Saturday, December 31, 2016

"draw[ing] near to God on the same path that he opened in order to draw near to us."

     "When we said that prayer is a path, we wanted to draw attention to the fact that it makes us draw near to God on the same path that he opened in order to draw near to us.  The Father approached us by sending his Son and his Spirit.  It is, then, in the Holy Spirit and through the mediation of the Son that we can make our way toward him.  In this regard, it would contradict the very logic of communion with God if our prayer ended in the Spirit or the Son:  its final goal is always the Father.
     "Nevertheless, this fact was obscured in the history of the Church by the shock waves resulting from the struggle with Arianism.  The Arians, who denied the divinity of the Son and the Spirit, first obliged the Church to formulate dogmatically the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father in the first Council of Nicea (325), and the divinity of the Spirit in the first Council of Constantinople (381).  But these necessary dogmatic formulations could not but affect Christian practices that had been peaceably observed until then, and that suddenly became suspect in the eyes of the defenders of Nicene orthodoxy as a result of the use to which the Arians had put them.  A good example of this evolution is the progressive disappearance of the ancient doxology of the Psalms, 'Glory to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit,' which ended up being substituted by the formula, 'Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.'  [(Footnote:  'For more ample developments, see J. A. Jungmann, Tradition liturgique et problèmes actuels de pastorale (Le Puy, 1962), 51-57 ("Fides Trinitas").'  This came from the original German (Liturgisches Erbe und pastorale Gegenwart) into English as Pastoral liturgy.)]  It is clear that the first formula is no less orthodox than the second, but ever since the Arians used it to corroborate their claim of a difference in nature between the Father and the two other Persons, the second became doctrinally preferable.  Unfortunately, this allowed us to lose sight of the dynamism proper to the glorification of the Father that passes through the Son and is realized in the Spirit, just as we risk losing sight of the dynamism of petition that, always through the mediation of the Son in the Spirit, re-ascends to the Father.
     "It is a sign of this loss that many people have a hard time knowing and articulating to whom they are supposed to pray.  A large number of the faithful admit that they are incapable of clearly distinguishing the worship of God from the cult of Mary or the saints.  But even prayer to God himself (which is the only prayer in the strict sense) is often just as confused in praxis.  Separated from the Son and the Spirit, prayer to the Father becomes absolutely inconceivable, and in spite of appearances, it is often abandoned; [(Footnote:  'The fact that people continue to say the "Our Father" is not enough to prove the contrary:  many of the baptized are convinced that the "Our Father" is addressed to God, but not specifically to the [P]erson of the Father.')] separated from the Father and the Spirit, prayer to Christ risks becoming denatured and sentimental; separated from the Father and the Son, prayer to the Holy Spirit is detached from invocation (the 'come!' that introduces practically all prayers to the Spirit) and degenerates into a potentially Joachimite illuminism.  These serious distortions of Christian prayer have, moreover, been in the history of the Church the epiphenomenon of the degeneration of faith in the Trinity, which is often reduced to an abstract deism in which trinitarian theology, or what remains of it, is viewed as nothing but a technical appendix accessible only to specialists.  [(Footnote:  an appendix 'more scholastic than mystical.')]  The logical result of this had to be the celebrated affirmation of Kant:  'From the doctrine of the Trinity, taken literally, we can draw absolutely nothing for praxis.'  For praxis, and thus for prayer.  Who will be surprised, after this, if the impersonal religiosity of the many contemporary versions of Gnosticism, or of Islam, is seducing the whole world?"

     Jean-Pierre Batut, "Praying to the Father through the Son in the Spirit: reflections on the specificity of Christian prayer," trans. Michelle K. Borras, Communio: the international Catholic review 36, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 637-639 (623-642).

"Christian prayer is . . . much more than the imitation of a model: it is the fruit of a configuration."

