A Burke and a Berk?

from Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman (https://hughosb.com)

(Recently returned from Sacra Liturgia in the South of France)

The summer school has wound down and the participants have been wending their way, at various speeds, back to home. My return was direct. The change from a sunny but sweaty Côte d’Azur summer to a grey and cool English summer was not entirely unpleasant. The English climate is far friendlier to those of us who wear a habit.

My liturgical impressions of the summer school have already been explored in some detail. To round them off, and to balance them, a few quick remarks are needed.

First, for all the impressiveness, beauty, authenticity and utter tradition of the ancient rites, and their placing of the worshipper into the unbroken, organic stream of Catholic worship over century upon century, there can be no easy waving away of the post-conciliar catechesis and liturgical formation those such as me have received. This is a reality that must be faced if the middle aged are to be engaged in liturgical renewal. For all that I sympathise with those who feel that, liturgically, it is “1962 or bust” for the future, nevertheless this cannot be imposed en masse and immediately without some serious, and counterproductive, collateral damage, to use the modern euphemism.

In a sense those who adhere to the rites of the reformed liturgy are, to some degree at least, innocent. They have been told for decades how wonderful the new rites are, and almost as often how stuffy, ossified, illogical and exclusionary the old rites were. Moreover, we were told remorselessly that these rites were the express wish of the Vatican Council, and to reject these rites was to reject the Church’s authority as expressed in the Council. The Council, we were told, wanted everyone participating in the liturgy, doing things in it, contributing, and not just inanimate spectators or distracted by rosaries.

Now, not least as a consequence of the advent of the internet and the information super-highway, we know that this catechesis was not true. A plain reading of the Council’s decree on the liturgy—and a plain reading is all that is required—leads to the inexorable conclusion that the liturgy we got from the Consilium was not the liturgy conceived of by the Council Fathers. Their liturgy was the liturgy of 1962, and this was the liturgy used throughout the Council. On the floor of the council, and in its back corridors, bishop after bishop were adamant that they had no conception of touching the canon let alone adding new canons/eucharistic prayers or even (and it was almost done) abolishing the ancient canon; that Latin would predominate; that chant would remain the proper music of the liturgy; that reform would never be more drastic than some streamlining of rubrics and ritual.

Moreover recent scholarship, based on sources contemporary to the Council that were long overlooked as unhelpful to the prevailing agenda, has laid bare the machinations of the Consilium, and how crafty some were prepared to be in order to further their own vision of liturgical reform, even down to outright deception. Such reformers as Louis Bouyer, who infamously composed the second eucharistic prayer as a very loose and truncated rendering of Hippolytus’ canon in a cafe late the night before it was due for discussion, repented of the work he and others did. They had been swept away in the spirit of the times, which is so rarely, if ever, the Spirit of God.

Yet getting these corrected understandings of the Council out and accepted is no tall order. After 50 years the machinery of the Church at every level is geared toward promoting the new liturgy, no matter its flaws. Those who were young enthusiasts for the reforms in the 1960s are now ageing rapidly, and struggling to reconcile the fact the liturgy they created for the people, that they might actively participate, has been attended by consistently falling numbers of worshippers. It has failed in its objective, and even though it was created in with modern culture and society in mind, its ageing enthusiasts cannot let it go. They hitched their wagons to the train of the reform as it was imposed on us, and to unhitch themselves is a big ask. It would involve an admission of failure, or worse, and that takes real and great humility to do.

Moreover, even for those of us who are now acquainted with the reality of the reform as implemented and who can see through the desperate and false propaganda of those who would say that to speak against the reforms is to speak against the Council, there is still the lived experience of total immersion in the reformed liturgy to overcome. Those formed in the new rites, as celebrated almost universally (which is not necessarily correctly and in accordance with the rubrics), need it explained to them in a clear and calm manner why it is that the priest should face East at the altar, that Latin is the preferred language of the liturgy, that Communion should be taken on the tongue and kneeling, and so on.

