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October 02, 2007

Comments

Leo

I don't know enough about the details of this case, so I can't condemn the actions of Archbishop Piero Marini.

He was appointed Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations in 1987 source presumably by JP2.

His liturgical 'outrages' are supposed to have begun at least as early as 1995 (hula dancing in Brussels) with regular 'relapses'.

What I find puzzling about the allegations and condemnatory tone of some commentators is this:

If JP2 thought Archbishop M repeatedly organized liturgical abuses - Why didn't JP2 dismiss/move him?

This is what most managers would want to do if they were regularly embarassed in public by a member of their team. JP2 could have done this without the possibility of being overruled by an employment court.

Since he wasn't dismissed - maybe JP2 didn't consider these liturgies as being as outrageous as some commentators now do?

Mike Petrik

It's hard to say, Leo, but you do have a point. I would draw an important (I think) distinction between authentic abuses and aesthetic embarrassments. An abuse is something that plainly violates an actual liturgical norm. Perhaps many of the examples were not so much violations, just examples of horrible tastelessness. Some people really are aethetically hopeless; interestingly, they often think of themselves as the avant-garde.

Leo

Thanks Mike, I think your distinction is an important one to keep in mind in this type of discussion. Similar to the distinction between aesthetics and ethics.

Monica

some (acute) aesthetic embarassments rise to the level of abuses in the eyes of the sensitive observer, making it extremely difficult to distinguish between catagories.

For instance, when is the line crossed for architects who blight the landscape (for a hundred years or more) and offend our religious senses when they erect ghastly modern churches? Google the Precious Moments chapel. Isn't there a catagory for Mortal Bad Taste?

SDG

<irony, not sarcasm>
A liturgist whose background isn't as a liturgist? Sounds promising!
</irony, not sarcasm>

Sifu Jones

Leo,

I don't know what what through his head, but remember that John Paul II was a gentle man, both in his office and his personal life. He never really dropped the hammer on anyone; he lived by the philosophy that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And in many ways he had great success with that approach.

Unfortunately, sometimes you just need a flyswatter.

Just because John Paul the Great didn't remove someone from office, doesn't mean they didn't need to be removed. For whatever reason, he didn't do it, and you are correct to imply that we should give strong deference to the pope's actions before we turn to questioning them. But the facts speak for themselves. Looking at the facts of what Marini the former was responsible for, I'm comfortable being happy about his removal from that particular post.

As a side note, the idea that he was more aesthetically challenged than liturgically challenged is given credence by the fact that he was given another job as president for the pontifical committee on international Eucharistic something or other (article on Catholic World News). It's not like the guy was just handed a pink slip; obviously Benedict still has a use for him.

Sifu Jones

Should read "what WENT through his head".

Inocencio

Old Joke warning...

What is the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

You can negotiate with a terrorist...

Guardian Angels pray for us.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

BillyHW

Once B16 was elected, it was widely expected that he would replace Marini, though not immediately lest it look like a slap.

What would be wrong with having it look like a slap?

Honestly, that doesn't happen enough.

Dr. Eric

I thought that the blue vestments at the Marian Shrine were nice... except for the fade into yellow. That wasn't nice, a little too wild for me. But blue vestments for Our Lady's Feasts do seem to be a nice color. I think that in Spain this is allowed.

Joe

You mean we won't have the pope swatted with herbs during an Aztec Limpia purification ceremony as a replacement of the penitential rite? You mean we won't have hula dancers or half naked tribal warriors during papal masses? No more soft jazz ballads replacing chant??? No more Technicolor vestments? What shall we ever do?? What has become of the liturgical renewal???

Jamie Beu

From what you're saying, replacing Piero Marini with Guido Marini was an excellent idea... heck, even replacing him with Guido Sarducci would have been a good idea, given the craziness Piero Marini was doing.

Leo

Joe, I agree that some things have been taken too far. However, most Popes and lay Catholics have been symbolically “swatted with herbs” as part of a penitential rite. Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.. No doubt some Protestants misunderstand Catholic sacraments and sacramentals as solely rooted in Pagan rituals.

I'm told that there was a time when any musical accompaniment to the human voice was regarded as an impious innovation. I don’t know enough about the religious language of hula, or the symbolism of body painting in a culture where what we might consider near nakedness is seen as innocently as we regard the uncovered female face compared with some cultures.

I suppose a lot of the difficulty lies in interpreting religious symbolism and personal aesthetic preferences and distinguishing that from real abuses.

SDG

Joe sounds awfully familiar.

Mike Melendez

Joe: "What has become of the liturgical renewal???"

Apparently, it continues: the old renewal being replaced by the new renewal. There was a time when renewal had a positive meaning, as in a return to something we had lost.

A.Williams

It seems to me that the Church was caught up in the 1960's,70's, scientific and cultural revolution even as most of us (who are old enough) also were...and some still are. The so-called 'future shock' that happened just came too quickly to respond to adequately. And this reflected on everything in society, which includes the liturgy.

And, of course, much of it was wrong. And this we recognize through the benefit of hindsight. Ponytails, peace patches, smiley buttons, Chevy Vegas, Ford Pintos and Volkswagon 'Things', were all part of this era! And thats why we have a comedy series called "That 70's show". I think almost all the world knows that..."those 70's" were a wild deviation from the norm, and now can be viewed with some sort of nostalgic humor...along with those huge afros, tie dye tees and wide flange Levi's bell bottoms.:)

So, JPII was also part of this culture..as was the entire modern world. And as the spiritual vision cleared, and the damage done to society--especially through loose sexual morals, liberalism and drugs was made more apparent, even the Hippi's abandoned their vision of the'dawning of the new age'..the age of Aquarius, that is. So, whereas many former hippi's are now 'crew cut' Republicans, and investers on the NASDAQ, the educational establishment in particular, and the Church, also, were very slow to follow the trend away from the 60's/70's values.

So JPII did a great job, however, as a guide out of the 60's era. He was a sort of clutch, making a smooth transition, while at the same time giving the Church all of the essential framework, documents, norms and canon laws needed to lead the Church back to where it should be. And now Pope Benedict is finishing the job.

Unfortunately, things take time.. and errors that grew for decades might need decades, or more, to repair. It's just the way the world seems to work. However, we can at least thank God for His divine providence in giving us Pope Benedict, who is now doing a great job in speeding up the reform of the Church and trying to rectify all the former errors.

May God continue to bless Him in all he does for the sake of the Holy Church!

jrg

"What would be wrong with having it look like a slap?

Honestly, that doesn't happen enough."
- - -
Just like Jesus is known for slapping folks.
- - -
Also - in 2003 I had the good fortune to pray the mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City on the 1st Anniversary Mass of St. Juan Diego's canonization. The opening procession included indigenous Mexicans from around the country who entered with an image of their canonized brother raised on high.

His canonization brings such a needed dignity to Mexico's native people and the beauty of their respective cultures was on full display at this anniversary mass of his canonization. The first reading was in one of the native dialects; the second from another, and the gospel was proclaimed in both Nahuatl and Spanish.

It was the most moving and memorable Mass I have ever attended. Cardinal Rivera, Mexico City's local shepherd insisted they be included and Fr. Marini was right to allow for their inclusion a year earlier at the saint's canonization.

Thanks be to God for John Paul the Great who defered to the wisdom of the local ordinary who assure his indgenous flock that they, too, are called to be a part of the universal Church.


Esau

Unfortunately, things take time.. and errors that grew for decades might need decades, or more, to repair. It's just the way the world seems to work.


A. Williams:

I commend you on your optimistic tone.

However, I for one doubt that anything will get better.

For example, it seems the priests at our church don't even give a damn about the Liturgy and, in fact, they made that plain in a statement once at Mass, even laughing about it with the crowds actually cheering them on.

There have been several liturgical abuses there.

In one instance, during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest would end up laughing and actually begin engaging the laity in conversation!

In another Mass, instead of the Nicene Creed, the priest said that we were substituting that with our own profession (similar to what we used to do in my Protestant church where we would declare Jesus as our Personal Lord & Saviour).

Thus, given this and many other similar things that have been going on in churches throughout America, I believe that it is a hopeless cause.

More likely than not, there will be a great divorce between the Catholic Church here in the U.S. and Rome. We're already suffering the division already.

I just hope that one day I can actually attend a Catholic Church that's not only one in name but in practice as well.

Tim J.

Don't give up, Esau! It is easy to feel alone, sometimes, but there are many more like yourself than you might suppose. All the liturgical tomfoolery of the last few decades has left people starved for significant form.

