Monday, October 28, 2019

The temptation to private judgement over bad things in the church

Wise words from an unfriendly blogger: "motivated by faith but derailed by substituting your own private judgement for the messy, sometimes frustrating hierarchy of the church." Stealth Protestantism! The demons are fallen angels, much smarter than us. The best intentions can be the biggest temptation, to what C.S. Lewis called the most beautiful and deadly vice, spiritual pride. It may have been Fr. Leonard Feeney's problem. He was on fire for the Lord and the church, unlike the lukewarm compromising Cardinal Cushing, but he overstepped by presenting an allowable opinion (which I don't share: all non-Catholics are going to hell) as doctrine. Actually he was kicked out for disobedience, not directly because of his views. He ignored a summons from Rome to explain his views and his past disobedience. Now? "I don't like Francis; he's not Pope." He might abandon the papacy by teaching heresy ex cathedra but we don't make that call. We honor the Pope's office, which is well limited, not the man or his opinions, which are meaningless. Papal infallibility can only defend church infallibility: our doctrine. He can't change it. "Goddess worship at the Amazon Synod!" You can't blame our teachings, even if the Pope falls down on the job. "The molestation scandal!" You can't blame our teachings for that and we're not Donatists: the unworthiness of the minister does not hinder the grace of the sacraments. "The Novus Ordo is invalid." The church is infallible and indefectible; for the first time, in the 1960s, it wrote new services whole cloth. Banning the old services was stupid; we don't have to pretend it wasn't or that the Holy Spirit is behind every change in rules. Rules can and do change; doctrine doesn't. The old services aren't banned anymore. "I'll become Orthodox!" You're angry that Francis is fine with adulterous second marriages, so you'll join a church that has long had them. What?! They've sold out on contraception and believe that Western Catholicism has been a fraud for a millennium. Going to throw away your missal and rosary? They have their tiny Western Rite but don't really want it; it's heavily byzantinized and, unlike my imperfect Byzantine Catholic church, not a centuries-old community. Aside from the creed, the rest of the first seven councils of our doctrine, and the traditional rite, theologically they're nothing. They're not even in communion with each other: Constantinople vs. Moscow in the Ukraine. There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church.

Keep going to Mass, read the old catechisms, and say your prayers.

11 comments:

  1. Your last line is an excellent exhortation.

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  2. Those who call the Novus Ordo Missae invalid. Totally invalid comment itself! Read the Roman Catholicism of the Council of Trent prepared under Papal authority by St. Charles Borromeo. Focus on the chapter re: the Holy Eucharist. The N.O.M. passes muster.

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    1. They mean well but are ignorant and often think they know more than they do. I was like that when I was 19.

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    2. If we take certain medieval scholastic liturgical scholars to their logical conclusion, a valid priest saying the Words of Institution with the proper intention confects the Sacrament of the Eucharist regardless of the other prayers or intentions offered. With this understanding, even the most bizarre liturgy said by a "real" priest, as long as it has the Words of Institution is a valid communion office.

      Personally, I simply refuse to accept this argument. That would mean that both Cranmer's BCP of 1552 and the communion offices of the most advanced "reformers" is valid as long as they contain the Words of Institution. And this reasoning can then be applied to the novus ordo avoiding difficult questions and even more difficult conclusions. It is a real stretch.

      One of the issues that no one should consider: is why the novus ordo in the first place? Why destroy the most ancient and venerable liturgy in Catholic Christianity for the banality of the novus ordo and its accompanying theological hodge-podge of watered down Protestantism in the first place? That is the real question. And the conclusion cannot be to strengthen Catholicism.

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    3. Good to see you again! Your first and second paragraphs are not what the Catholic Church teaches - the words of institution by themselves do not make a Mass (and what of the Nestorians, who have the oldest anaphora still in use, which doesn't have the Verba?) - and at least come close to what Anglo-Catholics logically have to believe, whether they admit it or not: that Catholic and Reformed Christianities are really the same, which of course they're not. As for your third paragraph, at least since the dawn of liturgical studies the church has known how to write new services. That doesn't mean the new services are necessarily better. We don't have to believe the liberals' balderdash about the changes coming from the Holy Spirit and being mandatory for the whole church (such either are ignorant of the Eastern rites or are bigots). The thing is our doctrine can't change. So a priest obediently using the new services intends to do what the church does: a valid Mass. The Novus Ordo is based on several wrong ideas not affecting validity: that the space age called for an updated service to better reach modern man, streamlined by removing medieval accretions and sometimes iffily claiming precedent in antiquity, versus populum for example - superficially like the Protestants' fanciful ideas of the early Christians. Streamline the services and things will only get better, with modern man understanding the gospel so Catholics will become deeper and more fervent in their faith and Protestants will convert, finding it less culturally demanding. We know how things have turned out: about as well as the predictions of flying cars and commercial passenger service to lunar and Martian colonies. Nothing in the Novus Ordo's original Latin nor in the English ordered by Benedict XVI is heretical. This is in spite of Bugnini's heretical intent, and thanks in part to Ottaviani's intervention, the Holy Spirit at work. The church is infallible and indefectible.