A whole new liturgical catechesis is needed, and it needs time to take root and blossom. The reformed liturgy was successfully imposed so quickly and completely because the reformers took advantage of the habit of obedience that Catholics still had back in the 1960s. That spirit of obedience barely exists in the modern Church. The laity is now better educated, though not always well educated, and far more vocal in expressing their own opinion, and according to personal opinion a status equivalent to magisterial teaching.

It is a reality that even the reasonably well-formed and liturgically-literate like myself can still feel very much an outsider when involved in the pre-conciliar liturgy. I certainly felt an outsider, a foreigner on unfamiliar liturgical soil. But to be an outsider is not necessarily to be alienated or excluded. While I felt the old rites to be be very foreign, I did not find them alienating or exclusionary. In fact they left me with a taste for more, a humbling hunger it must be admitted.

Nevertheless the Council did call for a reform and there is an urgent need to ensure that the reforms the Council actually mandated are actually given to us. That is why the reform of the reform has more life in it than some would allow. That is why we might do well to re-visit the missal of 1964/5 in which we find the most faithful post-conciliar expression of the conciliar mandate for reform.

Liturgy is received not manufactured anew by man from one generation to the next. This is the clear principle of the Old Testament, and in more subtle form it is the principle of the New Testament as well. Cardinal Burke spoke to the summer school of liturgy in relation to the ius divinum, which you can and should translate both as divine law and divine right. In other words, God has given to the Church the fundamental laws of worship, and he has a right to be worshipped according to them, and we have a duty to satisfy his right.

Speaking of Cardinal Burke, I ventured further into uncomfortable lands, though in another direction, and read an article by Michael Sean Winters in the National Catholic Reporter. He takes issue with Cardinal Burke’s critique of the papal approach to sexual morality and marital integrity. He accuses the cardinal of failing to mention Jesus. One is left wondering if he would be happier of Jesus was mentioned every second sentence, like some sort of mantra or advertising slogan. St Benedict barely mentions Jesus in his Rule. Would Mr Winters find fault with the Rule for this reason, even though to any fair-minded reader the Rule is suffused throughout with Christ. Likewise, Cardinal Burke may not be chanting “Jesus, Jesus” throughout his interview but he remarks are thoroughly and faithfully Christian.

More disturbingly Winters accuses the cardinal of “sowing the seeds of disunity” in the Church by his advocacy of the dubia and his desire for clarification of and adherence to the timeless truth of the teaching of the Church and of Christ in the wake of the confusions unleashed in the wake of the papal exhortation, Amoris laetitia. After all, asserts Winters,

The propositions on which Amoris Laetitia are built were passed overwhelmingly by the Synod of Bishops.

This one sentence deserves a whole article to deal with its problems. In short, the point at issue is that the propositions “passed” by the Synod of Bishops are not allowed their full integrity in the papal document. That flawed document is so written as to allow those with an agenda not the Synod’s to further their own ends. So there is nothing new under the sun; exactly the same happened with the post-conciliar liturgy. It should be clearly understood that Amoris Laetitia and “the propositions… passed overwhelmingly by the Synod of Bishops” are not identical. Which do we then obey? This is the whole point of the dubia submitted by Cardinal Burke and his brothers in the sacred scarlet. He is seeking to put a stop to the flawed catechesis that has blighted the Church these last 50 or more years.

So what Winters desires for the cardinal would be better desired for and by Mr Winters and those of his ilk. Mr Winters puts it quite clearly:

The Holy Father should ignore him… They can leave it to us in the journalistic world to make sure there are readily available responses to his challenges on the internet so that souls are not led astray. And, we must pray for his conversion. With God, all things are possible, and only God would be able to change a heart so hardened.

This is our prayer for Mr Winters and those other men of the world like him.

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16 Responses to A Burke and a Berk?

  1. toadspittle says:

    “A Burke and a Berk”
    I assume the writer of this headline knows what a “Berk” is.
    If not, for the sake of propriety, I will go no further than informing them that it is rhyming slang.
    And leave it at that.