Many of these folks may not have a clue about the "liturgy wars", but I believe they will still be able to tell beauty from mediocrity when they see it.

Esau

Tim J.,

Thanks for your words of encouragement!

What's so sad about it is that there are a lot of youth there that are hungry for Christ, hungry for the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church.

The problem in this case seems to be the priests themselves.

If the priests only stop thinking about themselves for a moment and how to look and act cool in front of their parishoners; if only they would start thinking about the youth who are the next generation of the Church and about their faith; the importance of the Liturgy and how that is a vital part of the Mass; then perhaps the dedication of the young folks there would be even more emboldened to seek the Lord in His Church, the Catholic Church, and, even more, advance their journey further into the Catholic Faith and toward orthodox teachings instead of the popular ways of the times, that do more to harm one's faith and steer them the wrong way than it is to actually help guide them.

AnnonyMouse

Hang in there, Esau. We are praying for you!
We are moving to a different state in hopes of finding a parish and hopefully a community that does respect the liturgy as we do. (The priest decided to have a prayer service sort of instead of mass for All Saints Day and only 3 people knew that there had been NO mass, the rest thought there was even though there was no communion :( )

Esau

AnnonyMouse,

THANKS SO MUCH!

I will certainly pray for you as well!

Incidentally, the priest tend to call the Mass here a 'service' also, unfortunately.

God bless.

Landrew

jrg:
Some parts of indigenous cultures should be excluded from the Church. The Aztecs were pagan, devil-worshiping, cannibals, who practiced human sacrifice. They also subjugated every other culture and people in what is now Mexico. Other native peoples were forced to provide a constant supply of victims for Aztec priests to sacrifice to their snake-god. The majority of these people had their hearts torn out with a stone knife.
The Aztec culture, dancers included, should be destroyed and forgotten. In its place a thoroughly Catholic culture can be established, which will liberate the former devotees of “Aztec-ism” from the bondage of paganism.

Please let me personally witness to the fact that liturgists used JPII's Masses to justify domestic liturgical abuses. Over and over again we were told in seminary that this or that liturgical law could be safely ignored b/c the "Pope did it at the Mass of so and so..." When we objected, "But he's the Pope...," we were dismissed as Neanderthals and hopeless right-wing flakes.

Fr. Philip, OP

Brian Day

Fr. Z has a great discussion on the article over at his blog
What Does The Prayer Really Say?

ArizCalFlaLaw

If, as you say, "liturgical law" was "disregarded" at Pope John Paul II's celebrations of the liturgy, there is only one person who is responsible for that. That person would be Pope John Paul II. He has absolute authority, and therefore, he must bear absolute responsibility.

We must not rush to judgment however. The diversity of the Universal Church is breathtaking. There are five principal rites, and the Roman rite is only one of them. Many times, a Roman Catholic will think that something is "essential" but in reality, it is merely one of many ways of expressing the same faith. Even practices within the Roman rite vary from one country to another.

Another example: many people think that Eucharistic Prayer IV of the Novus Ordo is too modern, but did you know that its language is adapted from the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which is used in the Byzantine Catholic rite on special liturgical occasions? The Liturgy of St. Basil predates the Tridentine Mass by several hundred years.

Esau

ArizCalFlaLaw:

While I appreciate the information you have kindly provided, there is a significant and substantial difference in the variety of acceptable rites which find their source in the ancient church versus the variety of liturgical deviations that more so coincide with Protestant-leaning ideals.

While there are some things I am able to tolerate at Mass such as the Music, I cannot accept the incredible extent to which the abuse has taken place as to violate the very sancity of the Mass itself.

Gibberwock

"Just like Jesus is known for slapping folks."

I don't know about slapping, but He definitely overturned a few tables back in the day.

Even John Paul II was not adverse to bringing down the hammer, as was seen with Latin American liberation theology (assisted by none other than then Cardinal Ratzinger, I might add).

Joe

Leo,

The Apserges Me quotes directly from Psalm 51. The psalm recalls the hyssop branch that was used to spread the blood of the lamb on the lintels of Hebrew homes at the first passover. The hyssop is also the branch used to bring the wine-vinegar sponge to Christ's lips. The Asperges Me has deep Christological significance.

The pagan limpia "rite" is disgusting example of syncretism. The two cannot be compared.

Denise

I came across this a few days ago when researching Little ROck Scripture studies which our diocese seems fond of, just fyi:

A Challenging Reform
Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal
Archbishop Piero Marini

("In these pages Archbishop Piero Marini reveals the vision, courage, and faith of the pastors and scholars who struggled to implement the Second Vatican Council’s teachings on the liturgy. While in some circles it is fashionable to propose “a reform of the liturgical reform,” any such revision needs to take into account the history of the consilium—the organism established by the Holy See to carry out the initial liturgical changes. This story of the work of the consilium offers a fascinating glimpse into the struggles and tensions that accompanied the realization of the council's dream to promote the "full, conscious and active participation" of the faithful in Roman Catholic worship.") linked from Little ROck Scripture store to the Liturgical Press website...

D in AZ

J.R. Stoodley

I think we have to be careful in condemning elements from other cultures that make there way into the liturgy of that area. We are best able to judge the appropriateness of various things in our own culture, the Western culture of Europe and North America. Pagan elements were merged with Christian ones in Europe long ago and from that merger developed our current traditions and norms. Taking elements from foreign cultures and putting them into a liturgy in Europe or N.A. mearly creates a spectical which is disrespectful to the liturgy, to our own culture, or to the culture being borrowed from.

When you get into a different area though, like Latin America or Africa, you encounter cultures that have only just recently become evangelized. It isn't fair to them to force European traditions upon them. They need to find a way of practicing Catholicism that connects with their heart and respects there traditions. This certainly doesn't mean incorporating pagan rituals into the liturgy, but it can mean differences in vestments or music or art and archetecture and that sort of thing. It could even mean "baptizing" certain formerly pagan holidays, as happened in Europe in the first millenium, incorporating superficial elements of them into Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day (or Eve or All Souls Day), etc. It could also mean using native plants in place of palms for Palm Sunday and for sprinkling of holy water and things like that.

All this must be done in a way consistant with the spirit of the Liturgy however, and in a way that will not confuse people into holding pagan or heterodox beliefs.

Rome should probably have a role in regulating this, but the local bishops and priests are presumably the ones who best understand the culture in question and what is appropriate or not so they should be the main ones guiding the process. We Westerners should generally be hesitant to judge something from a different culture as too pagan or immodest, except perhaps when it has passed some clear point of absurdity.

I don't know much about either Marini, but it sounds like a promising change. The Pope is the bishop of Rome, a Western city, and so except perhaps when visiting a non-Western culuture Papal masses should be Western in character, to set an example and to avoid confusion, scandal, and insult. This even goes for other ancient Chrstian traditions. For example, I know an Orthodox person who watched the funeral of JPII and was quite moved until the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs came out and did their thing, which in that context seemed strange and exotic. It greatly insulted him.

J.R. Stoodley

Esau,

I'm a little more optimistic about the future of the liturgy. I was lucky enough to attend the conference of Knights of Columbus college councils in New Haven last weekend and talked with some seminarians. Granted they were Knights, from seminaries with Knights councils, so it isn't a random sampling but they were quite orthodox and rather traditional in taste. They said most of their peers had greatly welcomed the Motu Proprio allowing greater use of the TLM, with a few exceptions of course.

I think once our generation replaces the Vatican II architect generation and Vatican II children generation as the prominent ones in the Church good things will happen. Not all the problems will go away, but the worst ones will and the rest will be tempered, and good parishes will become more common.

Esau

I think we have to be careful in condemning elements from other cultures that make there way into the liturgy of that area.


J.R. Stoodley has a point here --

I believe the very reason why we have different rites is because of the fact that the local cultures had affected the practice of the local churches.

This is certainly acceptable as they find their origin in the ancient church.

The only thing I am wary of is the incorporation of non-Catholic themes into the practice of the American Church, with people actually believing that this is a legitimate thing to do when, in fact, it only dilutes the authentic Tradition of the Church.

Should this happen, it no longer is Catholic -- it is Protestant.

Jason in Washington

"Since he wasn't dismissed - maybe JP2 didn't consider these liturgies as being as outrageous as some commentators now do?"

