Sunday, September 06, 2015

Reading Louis Bouyer and more


  • The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer. A 20th-century French Newman? Suspected before Vatican II of being too Protestant and afterwards for being authentically Catholic. A convert Oratorian like him, sort of a via media (ha) between Dom Bernard Botte's orthodox but still rather naive liberalism and Klaus Gamber's great takedown of the Novus Ordo (maybe it's not really the Roman Rite anymore). He rambled so he's harder to read than the other two but his disillusionment with the Novus Ordo, already known to people in his field, is worth getting to. Interesting stuff: Bouyer's take on who took the liturgical movement off course is different from the other two. If I recall rightly, they and Thomas Day blame those who put aside being really scholarly about the liturgy (its history; what its parts mean), or even never really were, for the sake of "what would work in the parishes" (if "the people" seem to like it, if it gets them to sing, no matter what "it" is); Bouyer blamed ivory-tower academicians. Also: Bouyer was very French (ethnically mixed, very European) but not Catholic to begin with; his approach to the faith was, well, very romantic, different from a cradle Catholic's experience of the church at the time. He was orthodox and didn't like what was done to his own work after Vatican II but like Botte he tells it like it was, how his Oratorian novitiate was run by an idiot, for example. Apparently French Protestants didn't make much of a distinction between Lutheran and Reformed; Bouyer went to both as a child. Being drawn to high churchmanship, to the sacramental and mystical, he became a Lutheran pastor in the '30s before coming into the church in '39. Early on, in his sincerity he bought into a Western Catholicism minus the Pope, maybe under an Eastern church instead. He knew Fr. Lev (Gillet), "A Monk of the Eastern Church," whom Fr. Serge (Keleher) told me was an undercover Catholic priest (what?!); Bouyer describes a disreputable vagante-ish type, which involves the character of French "Western Rite Orthodoxy" at the time (a Modernist ex-Catholic priest, Winnaert, and his little following). Bouyer claims that, when he was a Protestant seminarian, Gillet received him into Orthodoxy undercover (no paperwork), keeping him in place at the Protestant seminary; Bouyer communed from him but eventually drifted away. He rightly had no time for Bugnini and says he was two-faced, telling Bouyer the Pope insisted on something Bugnini wanted and at the same time telling the Pope that Bouyer's committee insisted on it. And: Bouyer didn't like the baroque Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism I do; he thought it was tacked-on, fakety-fake, considering Catholic remnants authentic in his Lutheranism at the time. (Anglicanism is really Reformed with bishops.) About the legitimate liturgical movement.
  • Traditionalist ecclesiology: is there a future for traditional Latin Christianity? I'm a believer in "rule of law" but like Bouyer I believe Roman Catholicism is the real Western Orthodoxy. Everybody belongs in the church, but if you care at all about Western Catholicism you obviously should come home.
  • Gabriel Sanchez:
    • A note on recent news involving the SSPX.
    • An opening remark on the ways of Greek Catholicism in the West. The first traditional Catholic Mass I actually got to attend was Ukrainian, 30 years ago; World War II refugees (who fled from the Soviets) and their families. Philadelphia isn't as heavily Slavic as the rest of Pennsylvania but the Ukrainians are here, survivors of a once-thriving immigrant community; the Ruthenians are barely hanging on. I don't feel called to that rite but they're an option I'm glad to have. The rite's better than the Novus Ordo and they're endangered in America as they age and the young drop out, so they need all the help they can get. While it's great that some good Catholics have found a refuge from novusordo-ism and other good Catholics have found a true calling in the Greek Rite, the sad fact is the Slavic Greek Catholics of any kind are slowly dying in America. Same attrition problem as the Orthodox, assimilation by the third generation in America, plus we have the problem of "Catholic is Catholic" backfiring as many people go Novus Ordo when they leave the old ethnic neighborhoods. The third generation and beyond in America aren't Ukrainian or Rusyn anymore and literally leave those neighborhoods as there are no jobs for them there anymore, plus they're upwardly mobile, going to college. They move where there is no church of their kind so they go Novus Ordo or just leave the church (marrying a nice Protestant or Jew, etc.). Part of the big story of America in the Sixties. Not just the Protestant host culture eating itself but finally getting its wish of swallowing up its big Catholic minority, even culturally conservative Slavic factory and steel-mill workers. No more jobs in town, no more neighborhood; no more "village" to help you raise your big family, no more big family, PLUS the pressure from the larger culture (contraception and the Sixties generally). So your fourth-generation person in America with a Slavic surname ends up being... just another millennial jerk with no religion, church at most being someplace to go with Grandma at Christmas and Easter. (The Orthodox are the same way.)
  • Mt. Laurel's Cistercians fold up. It's tough for monasticism in America but Catholic monasticism managed before the council. Of course liberalization destroyed many communities; this one was never big (10 at most), an Italian import. Been to the liberalized parish church once, pre-Benedict XVI's reform.
  • So Trump has made a loyalty pledge to the Republicans. In context maybe not a sellout; maybe he read the accusations of being a Perot-like spoiler really working for Hillary Clinton. So he's not trying to hurt the putative conservative cause. Dead wrong on Catholic culture-wars issues (morals) but I like his supporters and that he seems to be scaring the liberal Republicrat establishment. That doesn't translate to my vote.
  • Kim Davis. Part of the heroism is taking the punishment; as an elected official she could either resign or take the consequences. Predictable attacks, sliming her as hypocritical white trash (there you go: the Wrong Kind of White the elite are warring upon).

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