  2. mary salmond says:

    The problem sentence here by Winters is: “(Francis) is to ignore him (Burke). They can leave it to us in the journalistic world to make sure there are readily available responses to his challenges on the internet so that the souls are not led astray.”
    Some of those journalists in the ’60-’70s along with some compliant bishops and priests got us into the mess we are in now. Included in this was the nuns and sisters took to the streets with regular clothes, or abbreviated habits with tufts of hair showing; I guess they thought with the change of the Mass there was also a change of the habit. So the NC Reporter journalists can give us their answers of their interpretations of the AL answers, instead of the pope answering for himself – NO< THANK YOU!!!


  3. ” A plain reading of the Council’s decree on the liturgy—and a plain reading is all that is required—”

    Would that the Four Dubias (and their supporters) applied the same approach to Amoris Latitiae.


  4. The Raven says:

    They are, Ruari, that’s why they have raised the dubia!


  5. Crow says:

    Great article- useful information for my daughter’s school, in which the belief prevails that the liturgy must be dumbed down with horrible seventies songs, or otherwise it would not be accepted by teenagers. My daughter HATES it. No wonder the young people leave the Church. They dilute the message of Christ to adapt it to the world, rather than forming the mind and spirit to receive the wonder of the sacraments. Providentially, we have the Latin Mass, which provides an inoculation against the bad music and shallow liturgy.


  6. toadspittle says:

    Off topic slightly – and another of Toad’s cracked-record questions. Agreed about the infantile music, Crow, but how do you (and your daughter) manage to put up with the appaling artwork in churches today?
    Look at the Fatima and Lourdes statues, for one thing – and the “Sacred Hearts.” That sort of vulgarity and tastelessness was one (just one) of the elements that turned me away from Catholicism as a teen. And still nobody seems to care about it, half a century later. Oh, well.


  7. Roger says:

    The Pied Piper is Satan. The youth dance to his tunes (60’s) and are turned away from their parents. Seduced by Sin whether of the Heart or of the Flesh. Sacred Tradition is that part of the Faith that covers symbols, rites and rituals and has been attacked without Mercy and its modernist replacements? Actually Esoteric symbols straight out of the lodges are now commonly found in Churches and sadly shrines.


  8. toadspittle says:

    “The Pied Piper is Satan. The youth dance to his tunes (60’s) and are turned away from their parents.”
    The trouble with pop music is not that it is Satanic, but that it is mostly mindless.
    Includinfg virtually all the pop muscic since the 60’s, by the way.
    But it does little harm. Except to our eardrums.

    Luckily, most pop music is not written by Freemasons who hate The Church, and want to destroy it.
    Like this number apparently was.


  9. Roger says:

    Toad I replied to your observation. The Tune of the Piper turns the children against the parents.

    The Church has never been paranoid about Masonry Toad.

    A brief look at its 200 year celebration on 24th June 1917 is revealing. Their own words.Careful reading of the first paragraph is recommended.
    The history of every country and of many institutions teems with illustrations of the manner in which gigantic structures have risen from the tiniest of foundations. In the same way that before now a blow has caused a revolution and mighty contests have arisen from trivial causes, of which the history of the present day is presenting the most notable illustration in all annals, so many of the great and solid institutions which adorn the world had their origin almost in obscurity.
    Of these institutions, perhaps the most notable is the story of the Grand Lodge of England. Its origin ..”The Goose and Gridiron” in St. Paul’s Churchyard .. the 24th June, 1717, could not have glanced with prophetic vision across the vista of two hundred years..a chain which now ENCIRCLES THE GLOBE..
    “..That Grand Lodge, organized “pro tempore in due form,” became the parent of the many hundreds of Grand Lodges now existent in ALL PARTS OF THE EARTH.
    From the earliest days of its history the Craft of Freemasonry has attracted men of learning and of high attainments in science and literature
    Its declared purpose?
    “..No less strenuous have been the efforts of heads of the Craft to disseminate Truth..”
    The TRUTH! We have then two conflicting claims for TRUTH do we Not?