We might never know the reason as to why the late Pope chose to retain Abp. Marini as his MC and liturgist. However I think that Leo has a valid point with this statement. After all, the Pope as the successor of St. Peter and head of the apostles, the proverbial "buck" stops with him alone. John Paul II was a man of compassion and zeal of the Holy Spirit. perhaps he did not feel that the "outrages" were really as bad as many people now think.

As for "What would be wrong with having it look like a slap? Honestly, that doesn't happen enough." I do not believe that His Excellency intended to do harm to the liturgy or to the Church. On the contrary, I assume he must have tremendous love for the Church however that did not mean that perhaps some of his implementations were less proprietable.

Esau

I think once our generation replaces the Vatican II architect generation and Vatican II children generation as the prominent ones in the Church good things will happen. Not all the problems will go away, but the worst ones will and the rest will be tempered, and good parishes will become more common.


J.R. Stoodley:

I am hoping you're right, but most of the things that I've witnessed so far leaves me despondent and the chances seem abysmal.

While I am not saying that the Tridentine Rite should be the way to go for all churches, I'm well satisfied with a properly-celebrated Novus Ordo Mass -- even with the popular spiritual music that's become the mainstay of some parishes; as long as the Mass is celebrated accordingly and the focus remains on the Sacrifice of the Mass and NOT merely on the IDEA of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour (almost as if the Eucharist is non-existent and is simply a symbol and nothing more).

Needless to say, I was completely and utterly shocked when I experienced this incident in the church I've been attending as well as the attitude of the priests there.

The youth there seem to have their hearts in the right places -- too bad the priests there seem to have misplaced theirs.

Arturo

What did you expect at the canonization of Juan Diego???
He was Aztec and thus Aztec dancers or Aztec clothes would not be innapropriate.
Everything does not have to be European.

It is in the best Tradition of the Catholic Church to have organic indigeneous practices become part of the life of the Church--as was done in Europe in what we have of the great Latin Catholic Church today.

Read Matteo Ricci or Roberto di Nobili
or even the New Liturgical Reform Blog (which promotes the Traditional Latin Mass) on certain items being sung in the Native American languages of the US and Canada (Iroquois, Mohawk etc)

We should try to respect other cultures and the genius of Pope John Paul the II of allowing other cultures to be Christianized and allowing organic customs (that are not immoral or inherently anti-Catholic) into the Church and public practice.

Joe

The tired old canard that the mass is filled with baptized European pagan ritual is simply asinine. Much of the mass has Jewish roots, apostolic origin, or is the meditation of centuries of Christian saints. Most of the baptized pagan elements show up in popular piety, not the order of mass.

How is it that the Roman mass and the Eastern Divine Liturgy share so much in common (both in texts and ethos) yet they were separated by language, politics, geography, and culture? Why weren't they just a mirror image of the pagan culture in which they arose?

Inculturation does happen, and it is a Catholic principle, but when a non-Christian element is introduced it is completely redefined and altered. It is never simply assimilated. As a contrast, why is it that this idea of "inculturation" in the new mass created liturgies that reflect Protestant and/or pagan ritual??? That is improper inculturation...it is syncretism.

Joe

Arturo,

Juan Diego was an Aztec pagan who became Catholic; and he worshiped God according to the liturgy that Benedict just freed. He did not need limpia purification rituals to know that Catholicism was true.

Taylor Marshall

Thanks for the update!

Betty

I once heard this definition of "Liturgists"
People given to the Church by God in times without persecution, so that the faithful may suffer.

Rick

Esau,
I sympathize with you. I too went to a horrible parish for several years -- there was not another parish for 65 miles. I could not afford, at the time, to drive the 130 miles round trip each Sunday. I wrote my bishop -- he did nothing to stop the abuses and even forwarded my letter to my pastor. I finally got a new job in another city and now go to the Trid exclusively. One thing that I did do when I was at the bad parish --- I gave them absolutely NOTHING. I sent any money I could spare to the FSSP. Perhaps some here would condemn me for that, but I refused to fund the liberals in any way.

God Bless.

PS -- JPII was in charge of his own liturgies. If he disliked the humbug going on, he could have stopped it. That he did not do so was a travesty, in my opinion. Thank God for Benedict XVI.

Esau

I once heard this definition of "Liturgists"
People given to the Church by God in times without persecution, so that the faithful may suffer.

Yeah -- why are there Liturgists in the first place?

We should have the right to do anything we want at Mass -- whether that means incorporating a Protestant altar call, a Benny Hinn healing service, liturgical rock-n-roll, dancing with the celebrants, etc.

Jesus wouldn't mind -- after all, HE'S DEAD!

Arturo

There certainly are Jewish roots and the liturgy (Latin and Eastern Divine Liturgy) date back to apostolic times. However, many customs, parts, and certainly non liturgical aspects from saints, statuary, art, spirituality, customs have pagan roots--but that does not make them bad or Catholicism wrong.

Ad orientem predates Christianity---Jews pray in the direction of Jerusalem, after Christianity--Muslims to the direction of Mecca--many towards the direction of the Sun (the East where it rises)--We did borrow symbolism because Jesus is the Son and now the Sun--in symbolism. The incarnation sanctified many previous "pagan" customs which is why we are not iconoclasts or still Jews or worse gnostics or Manicheans.
So rings, and trees, and Roman and Pagan customs--and philosophy of Aristotle or Plato--are good and can become Christian at least in praxis.

Joe--Juan Diego worshipped God in his native Nautl tongue and spoke the the Blessed Mother and she spoke to him not in Spanish or Latin but in Nauthtl--also dress and feathers and customs and clothers appropriately integrated into Liturgy--just as vestments can be culturally appropriate or certain other symbols--can be present in architecture, a Church, a sanctuary, a tabernacle and even the Mass (in limited sense)

J.R. Stoodley

Esau,

Yes, there are problems. Most masses I've been to are pretty bad. I have however been to some good "Novus Ordo" masses. One was this weekend at this event in New Haven. Another was in Mainz, Germany. The Liturgys at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and St. Patrick's in New York aren't bad either. EWTN does it very well also. I think these bright spots will become more numerous as this generation of seminarians become priests, while most places the liturgy will become better though still far from what either of us would want.

Already the worst abuses of the 70s and 80s like clown masses and pizza and beer "Eucharists" have become very rare if not non-existant and many seminaries have turned around. Most liberal religous orders are dying while traditional/conservative and downright traditionalist ones tend to be thriving. Things aren't going to be great in this century but they will be better than the last few decades, except that there will be less priests generally.

J.R. Stoodley

Arturio,

I think you, unlike Joe, have a pretty good grasp of the extent and goodness of the pre-Christian roots of many European Catholic practices.

Joe

Arturo,

Juan Diego conversing with the Blessed Virgin or praying in his native tongue is quite different than incorporating pagan cult into the mass.

Joe

Since Arturo and JRS are the self-styled experts of the pagan origins of our mass, maybe they can inform us all of one element in the order of mass that is of verifiable pagan origin (meaning they can prove that at some time the Church said, "hey, this pagan ritual is peachy-keen, lets use it").

BillyHW

Just like Jesus is known for slapping folks.

If I recall correctly, Jesus lashed out with whips when he started turning the place upside down.

Jordan Potter

Joe is right. There is no record in the history of the Church -- until the 20th century -- of a pagan rite or custom being "baptised" and incorporated into the order of the Mass. The only baptised pagan customs are popular customs, outside of the Mass. And even today when we have seen pagan rites being performed during the Mass, they are accretions and innovations (i.e. liturgical abuses), being mentioned nowhere in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite. The sort of "inculturation" that Archbishop Marini favors is alien to the ethos of the Catholic Church and her liturgies.

Leo

Joe, I can't claim to be a liturgical expert, however, the following came quickly to mind, some albeit of broader relevance.

"in Him we live and move and have our being" Preface 6 of the Mass.

inspired by Acts 17:28 [Paul at the Athenian altar to the Unknown God] ... it is he who gives everything - including life and breath - to everyone. From one single stock he not only created the whole human race ... so that all nations might seek the deity, and by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him. Yet in fact he is not far from any of us, since it is in him we live and move and exist [suggested by the pagan poet Epimenides of Knossos], as indeed some of your own writers have said: "We are all his children" [from Aratus' Phainomena].

Celebrating the Mass in Latin and later vernaculars not found in Scripture.

I remember being told that the traditional vestments, including stoles, were originally the dress of pagan Roman priests.

The use of icons, and 'graven images' forbidden in Judaism.

