Interesting Reflection on Quo Primum

Fr Hunwicke’s new entry S Pius V: the BIG MISTAKE, THE UNIVERSAL MYTH is worth a look-in. This piece of liturgical legislation is of no relevance to Anglicans, even though many of us are using the Anglican Missal or the English Missal, heavily based on the 1570 Roman missal.

I think Father Hunwicke’s main point was to resist the tendency of some RC conservatives who would claim that Pius V’s bull was only an earlier form of what Paul VI did in 1969 in a series of “updates” of the absolutely uniform Roman rite. That question is of no interest to me as an Anglican. However, he makes the point of Pius V wishing for the continuity of traditional local rites of Sarum, Lyons, Paris, Milan and others.

The standardised Roman missal was to be implemented where the local rite was shoddy and corrupt, as some were in the mid sixteenth century. It did involve a wholesale revision of the Roman rite, from which many valuable elements were lost. I have studied this “codification”, and would probably find more with a more thorough and less partial methodology. Sirleto’s commission left very little information on the revision of the missal, and more about the Breviary and the calendar. The result was quite draconian. Pius V, that grand Inquisitor, did leave the possibility of continuing with local rites. Unfortunately, motivated by the growing ultramontanist ideology, many dioceses that had the right to their own rites and uses did not keep them, but voluntarily switched to the Pius V rite.

Our own times are different from the end of the middle ages and the Renaissance. We have lost our intuitive understanding of liturgical symbolism, and my experience of “traditionalism” has not been a good one. The liturgical life in its fulness is no longer in the mainstream, other than in monasteries. The cathedral liturgy is gone, and the only thing that remains of that tradition is Anglican Mattins and Evensong in the English cathedrals, university college chapels and Royal Peculiars. Liturgical life is reduced to its minimum like in persecuted Churches, said masses and offices in makeshift chapels.

I could take the reflection further, but I feel it would not be healthy. We can’t put the world right, only do the best we can with what little we’ve got. We could lament, but that would do no good unless we wish to become atheists and nihilists. We just carry on as we can…

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23 Responses to Interesting Reflection on Quo Primum

  1. Patricius says:

    I have to say I took great exception to Fr Hunwicke’s post. What he says is technically right. But he’s wrong. And I can demonstrate this by analogy. In the early 1850’s, Pius IX put about among the bishops and religious orders the question of the Immaculate Conception, in part because he himself believed it to be a catholic doctrine and also because the people believed it. It was especially popular in Spain and among the French and Belgians (because of Catherine Laboure). Pius IX knew this well, and so when he consulted the bishops to find out what their faithful believed, it was a fait accompli, a pretense. A bit like the Sacred Heart. And so when he defined the doctrine with the bull Ineffabilis Deus, and disclaimed that anyone who dissented was a schismatic, it was welcomed universally, even by the Dominicans who capitulated lest their tradition be destroyed. As it was with Pius V and his missal and breviary. The bull Quod a nobis makes no apology about its policy of uniformity and, as you say father, the reformed liturgical books were almost universally accepted even by those with venerable liturgical traditions of their own. Gueranger claimed that the canons of Notre Dame held out for a century before they adopted the Tridentine books but this is demonstrably untrue as they were celebrating Our Lady of Victory by order of Charles IX in the 1570’s and Battifol says in his History of the Roman Breviary that they reformed their venerable rite to conform to the new order as early as 1584.

    Out of all these situations and others (namely the reforms of Vatican II), the Papacy almost always come out whiter than snow and those who resist the changes are perceived to be reactionaries and suspect in their faith and allegiance. And soon they become irrelevant, schismatic types (e.g, the Old Catholics) because the bulk of the people are oblivious to, yea even glory in, this pagan cult of the pope as universal, infallible teacher. He’s always right, even when he is wrong. It doesn’t help when most of the changes go unnoticed, or are declared to be “reforms of the rubrics,” or “liturgical minutiae,” or some other cynical, routine procedure beyond the reach of our thought. All in a day’s work at the dicastery saw mills.

