should think twice before stepping into ... The view of Orthodoxy towards the Western liturgy is complex matter ... Orthodoxy's competency is not in the area of the Western liturgy. Ultimately, the Western liturgy is viewed (among liturgical circles) as being the responsibility of the Patriarch of Rome. The Orthodox patriarchs do not have the competency to intervene if there is a dereliction of duty on his part.

Option Three: the Benedict option

One option is to form a new religious community, if only revolving around the office ... However, any new religious community faces a myriad of challenges, the most pressing of which is developing a reason for existence, a clearly defined philosophy that guides mission. It is easy enough to start a community of some sort. It is more difficult to develop a coherent body that has focus and attainable goals. On a more practical level, any liturgical mission involving the pre-modern books of the Western tradition starts off at a disadvantage. Let us be clear: anyone wishing to use the pre-modern books (the pre-Pius X breviary for instance), immediately confronts scarcity of resources. These are not in bountiful supply and their scarcity highlights the greater problem any mission to re-established the earlier books faces -- the lapse in liturgical memory.

Option Four: the Jeremiah option

Jeremiah 29: 4 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.

10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.


An afterthought.

Though its unity was shaken by the Reformations of the 16th century there was still a Christian culture that defined Western Civilization until the Enlightenment. In fact, this Christian culture remained—or at least its illusion remained—right up through Dwight Eisenhower and Leave It To Beaver. In the last fifty years we have seen our Christian society become a post-Christian society. In this post-modern age in which we live there are a plethora of answers to every question; an excess of values for every decision. Somehow Christendom vanished. We are back at step one.

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