Monday, July 22, 2013

Anton Scalia Beheaded

If you have never visited Eye of the Tiber, you have missed a treat.  It does irreverent spoofs.  I know of at least one Facebook post from the site that was removed, presumably because people took it seriously.

On Inauguration day, the blog announced "Scalia Beheaded For Wearing Thomas More Hat To Inauguration."  It is great fun and do look at the picture.

I have always thought satire to be a conservative genre: leftists are too much black and white ideologues to pull it off.  Conservatives, on the other hand, are grounded in that foundation of all humor: the biblical belief that we all have feet made of clay.

Some of Anton Scalia critics have been anything but civil in their criticism of his Windsor dissent.  Perhaps they would react to the Eye of the Tiber report not as a spoof, but as welcome news and be disappointed that it were not true.

Justice Kennedy may have set the rhetorical stage for their intemperance.  Elizabeth Scalia writes
"It was easy to miss but on June 30 the New York Post carried brief editorial remarks by Michael Goodwin that read:

Count me among those cheering the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage. At least I was cheering until I read the part of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion where he claims the law he struck down was motivated by hate . . .[that] the law inflicts an “injury and indignity” on gay Americans and reflected a “bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” By extension of that logic, those who still oppose same-sex marriage are bigots."
The justice's critics are quick to launch ad hominem attacks rather than allow that some may differ in their judgements from the critics' exclusive mindset.  Elizabeth points to Kennedy for "Kennedy’s opinion makes it clear that the days of defending the freedom of others to think and speak outside of the ever-narrowing corridors of what is permissible are numbered; the line of delineation he sketches out is stark, bare, and singular: there will be one (correct) thought or there will be Bad People" and thus Anton Scalia is a Bad Person.

To attack someone who disagrees with you as a bad person is to kill the basis for democracy.

How Long Will It Take Us To Relearn What We have Lost?

The "Progressives" created a myth that Vatican II created a new church, that there was a break from the church existing at the time of the Council birthing new church.  Liturgically, the story was that there was a new mass and an old mass.  Unfortunately they convinced many traditionalist that the myth was true.

How did they make the myth of the new mass work?  They implemented it to look as different from the old mass as possible.  They imposed an English translation that was both mundane and inaccurate.  They convinced bishops and priests that "The Vatican said" or the "Council said" Latin was out, Gregorian chant was out, statues were out, the priest must face the people, the tabernacle must be banished, etc., etc.  In those days before the internet made it easy to discover what the pope or the council actually said, it was hard to argue with these experts.

I firmly believe, but can not prove, that the bishops of the time were great administrators who unthinkingly delegated the reform's implementation to these liturgists.  It jives with the administrative mind.  Delegate, delegate, delegate!  The big surprise of the Council was when the American bishops swung over to the "progressive side."  A young "peritus" (expert) by the name of Ratzinger noted that some of the bishops most opposed to dropping Latin from the liturgy were those whose Latin was lousiest.  Could that have been our American prelates? As I try to picture those no doubt holy men, I wonder about the effect of building so many churches and schools as America shifted from cities to suburbs.  Think of the soul numbing fundraising involved.  Was there anything left over for reflection and critical thinking?

One way or another the bishops gave the liturgist free reign.  The era's defining joke was the Q&A:

"What's the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?"

"You can negotiate with a terrorist."

Yet Vatican II called for presenting the old message in a new way and of renewing the liturgy not abandoning it.

Which brings me to the story that brings all this to a head.

There is a fellow Catholic blogger who writes humbly and touchingly at Saint Louis Catholic.  He wrote two posts, How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 1 and How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 2.  In the first, he explains his ambiguous attitude toward John Paul and in the second he relates how then Cardinal Ratzinger's celebration of the late pope's funeral mass brought him to the traditional Latin mass, i.e., the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  I can not think of anyone who would be better equipped to celebrate and plan that liturgy than Joseph Ratzinger.  I imagine it was most beautiful, beautifully celebrated.

This second post is a beautiful story of grace, relating the bogger's development with great humility and openness.  His story piqued my curiosity. I searched to learn more about John Paul's funeral.  I found a link on EWTN laying out the rites in some detail.  John Paul's funeral was celebrated as a Solemn High mass in Latin with Chant and sacred polyphony.  How could it not have been beautiful? It concluded with In Paridisum (note the accusative case), a traditional Catholic chant for the occasion.  We had that same chant for my uncle's funeral recessional.

And now for the surprise!  I looked at how it was celebrated.  There was a First Reading, a Responsorial Psalm, and a Second Reading.  There was the Prayer of the Faithful.  It dawned on me: the funeral mass was celebrated according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, i.e., what critics refer to as the Novus Ordo.  Cardinal Ratzinger could not have provided more eloquent testimony to the reality that the Mass of the missal of Paul VI is the traditional Latin mass revised.

It is a tragedy that priests celebrating according to the Ordinary Form do not draw on the treasury chest of twenty centuries as called for by Vatican II.  Moreover, if priests had been allowed to introduce the revised mass mostly in Latin with the Propers in English and facing East, few would have believed the "progressive's" myth of a rupture between the old mass and the new.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

St. Apollonaire and Church Architecture

Today (July 20th) is the feast of St. Apollinaris.  The Basilica of Sant' Apollonaire Nuovo along with Sant' Apollonaire Nuovo and San Vitale are magnificent examples of church architecture where beauty and form follow liturgical function.

When I first entered this Basilica,  I knew I had left the city and entered a different world.

In the Mass, we are transported to the Lamb's Feast portrayed in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of St. John.) As the council fathers put it, "8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle [22]; we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory [23]." Sacrosanctum Concilium.

In the top picture, you see Mary and the Child Jesus guarded by four angels.  The two lower pictures show mosaics that run the full length of the church showing the angels ("the heavenly host"), the martyrs, and the saints.

In particular, "The lower band, commissioned by the Chancellery of Ravenna, contains mosaics that illustrate a magnificent procession of male and female saints. The twenty-two saints, led by Saint Euphemia, slowly and rhythmically proceed in stately procession holding a symbolic crown. On the opposite wall, the twenty-six martyrs in white robes seem to form an infinitely long procession."