Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Violent and Abusive


Today's reading from the Office of Readings is about the Golden Calf and God's rage at the people of Israel, Moses placates it but himself destroys and burns the Golden Calf and grinds it to dust, scatters the dust on the waters and makes the people drink it. It is just one of the times when the God presented to us in the OT is filled with anger against his people. The prophets were certainly often consumed with "zeal for his house"
Jesus has a moment of rage in the Temple when zeal for his Father's house consumes him, when he drives out the money changers and with the Pharisees, his interpersonal seem to have something to be desired.

The Gospel today has Peter asking how often he should forgive his brother; I wonder whether he is asking in some general way, or specifically whether Andrew, his brother and fellow Apostle, has been particularly annoying and Peter is asking explicitly about their relationship.

Jesus answers by telling a story about an irascible master who is going to sell a debtor and his family into slavery, who then relents after much pleading but then hearing about the mistreatment of another servant has him handed over to the torturers. Jesus' message to Peter is forgive your brother because you yourself have been forgiven a great deal.

Ches has an interesting and thoughtful post on the O'Brien affair setting it in the context of a survey on "religious guilt", he suggests the problem is that the Church has failed to teach about morality. Celebrating the Traditional Mass every Sunday, I can't help being struck by how often the Epistle refers to the evil of  "fornication", "adultery" and last Sunday, "sin that should not even be mentioned among you", these extracts seem to be rare in the OF Lectionary, or is that just my lack of attention?

Though Jesus tells Peter to forgive, he also tells the Apostles to "preach repentance", "teaching", "bring back a brother who errs" and to "correct error"; forgiveness and teaching seem to go hand in hand.
The Fathers, the Saints too seemed to be by today's standards violent, even abusive in their teaching of the faith, in their refutation of heresy and their denunciation of sacrilegious behaviour.

Against this we have to set love but then "love" seems to have been reformed to something passionless, and reduced to variation of tolerance. Has there been a feminisation or even lavenderisation, certainly a de-Christianisation of "love".

21 comments:

John Nolan said...

The Gospel for Lent III in the classic Roman Rite is Luke xi 14-28 where Our Lord is casting out demons. The excellent Fr Hunwicke in his sermon noted that this particlar passage is censored out of the Novus Ordo, and suggested, not entirely facetiously, that one of the most important committees in Hell is a liturgy committee.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I read Ches's comments. The problem with his speculations is that there are so many unknowns in this affair that it is difficult to know what conclusion to come to. Just what did the Cardinal do? When? Was it with seminarians under his care?

Someone has called for the police to investigate but so far there is no evidence of criminal activity. If the investigation is just going to be by the Vatican then we will probably never know and we will be left wondering and having to put up with the extreme accusations and speculations of those outside the church. It seems to me that the gravity of this situation is such that the Vatican would be well-advised to appoint an independent outside panel to investigate and report publicly - otherwise nobody will believe it if the truth is that not much happened.

Savonarola said...

That text is read in the Novus Ordo on the Friday of Week 27, Year 2. Since this follows a three-year cycle of readings on Sundays and two-year on weekdays it contains substantially more of the Gospels (incl. sayings like this) than the EF. So Fr. Hunwicke is incorrect to say there is any censoring go on.
2,000 years of preaching on sin and the evils of fornication etc. do not seem to have made a scrap of difference to people's behaviour (which was just as bad in the centuries of Christendom - adultery and fornication were the norm for the royalty and nobility whose dominant power was underwritten by the Church), so we might as well instead try helping people to know in a real way that they are loved by God - not just saying God is love and showing them a hateful punishing God of our own imagining. It is knowing you are loved that changes people.

Matthew said...

John Nolan: it's not quite true to say that Luke 11:14-28 is "censored" from the post-conciliar lectionary. The passage has been used elsewhere, albeit split over at least three locations: Thurs in week 3 of Lent (11:14-23), and Fri & Sat in week 27 of Ordinary Time (11:15-26; 11:27-28). Luke 11:27-28 is also an option for the Gospel reading in the Common of the BVM.

The most one can say is that the passage has been moved from a Sunday to a weekday, where fewer people will hear it. But I might suggest that the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday in Lent in the post-conciliar Lectionary, Luke 13:1-9, has just as heavy an emphasis on repentance and judgement, but in a different way.

The post-conciliar Lectionary has its problems and interesting... 'features' compared to the 1962 Missal (the omission of vv. 27-29 from 1 Cor. 11:23-29 on Corpus Christi springs to mind), but I'm not so sure that, in this instance at least, your criticisms hold up.

Deacon Augustine said...

"these extracts seem to be rare in the OF Lectionary, or is that just my lack of attention?"

Perhaps it sometimes takes 43 years for a penny to drop! ;). They do occur, but much less frequently because one of the aims of the OF Lectionary was to give a much wider range of readings. However, the passages omitted give a clue to the mindset of the compilers of the Lectionary - especially when you see those horrible commas in the headings which indicate a whole chunk has been excised from a passage.

Maybe its Calvinist baggage which I still carry with me, but I always found it verging on the heretical to chop up the Word of God as though some bits could be ignored.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Savonarola,
Surely the role of the Lectionary is to present God as reveals himself, not in a way a particular generation views him.

