March 18, 2012 David Timbs
David's previous articles
(Melbourne) David's previous articles
Traddies in Turmoil
of the most obvious results of Benedict’s papal blessing of the reforms
planned and put in place over during his years as Cardinal Ratzinger of the CDF
is the exuberance now experienced by the self-named Traditionalist members of
the Catholic Church. A particular source of joy and celebration especially for
the English language Traditionalists is the rapid deconstruction and de-legitimation
of the Eucharistic Liturgy of Paul VI, the long suspect and barely tolerated Novus
being overtly cocky, they definitely smell victory in the air as the shameful
stain of the vulgar and the mundane
is removed. The promise was made by Joseph Ratzinger in 2003 and it was realised
in the forced and shamefully authoritarian dismissal of the excellent English
vernacular translations of 1997 despite its previous acceptance by the English
speaking Episcopal Conferences of the world.
Liturgiam Authenticam was the
directive and Vox Clara its loyal and
initiative of Benedict’s Reform of the
Reform in Continuity may bring comfort for the few but little for the many.
For the Traditionalists, the New Translation of the Mass and the accompanying
energetic promotion of pieties of the pre-Vat II era and strongly linked to the
personal devotions of JP II signal the end of what they might describe as the
period of liturgical aberration and piety void. For others, perhaps the
majority, the pontificates of JP II and Benedict represent a tragic regression
into an antique world long abandoned.
quick survey of various websites and journals will verify this. Many
Restorationist sources also provide
the reader with a rather informative
glimpse into the workings of Traditionalist the mind and cosmos. They offer
snapshots of a whole domain of rituals and meanings frozen in time,
specifically, the era of the Counter Reformation. The ecclesiastical world
presented by the Traditionalists is clearly identifiable by its insistence on
fixed practice and refusal of more than the most cosmetic change. It is also
highly recognisable for its insider dialects, codes, airs of exclusivity and
effeminate fixations on liturgical gear and accessories.
it is, ironically, exactly that kind of ecclesiological world within a world,
securely fixed in time and space, that is causing increasing stress, tension,
anxiety and dissention among the ranks of at least three sub-groups of the
remnant of faithful.
schismatic leadership of the SSPX are on the verge of confirming what it always
has been and is, a cult-like group which rejects or strongly resists almost any
Church reform or theological development after Pius XII. After John Paul II
refused to take them seriously, Benedict has made constant overtures to them to
come to the table and work towards reunification. The extensive and long drawn
out talks have so far met with failure. The deadline for reconciliation with
SSPX are allergic to even the most conservative strand of modernity or movement
beyond the fixity of their own established religio-cultural environment. They
are the equivalent of latter-day Seventeeth Century dinosaurs. They remain
the spiritual children of the powdered and bewigged aristocrats of
on this side of Vat II, the natural allies of the SSPX, the disciples of the
sanity-stressing Rorate Caeli have
recently been physically and electronically conferencing on matters of the
gravest importance: making absolutely sure that the clerical sanitised zone, the
completely female-free sanctuary, is kept inviolate and ritually clean;
overseeing with the greatest vigilance the possible introduction of ‘new’
prefaces to the 1962 Roman Missal.
These people believe that the earth stood still back then and, pace Galileo
Galilei, it still moves not!
there are the self-proclaimed moderate or progressive Traditionalists who are
now showing just how modern and adaptable they really are. They would see
themselves as being at the very cutting edge of ecclesiastical reform, from
liturgy to Church structure. Predictably, they have established both group
identity and validation on the de rigeur
moniker of loyalty to the Pope and Magisterium. A fairly representative example
of this brand of moderately progressive Traditionalists is a Canberra based
sub-group, animated and led by a self-styled Anchoritess. Together this small but noisy little lot constitute the
community of Australia Incognita.
Anchoritess and the devoted disciples
are trying desperately at the moment both to distance themselves from the
obdurate SSPX and to demonstrate their own centrism by highlighting the
excessive zeal of the Rorate Caeli Tridentine
Their driven and almost weekly symbolic burning of their favourite strawman, Cathnews
is matched in hubris only by the frequent public displays of faux
liberalism by the Anchorite and the disciples. These are standout performance
especially as the cabals of both the Anchoritess and Rorate
Caeli are essentially supportive
of the culture and the agenda of the SSPX.
all reject what they see as a grave error by the post Conciliar Church of
marginalising of the Mass of Pius V and the installation of the Novus Ordo in
its vernacular expressions. All of them interpret this as a violation of the
clear and definitive authority of the Council of Trent which elevated the
Tridentine Mass to Immemorial status
which could not be substantially changed either in text or rubric. The template
of Liturgical orthopraxis became from that time on and forever, say
all three major Traditionalists groups welcome any return to the liturgical
orthodoxy of Trent, they are also rather uncomfortably blind-sided Benedict’s
plan for a single Rite in the Latin Church and on the exact shape the
anticipated mutually enriched liturgy
will assume. To one degree or another they would see themselves as losers
because of the continued contamination caused by the tolerated vernacular
residue in the hybrid Rite.
thing these three do not fear from the Reform
of the Reform’s vision for the laity. The non-ordained will stay in their
place, pay, pray, obey, do the working bees, run the fundraisers, stay as far
away from the sanctuary as humanly possible and forget any aspirations of having
a voice or influence in governance.
For those with a different sense of Church history, who have responded to the invitation and challenge of Vatican II to be fully engaged in all aspects of ecclesial life, anxieties also remain, vision, sadly, is forcibly blinkered and promises broken. Benedict long ago lost the vision and nerve that he had as a Fr Joseph Ratzinger, peritus at Vatican II. With almost unlimited and unchecked power, he has over the years engineered a plan and programme to lead the Church backward from the life, creative impetus and directions of Vatican II into the quiet and controlled predictability of an age long gone. He is clinging to a corpse and trying to resuscitate it.
new source of grief and betrayal that has emerged in recent months is an imposed
translation of the Eucharist texts with its clunky literalism, grammatical
gymnastics and overall tortured English. While the official line is that this
translation opens up for the faithful, long oppressed by the contemptibly
mundane and vulgar texts, a whole new world of courtly, poetic, theologically
and scripturally rich language, the absurd realities of this translation have
now assumed parody status,
(the translators) task was much simpler: giving us a rather bone-headed
rendering of the Latin, exactly as it was written. This, after all, is what Liturgiam
Authenticam required them to do. Had the Latin said,
vulpes velox brunnea super canem ignavum salit (the quick brown fox jumps
over the lazy dog) then this is what they would have written or, more likely, fox
brown over dog lazy jumps.’ –
‘ the fox the quick one the brown one
bounceth over the dog the lazy one.’
– Mary Burke.
Timbs writes from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. HTML Guestbook is loading comments...
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