22 July 2019

First Apostle of the Risen Christ


The Readings for the Feast of St Mary Magdalen
Monday in the 16th week Tempus per Annum (C1)
Si qua ergo in Christo nova creatura, vetera transierunt : ecce facta sunt omnia nova.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

When Franco Zeffirelli cast Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalen in his 1977 made-for-television epic, Jesus of Nazareth did he purposefully pick her in part because of her performance, ten years earlier, as the famous seductress, Mrs Robinson from The Graduate?

A blessed feast! This question is important - and only seemingly unrelated to the readings.

Although it drives modern Biblical Scholars batty and upsets more than a few non-Christian political agendas, the Church holds to a tradition that merges this woman (of whom the Evangelists say only that Jesus cast out from her 7 devils) with another woman who has no name in the Gospels who was a prostitute. Mary's story becomes one of change, of freedom from the past. In picking Bancroft - who complained that Mrs Robinson overshadowed all her work - Zeffirelli seems to have knowingly picked a "woman with a past" as an icon of redemption even in the eyes of his TV viewers.

This is important for us, in this age of Twitter Shaming and the Right to be Forgotten.

An artist whose work I admire "broke" on to the internet earlier this year. He doesn't draw well, to be honest, but he has this amazing grasp of our culture's contents and can explain them dryly and with just enough humor to make us see them in a new way: interactions like birthday parties and feeding pets become eye-opening teaching moments as the reader sees things through different eyes. This artist was enjoying a rocket-fast rise to prominence when someone discovered a tweet from the distant past (2010?) where he made a rather weak comment that could be construed, if one squinted the right way, as pro-life. Instantly seen as being out of sync with the "modern" world and her morals, the cool kids of the internet began to trash him loudly and fiercely.

No one is politically pure enough on either the left or the right to survive this atmosphere, really. One must be constantly scrubbing one's past to white-wash it, make sure it's in sync with today's version of you.

A Christian, however, cannot do this: Mary Magdalen's life is powerful because of her backstory. She is called the "apostle to the apostles" by the same Church that names her a former prostitute. Both parts of her life are needed for the story to make sense. This person has risen to far different heights than you might have imagined if you knew her "back then". Our modern culture wants to take away her "away back when".

We live in a culture of "self-invention". When I was a kid our culture idolized the egotism of the "self-made man" because we imagined that to be the height of success.  Frank Sinatra's My Way is a benchmark of this culture. While egotistical, Frank was, at least, self-reflective. He had a few regrets, but too few to mention. Tellingly, while celebrating a life where he refused to confess any wrongs, he sang that a man is nothing if he only speaks the words of one who kneels. 

As we came into this century, however, we developed a culture personal instantaneity. I exist as I manifest myself to you now, without history, without backstory. I've been surprised at how few jobs any more require actually checking references. While some positions still require a background check, a person who was only a part-time contractor at one company can claim to have been a manager there and get hired as a manager at another. This is not a new problem: near the end of the last century, it became impossible to explain why a former employee was a former employee without risking a lawsuit. So when calling for a reference one knew that one was only going to hear good things - one had to read between the lines or ask very creative questions to trick the HR person on the end of the line to tell the truth: "Would you hire them again?" becomes
Yes or no: If they were to contact you to ask if you would welcome them to a new position would you be quick to think of any reason why you want to say "no" even if you were to ultimately say "yes"?
There was a past, there, somewhere. But not any more. We deny the history we have lived, we deny the story arc of our lives.

God has been working from before we were born, from even before we were conceived to bring the whole universal dance to just where it is now. You're a part of that and your backstory as well. Your entire future dance is predicated on all that went before. To deny that is to deny the power of God. To deny that is to deny the Resurrection: Jesus had to live before he could die. He had to die to rise again.

I was born with the name William Earl Bailey. If you're old enough to remember the song, Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey you may have some grasp of why I changed my name to something, to anything else. There are other reasons, but the first thing my Grandfather said was, "Tired of having people sing to him?" However, my past is just as close as my Facebook and many of my oldest friends as well as my family all still say, "Bill".  My past is right as close as it's always been. There's no way to escape it.

Mary Magdalen's past stays with her.

That seems to be exactly why God uses her to announce the Resurrection: that's why she is the Apostle to the Apostles. God will use any willing servant to hand to do anything that God wants. Mary's status as a Fallen Woman raised to Apostle is the earthly parallel to fallen Adam and Eve raised from the depths of Hell. Jesus is not only raising all the dead to life, but he harrows the deepest pits of our cultures to raise us all up.