    The cold reality is that it doesn’t matter. The only way for a papist to exercise his free will in that communion is to swim with the tide, but faster. It’s like the modern, corporate workplace. We’re all told to embrace and celebrate change. In other words, tradition is meaningless. What is tradition but the will of popes? How could it be anything else? The notion that tradition and magisterium are somehow separate things is a nonsense to most Roman Catholics. Read the Vatican II constitution Dei Verbum; they proceed, like the Bible, from the same divine source. And so when the pope declares May 1st to be Joseph the Worker, that’s it forever, or until some later pope reverses the decision or assigns some other new feast to that day. Or when it comes to liturgical diversity, it doesn’t matter. Rome is as old as the hills, and can bide her time. For the pope to say things like churches with a venerable rite or use of two hundred years standing can keep it is like the British government declaring that churches that have a moral difficulty with same-sex marriages are exempt from the legislation. It’s an oath sworn lightly. If Tradition stood a chance at all in the 16th and 17th centuries I would that the cathedrals and churches were more discontent with having an abridged rite enforced upon them.

    • J. V. says:

      There was an interesting thesis, written at Harvard a few years ago, that studied the liturgy in Mexico circa 1700s. The conclusion was that the liturgy in Mexico in 18th century was overwhelmingly pre-Tridentine. Depending upon where one was in the new world, the Tridentine reforms were a long time coming. It would be interesting to see some textual exemplars to this point.

      • I would suggest looking up the ‘penetentes’ movement in New Mexico, where earlier forms of worship remained among the rural people despite the opposition of the hierarchical church.

      • Dale says:

        Bernard, The Penetentes were not really a liturgical holdover from a pre-1570 codification, but a religious brotherhood whose practices bordered on the masochistic. The problem was when the hierarchy in New Mexico changed from being in Spanish hands to Irish and French control. The movement with its fixation on the human suffering of Christ was widespread not only in Spanish America, but the Philippines as well. It is really aliturgical and borders more on popular piety. Of the blood drenched sort.

  2. Dale says:

    Personally, I have no problem with the rite of 1570 or the local usages of Sarum, Lyon et cetera; but what I do take exception to is the rather big lie that 1570 was a new liturgy much as the novus ordo of today. This is simply not true. The rite found in the first printed edition of the liturgy of Rome, published in 1474, is, except for two words, at the Orate Fratres, virtually the same in the ordo of the Mass. There are of course changes in the ranking of feasts etc. but these hardly constitute a new rite of any sort.

    The attack against 1570 as a completely new, compiled committee rite, often emanating from some of the usual Byzantine suspects is tiresome, and not true. This playing with historical truth can also be found amongst modernist novus ordo types who use it as an example to show that inventing liturgies is a traditional Roman past-time. The rite of 1570 is a codification, and simplification of earlier Roman rites, but it is still within the living tradition, it is not a revolution or break with the past. It can perhaps be compared to the Greek parish mattin service, which has been simplified and shortened from its monastic original (The Russians on the other hand have preserved the older monastic use even in parishes); once again, simplification, and shortening a service is not the same as completely inventing a new one.

  3. Stephen K says:

    Both Fr Hunwicke’s and this post make me realise the chasm between conservatives and progressives on this subject. Fr Hunwicke thinks he is making some startling point: that because the Pian decree is different from the Paulian decree, one should feel differently about the ‘Tridentine’ Mass than the Paulian New Mass.

    Poppycock. As Patricius, in his curious fashion, suggests, Roman ways are not coherent but very reducible to ‘pragmatic’.

    This seems to me, at any rate, to be the nub of the matter: Popes issued rulings in 1570; Popes issued rulings in 1969 (or 1970).

    Talk about straining after gnats! Ultimately all this hankering after ‘how it was once done’ is a substitution of form over substance. What no-one, on either blogsite, appears to contemplate is that nothing has intrinsic spiritual efficacy, that everything only has force subjectively speaking. Patricius, Dale, Fr Chadwick, Stephen K, ed pacht, Fr Hunwicke, Jim of Olym, Rubricarius, etc. etc. all have responses to particular forms and they are all different!

    Where does the discourse we are accustomed to read lead us? Only to a place where we think only what we think is true, and all else is dodgy, or false. I am sure I would actually like Dale as a person, although I think he sprouts all sorts of fascist nonsense! I am sure I would dislike Patricius although – if I set aside his anti-Semitic and misogynistic diatribes – I think he comes up with honest and insightful religious commentary. And so on.

    Father, it seems clear you are a conservative romantic. Good on you! Just admit it. Me? I’m a jilted lover, and I accept that this undermines the persuasiveness of my point of view.

    I genuinely extend all good thoughts and prayers to all the Sun-in-Orb members, but for God’s sake, be honest. If the religious world you ardently desire is not possible in your own lifetime, suck up and adapt, or start your own church.

    • Patricius says:

      In the words of eminent liturgist J.D Crichton, “What Pius V could do, Paul VI could undo. If the primacy of Peter does not mean that, it means nothing.”

