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True Poverty of Spirit in the Splendor of Worship: Why We Pay Deference to the Celebrant

Monday, February 13, 2017 6:45
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(Before It's News)

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The reactions to my article of last week (“A Defense of Liturgy as ‘Carolingian Court Ritual’”) displayed a wide range of opinions on the “baroque” or “rococo” aspects of the Tridentine Roman liturgy. Some even suggested that the difference between medieval rites and the Tridentine rite is that in the former, the focus remains on God throughout, with the ministers merely having various jobs to perform in carrying out the work, while in the latter, the focus shifts to everyone paying homage to the celebrant. I think this is a crucial issue that deserves further thought, as it exposes foundational questions about the iconicity or representationalism of the liturgy.

Last January, I published a defense of the cappa magna (“The Cappa Magna in the Light of Nature, Rationality, and Mystery”), in the course of which I claimed that this garment is “fully consistent with the logic of creation, the Incarnation, and the grammar of worship as the most special of all special occasions,” and that

As Catholics, we rejoice in the natural beauty of colors and forms; we rejoice in the rational capacity to highlight personal dignity, elevated office, and earnest ritual; we rejoice in the supernatural symbolism that draws our minds beyond this earthly realm to the heavenly kingdom and its majestic Sovereign. It is a perfect example of the harmony of nature and grace — the hidden depths of visible nature and the sensible signs of invisible grace.

What I argued about the cappa magna may be extended to all the aspects of the greatest of historic Latin liturgies after the Papal Mass, namely, the Pontifical Mass. This liturgy features elaborate pre- and post-ceremonies of divesting and vesting, in addition to special touches throughout the Mass bound up with the episcopal standing of the celebrant. How we should understand these things may be gathered from a luminous statement in the Holy Rule of St. Benedict: “Let the abbot, since he is believed to hold the place of Christ, be called Lord and Abbot, not for any pretensions of his own, but for the honour and love of Christ.”[1] As with the abbot, so with the sacerdos magnus: all attentions are being given to Christ, who is present in a special way in His ordained ministers. For our Lord could have said of His animate instruments just what He said of the poor, with no less truth: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my pontiffs, that you do unto Me.” And we know that “he who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, who hath sent him” (Jn 5:23).

With the widespread loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we lose our faith in His real presence in the priests; religious exercises come to be about us, about the community. Naturally, in this false perspective, it is absurd to wear beautiful vestments, much less a cappa magna — who are we to dress up like this? But it is not about us; it is all about Jesus, directed to His honor and reflective of His glory. How would we treat Our Lord if He were the one offering the High Mass? Yet He is the one offering it; the Eternal High Priest is present in and working through His earthly high priest, whom we confess to be alter Christus.

No one has been granted the privilege of seeing this truth more fully than St. Gertrude the Great, who beheld in many of her visions the Lord Jesus Himself celebrating the liturgy of the Mass and of the Divine Office, with hosts of angels as his acolytes.

As He [Christ] sat on His royal throne, St. Gertrude cast herself at His feet and embraced them. Then He chanted the Kyrie eleison, in a clear and loud voice …
       The Son of God then rose from His royal throne and turning towards God the Father, intoned the Gloria in excelsis in a clear and sonorous voice. At the word Gloria, He extolled the immense and incomprehensible omnipotence of God the Father. At the words in excelsis, He praised His profound wisdom. At Deo, He honored the inestimable and indescribable sweetness of the Holy Spirit. The whole celestial court then continued in a most harmonious voice, Et in terra pax bonae voluntatis. …
       At the conclusion of the Gloria in excelsis, the Lord Jesus, who is our true High Priest and Pontiff, turned to Gertrude, saying Dominus vobiscum, dilecta — “The Lord be with you, beloved,” and she replied Et spiritus meus tecum, praedilecte — “And may my spirit be with Thee, O most Beloved.” After this she inclined towards the Lord, to return Him thanks for His live in uniting her spirit to His Divinity, whose delights are with the children of men. The Lord then read the Collect …
       Gertrude saw our Lord rise from His royal throne and present His blessed Heart to His Father, elevating it with His own Hands and immolating it in an ineffable manner for the whole Church, At this moment the bell rang for the Elevation of the Host in the Church [where St. Gertrude was on earth], so that it appeared as if our Lord did in heaven what the priest did on earth. …
       And our Lord communicated Himself to her with a love and tenderness which no human tongue could describe, so that she received the perfect fruit of His most precious Body and Blood. After this He sang a canticle of love for her and declared to her that had this union of Himself with her been the sole fruit of His labors, sorrows, and Passion, He would have been fully satisfied.[2]