At the court the day my name-change was granted, the only question the Judge asked was, "Are you changing this name to avoid any legal or financial claims from your past?" I left the courtroom with my past intact. He could have added, "religious, familial, social, and sexual" to the list I would have agreed just the same. I am a man with a past: sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and that's just the religious part of my journey. I would be a bad choice for a priest, to be honest - a scandal waiting to happen. But God has something for me, for all of us with a past.

If we offer ourselves fully, God will use us in his Kingdom. God can't use "Huw Richardson" without also using "Bill Bailey". God will use the full offering not in spite of the past but because of the past. Like Zeffirelli using Mrs Robinson to flavor his Magdalen, God will use his servants to do things for which their entire past has prepared them for God was with us even before we knew it, even before we knew the "new us" we would become.

Today's feast says there is grace before us - and there is grace behind us. It's not that we were not sinning back then, but rather God's grace will take any sacrifice made and transubstantiate it into Life. God will give each of us a Gospel to proclaim to the Church and to the World.

Christ is RISEN! Look at what he has done! Christ is RISEN!

21 July 2019

One Thing


The Readings for the 16th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C1):
Martha, Martha, sollicita es, et turbaris erga plurima, porro unum est necessarium. Maria optimam partem elegit, quae non auferetur ab ea.

Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. 

It's traditional to see Mary as contemplative and Martha as active. It's very traditional to read both of these as needful in the Church, and it's important to recognize the ministry of both. We probably all have "Mary" phases and "Martha" phases. In any healthy Christian relationship, there is a balance of this, a tradeoff of husband and wife, of friends, of siblings, of coworkers. Who is active today, who is contemplative? Will they trade places later today, tomorrow, or next week?

What spoke to me in both the Gospel and the first reading, is the primacy of contemplation. 

Abraham is sitting in the shade, in the quiet of a hot afternoon, then the Lord appears to him and then Abraham moves his household to action. Mary has chosen the better part. There is only one thing needful.

Properly ordered action arises from contemplation.

The Dominican Tradition is a contemplative one, but it adds action as well. We are to take the fruits of our contemplation and bear them out into the world as action.

There are many who would that the Church were more active: forgetting of course that she is the largest charity organization in the world, providing more support than any other agency (including governments) in more places (ok, everywhere). If this statement about the Church is expanded ecumenically, Christians far outgive literally everyone. Some want the Church to be more active: what they really mean is "be less contemplative".

They fail to see that her charity does not arise from any sense of human duty, but rather from an active participation in the divine kenosis: the Church's charity is the continual outpouring of Love that breathes between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, between the Trinity and the Church as Christ's body in the Holy Spirit, only then from the Church to the World, again in the Holy Spirit. The Church's charity is the action of God in the world and she only fails when her Charity is not rooted in the contemplation of the divine face. That is the one needful thing: to sit at the foot of Jesus and participate in perichoresis, in the outpouring of Love on the world.

She cannot be active only.

There are many service organizations in the Church, but properly ordered service must begin in the heart united in love to Jesus. And to Jesus that heart must return moment by moment, to participate in the dance. To fail to do so... is to leave on whinging like Martha about needing help, or to exhaustedly plop down at the end of the day and doze instead of a continual action of Eucharist.

Martha is not complete without Mary. Her frantic action cannot be complete without contemplation.

Is Mary complete without Martha? There are contemplatives in the Church whose entire calling is to radiate that divine love to the rest of us. Yes, Mary can be complete without Martha. Abraham could have spent the day in the quiet of the shade...

Can any of us, living in the world, be complete without both? No. Each are called to the foot of the Cross, to the open table of the Word, to the heavenly vision of the Liturgy, and from there to dance out into the world in love - and then to return again, moment by moment.

Service only arises from the heart. This is the one needful thing.

17 July 2019

Ps 145 Blowback


Nolite confidere in principibus, in filiis hominum, in quibus non est salus. Exibit spiritus ejus, et revertetur in terram suam; in illa die peribunt omnes cogitationes eorum.

Put not your trust in princes, in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.
His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth: in that day all their thoughts shall perish.
(It's Ps 146 in the Protestant texts.)