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    4. The first and second paragraph is what I was taught in seminary by a Jesuit priest, when I questioned the novus ordo and its lack of a stated intention in the new offertory prayers; and that this could invalidate the mass. Even if the priest has a "private" intention to confect the Sacrament, private judgement or even intention is not the same as the intention of the whole Church which had previously been stated in the Old Rite; and may, if not always, perhaps often, be lacking validity.

      The professor's response was that if the priest's orders are valid and the Words of Institution are recited over valid material, the confection of the Sacrament is accomplished a stated liturgical intention in the Offertory is not necessary. (Or course today, often even very invalid materials has, with official permission, been used in the novus ordo.)

      He further explained that that is why the Catholic Church rejects the Orthodox insistence on a Prayer of Invocation of the Holy Ghost, since at the barest only the Words of Institution are necessary. He was from Eastern Europe and stated that during times of persecution by the Communists, often the mass, said clandestinely, would include only the Words of Institution as his example. But at the time, he also referenced several scholastic authorities in support of this contention.

      Now I need to explain, that the priest felt that such Eucharist teaching was defective, he was only giving the official position of the Church on this issue.

      I think that the teachings, regardless of what many wish to believe, of the Catholic Church have made major shifts in the last one hundred years.

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    5. I've never read that a stated intention in the offertory is required for validity; that sounds wrong according to Catholicism. So does the notion that only the words of institution are necessary; witness the oldest anaphora in use, one of the Nestorians'. If the Verba are all you need, lazy Catholics would have very short Masses! The prayer of invocation of the Holy Ghost is not necessary.

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    6. The lack of the actual printed, or manuscript Words of Institution in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari is up for debate. They do appear in some versions and not in others. But it has been agreed that if in some manuscripts they were originally not written, the words themselves would have been recited from memory.

      I think that you have misunderstood my whole contention on this issue. Personally, I believe that the novus ordo is an invalid Mass. One can only accepts its validity by accepting that all that is necessary is for a true priest to recite the Words of Institution for the confection of the Sacrament. Personally, I reject such minimalist liturgical theology, and hence, reject the validity of the novus ordo. I am sorry that you feel that the stated intention of the Offertory prayers are not necessary; that would align of course with the novus ordo which has completely done away with any such prayers of intention.

      But you are aware the Offertory of the Byzantine rite, the Proskomedia, is a very long and involved service of intention.

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  3. "As for your third paragraph, at least since the dawn of liturgical studies the church has known how to write new services"; John I think we have to be very, very careful here. This is an argument used by modernists, which is not really very historical or true. Do services change? Yes of course they do. But they usually change very slowly and within the received tradition. The novus ordo is a new creation that purposely rejected the received tradition. Even Cranmer's 1548 is closer to the old Roman rite than is the novus ordo.

    As an example, the manner and style of offering the Old Roman Rite differed remarkably, in regards to music, style of vestments and other non-essentials from the medieval period to that of the 1960's, yet the text and the theology were the same. One cannot say the same for the novus ordo.

    Often forgotten is that not only was the mass rejected, so were all of the other ancient traditions that had come down, with changes, through the centuries. They were all thrown onto the trash heap, including devotions, the offices, the rosary, and most importantly fasting, which is now a joke, compared to the older tradition, in the new church.

    The Church of today and that of only a few years past is NOT the same church, it does not share the same practice or Faith.

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    1. Services usually evolve slowly, and these are very good services. We didn't write new ones because until recently we didn't know how. Our doctrine didn't change. It can't.

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    2. I think that simply attending the banality that passes for the novus ordo in the average Roman Catholic parish of today will prove that we most certainly do not know how to write very good services today either.

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