Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Secret Gnostic Key

There is rather good but not very revolutionary article on NLM about celebrating Mass, as we do here, ad Orientem. It merely says that doing so is 'normative', it is what the Missal expects. Nothing in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, nor the Missal of Paul VI expects any change to what for most of two thousand was considered normative. Why is something so clear in the Missal in 'pastoral' practice interpreted in arcane way, to the point where the 'normal' becomes the unusual, and those who actually do what the text clearly says are regarded as eccentric.

Their Lordships, the Bishop's of England Wales, want to change the new Extraodinary Form Good Friday prayer for the Jews. Ominously in the press release there is the phrase, "The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of German Bishops", I do so hope our Bishops haven't jumped on the anti-Ratzinger bandwagon, promoted by their Teutonic brothers, because of course it was he who composed the prayer.

The prayer is based on Nostrae Aetate, which in its amazing brevity (is just over 1,500 words long) doesn't change the necessity for the Jews to be saved by knowing Jesus Christ, it doesn't throw away Pauline teaching, it doesn't suggest that the Old Covenant brings salvation or Eternal Life as does the New Covenant.

Just as the interpreters of the Missal seem to live in a world separated from the actual text, as some of the interpreters of Nostrae Aetate. It is worth reading Fr Bede Rowe on the subject, at the moment he is writing his doctorate on Catholic Jewish relations. As he says the implications are enormous

In trying to avoid charges of supersessionism, the Bishops are proposing an imperialist Christian definition of Judaism which straitjackets it into Christian terms. Oh, and subsumes all of the ‘Jews’ into one undifferentiated lot.
So what are the theological implications of the Bishops’ calls? A dual covenant theology, where one is ‘never revoked’ and the other, in Christ, is the one that we Christians go by? We would have to repudiate Dominus Iesus (2000), ignore Ad Gentes, rewrite the rest of Vatican II, reformulate our Christology and theology of redemption. This is just the beginning. Why should we ignore the covenant with all creation in Noah? How dare we bring the message of Christ to anyone… did not God make them all? Should they not all grow in their revelations of the divine?
What concerns me, again, is the change in the very nature of the Church, where it becomes not so much a Church of an open book, clear teaching but something which is controlled by specialist, to the point where the official documents and statements of the Church are of little weight compared to a new gnosticism revealed to a secret group of interpreters.
The separation of doctrine from pastoral practice is a new heresy that is rapidly taking hold of the Church, words do not say what they mean - which means we become enthralled to those who have a secret key, it is movement to a new clericalisation where only the chosen know the answer. If anything tells the ordinary faithful they are unwelcome it is this kind of arcana.


Gillineau said...

Nothing so complicated or nefarious, Padre. It's just that they're a wonderful combination of badly educated and supremely confident (perhaps educated solely in confidence), like most everybody these days. Ignore them - they're too thick to notice.

Gatepost productions said...

I'm the antithesis of the 'controlling specialist' you refer to, Fr. I often struggle through your blog: looking up many phrases I am unfamiliar with. This is understandable as you're generally speaking to followers with a better academic background in theology than me... and that's fine. I enjoy your writing and the comments that follow even if I often miss the finer points.

But it often occurs to me that there has been an awful lot of empire building between, "Do This In Memory of Me", me learning my catechism, and where we are today.

'Ignorance is Bliss,' does bring certain advantages in the simple matter of Faith and the Layman.

wolfruno said...

Paragraph 247 of Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis
seems to me to 'change the necessity for the Jews to
be saved by knowing Jesus Christ'

And Evangelii Gaudium is in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis

And documents in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis must be
given 'religious submission of mind and will'.
(Humani generis 1950)

Robert Selby

Make your way to the place of the holy generation,
with those living and giving acknowledgement to God

Matthew said...

I looked up the point about Facing the People a few weeks ago as I thought like you that there was no official recommendation. Unfortunately there is. GIRM para 299: "The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible."

Physiocrat said...

Q. 631. Is Baptism necessary to salvation?

A. Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Boris said...

Ver y good Prints, father, about the new gnosticism. It'a only the priests in the know, these suits mostly, who have got the key. The rest of us rubes still ignorantly cling to the clear meaning of the words. Thanks for this -- I love your blog.

