Monday, August 19, 2013

On the Sacraments of Initiation

It is common to think that the idea of the Sacraments of Initiation was lost to the Western Church for hundreds of years. I suppose that was true in a way, but not completely. This is from the Treatise on the Admirable Heart of Jesus by St. John Eudes, whose optional memorial is today:
Finally you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must then have one breath with him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart, And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy eucharist they are brought to perfection.
Sounds a lot like the CCC:
1212 The sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist—lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.” [Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Divinae consortium naturae: AAS 63 (1971) 657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2.]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The polemics of the liturgical wars

I know it is difficult to avoid bias in writing, but sometimes I'm amazed at the subtle rhetorical "stabs" taken by people who present themselves as "magisterial," yet are really presenting a polemic for an often quite speculative ore even dubious position.

I was browsing through From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist, by Edward Foley (2nd ed., Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008). Ostensibly a textbook on liturgical history, complete with lots of quotations, illustrations, floor plans, and music, it is really a 405 page salvo in the liturgical wars.

Foley clearly thinks the altar should be a wooden table in the nave so that the people can gather around it, because that was the norm until the Franks messed things up with their Germanic-Gallican "magical" thinking.

For example, when talking about 20th century liturgical reform he opposes the old way and the glorious, more authentic new "symbolic" sensitivity that came about because of Suzanne Langer, Paul Ricouer, and Edward Schillebeeckx.

Note the rhetorical stab in this passage:
Vatican II affirmed such [symbolic] thinking in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy...., which has also become part of the ecumenical consensus on worship since the council.... This symbolic movement has not been without its critics, however. In some ways the movement away from more symbolic or "dynamic" translations to a more literal approach by symptomatic of this critique.[the ellipses are citation]. 
Where does one begin? What I want to focus on, though, is the use of the word "symptomatic."  What is the connotation of the word?  Illness. So, the return to a more literal translation indicates an illness on the part of "Rome."

Also, note this hilarious passage:
The move toward more authentic symbols also effected a change in the materials for the eucharistic vessels during the late twentieth century. Although gold and silver continued to be employed, precious metals were often replaced by glass, pottery, and wood.  Even wicker baskets, reminiscent of primitive Christian worship, were used again in some places to hold the eucharistic bread.
The rest of the paragraph notes that Bad Old Rome quashed this new "symbolic" use of wicker in 2004 by decreeing "that earthenware, glass, and clay as well as any vessels that break easily were now 'reprobated.'"

Like, gold and precious metals aren't symbolic?

I'm not even going to mention the use of the phrase "eucharistic bread."

This post is magisterial.