DPPL 34-35: The Divorce of Liturgy and Spirituality

STA altar at night smallIn DPPL 34 and the following sections, the Church looks at “The Modern Period.” The Council of Trent is placed squarely here. Modern or not, the 1500’s were a time of immense upheaval. Laypeople and likely many clerics were long adrift in the liturgical life. The mid-century council attempted to address some of these issues. But they largely remained in play.

34. At the dawn of the modern period, a balanced relationship between Liturgy and popular piety did not seem any more likely. The devotio moderna of the late fifteenth century was popular with many great spiritual masters and was widespread among clerics and cultivated lay(people). It promoted the development of meditative and affective pious exercises based principally on the humanity of Christ – the mysteries of his infancy, his hidden life, his Passion and death. However, the primacy accorded to contemplation, the importance attributed to subjectivity and a certain ascetical pragmatism exalting human endeavor ensured that Liturgy no longer appeared as the primary source of the Christian life in the eyes of men and women advanced in the spiritual life.

I probably have the most familiarity with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. I would say that certainly, there is not necessarily a liturgical connection in these. I’m not sure they harmonize well with the liturgical year … not that they need to …

35. The De Imitatione Christi is regarded as a typical expression of the devotio moderna. It has exercised an extraordinary and beneficial influence on many of the Lord’s disciples in their quest for Christian perfection. The De Imitatione Christi orients the faithful towards a certain type of individual piety which accentuates detachment from the world and the invitation to hear the Master’s voice interiorly. Less attention is devoted to the communitarian and ecclesial aspects of prayer and to liturgical spirituality.

Somewhat understandable. Among many spiritual seekers, the emphasis was largely individualized in the liturgy and in various spiritual exercises. One had assistance from an abbot, a pastor, a confessor, and/or a spiritual director. These relationships helped to feed the writings of many of the spiritual guides of the “modern” period.

Many excellent pious exercises are to be found among those who cultivated the devotio moderna, as well as cultic expressions deriving from sincerely devout persons. A full appreciation of the celebration of the Liturgy is not, however, always to be found in such circles.

Liturgy was an ecclesiastical obligation. It was a totally objective collection of rituals divorced from the spiritual explorations of saints and ordinary people alike.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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food in a foam boxOne way or another, lots of good people, even journalists, are obsessed a bit with the conflation of “Pope Francis” and “Left.” Perhaps understandable, as the rose-colored era of 1978-2013 provided not so much a broad effort to gathering in the sheep as it may have attempted some advance goat-separation. Given the tragic witness of a number of conservative prelates in the past few decades, we can probably declare that experiment dead. Better to leave it to the Last Judge.

When my wife asked me on white smoke day if Cardinal Bergoglio was a conservative or a liberal, I replied truthfully. “Better. He’s a Jesuit.”

The Catholic Herald, which still lives mostly in the rose-colored era, linked this editorial from The Guardian:

In the fierce and sometimes savage and bloody class warfare waged throughout Latin America both sides took theological comfort from Christianity. The right saw its opponents as godless communists, which many were; the left heard the direct command of Jesus to live with the poor and outcast. The Vatican came down firmly on the side of the oppressors.

It’s undeniable. Was St John Paul right to be concerned about communism? He lived under it for half his adult life. When does prudent concern cross the line into obsession and imbalance?

How to interpret the cause of Oscar Romero, the santo subito martyr of El Salvador? Giving succor to the enemy? Giving inspiration to the oppressed? At any rate, the cause is “unblocked,” and there’s comment at the Daily Beast about it.

John Paul and Benedict both detested that current (the “theology of liberation”) in the church, seeing it as a front for politics, not faith. As Benedict told reporters in 2007, “the problem was that a political party wanted to take [Romero] for itself as a flag, as an emblematic figure.” Benedict conceded this was “unjust,” but “for reasons of prudence,” it was said, Romero’s beatification was put on hold.

Perhaps it was prudence. It may well have been something more profane. Simple human blindness to virtue. At worst, a jealousy. At best, a refusal to perceive more deeply past the rotten applehuman labels we place on people in a very human way.

Even a “good” Catholic country with a “good” hierarchy approved by “good” popes can produce a very bad apple. If nothing else, it reminds us all that sin is quite pervasive, regardless of any human campaign to maximize virtue by a particular definition.

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Aparecida 68 – National Financial Concerns

In paragraph 68, the bishops make a brief account of the reasons they see as limiting the funds available for government projects.

Although a great deal of progress has been made in controlling inflation and in the macroeconomic stability of the countries of the region, many governments are severely limited in financing their public budgets by the high costs of the foreign and domestic debt, and yet, at the same time, they do not have truly efficient, progressive, and equitable tax systems.

The bishops see some progress in controlling the inflation that seriously affected much of the continent.

In addition, because of international efforts at the turn of the century, there have been major efforts to diminish the international debt of many nations, but there are still serious issues of debts.