I have been thinking a lot about the presidential election cycle that is coming up. After the presidential chaos of the 1960s and 70s the election and re-election of Ronald Reagan proved to be a turning point in American politics unrelated to left or right. It was a stability moment. Reagan was the first president since Eisenhower to serve two full terms of office. Kennedy was assassinated. Johnson served out Kennedy's term and was elected for one himself. Nixon was re-elected but his second term was destroyed by Scandal. Ford served out Nixon's term and was not re-elected at all. Carter served one term. This constant change in officeholder paralleled with a period of political and economic chaos in the United States. I do not think they are unrelated. Although the president has (or had, rather) very little direct power, the effect of seeing the same face and hearing the same voice was one of "all is well, remain calm... and productive." We lost that calming influence in the 60s and 70s having five different presidents and - I believe - we can see the results if we just crack open a history book or (for some of us) our memories.

Since the election of Ronald Reagan only one president, George Bush, Sr, has been limited to one term. This time of presidential stability is not unusual in American history as most presidents were allowed to serve out at least two terms. Even in this era of wild swings from left to right no matter how hated a sitting president is he tends to get reelected. Americans seem to like the stability that parallels with reelecting a president.

And so, unless things go wildly amiss, I expect Donald Trump will be re-elected. I know some people don't want him to be, but does the left hate Trump any more than the right hated Obama? I suspect the president's supporters will rally to his victory unless he manages to be too divisive and destroys the economic stability with social chaos. This may cause even some of his supporters to vote against him, or to vote for third-party candidates who are further to the right.

The backlash after his second term will be horrible. To be honest, even if it's only one term I think the backlash will be bad. What backlash do I mean? The backlash that's already happening.

I imagine a nation filled with New York State style abortion laws. I imagine a nation where it's okay to kill grandma because she's old. I imagine a nation where it's okay to kill a newborn child because they have Down's Syndrome. I imagine a nation where, like France, it's okay to let starve someone to death because they were in a car accident. I imagine a nation where - as they tried to do in California this month - the seal of the confessional causes a priest to go to prison. I imagine a nation where, an angry new majority will do all of these things in the name of freedom, utility, and science. In the hope of preventing a Donald Trump style election in the future, as in The Hunger Games, the coastal cities will decide that the Fly Over States are worth suppressing in the name of national security.

To the extent that many Christians, including Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, have put their trust in Princes and have been willing to ignore the President's racism, sexism, xenophobia, stupidity, crudity, vulgarity, lewd behavior, and general childishness, this backlash will fall on us. "Us" here means any Christian, not just Christians who supported Trump. Every church building, anywhere, will suddenly be a fly-over state. There will be a special backlash for Christians who looked at Trump's feet, ankles, shins, calves, thighs, and hips of clay and his heart of stone and said, “Yes, but he's going to appoint pro-life judges.”

Christians know that the end does not justify the means. Or at least we used to know that. We seem to have forgotten it, but only for this president. While many pro-life activists have been staunchly supportive of any pro-life action such as feeding the poor, ending the death penalty, rescuing the homeless, stopping war, and going to the borders to support immigrants, this is not been true of the “but he's going to give us judges” class of people. This class of Christian has been as silently divisive as the president has verbally been.

And, we must be truthful: the president has taken pro-life steps only to further divide the nation. He, himself, is not pro-life. He, himself, only sees it as a wedge issue that will radicalize both his followers and his detractors. By putting a wedge issue into the country, he hopes to stay in power.

So, I think we're about to be up the creek without a paddle. I'm not certain that it will happen in 2020, in fact, I don't think it will. But come 2024 it's going to be scary.

14 July 2019

Actually He Did Say That


The Readings for the 15th Sunday, Tempus per Annum (C1):
Si tamen audieris vocem Domini Dei tui, et custodieris praecepta ejus et caeremonias, quae in hac lege conscripta sunt.

If thou hear the voice of the Lord thy God, and keep his precepts and ceremonies, which are written in this law.

If you follow social media at all occasionally a hashtag or meme will show up that is, shall we say, theologically annoying. It's not only that it's wrong or heretical, but usually, it's so wrong or so very heretical as to indicate either a willful lack of knowledge on the part of those who originated it, or a downright hateful attack. Many things on social media can devolve into hateful attacks, so we needn’t get paranoid about it. This is partly the nature of the beast. It happens. On the other hand, hate also happens. This can be intentional so we must be careful to react with love.

This past week on social media there was such an event. I noticed it on Saturday but apparently it has been going on since Thursday or Friday. It was #ThingsJesusNeverSaid

When you put it like that nearly anything becomes a theological claim. We don't think of it that way in our secular society but for Christians Jesus Is God. Making a claim about Jesus is making a theological claim. 