Admittedly, Gertrude was caught up in rapture and saw visions that are seldom granted to mortals. Nevertheless, a Pontifical Mass truly does convey something of the burning intensity, the royal majesty, the celestial beauty, the overwhelming holiness of the Mass of Our Lord that she beheld. If our Mass on earth does not hint at this, if it is not capable of being a springboard to mystical communion with the High Priest, if it is antithetical to the truth Gertrude saw momentarily unveiled, it is being false to its essence.

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I remember with great inner warmth how it felt to be at the Mass celebrated by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke at Strahov Abbey on the Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus in October 2016. Between the sanctuary full of ministers going about their many and varied tasks of service and the choir loft whence flowed the milk of chant and the honey of polyphony, I was suspended in an enormous net of prayer, the Church in heaven and the Church on earth, into which I, though unworthy, was invited to participate, along with the hundreds of souls packed into the narrow wooden benches of the nave.[3] Prayer was not a mental construct but a pulsing, palpable thing going on above me, before me, and yet within me, something much greater and more real than myself in that it came from God and carried me to God, infusing a sense of wonder and humility. “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” — this mother that the liturgy is for our spiritual life.

The two hours of the Pontifical Mass passed as quickly as if time had stepped aside in deference to its master, waiting to be summoned again when he should wish it. The liturgy ended with a monumental improvisation on the pipe organ, so that my last impressions were an anarchic blend of banners carried in procession, music seizing hold of all space, and the bustle of men, women, and children streaming forth to the courtyard. I had been present at the tearing of the veil in the temple, the veil of His flesh, and for a moment the heavens were opened. I had worshiped with the angels, knelt with sinners, felt the balm of beauty, tasted the sacrament of love. Never have I been more proud to be a Catholic — or more aware of my smallness and dependency, my unworthiness as a member of the Mystical Body.

From those heights, let us return once more to pontifical regalia and look at the question from the opposite angle. While it is sometimes possible that a saintly priest or bishop would choose to rid himself of anything valuable in order to give the money to the poor, in our own times it is much more common to encounter what might be called “ostentatious bad taste” or “hypocritical poverty,” when a priest or bishop who claims to be renouncing pomp and circumstance for the sake of the Gospel is really drawing attention to himself as a paragon of social justice, whose ugly garments or clumsy chalices in fact still cost a great deal of money — money that could have been spent on something truly beautiful, which spiritually enriches all who behold it, including the poor. We could put it this way: a priest or bishop who does not see himself as essentially a symbol of another and therefore as able to accept and promote liturgical beauty for the sake of that other will, perforce, see himself as —himself, in front of the people, on display. At this point, two roads are open to him: to be ostentatiously wealthy for the sake of worldly glory, or to be ostentatiously poor and virtuous. In either case, it’s all about him, and the result is thoroughly disedifying. In contrast, when a man of God really acts and speaks as a man of God, one who totally belongs to Christ the Eternal High Priest, it is extremely edifying to see him robed in splendor, uplifted in honor. When Our Lord said: “Whatsoever you do to the least, you do unto Me” (cf. Mt 25:40), He was certainly not excluding the truth that whatsoever you do to the greatest, you do to Him as well.

We can see in the simplicity of St. Benedict’s faith the reason why so many in the Church today object to “pomp and splendor” — namely, their lack of the same faith. “Let the abbot, since he is believed to hold the place of Christ, be called Lord and Abbot…” If one does not believe firmly and unshakably with one’s mind and heart that the ministerial priest is alter Christus, a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek; if one does not believe that the bishop is Christ as ruling, teaching, and sanctifying; if one does not believe that the hierarchs of the Church are the authoritative voice and healing hands of the Word made flesh, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who suffered and is now exalted gloriously in heaven above the cherubim and seraphim, then it is perfectly reasonable to be repelled by signs of pomp and splendor.