    This year Masonry celebrated 300 years on 24th June 2017 same year as the centenary of Fatima.
    WHAT IS TRUTH? You will remember Our Lord standing in front of Pilate and being asked that question!

    The Illumanti was founded in 1773 Its purpose to take over Masonry and create a Global World Order.
    “..«Our ultimate aim is that of Voltaire and the French Revolution: that is, the complete annihilation of Catholicism and even of the Christian idea;»
    «The best dagger to assassinate the Church and strike at the heart is corruption;»
    «We have embarked on the largest corruption, corruption of the people through the clergy and clergy through us.»

    Perhaps the revelations of Child abuse and sexual scandals surfacing in the Churches is accidential?
    “..Cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, nuns and members of religious orders, and subsequent cover-ups, in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to numerous allegations, investigations, trials and convictions. The abused include boys and girls, some as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. The accusations began to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s. Many of these involve cases in which a figure was accused of abuse for decades; such allegations were frequently made by adults or older youths years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who covered up sex abuse allegations and moved abusive priests to other parishes where abuse continued.
    The cases received significant media and public attention throughout the world, especially in Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
    Globalisation and a ferocious attack on Christ.


  10. Roger says:

    The Blog is however excellent because the Liturgy of the Church is Catholic thats for all times and all men.

    Beware of those who deny the Temporal Authority of Christ “All things were made by Him”

    John 1
    [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    [2] The same was in the beginning with God.
    [3] All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
    [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
    [5] And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    The Sacred Liturgy itself is a Light shining in darkness, it is Life and the Light of men. Comprehension requires Grace and the virtues. Blindness is caused through Sin.


  11. Crow says:

    Toad, I have the answer to the artwork -just go to another church. Life is too short to surround yourself with Ugliness, don’t you think? (As long as it is Catholic)


  12. toadspittle says:

    Have you found a church with artwork that doesn’t seem cheap and childish to you, Crow?
    Lucky old thing.

    “Life is too short to surround yourself with Ugliness, don’t you think? (As long as it is Catholic).”
    The Ugliness? Life might be too short to go out of your way to escape ugliness, I suppose.
    If that’s what you are getting at.


  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Here’s an image of the wooden slightly larger than life-size central crucifix in the sanctuary of the parish where I was confirmed at Easter Vigil Mass on the Saturday before St John Paul II left us. Hand carved by a German parishioner – I don’t know exactly when – in the 1960s. Not Michaelangelo, but not “cheap and childish” either. This photo does not do it justice. It’s very moving when seen up close. I’ve never been back there, and may never be again because Easter Vigil Mass will never take place on March 26th until the last quarter of this century. It last did last year, but I missed it.


  14. Mary Salmond says:

    Looks good and okay to me. Nice, jh.


  15. Crow says:

    The crucifix is beautiful JH. Toad, I confess, I love all the Catholic stuff, even Catholic kitsch,( although, being a snob, I only like old Catholic kitsch!). Mind you, I don’t consider it to be kitsch, myself – I have statues everywhere in the house!
    The churches here, even the Novus Ordo music churches, have beautiful artwork – to my taste anyway (including statues of all the saints etc- as they are my friends I like their portraits there!) I do find modern churches with modern artwork not so good though..,There are also good Novus Ordo Masses here with beautiful choirs.
    The problem with Novus Ordo Masses is that it depends on the taste of the music co-ordinator or the musicians (which they think is ‘participation’ in the spirit of VII), whereas the Latin Mass music is prescribed, so there is not the freedom to make those dreadful mistakes with music choice. When it comes to schools, they think that young people don’t understand liturgy that has any complexity or contemplative aspects to it. They believe they only respond to novelty. It is actually the opposite, but they resist this – they are always shocked when I tell them that the Latin Msss is predominantly under thirty and a large percentage of young men and young families.


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