    • Yes, we probably all see these matters in a different way. I constantly ask myself whether there is any point in continuing. If I don’t, what does one do? Is it not better to continue with the British stiff upper lip until a positive alternative is found? I belong to a little Church which is not under Rome, so I don’t have to agonise from that point of view. If I “sucked up and adapted”, that would be the end of this blog, and just the same thing if I converted to Buddhism! I see no point in starting a new church. I am a priest and my Bishop allows me to do what I do, so things are not so bad for me. People don’t exactly flock to my Mass, but that matters very little to me!

      I would suggest that the question of substituting form over substance is one that doesn’t stand up according to any metaphysics based on some disciplines of modern science. Even in scholastic metaphysics, substance cannot subsist without form. Perhaps form gives being to substance as Logos gives reality to energy that manifests itself to us as “matter”.

      All being said and done, this is a free forum and it is not a bad thing for people’s hobby horses to be seen as fragile…

    • Dale says:

      “I am sure I would actually like Dale as a person, although I think he sprouts all sorts of fascist nonsense!” Oh dear, I am not at all a National Socialist by any means, actually any type of socialist, period. I am much more a proponent of peasant federal republicanism as found in Switzerland! My feelings about monarchy and aristocracy very much resemble those of Voltaire. My attitude towards ecclesial governance is about the same as well. Small national old Catholic churches; personally I find papal supremacy rather dubious at best.

      But seriously, simply adapt? Perhaps most of us are too eccentric to simply adapt. And in the end, is this the best you can come up with Stephen? Historically, we have far too many examples, Germany 1933 comes to mind, where people simply adapted to what they felt was the historical reality…and, well, the end result was not that good…

      Actually, though, I think you are correct, we would most likely find one another’s personalities rather congenial!

      • I would go as far as to suggest that if my religion was a matter of “sucking up” and conforming, I would give it up as nonsense. There has to be room for the saint, the artist, the Romantic and a different view of the world from the one that considers the State to be superior to the human person, life to be cheap and available for manipulation by the rich, callous and powerful. The other thing that definitively puts me off Roman Catholicism, the Church of England, etc. is their bureaucracy and the opposite of the Gnosis that Christ sought to give us, giving us all potential to join the Aristocracy of the Spirit.

    • I am fond of my own Church. We are “in communion” with Rome and can pull from her deep pockets when we wish, but we are neither under her nor do we have to take marching orders from her. We pray for Papa Frankie more than Romans do in their liturgy, but worry about what he does far less. Rome does not dictate our liturgy, our own Patriarch does. The conversations at coffee social are over mundane and real things of every day life rather than whatever tomfoolery the man in white or one of the men in red did last Thursday.

      In other words, it is a real community.

      • ed pacht says:

        …and what is this church of which you are fond? Where might it be found? Who is its Partriarch?

      • The Churches in communion with Rome have bishops who are listed in the Annuario Pontificio. There are any number of men who claim to be Roman Catholic bishops but who simply are not recognised by Rome.

        Anyway, I find this comment “trollish”, provocative and frankly silly.

        PS. I am off-line until Sunday 17th May for reason of the sailing gathering in Brittany. Please be good.

      • My sincere apologies if I came off as trollish. I was joining in the joy of being in a small church where human beings exist without getting lost in a machine. No offense or aggression meant to anyone on the blog 🙂 (since this subject can sometimes be quite touchy).

        To answer Ed’s question, it is one of the Byzantine churches in union with Rome.

      • Dale says:

        Yes, I had figured that it was one of the Byzantine rite Patriarchates, but let’s try and be honest, since such bishops and Patriarchs are no longer elected from their own people, but like all modern-day Roman Catholic bishops appointed from Rome the concept of real independence of action is really not quite true any longer.

      • Yes and no. Some of our bishops are “picked” by Rome in that Rome typically signs off on what we want, which is something I wish we’d move away from. The patriarch is still voted on and picked internally.

        In other words, it’s not as much as we would like but it is much better than it could be. Many Slavic Byzantine Catholics remember the “good old days” of John Ireland or the oppression of Tsarist or – worse – Communist Russia. Rome’s is a sweet yoke by comparison.

      • Dale says:

        David, the last two eastern rite parishes I attended were non-Byzantine rite, one Maronite the other Syrian, the rite used was for all intents and purposes the modern novus ordo with slightly more incense; all the servers were girls, mass was said facing the people and the parish hall was festooned with photos of the Pope. I think that you are exaggerating the differences and independence between Rome and their eastern rites.