     "In both these texts [(Gal 4:6 and Rom 8:14-17)], the invocation Abba, which has up till now been a prerogative of Jesus, appears from now on as our own property.  What made this transformation possible is not a method of prayer that Jesus revealed to us in secret, but the gift of the Holy Spirit who prays to the Father in us just as he prays in Jesus.  Christian prayer is thus much more than the imitation of a model:  it is the fruit of a configuration.  We do not only pray 'as Jesus'; it is Jesus who prays in us.  He prays in us in the Holy Spirit, who is the soul of our prayer.  And this action of the Holy Spirit does not dispossess us of any part of ourselves or our freedom, since the Spirit of God 'bears witness to our spirit' that we are his children:  he does not take the place of the created spirit, but gives it the capacity at last to realize that for which it was made."

     Jean-Pierre Batut, "Praying to the Father through the Son in the Spirit: reflections on the specificity of Christian prayer," trans. Michelle K. Borras, Communio: the international Catholic review 36, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 634-635 (623-642).

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"look not on our sins, but on the fidelity of your Church"

Ecclesia. From an
Ecclesia et Synagoga.
"Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles:  Peace I leave you, my peace I give you; look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will.  Who live and reign for ever and ever.  Amen."

"Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis:  Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis:  ne respicias peccata nostra, sed fidem ecclesiae tuae; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris.  Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.  Amen."

     Prayer for peace articulated by the priest on behalf of the entire congregation in the plural, Missale Romanum.  This derives from the prayer articulated by the celebrant on his own behalf in the singular at the head of an intraclerical and strictly hierarchical exchange of the peace in the Tridentine missal of Pius V (1570):

"Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis:  Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis:  ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem ecclesiae tuae; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris.  Qui vivis et regnas Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum.  Amen."

     According to Robert Cabié, "Donnez-vous la paix," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 103 (2002):  275-276 (269-280), this prayer appeared first in early 11th-century Germany, and was only later incorporated into the Tridentine Missale Romanum.  See also Robert Cabié, “Le rite de la paix,” in Les combats de la paix:  Mélanges offerts à René Coste (Toulouse:  Institut Catholique de Toulouse-Bayard éditions/Centurion,1996), 67 (47-71).
     But according to Eligius Dekkers, an early 11th century priest would not have been offering the faith (fides) of the Church (whether objective or even subjective) in place of his own infidelities, but rather its fidelity (fides).  Contrary to the universal ("sans aucune exception") tendency of the various nations to render fides as "faith" ("foi, faith, fede fe, f
é, Glaube, geloof, feiz, Wiara", etc.) since at least 1751, fides here would have meant, in the context of early 11th-century German feudalism, not "faith" but "faithfulness" or "fidelity" ("Une erreur de traduction dans l'ordinaire de la messe?", Memoriam sanctorum venerantes:  Miscelleanea in onore di Monsignor Victor Saxer, Studi di Antichità cristiana 48 (Città del Vaticano:  Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1992), 245-250).   Though I have not yet looked for a counter-argument published in the wake of this article by Dekkers, and though I have always loved (unsuspectingly) the standard translation (as opposed to, say, the lack of "faith" (or "faith"-lessness) that lies at the root of personal sin (as distinguished from the Holiness of the Church)), this makes a lot of sense to me.
     See also Marie-Thérèse Nadeau, Foi de l'église: évolution et sens d'une formule (Paris:  Beauchesne, 1988), which I have not yet read, and esp. pp. 103 ff.  For section X.8 of the Ritus servandus, see this English translation for 1962, that same section in a Latin missal of 1920, and so on.

Hate the sin but love the sinner

Give us, [O] Lord our God, by preserving the peace, to guard what you give and entrust to us, and thus to conform ourselves in all things to that peace which you ordain and grant in charity, to the end that we may learn to hate in others their faults and not their souls and to hope that they will turn away from sin and not from salvation.  [And] that to all concord in love may thus be [given], in order that discord may not proceed from anyone nor affect anyone.  Through [our] Lord.