I'm not sure how this hashtag started but it quickly devolved into an odd combination of ahistorical, left-wing political thought and oddly heretical claims about the Divinity of Jesus. 

Jesus never said anything about Islam. (Islam came 600 years after Jesus.) Jesus never said anything about gay sex (actually he did when talking about adultery and lust - unless you want to be more literalist than even the worst Bible thumper). Jesus never said anything about gay marriage. Jesus never said anything about abortion. 

I'm not sure why these are interesting claims. They are not novel. Ever read any Jesus Seminar stuff? They seem to think Jesus never said anything. 

The hashtags seem to validate certain political points of view, and so they make people happy. Naturally, the other side had to respond and suddenly Jesus never said anything about gun control. Jesus never said anything about illegal immigrants. Jesus never said anything about... And again the whole point was to make certain political points of view seem pious.

People who claim to be Christians got involved. And they started throwing around the hashtag as well, validating their own political points of view and arguing with people who disagreed with their political points of view. So Jesus was a Libertarian, Jesus was a communist, Jesus was a pro-choice Democrat, Jesus wasn't a communist, Jesus wasn't a Libertarian, Jesus was a MAGA Republican, etc, etc, etc. 

What made this whole interesting, and what ties it into all of our readings today, was a subset of tweets and social postings around Jesus and the moral law of the Old Testament. 

For Christians, every action of God is a Trinitarian action. (The icons in this post show Jesus doing all the acts of Creation. Jesus is there from the beginning.)

Jesus, God the Son is the Word of God the Father. I don't mean that Jesus is the Bible but rather when God speaks any word he says is Jesus. Any time you hear the voice of God speaking in the scriptures it's Jesus. As a historical claim and a theological claim, this is rejected by any who are not Christians, but since Christians were playing this hashtag game we need to discuss it. The converse is also true: anyone who rejects this claim is not Christian.

In Deuteronomy, Moses refers to hearing the voice of God in the law. That voice, that Word of God, is the Logos, the Second person of the Trinity. Yes, it is the Father that is speaking, but the voice, the Word spoken, is the Logos. The breath, if you will, by which the Logos is heard and transmitted to you is the Holy Spirit. Every action of God is a Trinitarian Action. It cannot be otherwise. Even breaking it up as here into bite-sized bits is to nearly destroy the Trinitarian concept.

To put a very clear theological point on it: everything in the Law of the Torah was spoken by Jesus. A Christian cannot claim that Jesus did not say anything about XYZ in the Law without saying that part of the Bible was not spoken by God. 

So the basic claims of #ThingsJesusNeverSaid (Left, Right, Center) are both Arian and Marcionite at least and, sometimes, marching right on into Gnostic. Arius denied that Jesus was God. Marcion denied that the angry, judgy god of the Old Testament was the same as the fluffy, loving god of the New Testament. Gnostics deny that physical reality (like sex) is of any import to God at all and teach that it should be of no importance to us either. 

For Christians, this text of Moses is a very clear statement of the reality of the Sacramental World. It...
is not too mysterious and remote for you.It is not up in the sky, that you should say,'Who will go up in the sky to get it for usand tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,'Who will cross the sea to get it for usand tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'No, it is something very near to you,already in your mouths and in your hearts;
The NABRE says “it is something”, but the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Latin all say “The word is”... breath deep: Jesus. As near to you as the Spirit dwelling inside, as the Communion you’ve just consumed, as the person sitting next to you, as the Church into which you’re baptized. The word is very near.

Quoting what we think is a Hymn sung in the Church from the very earliest days (within 30-40 years of Jesus’ Ascension), St Paul boldly ups the Ante:
Quoniam in ipso condita sunt universa in caelis, et in terra, visibilia, et invisibilia, sive throni, sive dominationes, \sive principatus, sive potestates: omnia per ipsum et in ipso creata sunt: et ipse est ante omnes, et omnia in ipso constant.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
All things are created by Jesus, for Jesus, through Jesus. The universe rises and is sustained in Jesus.

This claim certainly bothers folks. But to back away from it is to back away from historic Christianity. as I said this claim has been going since within 35 years of Jesus death. You can reject it by rejecting the entirety of the Christian faith. I know some people do that. They do it and they even claim to be Christians, but they're telling lies about themselves and about Jesus.