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Charles Coulombe makes this insightful observation about the difference in “style” between Benedict XVI and Francis: 

The generation of westerners of which he [Francis] is a part was marked — in Church, State, and indeed, in every field — by what can only be called a sort of “personalization” of authority. That is to say, that the traditional division in perception between an office and the current holder of that office — which allowed people of wildly differing, sometimes even opposed, views to collaborate out of shared respect for the office under whose direction they functioned — has been blurred or even obliterated. Such folk, when in authority, tend to downgrade or do away with traditional symbols of their office while emphasizing their own personalities in pursuit of some nebulous “authenticity.” So it is that morning dress and uniforms disappear from presidential inaugurations and legislative openings, and royals love to appear in casual wear. The difficulty with such an approach is that it tends to weaken respect for the office in the eyes of its subjects, who in turn begin to believe that their loyalty to it is dependent purely on their personal feelings for the occupant of the moment. Seeing the problems this had created, Benedict XVI began to restore the symbolic side of the Papacy, for all that formalism and display ran extremely counter to his nature. But it is not an issue that one of Francis’s generation could be expected to understand — quite the contrary.[4]

Pope Benedict, says Coulombe, attempted to show the “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” by his very apparel; it was not a mental construct or an eccentric opinion, but a lived reality, displayed on the outside:
What is certain is that he did try to use the hermeneutic of reform himself. Despite the lack of tiara noted earlier, piece by piece he restored bits of the papal wardrobe that his immediate predecessors had discarded: the fur-lined mozzetta, the camauro, the fanon, and — most annoying to some — the traditional red shoes, symbolizing the fact that as Pope he walked in the footsteps of the martyrs.

This humble Bavarian who shied away from the limelight saw that paradoxically it was necessary to elevate and accentuate the sacramental iconicity of the pontiff in order to move beyond the cult of personality inadvertently started by John XXIII and vastly augmented in the charismatic athlete, actor, poet, and playwright John Paul II. With Pope Francis, we see a return both of the cult of personality and of the false conception of poverty, this time applied not only to liturgy but also to doctrine itself.[5]

When we look back over the criticisms made of episcopal vestments by certain fathers of the Second Vatican Council and by our minimalists of today, we must ask ourselves: Why would a bishop who protests about wearing gauntlets or buskins not likewise protest about the mitre and crook? Why is a bishop or a priest still wearing clerical attire of any sort? Did not the chasuble begin as a typical Roman garment, of which jeans and a T-shirt would be our equivalent? Why is a cleric still using prescribed rituals and ceremonies at all?

Joseph Ratzinger saw that the post-modern critique of structures and institutions extends to everything — there is no logical reason to stop at the cappa magna or the gold chalice or the medieval chant, as opposed to carrying the deconstruction of religion all the way to its entire visible material system of power.[6] For this reason, therefore, the post-modern critique has to be rejected at its root. In its place we must put the Pseudo-Dionysian principle of excess, even super-excess. While we may not prefer the results of the Baroque aesthetic to those of the Byzantine, the Romanesque, or the Gothic, we can recognize in it the Christ-loving, creation-loving exultation of the Catholic soul, which serves as an antidote to the poisonous reductionism of our time and an exemplar of the disciplined abandon to holy things, rejoicing in every pound of spikenard it can spill out to anoint the feet of the Lord.

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NOTES

[1] Holy Rule, ch. 63 (McCann trans.). Perhaps the most astonishing example of Benedict’s analogical thinking is found in ch. 7, under the fifth degree of humility. The chapter begins: “The fifth degree of humility is that he [the monk] humbly confess and conceal not from his abbot any evil thoughts that enter his heart, and any secret sins that he has committed.” Straightforward. But then Benedict backs up this advice with three authorities: “To this does Scripture exhort us, saying: Make known thy way unto the Lord and hope in him. And again: Confess to the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. And further: I have made known my sin to thee, and my faults I have not concealed. I said: I will be my own accuser and confess my faults to the Lord, and with that thou didst remit the guilt of my sin.” The patriarch has virtually equated “confessing to the Lord” with “confessing to the abbot.” This can make sense only because the abbot is a true and authoritative ‘icon’ of the Lord, an alter Christus, along the lines of Jesus’ statement: “He who hears you, hears me.”