Dona nobis, Domine Deus noster, in custodienda pace tuum donum, tuumque depositum custodire, et sic in hominibus sequi quam ipse jubes et tribuis caritatem, ut in aliquibus culpas noverimus odisse, non animas; finem optare crimini, non saluti:  si cunctis concordia, sit amori; ut discordiam nec inferred ulli liceat, nec referre.  Per Domininum.

     Collect "ad pacem" from the 6th- or even 5th- (?) century Libellus Missae (the so-called Missale Richenovense) discovered by the German scholar Franz Joseph Mone on a palimpset in the Abbey of Reichenau (Mohlberg, below; PL 138, cols. 863-882; and, originally, Lateinische und Griechische Messen aus dem zweiten bis sechsten Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main:  Lizius, 1850), 23).  This collect is no. 326 (60) on pp. 61-94 of the critical 1958 edition of the Missale Gallicanum vetus (Vat. Pal. lat.493) ed. Mohlberg, but is taken here from The ancient liturgies of the Gallican Church:  now first collected, with an introductory dissertation, notes, and various readings, together with parallel passages from the Roman, Ambrosian, and Mozarabic rites, by J. M. Neale and G. H. Forbes (Burntisland:  Pitsligo Press, 1855-[67]), vol. 1, p. 10 (cf. PL 138, col. 870).  My English follows the French translation supplied in Robert Cabié in "Donnez-vousla paix," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 103 (2002):  279 (269-280) rather than the Latin (above) directly:
Donne-nous, Seigneur notre Dieu, en gardant la paix, de garder ce que tu nous donnes et nous confies et ainsi de nous conformer en toutes choses à cette paix que tu ordonnes et accordes dans la charité, afin que nous apprenions à haïr chez les autres leurs fautes et non leurs âmes et à souhaiter qu’ils se détournent du péché et non du salut.  Qu’à tous ainsi soit [donnée] la concorde dans l’amour, pour que la discorde ne provienne de personne ni n’atteigne personne.  Par [notre] Seigneur.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Modernism as a recurring annihilation of both past and future

"According to the modernists, whether in the seventeenth century or the twentieth, innovation means tearing down the old—literally, in the case of cities—in order to make room for the new.  Modernism revises everything, fundamentally.  Foundations is a word borrowed from the modernists' own vocabulary:  Because the old has been obliterated, the new must be built upon its own, carefully laid foundations.  Modernists are not bricoleurs.
     "Nor do they believe in organic growth—or, indeed, organic anything.  Modernists negate the slow accretions of history:  They do not want to learn from the past; they want to break with it.  This is why the scientific and aesthetic dreams of modernists are so relentlessly radical, whatever their century.  For those who want to start afresh, the only possible stance toward the past is rejection.  Or, to recur to Descartes's urban planning metaphor, the only way to build the new city is to raze the old one to the ground.  But modernist radicalism doesn't stop there.  In its purest form, it seeks to annihilate not only the past but the future as well.  The new city erected on the smoldering ruins of the old one is intended to stand for all time, perfect and therefore ageless.  This is why it is so difficult to locate modernism along the political spectrum of the reactionary right and the progressive left.  Both right and left define themselves in relation to an unsatisfactory present:  The right wants to return to a better past; the left wants to move on to a better future.  The modernists may seem progressive as compared with the right, but they often look reactionary as compared to the left.  In truth, they belong to neither party, because the aspire to be the architects of an eternal present.  Once modernists have fulfilled their vision, time stops—until the next wave of modernist fervor.
     "But modernism cannot live with the vision that it comes in recurrent waves.  Nothing is more fatal to a movement that seeks to remake art or science or politics from the ground up than to repeat itself.  Once-and-for-all is thrilling; twice-and-for-all, embarrassing; thrice-and-for-all, simply ludicrous.  Modernity cannot begin in the seventeenth, the nineteenth, and the twentieth century without becoming something like a joke told once too often.  This is why the three modernities of the history of science cannot peacefully coexist.  There would be no difficulty in characterizing all three as moments of epoch-making change, as indeed all three undoubtedly were.  But change, no matter how transformative, falls short of the accolade 'modernity.'  Modernity aims to be the only change that is so vehement, so thorough, so fundamental, that no further change thereafter is conceivable.  There is thus always a simmering argument among the proponents of each of the three modernities in the history of science as to which one is the real one, the implication being that the others are imposters, mere revolutions masquerading as the one and only modernity."

