Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

The controversy that has been stirred up over Cardinal Sarah’s encouragement to priests to return to the traditional orientation at the altar during Mass has been fascinating, alarming, and perhaps ultimately necessary. It has provoked people on various sides to play their hands: unswerving loyalty to the status quo of liturgical reform, and a willingness to use an iron fist in a velvet glove to defend it; a commitment to reforming this reform to bring it more in line with the explicit intentions of the Council on which the status quo bases its legitimacy;  a rejection even of a reform of the reform and an overriding commitment to the pre-conciliar liturgy as liberated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007; and, incredulity among a minority at this bickering over such a peripheral thing as liturgy —”people are starving”, etc. On the positive side, it has renewed a discussion into what Christian worship is all about, what is its focus and what are its essential principles. This has led some to make more concrete and definitive judgments on related issues on which they had not previously come to any firm and final decision.

However, Sacra Liturgia 2016 had three full days of talks beyond Cardinal Sarah’s controversial address. So to help further the effects and fruits of the conference, I propose to single out what struck me as particularly noteworthy and deserving of ongoing thought and application. These strike me as seeds that deserve the water of our attention, our study and prayer, and our action. Continue reading “Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016”

A Quick Reply to Dr Shaw

Though I did not feel that he was obliged to, Dr Shaw has offered a timely reply to my previous post. In it he implies what I feel as well, that this is not personal but a discussion, a debate even, concerning the ways and means to a shared goal.

Dr Shaw does not address the whole of my post, just some issues he felt needed clarification. While I take on board what he says, I am not sure I find things much clearer.

I hypothesised that if the restoration of pre-conciliar worship is his goal, and wondering how this would be achieved, then one way that seemed to present itself would be imposing such a change much as the new Mass was imposed in 1969. We do not want a repeat of that. Cheeringly, Dr Shaw said that this was “obviously not” the way to proceed. He clarifies how he sees progress advancing: Continue reading “A Quick Reply to Dr Shaw”

Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform

Liturgy is a hot topic again. Cardinal Sarah’s opening address at the Sacra Liturgia 2016 conference in London in early July, with its advocacy of priestly orientation to the east rather than to the people when at the altar, has had the effect of bringing many to play their hands openly. However, that this reception can be neatly divided along the usual lines, into progressives as anti-Sarah facing off against conservatives—or “neo-Tridentinists” as they have inanely been called—has become impossible.

The “conservative” ranks might be conveniently, if not with absolute accuracy, divided into two columns when it comes to this liturgical debate: the reformers-of-the-reform and the traditionalists properly speaking (i.e. those who favour the 1962 Missal). The reformers-of-the-reform have embraced the cardinal’s appeal, because it accords with the rubrics of the new Mass even as it is, and because it is a feeling almost like liberation to hear such a senior pastor advocate the traditional orientation with equivocation. Continue reading “Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform”

Succumbing to modernity

Finally I have succumbed. I have just taken to Instant Gramming. It is quite fun I have to admit. It was either Instagram or Pokemon Go. I chose the better part. No selfies, though… I promise! Go have a look if you need to slaughter some time.

Jesus falls the first time. Fr Aloysius' stations.

A photo posted by Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman (@hughosb) on

 

 

Creative Clergy and an Appeal

Creative Clergy and an Appeal

(Above, sunset in Broome, June 2014)

Something a little different for a moment… (the appeal—not for money but for creativity—is at the end).

One thing I noted at Sacra Liturgia was the number of younger clergy and seminarians. At least one progressive commentator labelled them (us all, at the conference that is) as “neo-Tridentinists,” a label revealing a startling ignorance on the part of those doing the labelling (on a surface level, as many of us have never offered the old Mass; on a profounder level, because most of us were not looking back to Trent but to Vatican II as it revealed itself). Int revealed also a sense of chagrin or befuddled anger, as if quietly agog that the system had failed, or refused, to weed out the neo-trads as it used to in the halcyon post-conciliar days of the 70s through 90s.

Continue reading “Creative Clergy and an Appeal”

What do they fear in facing East?

Meetings today, meetings tomorrow. The summary of the key teachings of Sacra Liturgia 2016 will have to wait another day. In the meantime it is hard not to wonder at the muted panic that seems to be spreading in some quarters at the prospect of a resurgence in ad orientem worship. Why such a need to stamp it out so quickly? What do they fear in facing God?

Are they afraid that people, having experienced ad orientem in their own churches might discover that it works far better for worship? Are they afraid people would come to love it, and prefer it? If so, why should that bother them? If it meant a more committed and satisfied congregation, that should surely be greeted with cheers. If it came to pass that the congregations increased in number, then surely we should dance for joy (non-liturgically!). Continue reading “What do they fear in facing East?”

By the Cross her vigil keeping

By the Cross her vigil keeping

Today the blog has gone quietly into overdrive (for this little blog I mean – it is all relative). My thanks to you all for taking the time to read here. People from 130 countries have visited today, which is all rather extraordinary to a little Aussie in his inadequately-austere cell in a venerable but fading monastery on the Berkshire Downs.

Recent events have shown how little the dynamics in the Church have changed this past 3 years, despite all the prospects of reform (however one might conceive it). The Body of Christ is Holy, but its individual human cells are not so perfect, still saints-in-progress—hopefully! (save for those happy few patent saints who dwell among us). Continue reading “By the Cross her vigil keeping”