Matthew said...

Mea culpa! Have now read Fr Z's comments on the translation of GIRM 299, which points out that the English translation was skewed in favour of westward-facing celebration. But a later paragraph in GIRM does appear to recommend the setting up of "Cranmer tables" where the fixed altar isn't freestanding, which would suggest that this is the preferred practice.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Matthew, you have seriously misread the rubric -299!

CDW, has commented on this, Fr Uwe Lang an official at the time wrote 'Turning Towards the Lord', which is essentially a commentary on this rubric.

This rubric is about the altar and its integrity, what is always desirable, acc. to the CDW, is its separation from the wall (not celebrating facing the people)! The altar having its own integrity as a sign of Christ the Rock or Cornerstone. Even in the Tridentine Missal it was supposed to be separate from the wall, though often it also had gradines etc behind, 'so that nothing unnecessary might be placed upon it' like relics or candlesticks or a crucifix or even the tabernacle.

Mass facing the people was always a possibility but as Cdl Sarah the present Prefect has said it is not always desirable in this he repeats every Prefect since the Council.
On the subject the past (but one) Prefect of the CDF has also written of the preference for ad Orienten celebration in 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'.

Cosmos said...

It's not very copmlicated.

Christianity is backwards and embarassing to many people of modern sensibilities who see it as a anchronistic, chauevanist, fairy tale (in this case, implying that Jews need to convert seems to be judgmental, intolerant, and presumptive).

Church officials and theologians have spent decades offering dubious and ambiguous expressions of the faith, trying to reconcile Christianity with modern sensiblities so they don't look/sound stupid.

Now, those in charge have enough power to push through their illogical and novel reforms. So they are going to do so because it makes them feel more enlightened.

JARay said...

When I was a small boy (and that is a very long time ago), I was an "altar boy". I assiduously learned the Latin responses (no Masses were in English then), and the altar could be walked around. Indeed there was a door out into the passageway which ran behind the wall at the back of the church. The altar was therefore free standing and not attached to the wall at the back of the church. That has all gone now and the door into the passageway has been blocked off, although the passageway still exists. The old altar has been half demolished but there still is the tabernacle there in the middle of what is left.

Jacobi said...

Christianity is the Completion of the Old Testament of the Jews in the New Testament of the Risen Christ. It is therefore a Judeo Christian Religion. Mankind, not the Jews crucified Christ.

Nostrae Aetate is one of the highly dubious document of Vatican II. It cannot be considered infallible teaching, containing as it does errors, although it also contains truths. Its comment on Islam for instance are now seen to be simply erroneous, and in direct contradiction to clear and universal teaching of many previous Popes.

One good point is that it decries hatred against Jews. This was always Catholic doctrine although often misunderstood in the early Church. Pope Gregory the Great is recognised as the first Pope who condemned anti-Jewishness.

The separation of doctrine from pastoral practise, again seen in the Synod on the Family, goes back to the pre-Vatican II Modernism.

The Pauline Mass was quickly seized on by what we now realise was this movement. They attacked the Real Presence, which is an aspect of Christ being God and Man and as such are neo-Gnostics

Sadie Vacantist said...

The updating project has collapsed and nobody will admit it. I guess we are stuck with Bishop Barron videos for the foreseeable future.

Lynda said...

It is all part of a diabolic revolution to overthrow the true Faith, by infiltration by enemies, destroy souls by destroying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The great apostasy started at the top.

Deacon Augustine said...

"The altar having its own integrity as a sign of Christ the Rock or Cornerstone."

The "Cornerstone" identification with Christ is itself an OT prophecy deployed by the NT authors which should be understood in its original context as proclaimed by Isaiah in Chs. 28 & 29. It foretells the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, and the punishment of the arrogant who have not believed in the Word of the Lord. It foretells the end of the Old Covenant which our bishops seem to think is still valid.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that failure to believe in the Cornerstone are synchronous with failure to believe in the replacement of the Old Covenant by the New.

The Bones said...

So basically, according to those who would like to rewrite the prayer, Jesus isn't necessary for Salvation anymore.