[2] William J. Doheny, C.S.C., The Revelations of  Saint Gertrude, Part III, ch. LXI.

[3] It was thought that hardly anyone would come to this Mass. When it began, the church was so full that no seats were left and latercomers had to stand or sit wherever they could. It is doubtful that this abbey has seen so many worshipers for a very long time. It is almost always this way with Pontifical Masses: the People of God are famished and they come to the feast whenever and wherever it is set forth.

[4] Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes (Arcadia: Tumblar House, 2014), 389–90.

[5] By “poverty of doctrine” I refer to the superficiality, messiness, ambiguities, contradictions, and unclarity of this pope’s teaching, in contrast to the rich truthfulness of those of his predecessors who took seriously the Lord’s command to “let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’” (Mt 5:37); cf. 2 Cor 1:17–19, Jas 5:12.

[6] For more thoughts about the deconstruction of symbolism, see the superb recent article on Alfred Lorenzer’s 1981 study The Council of the Bookkeepers.



Source: http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2017/02/true-poverty-of-spirit-in-splendor-of.html

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  • WARNING, THE CATHOLIC RELIGION IS THE BIBLICAL HARLOT. HER DOCTRINE IS OPPOSITE OF THAT OF THE ONE TRUE ETERNAL GOD YAHWEH. DON’T BE CONNED BY THEIR PERSUASIVE BLASPHEMY.

    As I was raised a Catholic and remained one for years into my adulthood I know this cunning and deceptive monster personally. Sadly a large portion of my family is still under delusion, many on my mother’s side of the family remain under it’s wicked spell. What I’ve learned in interacting with these family members is that Catholics don’t really care what scripture says, they are more concerned with how the Vatican Council interprets it.

    Ridiculously the Pope appreciates a thing the Catholic Church calls “Papal infallibility.” The church falsely believes that through recognizing the promise of Jesus to Peter that the Pope is exempt from any possibility of human mistake or error. They believe he is infallible as the shepherd and teacher of all Christians. In turn the Pope as a whole defines doctrine as the supreme apostolic authority on faith, morals and doctrinal matters to be accepted by the entire Church.

    Ironically you can show the brainwashed exactly where the Bible conflicts with their God defying doctrine. Rather to examine the evidence, or the validity of their belief they get really angry. Some even refuse altogether to review any scripture that conflicts with the Catholic doctrine. I often ask myself exactly what is it that they’re getting so angry about? If what is being presented to them is based on God’s Word why the resentment for pointing out obvious discrepancy between their belief and what the Bible says.

    You would think Catholics would leap at the chance to defend their reasoning for embracing such obvious error. The truth is, this religion has been blinded, it’s not hospitable to God’s Spirit. They have not the key therefor cannot know the gospel’s hidden secrets, or that which God has withheld for this specific time.

    I’ve made a strong accusation claiming that the Catholic doctrine is opposite of God Almighty’s, now please let me explain a little further what I mean. Examine what God’s Word says verses the false teaching of Satan’s ingeniously wicked replica of the Body, the Catholic Church.

    Okay, let’s begin with their most basic of the Catholic’s doctrine, “man ascending to heaven, or descending to a fiery Hell.” First, Jesus Christ told us that no man ascends to heaven but him. John 3:13 (KJV) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    In the Bible’s Book of Matthew Jesus while providing an example of to whom and for what to pray for gave man the Lord’s Prayer. In the second verse of this prayer it says, Thy Kingdom is coming to earth.
    Matthew 6:10 (KJV) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

    Their extremely flawed understanding of man’s fate corresponds with the false belief that man has an immortal spirit which after death ascends one way or the other depending on your carnal behavior and acceptance of their often degrading version of Christ.

    In the Book of Revelation we are told about resurrection. How a resurrection like what Jesus himself experienced will be available to mankind in two separate phases. The first occurring at the return of Christ and the next at the very end of Christ’s millennial reign. Those resurrected in the first round are to be raised to spirit in the same fashion Jesus was. They will help Jesus run things here on earth. In the second round however people will be raised to a restored physical body.