      • The Rad Trad says:

        Eastern Catholic bishops only need to be approved by Rome outside of their home patriarchate (admittedly most of the world) because Rome’s missionary efforts centuries ago gave Rome claim to the rest of the world in jurisdiction. The Melkite bishop of Damascus, for instance, is elected locally and approved by Patriarch Gregory III, but bishop Nicholas (of the USA) had to be approved by Rome.

        It may seem like meddling, but it is a vast improvement over a century ago and also avoids the jurisdictional nonsense and mutual bickering inherent in the Byzantine Orthodox communion.

  4. ed pacht says:

    My only problem with Fr. Hunwicke’s article is its tone of superiority, a tone often heard in his opponents as well, as in shouting “Poppycock”. There are indeed varying arguments that can be made on such matters, and it is nigh on to impossible to ascribe certainty to any of them. I have strong opinions which I think and hope are correct, but are they? Does holding my version of correctness allow me to disparage those with whom I disagree? Well, there may be times when that is justified, but they are few (I suspect) and far between, and one must be very careful in approaching such an attitude. In fact, one can be right for the wrong reasons and have to hear Our Lord’s word to the Pharisees – “:Whitewashed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones”. God deliver us, whatever ‘side’ we take, from entering such territory.

    Both ‘sides’ argue quite logically from the actual wording of the relevant decrees, but do so as if the precise wording is necessarily the operative or even the intended effect of the decrees. Clearly both Pius and Paul intended to impose a single liturgical regimen on ordinary Roman Catholicism (yes, I’ll grant, on the predominant Western Rite). Pius allowed some variation in permitting some old local rites to continue, and Paul’s single rite does allow for a lot of local variation, but the fact remains (at least as I see it) that they were at one in seeking for the Papacy absolute control of the minutiae of liturgy in every local church, whether to impose conformity or to permit some variation. This is quite consistent with the developed view of Papal primacy, but, to my mind, precisely for that reason is a powerful illustration of what I see as the flaws of the papal system – an intense centralization for which I see no justification in either Scripture or Tradition.

  5. Michael Gill says:

    Wishing you a very happy birthday and a Blessed year ahead. Enjoy your holiday. +Michael and Dalene

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    How much weight does ‘prelacy’ in the sense of some bishops also being metropolitans, archbishops, patriarchs, or even as historically coming to have large dioceses in terms of geography, population, or both, have in such matters, that is, of giving fiexed forms to, and revising, and prescribing forms of, liturgy?

    • ed pacht says:

      I’ve often thought of the developed Anglican pattern as being much like the far earlier development of liturgy. The pattern has been to attempt liturgical unity by imposing a Book of Common Prayer and even, often, by giving further more detailed instructions as to its use. This uniformity never quite came to be. The striking difference between Cathedral usage and parish usage of the same formularies has often been remarked upon. The Victorian rise of Anglo-Catholicism merely added more variety to what had always been.

      I see a common pattern in this and in early Catholic usage, in that the leadership of a more central authority (Patriarch, metropolitan, or contemporary more ‘democratic’ patterns) has always been important, always a guide to more local use — and has, over time, increased the uniformity of practice — but there are always local variations, sometimes small, sometimes larger. There is a synergy between local and centralized praxis, a relationship that can never quite be defined.

      In my own jurisdiction (ACA, Diocese of the Northeast) we do have a centrally defined unity of liturgical practice, in that the 1928 American BCP is the standard liturgy, with the permitted ‘enrichment’ found in the American and Anglican Missals, and ultimately the diocesan bishop has the right of approval as to how the texts are used. That sounds centralized, but the end result is that, though it is obvious to a traveler that all our parishes are using the same liturgy, yet there are no two parishes that worship in identical manner. The variants are sometimes quite small, but sometimes striking.

  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I have a grossly insufficiently informed sense of two distinct ‘interests’ or whatever, in what we might call ‘the Age of [Antonio] Michele Ghislieri’: (1) the pursuit of litugical learning including the study of other liturgical languages than Latin and the collection and study of liturgical manuscripts and various publications of the results, and (2) the pursuit of contemporary widespread liturgical uniformity or ‘common prayer’. And I have as sense that these two could be variously combined or coexistent, so that, for example, ‘Oriental Languages’ could be studied in Rome with more than a purely academic purpose while ‘Latinismists’ in the field could be collecting and destroying liturgical manuscripts in ‘Oriental Languages’ and trying to impose Latin and the Roman Rite on ‘Oriental’ Churches newly restored to communion with Rome.

    Does anyone have suggestions for further reading on these two, together?

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