Not the Mass but, perhaps even Jesus (Mt 7:15) remoulded Aesop's fable (550 BC) of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Also not the Mass itself but, the date for celebrating the Nativity of Jesus was previously the birthday of Sol Invictus. This shows the inculturation of Christianity into Graeco-Roman culture.

Jeannine

Like Fr. Phillip, I have personally witnessed "what the Pope does in his masses" being used as an excuse for liturgical abuses. My parish's parochial vicar (ie, assistant pastor) went to Rome and came back with great ideas for children's masses, which supposedly came from how Pope John Paul II did things. All the children in the church were invited to stand around the altar in the sanctuary, even little two-year-olds. I used to wonder whether someone would knock over a candle or pull the cloth off the altar; sometimes they would wander around up there, talk to each other, etc., since there were no adults to supervise them as the priest said the Mass. Father also used to have the children act out the homily in the sanctuary. After a while we just started to avoid the children's mass whenever possible. (Don't get me started on the horrible Children's Lectionary.)

J.R. Stoodley

I don't think anyone has said any particular aspect within the order of the mass is a direct borrowing from a pagan ceremony, or that any borrowing from pagan ceremonies would be a good idea today. However, much of the art, archetecture, vestments, dates and symbols and customs of holidays, and perhaps even some sacramentals and prayer techniques are pre-Christian European in origin. I've never heard that priestly vestments were connected specifically to the garb of Roman pagan priests, but certainly they are derived from ancient Roman clothing.

Why should other cultures not have art and archetecture and vestments derived at least in part from their old culture? Why shouldn't they have some of their old customs, if they can be adequetly separated from their old pagan meanings, incorporated into the popular observance of Christian holidays? Why can't a particular native plant of significance to them be used to sprinkle holy water? Why should they be forced to use Western music in the mass when they have their own traditional instruments and forms of music, even if these need to be modified somewhat to fit the solemnity of the Liturgy?

matt

JR Stoodley,

Why should they be forced to use Western music in the mass when they have their own traditional instruments and forms of music, even if these need to be modified somewhat to fit the solemnity of the Liturgy?

They aren't in the mass because they are "western", they are in the mass because they are associated with the Latin Church.... in the Eastern Churches (Orthodox and Uniate) they have some differences, however compare the two, how much difference do you think there is?

Now, it's always a good practice to reinforce success not failure. The Church was in ascendancy until all of these shenanigans started up around Vatican II. Now? Decline in many fronts. Saints? You want indigenous saints? They ALL were converted and practiced the the Faith in a Mass that was virtually indistinguishable from the Roman Missal of 1962, forget inculturation.

God Bless,

Matt

Arturo

The vestments of the Pope and the color scheme were borrowed from the Roman Emporer--1. there is nothing bad with that and 2. this is from a really good visual traditionalist conservative site--Hallowed Ground.

To have vestments that have links to Aztec culture, or feathers, or people dressed in indigenous garb or venacular use of other ancient languages besides Latin (like theoretically Mayan but that has not and will not happen) is not wrong.

Matt you have a very triumphalistic and monatist tone--which I can sympathize with--but inculturation DID work with Franks and German pagans and others. But now that current Catholic interpretation is seen as the only one.
Again, read a Traditional liturgical site like the New Liturgical Reform website/blog about the Missals of the Tridentine Rite with some use of the venacular of the American Indians including chant in different languages. Read about Croatian Latin Rite (not Serbian Orthodox) priest having beards and liturgy in Glagolitha language. There has been a lot of forced Latinization that has not been healthy.
Many converts retained a lot of their own culture and were critical of the European discrimination and exploitation.

Look at the stories of the beautiful Jesuit Missions in Paraguay. Or the writings of Hsu.
Or the failures in China or India. Or the success in Japan for a time. Or the failure in Ethiopia with the Coptic Christians. Or the Portuguese exploitation of organic African Christianity. There is a great book called the North American Indian and the Jesuit. Also, maybe there would of been more conversions if Matteo Ricci in China or Roberto di Nobili in India would of been allowed incultaration. If you do not think there is inculturation, even in the Mass--even if Novus Ordo--just visit Africa, Mexico and South America--you will definitely see some syncreticism--again not all bad--including in the liturgy--and liturgical periphery--art, architecture, prayer techniques, statuary, internal representations, wording etc.

I like very mucht the Traditional Latin Mass--and there are liturgical abuses. But Aztec Indians dressed in traditional garb doing some type of Traditional dance (if they are Catholic) is not pagan. Most Aztecs have not been pagan for 500 years thanks to the Blessed Mother who spoke Indian dialect and appeared as a brown young Indian peasant virgin girl. The Blessed Mother believed in inculturation and it worked in the biggest mass conversion in the history of the planet.

SDG

The Church was in ascendancy until all of these shenanigans started up around Vatican II. Now? Decline in many fronts.

And what do we know about correlation and causation?

Joe

Well Arturo, I asked for the order of mass not superficial stylistic resemblances. The pagan limpia purification ceremony REPLACED the penitential rite. Vestments are used in OT liturgical worship. Plus, look at all the different rites within the Church, their vestments are all very similar (even those rites which didn't arise from Europe but from Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia).

I think your example of Matteo is a great instance of improper inculturation. The sacrifices and oblations in honor of Confucius were rightly condemned by the Holy See. The Dominicans and Franciscans both had successful missions without the syncretism used by Matteo.

Joe

"And what do we know about correlation and causation?"

http://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20031208.html

Yeah, it is just coincidence.

matt

Arturo,

I won't go point to point on your litany calling for the disintegration of the unity and solemnity of the Latin rite of the Catholic Church. As Joe mentioned the Catholic and Orthodox Mass is virtually identical in every location even those not subjected to "Latinization". Again, what has syncretization wrought? The conversion of India? Japan? China? Not in any significant numbers, in fact generally at lower rates than before it became vogue. Catholic Mass in Central America has a 500 year history of no syncretization and prior to Vatican II was completely dominant everywhere... now? Losing ground in many places.

The problem with syncretism is that it makes the false assumption that somehow the Mass is "attuned" to Western man, but that is just not the case, there is little about the trappings or styles in the Mass that are common to western man for hundreds of years. Ib fact that is precisely the importance of these trappings, they are not day to day, they are a part of heaven on earth. We walk into Church and we are transported away from the banal. The more the church conforms to us the less we are called to conform to Christ.

The Virgin Mary a syncretist? Shame on you to conflate her dress and appearance, and language with allowing pagan rituals into the Catholic Mass. The mass of her converts was clearly Catholic, not Aztec, unlike what was introduced after Vatican II.

Don't you think it's a little dishonest to conflate this discussion with "exploitation"?

Now there's a key distinction between sacred art and architecture which of course can borrow from the styles of the local artists, it must retain it's sacredness, and important symbolism. It should stand apart from contemporary art and architecture, in the west the east and everywhere.

Triumphalistic? Of course, Catholicism is a triumphalistic faith. Montanist? Not a chance, if you really believe that be specific.

God Bless,

Matt

SDG

Yeah, it is just coincidence.

Who said anything about coincidence? The question was, What do we know about correlation and causation?

SDG

Triumphalistic? Of course, Catholicism is a triumphalistic faith.

Triumphalism:

when you obtain pleasure and satisfaction from the defeat of someone else (source)
an attitude or feeling of victory or superiority: as
a : the attitude that one religious creed is superior to all others
b : smug or boastful pride in the success or dominance of one's nation or ideology over others (source)

Although a neutral usage may be just possible, I don't think it's advisable. It's a word with ugly associations, usually denoting an ugly attitude.

Maureen

The vestments of the Pope were _not_ borrowed from the Emperor.

The only thing about the Pope that's even roughly imperial is his _red shoes_. Originally, only the imperator wore red boots; but this broadened out to include lots of other highborn folks once the
Empire in the West decentralized.

Everything else the Pope wears comes from either ordinary Roman dress or a stylization of Jewish priest clothes.

Joe

Matt,

Yes, what has syncretism wrought? Look at how many of our suburban youth will shave their heads and wear a bright orange robe to sell books in airports, or meditate in front of a statue of Buddha. Being counter cultural isn't offensive to many people.

SDG,

You seemed to discount the correlation between changes in the liturgy and the precipitous decline in mass attendance. As soon as the mass was tinkered with (starting in the early-mid 60s, even before the NO) pews were emptying. Either it is a striking coincidence or, as St. Thomas states, messing with custom, even with good reason, destroys faith and any change must be exercised with caution. (ST II, I, Q. 97, a. 2) The fruits of the radical liturgical changes of the last few decades speak for themselves. Then Cardinal Ratzinger saw that the devastation of the faith was a direct result of the collapse of the liturgy, something he called "a banal fabrication."

