Dom Alcuin Reid on Traditionis Custodes

On my daily rounds of my bookmarked websites, I often find interesting things in The New Liturgical Movement. We are indeed far from the heady days of 2005, the year when Benedict XVI was elected and I joined the TAC. I am presently working on the Romantic roots of the liturgical movement and indeed the entire revival of Catholicism in the early nineteenth century. The article in question is Dom Alcuin Reid in CWR: Does Traditionis Custodes pass Liturgical History 101? by Gregory DiPippo. No sooner does he begin his article does he refer to Dom Alcuin Reid’s new article Does Traditionis Custodes pass Liturgical History 101 ?

Apart from the comments at the end of the NLM article suggesting that “rad-trads” are part and parcel of the liturgical tradition and that we can’t have anything without them, or that “rad-trads” don’t exist, the tone is pastoral and serene. Indeed, for my project of an extended essay for a Fellowship of the National College of Music and Drama, I intend to pick out the pastoral dimension of old liturgical rites such as we use in some of the continuing Anglican Churches like the ACC.

Why did this tragedy happen according to Dom Alcuin? He brings up the subject of “rad-trads”. The “rad-trad” phenomenon seems to form the basis of this step towards the repression of the old liturgy. Dom Alcuin’s argument is eminently pastoral: invite all Catholics into centres of liturgical life with kindness and charity.

Many diocesan bishops are taking a pastoral stance, because Papa Francis’ provisions are unworkable. It could be that the Roman Catholic Episcopate is no longer unanimous as it was in the 1970’s, and the Führerprinzip in regard to the Pope is a thing of the past. The idea of liturgical wars seems surreal in our time, but people will be frustrated and lose their desire to continue in that Church. A few Roman Catholics have come to join us in the ACC, and they have been made most welcome. A person’s faith and sense of vocation are precious, and often too fragile.

I too say that I am not a Roman Catholic, and I am not directly concerned. However I am concerned that Pope Francis has caused anxiety and alienation among many other calamities. It is a pastoral scandal. Dom Alcuin is a liturgical historian and a Benedictine monk. I have participated in an infinitesimal way in his work, notably my chapter in the T&T Clark Companion to Liturgy. What a difference between the cultured and erudite Benedict XVI and this bourrin (as we express it in French, meaning a course and unrefined man, an oaf)!

As Dom Alcuin quoted, Benedict XVI began his pontificate with an act of humility:

The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary: the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.

He is a true father in Christ, one of the greatest theologians and historians of the twentieth century. Like Benedict XIV in the 1750’s, he was a ray of light in the gathering clouds of obscurantism. He was pastoral and generous, unlike this philistine caudillo who took his place.

I would end by quoting Oscar Wilde. These words referring to art and culture, but which could also refer to piety and spirituality, would devastatingly describe this nincumpope:

The Philistine element in life is not the failure to understand art. Charming people, such as fishermen, shepherds, ploughboys, peasants and the like, know nothing about art, and are the very salt of the earth. He is the Philistine who upholds and aids the heavy, cumbrous, blind, mechanical forces of society, and who does not recognise dynamic force when he meets it either in a man or a movement.

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4 Responses to Dom Alcuin Reid on Traditionis Custodes

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thank you for this! I was very glad to have read Dom Alcuin’s previous Catholic World Report article (13 June), and look forward to this one.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Wow – it is excellent!

      When Dom Alcuin observes, “As pope, Benedict XVI acted on his convictions and in 2007 exhorted the Church to a more worthy celebration of the usus recentior in continuity with liturgical tradition (Sacramentum caritatis)”, I wonder how much room there is in the letter (if not the apparent ‘spirit’) of Traditionis Custodes to pursue this with renewed vigor – Graduale Triplex, Offertoriale Triplex, the Latin version of the new Lectionary, and various built-in 1970 provisions for options…?

  2. I personally welcome Traditionis Custodes and now wish to see the permanent abasement of the Lefebvrists, the primary cause of liturgical philistinism in the RCC. If I were Francis i would move against them with the utmost ferocity and ruthlessness.

    • Thanks for chipping in, Patrick. Cardinal Burke, the “Covid sceptic” is now on a ventilator! We could get awfully smug about all this. My late mother used to tell me “Two wrongs don’t make a right!” and I am not gloating, even for people who would be very judgemental about my having converted to the RC Church and left it. Perhaps this “crisis” will make some traditionalists think twice about being triumphalist and become more spiritual in their liturgical lives and observances. At the end of the 18th century, a great naval officer at the Admiralty said that flogging made a bad man even worse and broke a good man’s heart. I am not for this spiritual cat o’ nine tails.

      Those who move with utmost ferocity and ruthlessness generally meet their own Waterloo…

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