    If after a short evaluation period these people reject God, if they refuse to repent they will return to their former state of death, or experience what is referred to as the “second death.” At this point they will return to the ground, to the dust from where they came to pay in full the wage of sin, death with no hope of future resurrection! Eternal death, an eternal punishment. That’s right the penalty for sin is death, not torture. Hellfire is a degrading fallacy that limits the agape of our Heavenly Father. It’s enormous lie that effectively replaces the true wage of sin for the blasphemous fabrications of mortal men.

    Pay close attention to the following passage in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

    Revelation 20:4-5 (KJV) 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

    This scripture is referring to the 144,000 people who will be resurrected during the first round. They are the firstfruits, those raised to spirit, those who will rule with Christ for a thousand years. The logical question being, if man actually had an immortal spirit, would it then be necessary upon their passing for God to resurrect their supposed spirit transforming them into spirit? That seems remarkably absurd!

    Let’s move on to verse five Revelation 2:5 (KJV) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

    This is a very important passage. It clearly shows that there are two resurrections. The second of which happens only after Christ’s millennial reign. This is when everyone else is resurrected, and remember these people when resurrected are not yet spirit. That miraculous gift of course will come if they choose God, but should they reject Him they will pay the wage of sin and return to death, not some endless fiery torture. Thing is, if mankind had this immortal spirit or soul the Catholics suggest why on earth would they need God for any resurrection? They wouldn’t!

    Another good example of opposite doctrine is with the Catholic Churches Sabbath day. The Bible says in unmistakable terms that God’s weekly Sabbath is on the seventh day. It is after all the forth commandment. The Catholics worship their distorted version of God on exactly the opposite day of the week, Sunday or sun-day. This is the day used in the Mithraism or in Baal to worship the false gods Mithra and Nimrod, the architect of the Tower of Babel.

    The Catholics contend that this requirement was done away with, fulfilled and nailed to the cross, but is that true? Not hardly! Jesus himself assured us that the Law and prophesy remains in effect until the fruition of God’s plan.

    Matthew 5:17-19 (KJV) 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, TILL HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS, ONE JOT OR ONE TITLE SHALL IN NO WISE PASS FROM THE LAW, TILL ALL BE FULFILLED. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    As you can see by verse nineteen and the verse in Exodus those who wrongly believe that they’re justified in altering or changing altogether God’s weekly Sabbath are not of the same mind as God.

    Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    The Catholics have incorporated many pagan traditions and rituals. One being the annual Ishtar celebration, an evil tradition that replaces God’s Holy celebration of Passover honoring the pagan goddess Ēostre. Although this may appear to be outrageous it is barely the tip of the iceberg. This Easter celebration does far more damage than first meets the eye.

    Jesus was asked by the Pharisees to provide evidence that he was in fact the Messiah, the true son of God. In response Christ told them, or prophesied that after his death he would remain in the heart of the earth for three days and nights identical to the time frame Jonah a had experienced in the stomach of the great fish. The three day aspect being extremely relevant to spiritual prophesy.

    The problem with the Catholic’s religion’s Easter doctrine is that it removes that single piece of evidence rendering Christ a liar. In scripture God has provided His definition of what constitutes a day. It is a twenty four hour period beginning at evening and ending the following evening. When we use God’s definition of a day the period between “Good Friday” afternoon when Jesus finally succumbed to his injuries and died and Sunday morning

    • CONTINUING: When we use God’s definition of a day the period between “Good Friday” afternoon when Jesus finally succumbed to his injuries and died Sunday morning this span of time falls extremely short of the three days Christ had prophesied. See the importance of the details and how it effects God’s truth?

      Christmas is yet another pagan tradition. It wrongly depicts Christ’s birth on Nimrod’s December 25th birthday See the true origins of this ungodly tradition. The Catholics say it doesn’t matter because they are recognizing the birth of Jesus yet in the celebration they exercise the paganism almost to the letter. See for yourself how evil this holiday really is.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDY1jX-LJqw

      I could spend the rst of the morning going on and on about the Catholic doctrine. It’s false, all of it. If you accept this blasphemy then you’ve surrendered the inheritance, salvation will not be possible until you categorically reject this idolatry and repent for your sin.

      I offer not my opinion or truth but instead God’s truth accept it or reject it as you will,

      A Student of the Word

      PS I apologize for the split. For some reason my first portion of my response submitted all by itself before I had completed my post.

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