Savonarola said...

Fr. Blake, of course I agree that the lectionary should present as he reveals himself in Scripture. This is what the fuller, more balanced selection of Scripture in the NO does, showing him to be above all a God of love. I don't think this is an insight of this or any particular generation, though perhaps we can see today that previous generations did not always get it right.

Amfortas said...

There's only limited coverage of the OT in the EF lectionary. As a consequence there is scant sense of the types in the OT pointing to the NT and a truncated sense of covenant. If only we could have a liturgy that brings together the best elements of the EF and the OF. I think Benedict XVI might have taken us more in this direction. I wonder what the new Pope will do.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I carefully said, "present God as reveals himself" the scriptures are the Church's book. The Church's faith pre-exists the scriptures.
There is a sense in which the ancient lectionaries that grew up organically are inspired, or at least shaped and edited by history, the problem with the present lectionary is that it was shaped by the Concillium which had a very particular agenda.

Thomas JD Travers said...

The readings today did seem specially relevant to recent events: we have at this time no leader.... But maybe soon? And the message that forgiveness of God, removing our sins as far as the east is from the west, and asking in turn forgiveness on the part of those wronged of a similar unimaginable order of magnitude is certainly challenging.

It may be considered whether it is proper for alcohol, which is a blight on many lives, to be provided to students in seminaries. Excessive alcohol consumption is often associated with misbehaviour which is why it is banned from most places of work.

Savonarola said...

The three-year lectionary is the Catholic version of the ecumenical Common Lectionary which had as its aim to allow Scripture to speak for itself (hence reading a Gospel in sequence, ditto the letters of Paul), precisely not imposing any kind of agenda. To say ancient lectionaries developed organically is rather hopeful - it might be better to say randomly or haphazardly.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I'm changing my mind about the O'Brien affair. My initial thoughts were that of a gay sting. It's possible that these men were emboldened by the Jimmy Saville affair to do what they did.

Amfortas said...

Father, you make it sound as though using the three year lectionary is a real trial for you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Amfortas,
I can't see why you should say that.
What I am saying is the two lectionaries seem to present quite different images of God.

gemoftheocean said...

You lost me with the last sentence. Love isn't "masculine" or "feminine."

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem,
It shouldn't be, but invariable it is seen through a cultural lense, especially in its expression, thus "charity" in the 19th century, was understood differently than in the 20th, when in the UK it becomes rather depised

Greg Collins said...

The Church, I fear, has become turned in on itself, seeking to literally preach to the converted. (Though I am in need of more conversion). We've almost become like the pagans/gentiles of Matthew 5:39 onwards, wherein, for me, Christ sets out his manifesto of love in action.

We seem collectively, and all-to-often individually, unable to even dialogue with those who don't agree with us any more let alone actively love them despite the disagreement.

My sense is certainly that the modern Church in E&W has little room for the masculine, the muscular, for a dynamic, vivid, male sense of spirituality and much prefers the neuter. I guess because it is so much less threatening.

BJC said...

I think many of those passages/prayers in the new lectionary have been truncated to emphasise "love" not sin and those other off limits words like hell, punishment and repentance. I seem to remember reading about it in a TAN book by Fr Anthony Cedaka. I know he's a sedevacantist but I think he's got a point.

Its a mistake because if you emphasise love to the degree we have its hardly surprising when people stop regarding even obvious things like adultery and pornography as sins. Everything becomes so mushy mushy its difficult to comprehend words like punishment and hell and therefore "sin" itself falls by the wayside.

As regards the Church Fathers and saints for sure by today's standards they would be regarded as fundamentalists and intolerant. It just emphasises how far we've fallen.

Matthew said...

Father: I suppose the debate then is whether the different images of God that the new lectionary gives us are better or worse than the ones in the old lectionary. (My instinct is that it's probably a mixed bag in that regard, though I've not done any research into that myself.)

The fact that the new lectionary is purposefully shaped (at least in the Sunday cycle) is both a positive and negative thing: positive in that there is a definite flow and structure, negative in that what seemed like the best flow and structure in the 1960s might not be the best in the long-term.

Personally, I think we would have been better off with a unified two year cycle - no different Sunday and weekday cycles. I also think that the EF Missal could certainly be enriched with some of the things we find in the new lectionary; e.g. different readings on ferial days instead of repeating the Sunday readings.

This is a different topic, though!

(BTW, careful with your spelling above - the Concilium is the Council, the Consilium was the committee. You don't want to confuse people into thinking you're an SSPX priest!!!) :-)

Amfortas said...

Father, my remark was tongue in cheek. You've raised a very important debate.

wretchedwithhope said...


"Love isn't "masculine" or "feminine."

sacrifical love - unto death - in the rite of Christ's love, is given the masculine, however, according to tradition. "to choose an unblemished male lamb". 'Jesus, the first born 'unblemished male lamb, put to death so that others might live.'

has the Church been 'feminised' or 'feministed'? Congressman Bob Dornan - veteran of war - said that if the military had been run for the last fifty years the way the Church has been run, we'd all be speaking mandarin by now. What is the church speaking these days - the language of the church of the speech of the enemy?