Page 9, 11th May 2001

11th May 2001
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Page 9, 11th May 2001 — Reach for the sky

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Reach for the sky

Bruce Harbert recommends a volume of liturgical studies that helps the reader stand ' back from the passing fashions of the 1960s Theological and historical aspects of the Roman Missal: the proceedings of the mil international colloquium of historical canonical and theological studies on the Roman Catholic Liturgy, Cie! UK, 112.95.

Ciel UK, the British arm of the International Centre for Liturgical Studies, receives some publicity each year for its annual Mass celebrated in London in the Tridentine rite. This may give the misleading impression that it is an organisation of people who favour the old rite of Mass. There is more to it than that. In fact, Ciel's aims are scholarly: to study the Roman Rite in its many manifestations throughout history, including those of 1570 and 1970.

Ciel's founder is French, and his organisation operates chiefly in France, where the Conference that this volume records was held. The liturgical situations in France and in the British Isles are entirely different. A recurrent tendency in the French church is Gallicanism, which prefers native traditions to Roman ones. By the early 19th century every French diocese had its own breviary and missal. Many of these books had become tainted with the heresy of Jansenism. It was the achievement of Dom Prosper Gueranger, founding Abbot of Solesmes, to persuade the French church, chiefly by means of his publications, to return to the unity of the Roman Rite.

Gueranger also strongly supported Pope Blessed Pius IX in his teaching on the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility. His story is fascinatingly told in this volume by Dom Etienne Henri.

The link between faithfulness to the Roman Rite and faithfulness to Catholic teaching is also explored by Dom JeanMarie Pommares in his article on the origins of the 1570 Missal of Pope St Pius V. At the beginning of his story stands the invention of printing in 1450. As printed missals began to appear throughout Europe, the divergences between them became more obvious than they had been in the manuscript era. Some missals contained theologically dubious texts, which provided material for Protestant criticism. To preserve the faith, the Council of Trent desired a revision of liturgical books and a suppression of recent innovations, while showing respect for well-established liturgical tradition. Pius V took up this work and brought it to completion.

So the love for the Roman Rite that fires Ciel is not merely aesthetic or archaeological, but doctrinal. Consequently, several of the articles in this book treat theological questions as they affect the Rite: Christology (Fr Francois Clement), Trinitarian theology (Fr Mark Drew), ecclesiology (Mgr Rudolf Michael Schmitz), the doctrine of Sacrifice and the Offertory (Fr Franck M. Quoex) and Eucharistic doctrine (Dom Basile Valuet). Others are histor ical (Fr Guy Nicholls of . the Birmingham Oratory on the history of the , prayers of the Roman , Canon) and textual (Professor Lorenzo , Bianchi comparing the • Collects of the 1570 and ..

1970 Missals). , My own favourite is a , lecture by Bishop Juan • Rodolfo Laise of San Luis in Argentina on Communion in the hand. Many . people count this practice among the fruits of the Second Vatican Council. i Bishop Laise brings forth abundant evidence to , show that it was intro, duced against the wishes of Pope Paul VI, who intended that it should be allowed only in places where it had already begun by 1968 and could ' not be stopped.

The Roman Curia gradually grew more lax on , the matter, until Communion in the hand seemed to be the right of every Catholic throughout the world. But who, after . more than 30 years' would claim that it has , brought greater reverence for the Eucharist? The Argentinian Episcopal Conference was one of the last to permit it in 1996. , Bishop Lake argues that this is not a choice for an Episcopal Conference to . make over the head of an individual bishop and, judging the introduction of Communion in the hand to be inopportune in his diocese, has declined , to give permission for it. , As Vatican II recedes into the past and, according to some, Vatican III draws near, • , we begin to see more . clearly the history of that period. The liturgical , reform of the 1960s and . 1970s was no less a prod, uct of its time than Pius . V's reform in the 1560s., Scholarly collections like . this are valuable in helping us stand back from , passing fashion to see the permanent value of the . Roman Rite and of the , eternal truths that it enshrines.

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