     Lorraine Daston, "When science went modern," The Hedgehog review:  critical reflections on contemporary culture 18, no. 3 (Fall 2016):  27-28 (18-32).

"Should we love the Church?"

     "It is because we love [the Church], in a mimesis of the Lord's own love for his Bride [(Eph 5:25-27)], that we submit ourselves to work for the fullest realization of her marks:  not only the mark of holiness, which we enhance every time we emerge victorious in the spiritual warfare with the world, the flesh, and the Devil, but the others as well.
     "Every time I shape my understanding to the mould found in her dogmatic consciousness or submit myself to the authority of her forms of worship or seek to serve her members in practical ways, I intensify the mark of unity.  Whenever I support her missionary activity, by whatever means, or try to bring the culture I have acquired or inherited into symbiotic relation with her life and faith, understanding the latter as fully as my resources will allow, I extend her catholicity.  And if in showing others, in word and deed, how I value what has been transmitted to me, in Scripture and Tradition, from the apostles by, for example, kissing the ring—or, if I am a Catholic of the Eastern rites, the hand—of a bishop, I venerate the apostolic hierarchy which joins us in one direction to Pentecost and in another to the Parousia, then on those occasions I enlarge the scope of apostolicity in the Church."

     Adrian Nichols, O.P., Figuring out the Church:  her marks, and her masters (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2013), 176.

"The Virgin is in the Church. She is, within the Church, the place towards which the Church, in her other members, tends ceaselessly to draw near, as the curve to its asymptotic goal and the polygon towards the circle."

     Charles Journet, L'Eglise du Verbe incarné 2:393, as quoted by Adrian Nichols, O.P., Figuring out the Church:  her marks, and her masters (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2013), 176.

"there are some souls that carry others, as a planet its moons."

Fondation Charles Journet
"In Mary the Church becomes co-redemptory [sic] namely, of all men, whether they know it or not. . . . The redemptive mediation of Christ carries the universal co-redemption of the Virgin, who in turn carries the corporate co-redemptive mediation of the Church and the particular co-redemptive mediations of Christians, for there are some souls that carry others, as a planet its moons."

     Charles Journet, L'Eglise du Verbe incarné 2:386, as quoted by Adrian Nichols, O.P., Figuring out the Church:  her marks, and her masters (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2013), 175.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"the politics of wish-fulfillment"

"Alongside the political commitment to multiculturalism, honourable in intention though profoundly problematic in practice, we must also acknowledge a powerful fantasy, the fantasy that we can remake the world in any way we choose, and, equally powerful, the fantasy that no one can tell us that what we are trying to do can never be done.  Multiculturalist politics had a real referent in post-colonialism and immigration.  But postmodernist epistemology also has a fantasy referent in what we may call the politics of wish-fulfillment, according to which there are no obstacles to our remaking the world as we choose, apart from the ideas in our minds.  The world can be anything we want it to be, because thinking makes it so.  When Shapin and Schaffer say 'it is ourselves . . . that is responsible for what we know' they seem to imply that knowledge can be whatever we choose to make it; and if we do not like science as we find it, then all we need do is wish for it to be otherwise.
     "Concealed within relativism there thus lies a dream of omnipotence, a fantasy recompense, perhaps, for the impotence and irrelevance of academic life."

     David Wootton, The invention of science:  a new history of the scientific revolution (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2015), 555.