It is from this all-inclusive claim the Christians follow the teachings of Jesus that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. For, if God is all self-giving, what the Greek calls kenosis, then we are to pour ourselves out in the same way, in the same kenotic way. Our neighbor is as our self. Not another self, but as our very self: human unity is a reflection of the Divine Unity. We all share the same nature even though we are individual persons. To love our neighbor is to love Jesus. Jesus was also a human person, sharing in our one human nature, the same nature you and I share the same nature our neighbor shares with us and with God in human flesh. This is why we are to follow the commands of Jesus for what it means to be humans. Regardless of what national laws, racism, or even possibly-valid economic concerns might say, we are to welcome the strangers and do everything possible to feed and clothe them. We cannot participate in a culture that would prevent us from doing so, be the stranger in the womb, on the street, or at the border.

This is the Christian's unique anthropological claim. We are persons: but we are not singularities. We are not self-creating, we are all proceeding from the one act of Creation. We only have what we have received in that procession and we are commanded to pour it out fully, not to be emptied, but to participate in that procession, in that continual flow of the Divine Act.

That one act of Creation was, is, and can only ever be, Jesus.

To say #JesusNeverSaid is to project our post-modern, American, atomized, individualized, self-idolizing culture onto the only source of all unity, peace, justice, and hope. To use that to rationalize and justify your politics or sex life is just to prove you've never yet met Jesus. It's time you did.

Jesus said, "Love." 

That’s everything.

12 July 2019

V2b - Rupture

One of the huge comforts of my Christian life has been praying for the dead. I've been aware since I joined the Orthodox Church in 2002, continuing on into the Catholic Church, that I'm a major mess. When it comes to sins, I've got a good list. I require the mercy of God, and I will need the prayers of the faithful after me. I know that in the way I've prayed for the departed, I will be prayed for. Those prayers will be needed. In the recent Cancer Scare, this was brought home solidly: the comforting awareness of the prayers of those who love me will be my surety after my death.

Going a little Ranty here, but also nerdy. I love the Daily Office: it's part of the Church's liturgy that is most easily traced to pre-Jesus piety. The Jewish custom of recitation of the Psalms in a regular order as part of daily prayer carries over into the Church via the monastics. If you want to learn more about this, one of the best histories of the daily office (east and west) is Fr Robert Taft's Liturgy of the Hours East & West. I love the Daily Office so much that I read nerdy texts about it... anyway...

In the Benedictine tradition, as well as in the use of the secular Roman office and in the high-church Anglican tradition, there's a rite called "The Office of the Dead". This is a specific set of Psalms and scripture readings intended to pray for the departed. Depending on the religious tradition, the content can be longer or shorter than the regular daily prayers. In many traditions, it is content added to the daily material, extending the usual daily rite (about 30 mins or so) to nearly twice the length.

Lest I get too nerdy, I'm just going to highlight 3 points:

1. In the usual, daily practice, each Psalm or Canticle will end with the "Gloria", a brief verse of praise to God. This verse is also used at the beginning of each daily service. In the Office of the Dead this verse is not used at all. It is replaced by the "Requiem Aeternam", a brief verse asking God to give rest to the departed.

2. In the usual, daily practice, each service begins with a hymn. In the Office of the Dead there are no hymns.

3. In the usual, daily practice, each service concludes with a short prayer called a "Collect" that sums up the intentions of prayer. In the Office of the Dead, the collect is specifically for divine clemency to be shown to the departed.

That was as it stood prior to the release of the Post-Vatican 2, Liturgy of the Hours. To this latter text I turned this morning for the Office of the Dead in prayer for a departed Bishop of our Archdiocese. I was mortified at what I found under that title, however. Taking again the 3 points...

1. The instructions for the office specifically said I should say the Gloria after each Psalm and Canticle and that the office should begin in the same way. The little verse praying for the departed was removed.

2. There were hymns of comfort for the living. "Christ is our hope", "Jesus Christ is Risen Today", and "For All the Saints".

3. There were several collects, but most folks would read the first, of course rather than dig in subsequent pages for "alternates". The default collect was a prayer to "strengthen our hope that our brother/sister will share in the resurrection."

There were literally no prayers for the dead in the Office of the Dead. Pardon my French, but WTF was the Committee thinking? How in the hell is someone supposed to find comfort in that?

I pictured a group of old men sitting around the office of the Cardinal in NYC (cuz that's where LotH came from) in the mid-1970s saying "a prayer that God not condemn the departed might mean we, the living could be condemned. We don't want to imply that, do we? It might scare people.