Arturo

If we really had no inculturation, we would have Mass in Hebrew--the liturgical language of Jesus and the language he would of used in liturgical, or quasi liturgical prayer settings--or Aramaic--the venacular of the time of Jesus and the language of the Mass of Assyrians (some Monosphytes) and Chaldeans in union with Rome and some others or the similiar Syriac (Orthodox, Oriental and Catholic in union with Rome)

There is no doubt that Middle Eastern Christianity (again this is not bad or proof by fundamentalists that we are pagan) had borrowed ideas, words, etc from mystery religions etc.

Matt, Joe--you are wrong on Japan--the Jesuit way DID WORK--Japan was on the verge of becoming Catholic before mass killings and persecutions.
There were Mongolian clans that were Christian (albeit in that case Nestorians but on the verge of coming to Rome) You should speak to Indian and Chinese Catholics--including those attached to the Latin Mass (I go to an indult Mass).
Certainly, an Aztec purification ceremony in lieu of the penitential rite is not appropriate but other cultural expressions in the liturgy are important.

There is no shame on me in pointing out that the greatest conversion in the history of the Catholic Church (mass conversion) came after the Blessed Mother appeared as a brown Indian girl with symbolism borrowed from the previous pagan culture. The largest outdoor procession in the world (according to CNN and just video and photos) was when Pope John Paul II came to Mexico the last time for the canonization of Juan Diego and the Santos Ninos de Tlaxcala.
The Triumphalism I am critical of is when there is an ignoring of history, exploitation, genocide, and other bad things.

Also the Jesuit Redacciones Missions worked until the interference of slave traders (in violation of papal encyclicals) and the Portuguese and Spanish governments--Missions that were inculturation and truly Catholic and not socialist but what would be distributionism (a la later philosophers Hillaire Belloc and GK Chesterson)
Vasco de Quiroga (Bishop) and his way worked better in Michoacan, brought conversions and more respect for human rights in the 16th Century.
It is humorous that you think there was not syncreticism for the last 500 years until Vatican II (some good, some bad)--just go down to Mexico or South America (there are Catholic saints that have internal represenatations of past pagan gods with celebrations on the same day, Days of the Dead, Santo Muertos, etc--well before Vatican II or a Novus Ordo clown mass--again some good some bad inculturation)

In terms of Monatism--just look at the history of the Eastern Rite Catholic Ruthenian Byzantine Rite in the US and the growth of Eastern Orthodoxy and the danger of Latinization and Monatism and assimiliation.

My point is to respect others and bring legitimate organic culture into Catholicism which is truly Catholic. Matteo Ricci wanted to allow honoring ancestors (not change a liturgical rite) and include some of the philosophy of Confucius (as we do with Plato or Aristotle--Plato believed in Eugenics and exercising naked but we still include him in Catholic theology)--so I am not sure why Matteo was wrong. Matteo Ricci SJ did have success with upper level Chinese--but little support from Rome. Roberto di Nobili also had conversions--albeit not on a mass scale in the difficult India--but in Japan the Jesuits--with inculturation (Japanese was used in liturgy, there were vestments with Japanese symbolism)--Japan had 300,000 Catholics at least and maybe more--Daymos were Catholic and even the Shogun who started to kill Catholics was baptized--Japan was on the verge on becoming Catholic.

Joe

Matteo did not get trouble for treating Confucius like Aquinas did Aristotle, but for offering sacrifices and oblations in honor of Confucius. Big difference between finding truth in pagan philosophy and inserting Confucius in the mass.

I don't know why you are stuck on private revelation and the language of mass as the definitive proof liturgical inculturation. I do not object to Mary being dressed as an Aztec princess, nor do I have a complete aversion to the vernacular in mass. What I deplore is the Marini syncretism that was constant under JPII. It was wrong and contrary to true Catholic inculturation (and even JPII's liturgical laws).

SDG

You seemed to discount the correlation between changes in the liturgy and the precipitous decline in mass attendance.

You misread me. I didn't discount the correlation, I asked what we know about the relationship between correlation and causation.

You seem to be suggesting that the only possible explanation for the correlation between the changes in the liturgy and the precipitous decline in mass attendance is that the former caused the latter, or else it was just a striking coincidence. Are those really the only possibilities you can think of?

ArizCalFlaLaw

Joe writes that "I have a complete aversion to the vernacular in mass."

Why?

The use of Latin as a "universal" language is found only in the Roman Rite of the church. In the Byzantine rite, churches are organized along national or ethnic lines (e.g. Ukrainians, Romanians, Russians, Serbians, etc.), and each church uses its own language. The Maronite church, which is part of the Antioch rite, traditionally uses Arabic, although the words of the Consecration are always spoken in Aramaic (the language of Jesus).

People learn more if they are taught in a language they understand. There is no requirement, moreover, that we homogenize our national and ethnic identities. Just as, in the United States, we have 50 states in one federal union, we can (and do) have a universal church that respects and encourages national and linguistic differences among the children of God.

One justification that has been put forth for the use of Latin is that, if a Roman Catholic travels to another country, he will find the same Mass. I was discussing that concept with a Ukrainian Catholic priest.

He thought about that and said, "so, day in and day out, we are supposed to celebrate the liturgy in a language we do not understand on the chance that a foreigner might show up? How often does that happen?"

Some of the newer Roman Catholic Masses are terrible. The use of English, however, is NOT the problem. The problem is the failure to recognize the essential elements of the Catholic faith and to exclude practices which form no part of that faith.

Liam

Keep in mind that several aspects of the Rites Controversy were reconsidered and reversed by Rome in the mid-20th century.

jrg

"The Virgin Mary a syncretist? Shame on you to conflate her dress and appearance, and language with allowing pagan rituals into the Catholic Mass. The mass of her converts was clearly Catholic, not Aztec, unlike what was introduced after Vatican II."

The Mass is the Mass is the Mass in which Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ becomes present in both Word and Sacrament to those responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit - to be collectively present at a specific place and time for the communal worship of the one true God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Refering again to the Mass I mentioned earlier: 7/31/03, Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City - the 1st Anniversary Mass of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin's canonization - that Mass had no pagan elements, unless you consider the burning of copal to be pagan - but does not the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church use incense in its liturgies?

The objective structure of the Mass at Our Lady's Basilica in Mexico City was no different than the Spanish Mass I weekly attend in the Diocese of Arlington, VA across the river from our nation's capital. Subjective elements were very different, yes, but he Mass was the same - but more beautiful and demonstrative of what it is to be Catholic.

The faithful I mentioned were indigenous Mexicans in their best dress commemorating one of their own who God has revealed to be in heaven. Readings as I mentioned were in native indigenous Mexican dialects as well as Spanish - the dominant language of the culture. Music was played on indigenous instruments - the reverent joy of the people was palpable - as was the obvious disdain of a few American pilgrims in the congregation whose folded arms and disgusted expressions spoke volumes.

Ours is an incarnational faith, and we do a diservice insisting that one must worship God in the manner to which I am accustomed. There is a danger focusing on the externals to the point of detraction. The trappings of the liurgal wars are yet another means by which our focus is not on our Lord Jesus Christ who died - even for indigenous peoples of the world whose pagan practices prepare them for His gospel.

Joe

Ariz,

I wrote, "nor do I have a complete aversion." However, for the Roman Rite, as VII taught, Latin should remain normative. John XXIII extolled Latin: http://www.adoremus.org/VeterumSapientia.html

SDG,

So what is the cause? Protestant church attendance went down by about 5-10% in the last 40 years, Catholics are down by over 60%.

Pseudomodo

Joe,

To quote Cardinal Newman:

"We are told in various ways by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred to it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields: sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church."

These supposed pagan practices took time to be adopted into mainstream Catholicism and it may not work in all instances.

If a witchdoctor shook his rattle in the forest to a pagan god he is doing a virtuous act in his own mind and heart. If he is converted to Christianity he could probably be forgiven for asking, "I once shook my rattle at a pagan deity but I was mistaken. Now that I am a Christian I feel the desire to shake my rattle to the one true God who should have deserved my devotion in the first place."

Can the Catholic Church accept this 'innovation' in the interest of taking Christ to the culture that is being evangelized and seeing what grows there?

