Friday, October 18, 2013

A dead comment.

Dear Paul,

(btw, I don't at all mind not being one of your notable theologians! It would be quite a relief, had I ever thought so much as to worry about it, actually... )

Of course, I'm not about to invite you to partake of detraction; in fact I'm happy to remain ignorant of which proponents you mean.

I have, on the other hand, met a number of gnostics among the detractors of either form. To that extent, I hadn't thought about it, and my only conjecture now is that gnosticism is much too easy to fall into, and can end up looking like pretty much anything: it doesn't surprise me anywhere.

To Mr. Kerr I might reply, first: the issue of the Calendars is smoked pickerel; devotees of the E.F. as such are no more intrinsically schismatic nor judaizing than our brothers the Copts, or the Greeks, or the Armenians (or Anglican Use Catholics, for that matter). For the question of understanding, I should say that the internal consistency of a ritual and its language is more important unto understanding than is initial fluency in its idiom. I might put this another way: before I met the Extraordinary Form my Latin was entirely gathered from the musical tutelage of a number of protesants choral conductors (that and the Pange Lingua Gl. we sang every Holy Thursday). The transition from a purely sensual encounter with these ancient prayers and their classical settings (for which I should be aeviternally grateful to my sundered teachers) to an almost-continual living prayer in their ancient form has been something like the old sense of ekstasis — a standing outside what was so familiar as to seem oneself before — but without any of the really-gnostic so-called charismatic nonsense of a dull "esctasy".

To be sure, the Priest must, morally, know what each part of the Mass is when he is celebrating it (and not pray it "like a parrot", to allude to recent remarks), but asking one to understand what it means, from fluency in the words on up, is like asking Augustine to comprehend the Trinity. Mass is supposed to form us, and we to learn from it; that couldn't happen if we had some firm belief that we knew it already.

From the perspective of internal consistency, the current Ordinary Form is... well, I should say, it is much too rough and raw, and will need some centuries of mellowing before we can give it a fair comparison with the Extraordinary. I find the order of it disorienting in places, jumpy and disjointed, now; but as for having it in English, I would only complain that the translation is just too easy. And any translation of the Extraordinary (to follow along with, e.g.) will suffer the same difficulty.

Without being gnostics, let's rejoice in the Mysterious, anyway!



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