One other point: the older daily services (every day) ended with the same "Requiem Aeternam" so that each daily prayer ended with a reminder to pray for the dead - not just in the Office of the Dead, but always. This regular prayer is also missing from the newer rite.


What Do You Fear?


The Readings for Saturday in the 14th Week, Tempus per Annum (C1):
Si patremfamilias Beelzebub vocaverunt, quanto magis domesticos ejus? Nolite timere eos qui occidunt corpus, animam autem non possunt occidere.

If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household? Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

What is the origin of fear? I'm trying to suss this out. St John says perfect love casts out all fear. So is the origin of fear in the lack of love? Or, is it in the imperfection of love?

Since no human being, created in the image of God, can be without love I suggest the answer is the origin of fear is in the imperfection of love. Working hypothesis: we fear not because we hate, but because we love imperfectly.

Jesus says do not fear those who can kill the body. Those are the folks we actually fear the most. We may not say “kill the body” anymore, but we are afraid of people who can deprive us of life and liberty. We are afraid of those who can socially kill us by firing us, taking away our home, expelling our children from school, taking our children away from us, shaming us on social media, destroying our reputation on the internet, or stealing our identities and ruining our credit scores. These are the people we fear.

So, I suggest the problem is that we do not love them perfectly. What would it mean to love perfectly?

Jesus’ best example of perfect love is when he says his father causes it to rain on the just and on the unjust. The sunlight, too, can be said to fall on the just and the unjust equally. God's love is like that: falling on all of us equally. I used to have an image of the love of God pouring down upon us like beams of light and there were some on whom it did not fall. I realized that didn't make sense. Then what I saw was that there were some who tried to use umbrellas or anything to keep that pesky light from hitting them. These are the Goths of the spiritual world. They try to hide from the light. God doesn't love me! So they say.

And certainly, there will be those people who will deny you the chance to love them. But you have to keep loving them! Let them say no. You must always say yes. Love must be perfect. We can't do it yet, fine! But let's work towards it, later! Love must grow to be perfect.

When our love is perfect and we will not be afraid. Fear is a luxury a person in love simply cannot afford. Fear is the luxury of folks who love stuff more than people. Fear is a luxury of someone who loves their job more than people. Someone who loves their favorite foods, their favorite sex toys, their favorite appetites, their ego, their reputation, more than people: they can afford fear.

So do not fear the person who can kill your body, but brother loved him perfectly. On the way to the beheading, as you're walking up the steps, Weep For Love of your executioner. Pray in love for his soul. Beseech God to have mercy on him who is about to kill you. Even if that only means slandering you on the internet.

They do that to Jesus moment by moment. What more do you expect for yourself?

V2a - Continuity


So, I confess I give Vatican II a bad rap sometimes - mostly because it's what I'm supposed to do: a traddy convert from a conservative religious tradition. But I do enjoy most of the fruits of the Council, as long as they are applied with what Pope Benedict calls the "Hermeneutic of Continuity", by which he means that we must assume in all Christian Charity that what was there in the faith before the Council is there in the Faith after.

The Liturgy, for example, should be in Latin and the Vernacular. The music should not be strummed. And there's nothing wrong with a Rosary said while Mass is going on. The simple beauty of the Novus Ordo done right (see above), ad orientem, with full ceremonial, and beautiful music, is clearly the same Mass as the previous generations served.

What I didn't know was the why of the Council itself.  Recently, listening to Fr Anthony and Fr Harrison on the Clerically Speaking podcast, I got a good bit more context.

A priest had shared with the Dominican Tertiaries that one priest known to him used to pass through the Roman Canon in the 1962 Missal saying, soto voce, "Wordy wordy wordy wordy..." we were shocked.  But listen to this podcast episode to hear more about the Liturgy of the Golden Age when the spiritual formation of clergy was nil.

Here's a link to the show on SoundCloud. It's linked to begin right at the important part (38:57 into the show). It goes from there to the end of the episode.

The conversation about what was happening in the last 100 years before the Council was, for me, earthshaking because the implication is that the issues we think of today as "caused by V2" were caused by the younger clergy coming though V2. CLergy who are implicated in the sex scandals were in formation before the council.

Continuity is a good thing... but continuity with the church before the 20th century and the spiritual poverty caused by the horrors of 2 World Wars.

So... yeah... it was a groundbreaking learning for me.