Saturday, 18 December 2010

The 1962 problem: rubrical naziism or just consistency and obedience?

Over at a new blog, The Liturgical Pimpernel has written a piece on that perennial issue, obedience to the rubrics of 1962, in line with the decree Summorum Pontificum.

The problem with 1962

The problem with 1962 is of course that it is a totally artificial dividing point with a number of oddities.  Not every change made in 1962 was for the worst.  But it did cut out some clearly good things - chances for "active participation of the laity" in the form of the third confiteor, and some of the more important octaves for example.  At the other extreme, it excludes the possibility of celebrating some of the newer saints (unless the level of the day doesn't preclude a votive mass).  It encompasses some rubrical oddities.

And then there are the curious innovations. 

Take today's Monastic Office for example.  In the lead up to Christmas there are special antiphons for each day of the week from 17 December onwards.  One day though, always gets pushed out due to the feast of St Thomas on December 21. 

So in the old monastic breviary, the instruction for Saturday is to use the antiphons of whichever day is displaced by St Thomas.  But in the 1962 breviary, a completely new set of antiphons has been added for Saturday, so that one day's worth of the traditional antiphons will always be excluded from use each year!  From a quick look at older versions of the Roman Breviary available on the net, this may have been a case of romanising the Benedictine breviary.  But this kind of thing occurs all the time, random changes creeping in at odd times of the year for no apparent reason...

Now had Vatican II not occurred, some of the oddities would no doubt have been corrected.  But how do we do a bit of a clean up job to fix the oddities that arise now, without opening a can of worms?

If we don't stick with 1962...

The Pimpernel pretty much takes the line I've argued a few times in the past, saying stick to the rules, as per Fr Zs slogan. 

My position has always been that we can hardly get all agitated about liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo if we don't follow the rules ourselves. With a few notable exceptions, it is not, however, a view shared many Australian traditionalist priests in my experience!  The last time I blogged on this subject about a year ago, I did see the case for some more tolerance of diversity on the part of traditionalists - but within the constraints of the rules.

The difference, I guess, is that in general most traditionalist liturgical creativity involves reversion to older rules rather than creation of completely new ones.  And in the context of the Anglican/Ordinariate/Reform of the Reform sphere, the excellent Fr Hunswicke has written a useful series urging the adoption of a double-standard, which could equally be applied to the EF:

"I would like tentatively to suggest that we ought now to move beyond another Fr Zed mantra: Do the Red, Say the Black. This neatly sound-bited principle has served very well the campaigns that Fr Zed has waged over the last five years to restrain the liberalising corruption of the OF itself; but that is the point: it is essentially an ad hominem device aimed at restraining Fr Trendy. But, if it is to be even-handed, it requires also that the OF be not modified in a 'Traditionalist' direction. I suppose I am suggesting that, while still using the Zed formula in the campaign against the Trendies, we should deftly employ a double standard and ignore it in as far as it restrains the improvement of the OF."

Hmm.  Perhaps my mind is just too tidy, in insisting on consistency!


Schütz said...

Curiously, Fr H's double standard is what Peregrinus - or was it Faz? - accused me of recently when I pined for an OF mass done according to GIRM and with kneeling to receive communion.

Terra said...

Yes it is certainly curious how the idea that not following the rules is 'proper' to the OF! And it i probably is a metnality that needs to be tackled head on if the new missal is to be implemented successfully....