The Vatican Council teaches, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these [other] religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines, which although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2 Con 5:18-19), men find the fullness of the religious life.” (Vatican Council II, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, n. 2.)

Our Christian spirituality therefore consists in the participation in the life of Christ through the grace of God, given in baptism and the increase in grace through the sacraments. This life of Christ is the Divine life of sanctifying grace in which we receive a share in the Divine life of God.

Our experience of spiritual life should be to live the life of Christ; “I am the vine, you are the branches”. We note that it is the branches that bear fruit, and not specifically the vine although the fruit ultimately finds its source in the vine. So it is with the Church; one vine, many branches, much fruit.

As in the concept of inculturation, where the church is willing to see that Christ is grafted onto the existing culture rather than simply supplanting it, we see that individual spirituality of different Christian Catholic religious orders each have a unique spirituality that is acceptable to the Catholic Church.

Not all cultural practices may be acceptable to the Church. Human and animal sacrifice are also all of pagan origin, but may NOT be sanctified by their adoption into the Church. Ritual dance is also of pagan origin but the church teaches that it must be authentic to the culture that is evangelized and so can be santified by its adoption into the church.

However I personally frown on the introduction of practices into the liturgy that do not grow organically from the culture and I am dismayed that a priest can alter the liturgy in a culture whose roots ARE European simply because somewhere in the world the church has rightfully accepted ceremonies that have been cleansed and purified for the exclusive use of the true God.

And not only do I frown but I express my displeasure by docking the collection basket appropriatly. In this modern age the parish runs on MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!! And I don't feel one but ashamed at this after all suppose it was the alleged FAITHFUL who changed the liturgy.

The Lord be with you. "You too buddy!!

Let us give thanks to the Lord. "No problemo, priestly dude!"

The Body of Christ. "Thanks, bud!"

If you want the liturgy to be good and authentic you have the power to make it happen. The priesthood is a ministry of authority not necessarily power. Power may actually be in the hands of the people who hold the purse strings.

BTW: In case anyone suggests that I am going against the catechism and the precepts of the Church by not "providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities", I am not suggesting that at all.

What I suggest is that you withold your contribution for as long as it takes. Do not deny the contribution, just defer it.


ArizCalFlaLaw

Sorry if I misconstrued the message (the structure of this blog makes the messages difficult to read, particular if there are several on the same topic). My point, however, remains the same. Language is not the problem. Lack of fidelity to Catholic teaching is. And that is often the result of a failure of education.

Joe

Pseudomodo,

Yes, Christianity wasn't created in a vacuum. But many of the instances Newman mentions also have Jewish precedence: The use of temples, incense, lamps, and candles, offerings on recovery from illness, holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields: sacerdotal vestments, an orientation to prayer, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant (Jewish liturgical chant). But it is still evident that these elements (and those of strictly pagan origin) were completely baptized and redefined. The corpse of paganism wasn't grafted into the Body of Christ like some sort of Frankenstein, it was made thoroughly Christian first.

Pseudomodo

Joe, I agree with you mostly although you will have to convince me that the elements were COMPLETELY baptized and redefined. I think that it takes some time for that to happen.

I am not defending alleged pagan practices grafted on to the body of Christ but I think that it is the Christian thing to find good faith of some sort and build on that until it is purified. Even Christ accepted the authentic and good (but perhaps incomplete) faith of non-jewish people. He knew it would grow and mature.

So I do resist "The corpse of paganism [being]grafted into the Body of Christ like some sort of Frankenstein." And I resist using my unopened wallet as a whip against the 'liturgy changers'.

Hal

"Catholic Mass in Central America has a 500 year history of no syncretization"

That's simple at odds with the facts. Latin American Catholicism is rife with syncretization and superstition. Not in the churches, but in the homes.

The Spanish and Portugese conquered Latin America and stamped out native religions, at least in public. Don't point to the Mass as the great vehicle for the establishment of Catholicism in Latin America.

The conversion of the Russians and Slavs was through preaching and liturgy in their own languages. As was the conversion of the Roman Empire through Greek and Latin, i.e, vernaculars. Conversion of Latin America succeeded DESPITE the Mass behind completely foreign to the native population.

Aveline

There seem to be two different arguments going on here.

One side is saying, "No, we can never let pagan rituals into the Mass!"

and the other side is saying "Art, music etc. from a previously pagan culture could be used in a liturgical setting."

And both are true. It's just that the distinction can get fuzzy on the ground. And then there's the matter of whether something harmless in itself is appropriate to the liturgy.

If someone's dancing in an Aztec costume, are they performing a Pagan ritual? I think most people would say, "No. Not unless they're meaning to honour some ancient Aztec god/chanting a prayer to an Aztec god."

But the dancing Aztec still shouldn't be dancing up the aisle of the Church during the Consecration. There are plenty of things that are not worship of false gods, and are still completely inappropriate inside Mass. Juggling, for one.

So it's probably a good idea to make distinctions between whether something is syncretistic and whether it's disrespectful to Christ's Mass. Both are serious problems, but they're different problems.

I'll take issue with this though.

Landrew:
Some parts of indigenous cultures should be excluded from the Church. The Aztecs were pagan, devil-worshiping, cannibals, who practiced human sacrifice. They also subjugated every other culture and people in what is now Mexico. Other native peoples were forced to provide a constant supply of victims for Aztec priests to sacrifice to their snake-god. The majority of these people had their hearts torn out with a stone knife.
The Aztec culture, dancers included, should be destroyed and forgotten. In its place a thoroughly Catholic culture can be established, which will liberate the former devotees of “Aztec-ism” from the bondage of paganism.

This isn't about whether Aztec culture should be incorporated into the Mass, but whether it should exist at all, so it's probably a bit off topic.

But one should remember that the peoples of Northern Europe practiced human sacrifice too, and we still maintain many aspects of culture from their days. The same stereotypically "Celtic" design you'll find in old pagan shrines and the Book of Kells. So, I think there's plenty of room for anything good in Aztec culture to exist, minus the evil.

Plus, the people the Aztecs were sacrificing also practiced human sacrifice, and basically had the same religion, for at least two thousand years back, so it's not just Aztec culture that's at question here.

Landrew

SDG
Triumphalism:
when you obtain pleasure and satisfaction from the defeat of someone else.

We should be pleased when paganism, or any other devil-inspired plot is defeated and the Truth triumphs.

an attitude or feeling of victory or superiority: as
a : the attitude that one religious creed is superior to all others

As a matter of fact Catholicism is superior to all others. It is superior not because we believe it to be so. Catholicism is superior because it contains divinely revealed truths. It is superior because it can not contain falsehood. Truth is superior to falsehood.
Catholicism is not a "western" construct. The west (untill recently) was formed into an image of Catholicsm.

Landrew: It must be nice, in a way, to be that certain of the purity of your motives and attitude.

jrg

Landrew, Pope John Paul the Great, Jesus' vicar, wrote in Redemptoris Missio, "The Church imposes nothing, she only proposes."

To be authentic Christians, we must remember that the nature of Truth itself is servant, not master, humble, not superior. We have only to look at the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ to see this. Only the strongest are able to emulate His humility, which, by the way is the key that unlocks the human heart.

We have only to look at an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to see what this looks like - here's a hint: Luke 2:35.

Brian Walden

I'm all for bringing local customs into the way people live their faith, but I'm against local customs replacing the rituals of the Mass. If people want to adapt an Aztec purification ritual for Christian prayer in group worship services outside of Mass, that's fine by me. But within the Mass there's a prescribed way to celebrate the penitential rite and an Aztec purification ritual is not within the rubrics.

There are times for introducing innovation into the Mass, but this generation is not one of them. We first need to get to the point where Mass is widely celebrated reverently and according to the prescribed rubrics before we can even start to think about adding new innovations.

Tim J.

Landrew-

I don't disagree with anything you said in your last comment, but I think most people use the word "triumphalism" with the last definition in mind;

"smug or boastful pride in the success or dominance of one's nation or ideology over others"

Smugness is never a good thing.

If this is, in fact, what most people mean when they use the word "triumphalism", then using it in some other more narrow sense doesn't really help in trying to communicate, because you end up having to constantly explain what you mean.

Yes, we hope the gospel "triumphs" over pagan superstitions... we know that Catholicism is true and that, in as much as other faiths are in opposition to Catholic faith, they are false. But, as St. Paul said, "Where is boasting? It is excluded."