Perhaps the Bishop in question would rather be a Noahide Gentile or something.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Robert Selby refers to para 247 of Evangelii Gaudium part of which reads:

"With them [the Jews], we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word."

But surely the problem is that the Jews do not accept revelation as per Jesus Christ. Or perhaps Pope Francis was thinking of later history than the time of Jesus i.e. the Hegelian Zeitgeist of the modern world; in which case I do not think the Jews necessarily accept that either.

Marie said...

JARay, The pre-Vatican II altar was attached to the reredo [or retablo]- the tall altarpiece or screen behind the altar that usually featured a Crucifixion scene, and was painted, carved, gilded, composed of mosaics, and/or embedded with niches for statues, and at the base of which sat the Tabernacle.

In that arrangement, no one could have possibly walked around the altar, since it was attached to the reredo, which made the altar looked more like a shelf than a Table of Sacrifice.

What Pope Paul VI [or his planners] must have envisioned was a detached altar around which the priest could walk and incense but not necessary stand on the far side facing the people.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Marie, Do read the rubrics concerning the altar in the Pius V Missal, you might find it is not too dissimilar to Paul VI's Missal

Marie said...

I will, Father. Thank you for this suggestion.

Marie said...

Dear Fr. Blake,
I've been to St. Peter's Basilica twice and have always wondered how the Mass was celebrated there before Vatican II when, to be "ad orientem," the priest had to be facing the people.

Thanks again for your suggestion that I looked into the altar rubrics of the Mass of Pope Pius V. What I found was this:

"The construction of the altar in such basilicas as St. Peter's was, [then] to make possible a Mass facing the East and not a Mass facing the people. The Missal of St. Pius V contained a rubric which had been drafted to cater for the situation in the few Roman basilicas where the altar was at the west end..."

How then was the Mass celebrated? The article has the answer:

"The ancient practice in churches where the apse was at the west end was as follows: the congregation did not stand directly in front of the altar but on either side of the nave, the men on one side and the women on the other.

"During the first part of the Mass, the Mass of the Catechumens, the congregation would face the celebrant in order to hear the readings and the homily. But for the Mass of the Faithful, now known as the Eucharistic liturgy, they would all turn to face the East.

"Ancient liturgies contain directions for the congregation to face the East, or, as the instruction was usually expressed, to turn toward the Lord (conversi ad Dominum). Turning toward the Lord, symbolized by the rising sun, and turning toward the East, were synonymous. This expression is found at the conclusion of forty-seven authentic sermons of St. Augustine. The construction of the altar in such basilicas as St. Peter's was, then, to make possible a Mass facing the East and not a Mass facing the people."

Thanks again, Father! God bless you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lang and most scholars suggest everyone turned to face the East, tus the eople had their backs to the altar - that of course was before the elevations were introduced, so there wasn't much to be seen.

In the present St Peters of course, the West End behind the altar was the area for the Papal Court, thus during the Canon everyone of importance faced the same direction as the Pope, but most of the ceremonies took place at the throne in the apse.

Adulio said...

Always good to see our Bishops preaching Catholic doctrine into oblivion.

James said...

The V2 comments about the Jews are likely to be interpreted in the light of JP2's remarks to the Jews of Mainz during his visit to Germany in 1980. And it was those remarks that seem to be the source of the Church's current rejection of supersessionism. A poster on the Catholic Herald site tells me these remarks were at some point retracted - I have no idea what the evidence for that is, as the USCCB seems to be in full agreement with the Pope's rejection of supersessionism.

If the Church is not in St Paul's words the "Israel of God", the spiritual Israel that consists in those who are Abraham's offspring not "according to the flesh"', but through faith in the Messiah descended from Abraham, then St Paul was grievously in error. And so has the Church been, for 1,900 years. If the Church cannot get something as basic as her own identity correct, for so long, it is simply ludicrous to suggest that she is fit to be taken seriously on anything regarding the Faith. Since she is totally correct in her traditional self-understanding, and is most definitely the One True Church outside which there is no salvation, JP2, and those who have made his anti-supersessionism their own, must be in error. The Church is incapable of being in error - to say otherwise, is as bad as to accuse Christ Himself of being in error. His servants, OTOH, are only too likely to flounder badly when they confuse their novelties with the Faith :(

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