I didn't invent the Catholic faith, I stumbled onto it. I can take no pride in that.

jrg

Brian - did I miss something? What is the genesis of "Aztec purification ritual" in this blog thread?

It certainly was not in my descripton of the Mass I attended at the 1st annivesary Mass of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin's canonization.

The Mass I attended was in full accord with the rubrics that allow for the Mass in Mexico City to be as familiar as the Spanish Masses I attend each Sunday in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C.

What did I miss?

Brian Walden

I was refering to the limpia in the article, not your experiences at Mass. I was under the impression it was used at the Papal Mass, if I've got that wrong I apologize.

Puzzled

Leo,
The Christ Mass was celebrated on December 25th prior to the invention of the feast of Sol Invictus. Late December on the old calendar is indeed very likely for the birth of Christ.

Inculturation must not change meaning. It can be tricky.

The culture of central Italy is not that of all Europe. Italianization is not the same thing as Europeanization. And what was Christendom in Europe was very significantly modified by Christianity from what it had been prior to conversion.

It seems to me that an Aztec purification ritual would be a pagan rite by nature, coming from the witch-kings of the pre-Columbian American city-states. That is something to be well rid of. The locals were certainly happy to be able to throw off the yoke. Cortez was only an opportunity for the uprising. An uprising happened in North America against these same sorts of witch-kings several hundred years earlier.

I'm not sure what remains of local dress and music after 500 years, but that which exists -and isn't part of pagan ritual- would be acceptable, if appropriately used. In fact, a lot of unique culture has been developed in those 500 years. That shouldn't be thrown out just because it was influenced by Christianity or Spaniards.

Or so it seems to me, for what it is worth.

Esau

About Sol Invictus --

I was under the impression that the reason why the early Christians celebrated Christ's Mass at this time was to deliberately make it coincide with this pagan festival in order to make their celebration of Christ's Mass less conspicuous, being that they were under persecution at the time.

Aveline

Puzzled:
An uprising happened in North America against these same sorts of witch-kings several hundred years earlier.

What are you referring to there? There's plenty of evidence for war in MesoAmerica, and for what you aptly call the witch-kings of their city states, but I don't see any evidence that previous wars were motivated by dislike of such sacrifice. It never stops, for one thing, from one dynasty to another. Kingdoms that once appeared peaceful just had the bodies hidden in places the archaeologists hadn't yet looked.

Liam

Esau

That's a common conception of the scheduling of the Nativity, but there is other evidence that linked the Annunciation (and therefore the Nativity) to the Triduum. There was a school of thought in the early Christian era that perfect people died on the anniversary of their conception. And the perfect time for the Annunciation would have been, it was thought, the vernal equinox (the first of which was considered to have occurred on the 4th day of creation - when the lights of for measuring day/night were created) or a couple of days later (the sixth day of creation, when Adam and Eve were created). This is all typology-driven, not historically driven. Anyway, the two common dates used were around April 6 (in Alexandrian practice) and March 25 (in some other places). Nine months later, you get Nativity/Theophany, et cet. There are scholarly articles that explain this better, but I am just working off what I read many years ago.

Btw, if one were to read the infancy narrative of the Gospel of Luke quasi-historically, given what we know of the scheduling of priestly clans during the time of the Second Temple, Zechariah's scheduled service would have been around Shavuot (Pentecost). Which would place the Annunciation around Chanukah, the birth of the Baptist around Pesach, and the birth of our Lord around Sukkot (Tabernacles), which was a more important feast than the Days of Awe in that time period. And the shepherd thing long derided by historical criticism would be more plausible under such a timeline.... And this year's Sukkot ends tonight, IIRC....

Esau

Liam,

Thanks for all that wonderful info!

By the way, where'd you obtain all these details?

Joe

Liam's account of the date of the Nativity is the extent of many pagan influences on the Church--coincidence. You hear this stuff all the time: communion wafers are round just like the sun, so Catholics are sun worshipers; priests were red vestments, so did pagans, therefore Catholics are pagan.

Jordan Potter

Nine months later, you get Nativity/Theophany, et cet. There are scholarly articles that explain this better, but I am just working off what I read many years ago.

I think it's primarily the fine scholarship of William Tighe that you're thinking of. Tighe summarises his (in my opinion rather compelling) argument here:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

Btw, if one were to read the infancy narrative of the Gospel of Luke quasi-historically, given what we know of the scheduling of priestly clans during the time of the Second Temple, Zechariah's scheduled service would have been around Shavuot (Pentecost).

That's not quite correct. There were 24 priestly divisions that had a rotating schedule of service in the Temple. Each division got to serve in the Temple twice a year. Zacharias was of the eighth division, that of Abijah, which served in the Temple around (or soon after) Pentecost or Shabuot, and again in the autumn, soon after the high holy days (including Tabernacles or Sukkot). However, in addition to those two regularly scheduled times in the year, all 24 divisions had to be in Jerusalem during the fall holy days, because there were so many pilgrims bringing sacrifices during the month of Tishri that every available priest had to be there.

St. John Chrysostom and other early Fathers mistakenly thought Zacharias was not just any priest, but as actually the High Priest. (That is based on the apocryphal second-century Protevangelion of James, which portrays Zacharias as well as Simeon as High Priests.) Thus, Chrysostom thought St. Luke was describing not just the daily offering of incenses (as he obviously was) but the actual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) rites of Leviticus 16, the one day of the year when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer atonement for the sins of Israel. Chrysostom knew that Yom Kippur usually happened around the autumnal equinox, which he dated to Sept. 25. St. Luke says the Annunciation took place when Elisabeth was six months pregnant. Since John the Baptist was conceived soon after Zacharias completed his Temple duties, Chrysostom calculated six months from Sept. 25, which brings us to March 25, and then nine months after that is Dec. 25.

Chrysostom was mistaken about Zacharias being the High Priest. Gabriel didn't appear to him on the Day of Atonement. St. Luke clearly says that Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah, and that Gabriel came to him during the time that Zacharias was discharging the duties of his division. (Lots were cast to determine which priest of the division would offer the incense each day.) It's possible that it happened during the fall holy days, when all divisions were present in Jerusalem, but St. Luke's words indicate that it was during a normal course of Temple service, therefore during one of the two usual times of year when Abijah's division was called upon to serve in the Temple.

Which would place the Annunciation around Chanukah, the birth of the Baptist around Pesach, and the birth of our Lord around Sukkot (Tabernacles), which was a more important feast than the Days of Awe in that time period.

As Liam points out, Zacharias may actually have been serving in the Temple during late spring or early summer, which would end up placing the birth of Jesus during the fall holy days. Some have pointed out that the Feast of Tabernacles (Greek Skenai) would be an especially fitting time for the Logos to be made flesh and "dwell" (Greek skenoo, to pitch a tent or erect a tabernacle) among us.

Again, Zacharias may have been serving the Temple soon after the fall holy days, which would end up placing the birth of Jesus approximately in late December or early January -- that is a result identical to Chrysostom's calculations, only without he erroneous link to Yom Kippur and the erroneous identification of Zacharias as High Priest. Some have pointed out that Hanukkah, the rededication of the Temple, started out as sort of a duplicate of the Feast of Tabernacles (In II Maccabees 1-2, Hanukkah is actually called the Feast of Tabernacles), and just as the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple at the first Hanukkah, so the Incarnation of Jesus cleansed and rededicated the "temple" of the human body, human nature. Indeed, as Jean Danielou pointed out in "The Bible and the Liturgy," St. Gregory of Nyssa preached a Christmas sermon in which he linked the typology of the Feast of Tabernacles with the Incarnation, saying that Christ's Incarnation has reerected our tabernacles, human nature, that had fallen down because of human sin. St. Gregory's homily interprets the great festival hymn of Psalm 117 (188) as a prophecy of the Incarnation, and in the pre-Vatican II liturgy for of Christmas Day, one of the Gradual chants came from exactly those verses of Psalm 117 (118) that St. Gregory of Nyssa had quoted and interpreted as a type of the Incarnation.

Therefore, whether Jesus was born around Tabernacles or around Hanukkah, it would be typologically fitting.

And the shepherd thing long derided by historical criticism would be more plausible under such a timeline....

That's true. However, the argument that shepherds could not have been living out in the fields during December is pretty flimsy. For one thing, we can't say for sure what the climate in the Holy Land was like back then. For another thing, Jewish tradition tells us that there were shepherds living out in the fields all year round in the vicinity of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, because there always had to be flocks available for the Temple sacrifices. That was pointed out by Alfred Edersheim (a convert from Judaism to Anglicanism) in the 1800s, in answer to Bishop Lightfoot, an Anglican who had just raised the "it was too cold for shepherds to be in the fields" argument for the first time in history. Therefore we have no reason to favor the fall theory of Jesus' birth over the winter theory -- both theories are possible, although the winter theory is the one that has the most support in Christian tradition (and, for what it's worth, several Fathers in the 300s A.D. said the Roman census records were still extant in their day, and indicated Dec. 25 as the date of Jesus' birth. Even Julian the Apostate mentions the census records, and he cited them as proof that Jesus was just a man, the son of Joseph, because He had been registered with Joseph named as His father in the census).

And this year's Sukkot ends tonight, IIRC....

Yes, today, Wednesday, Oct. 3, is the seventh day of Sukkot, called Hoshana Rabba, the Great Hosanna (cf. John 7, where Jesus is in the Temple "on the last day of the feast, that day called Great"). Tomorrow is Shemini Atzeret, the "Eighth Day" of the Feast, a final concluding festival to close Sukkot. In the days of the Second Temple, Hoshana Rabba was a day when great quantities of water were drawn in preparation for Shemini Atzeret. Interestingly, it is on that day when Jesus spoke of rivers of living water quenching man's spiritual thirst and bringing new life to man's spiritual deserts.

Jordan Potter

Correction: Tighe mentions his dependence on the scholarship of Thomas Talley.

Esau

Jordan Potter:

FINALLY!

Thank-you VERY much for the elaborate details you've provided here!

Ben Bentrup

Can someone please post what GIRM rubrics the outgoing archbishop neglected and/or defied (at least without prior permission to do so, if that's possible), for that hasn't yet been made clear to me.

Secondly, although I'm not sure they can be separated but if they can, if our Lord Jesus had the choice of a liturgy that followed all the rubrics or a liturgy that brought sinners closer to him, I would definitely bank on the latter (again, not saying for sure that you can have the latter without being a mass that meets all the rubrics).

An impression I'm getting from this debate is that "the Sabbath wsa made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (paraphrased from memory) might have some bearing in this discussion by way of analogy. Being loyal and obedient to rubrics is a very good thing, but we have to ask ourselves if there is a possibility of taking that attitude too far, and if so, have we reached that it in any given situation.

I'm speaking theoretically here. I have no clue how any of this applies to Archbishop Marini.

Regards, Ben

Michael

Very interesting, respectful, and thoughtful thread--I learned a lot

There is a website called Sarabite that has some thoughts on this topic.

Sometimes I don't read the threads on this blog as they degenerate (no fault of most good people and the blog host) to some real nonsense and name calling--this discussion is very interesting. Some real interesting and well informed posts. I think an important discussion.

Check out another blog:

http://sarabitus.blogspot.com/

ArizCalFlaLaw

Esau wrote:

ArizCalFlaLaw:

While I appreciate the information you have kindly provided, there is a significant and substantial difference in the variety of acceptable rites which find their source in the ancient church versus the variety of liturgical deviations that more so coincide with Protestant-leaning ideals.

While there are some things I am able to tolerate at Mass such as the Music, I cannot accept the incredible extent to which the abuse has taken place as to violate the very sancity of the Mass itself.

=======================================================

I agree.

The Eastern liturgical practices are acceptable because they are traditional. Tradition plays a very important part in the Eastern church. It is our way of demonstrating the unchangeableness of God and the constancy of faith.

The ad hoc innovation that occurs in some Roman Catholic churches is unacceptable.

The point of my original message is that the practices of the Roman rite are not necessarily the only way.

Merely because an idea differs from what is done in the Roman rite does not mean that it is wrong.

Many of the ideas promoted by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation find their origins in the Eastern church (e.g. use of vernacular in the liturgical services).

matt

Ben,

if our Lord Jesus had the choice of a liturgy that followed all the rubrics or a liturgy that brought sinners closer to him

I think the point is that good liturgy and following rubrics draw us to the Lord. Bad liturgy and rubrics attempt to draw the Lord to us.

Ariz,

I don't think you're correct on the Eastern origins of "Protestant" destroyers ideas on the liturgy. A Protestant service bears no resemblance to the divine liturgy of the East.

God Bless,

Matt

Tim J.

"the argument that shepherds could not have been living out in the fields during December is pretty flimsy"

I would have to agree, based on my experience.

I have been in Israel in late November, and the weather was very temperate.

I have also, as a Boy Scout leader, camped in some pretty darn cold weather. It CAN be done. The more you live outdoors, the better you get at it. You learn what to do, what to carry, what you can do without. An intelligent, experienced camper can be comfortable enough in the cold.

That simply is no argument against the narrative of the shepherds.

off

Ben Bentrup

"....Bad liturgy and rubrics attempt to draw the Lord to us." - Matt

The structure of the whole sentence makes me think the above selection is intended to be a bad thing, but the words themselves don't suggest that to me. Just to be clear, can you expand on this point please.

Also, please note that I mentioned if the two points could be separated - i.e., are there any broken rubrics, per se, that have succeeded in drawing people to the Lord? If it is outright disobedience, surely that offends the Lord greatly (because of the connoted sin of pride), but if the rubric is broken through ignorance, or reluctance (the missionaries forgot to bring the gold chalices and used clay ones from the neighbor), and there still results true worship or heartfelt contrition, I can imagine that the Lord could be pleased about a Mass without the proper rubrics being met. Again, all hypothetically.

I don't think it has been mentioned in this discussion yet, but we also have to remember that the Church is a living organism, guided by the Spirit. Where rubric breaking would cause scandal and laxity and a diminishing of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in certain communities, then it should not be allowed. However, if the pope or the local ordinary permits for a short time some liturgical experimentation in a very careful way, then I could see how this could be a good thing in certain communities that are far removed from the Judeo-Christian heritage.

Every act of worship at mass is a symbol, an outward sign of our interior love and adoration for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If the outward symbols change, but the interior love and adoration which they express do not, then strictly speaking, in as far as that goes, there should be no problem. Remembering worship at the mass is a communal event however, it must be regulated with the norms, for which the GIRM is a great source. However, if it can be proven to the satisfaction of the community that a particular expression of worship is truly communal, then this objection would be met, and it simply remains the responsibility of the competent authority to make the proper dispensation and eventually codify it when practical. The last objection might be that the Mass, more than being communal expression of worship, is nowadays truly a worldwide expression of worship. This might preclude certain traditional expressions of worship that have not sprung up from our Jewish heritage. That would be sad, but perhaps necessary to preserve unity. I'm not convinced about this, but certainly it pains me to see people like Matt and Joe who are pained about certain irregularities, albeit thousands of miles away from their homes.

BOTTOM LINE, given infinite resources of investigation, if the competent authority (the pope? the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship? the local ordinary?) can know that certain liturgical expressions represent true worship for a community, those forms of worship should be allowed in that community. Not allowing such could eventually evolve into personal sin on the part of those in authority for leading people away from Christ.

Fortunately, this delicate issue doesn't affect me too much, as I love the Novus Ordo Mass, and attend a faith community where the GIRM rubrics are perfectly practiced. Plus I get to watch EWTN every day to witness their beautiful liturgy. God be praised!

Esau

Many of the ideas promoted by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation find their origins in the Eastern church (e.g. use of vernacular in the liturgical services).


ArizCalFlaLaw:

With all due respect, I would refrain from making such general statements.

There are large divides between the ideas of the Protestant reformers and those of the Eastern Church.

In spite of the schism between the Eastern and Western Church, I would venture to state that theologically and liturgically, there is greater agreement between the two churches than there is between Protestantism and the East.

Esau

However, if the pope or the local ordinary permits for a short time some liturgical experimentation in a very careful way, then I could see how this could be a good thing in certain communities that are far removed from the Judeo-Christian heritage.


If they are removed from our Judeo-Christian heritage, can this even be properly described as "Christian"?

Let's say we added innovations such as:

- Benny Hinn Healing Services

- Dancing with the Celebrants

- Liturgical Rock-n-Roll

- Altar Calls

and all manner of popular Protestant and perhaps even secular practices; and, because of their popularity, they attracted greater audiences to the church.

Are you telling me that because of the end result (e.g., the drawing of larger audiences to the Church), these innovations are to be found acceptable?

In other words, it seems like you are willing to accept such innovations into the Church while sacrificing the very Tradition as handed down from Apostolic times, which lies at the very heart of Catholicism.

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