But the bishops also note the lack of “efficient, progressive, and equitable tax systems.”
In Honduras, for example, the tax on purchases has recently been raised to 15%. However, the government has made major tax concessions for some large companies, including those who have major food franchises, such as Wendy’s. In addition, the mining industry’s tax rate is 2%. Far from efficient and far from equitable.

Here is the USCCB translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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DPPL 33: Dualism

STA altar at night smallAs we approach the Renaissance, some affirmative developments in liturgy, thanks to popular piety:

33. In the middle ages, the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety is constant and complex, but a dual movement can be detected in that same relationship: the Liturgy inspired and nourished various expressions of popular piety; and several forms of popular piety were assumed by, and integrated into the Liturgy. This is especially true with regard to the rites of consecration of persons, the assumption of personal obligations, the dedication of places, the institution of feasts and to the various blessings.

There were storm clouds, however. Note the developments that led to the Reformation, and a council that was too late to solve the problem of a fractured Christendom. Can the sins of the 16th century be attributed in part to the divorce between good theology and catechesis and the devotional life of believers?

A dualism, however, prevailed between Liturgy and popular piety. Towards the end of the middles ages, both, however, went through a period of crisis. Because of the collapse of cultic unity, secondary elements in the Liturgy acquired an excessive relevance to the detriment of its central elements. In popular piety, because of the lack of adequate catechesis, deviations and exaggerations threatened the correct expressions of Christian worship.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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The Armchair Liturgist: Praying for Clergy at Mass

Catholics who pay attention know that in the Eucharistic Prayer, the pope and bishop are prayed for by name.

In GIA’s 1979 collection for the “Ecumenical Daily Prayer,” Praise God in Song, a number of good intercessions are provided for Evening Prayer. One of them I’ve used on occasion for Sunday Mass:

For N., our pope, N., our bishop, N. our pastor, and for all ministers of the Gospel.

Probably makes sense for the Liturgy of the Hours. For Sunday Mass, too much repetition with the Eucharistic Prayer? What about the mention of the pastor with pope and bishop?

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment: tell us what you would do, or what happens at your parish.

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DPPL 32: A List of Medieval Developments

STA altar at night smallA listing of medieval developments. Some of these have developed into some of the most glorious moments of Western musical art. I’ll also mention that children, excluded in many ways as the medieval laity were, often identify with some of these more deeply than the Mass.

32. Throughout the middle ages many forms of popular piety gradually emerged or developed. Many of these have been handed down to our times:
• the organization of sacred performances depicting the mysteries celebrated during the liturgical year, especially those surrounding the salvific events of Christ’s birth, his passion, death and resurrection;
• the participation of the faithful was encouraged by the emergence of poetry in the vernacular which was widely used in popular piety;

Just imagine a world without Vatican II: hip-hop, the modern poetry even more ascendant in some circles.

• as a parallel, or even an alternative to many liturgical expressions, several devotional forms appeared; for example, various forms of Eucharistic adoration served to compensate for the rarity with which Holy Communion was received; in the late middle ages, the rosary tended to substitute for the psalter; among the faithful, the pious exercises of Good Friday became a substitute for the Liturgy proper to that day;

Walking the Way of the Cross is no longer something confined to Holy Week, or even Lent.

• the growth in popular forms of devotion to Our Lady and the Saints: pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and to the tombs of the Apostles and martyrs, veneration of relics, litanies, and suffrage for the dead;
• the considerable development of the rites of blessing which, together with Christian elements, also reflected a certain response to a naturalistic sensibility as well to popular pre-Christian beliefs and practices;

Recall even substitutions for liturgical seasons:

• nucleuses of “sacred times” based on popular practices were constituted. These were often marginal to the rhythm of the liturgical year: sacred or profane fair days, tridua, octaves, novenas, months devoted to particular popular devotions.

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

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Swans Hold On

swan-in-attack-mode-2I thought I had a glimpse of Good Swansea/Bad Swansea, especially in the second half of today’s match versus Burnley. The NBCSN announcers were gushing over Swansea play, especially in the first half. A bit of the bad broke out in the second half: Shelvey letting his passions overcome him a bit, Gomis looking invisible after subbing in for Bony, who looked just as good defending and in midfield as he did in the penalty area on one or two tries. A bit disappointed in Jefferson Montero, too. But a win is a win. Burnley had good moments, and Ings seems to be a capable forward. It seems that like the early match (Aston Villa vs Newcastle) a number of teams just have a hard time finishing in the Premier League.

In contrast, when I watch MLS, it seems that bonehead lapses doom some teams–the top players from overseas seem to capitalize big time on napping defenders stateside. Sleepytime in England (and South Wales) seem to be more catnaps.

That said, Burnley looked like they belonged on the same pitch as the Swans today. Shackell in particular was notable saving one goal off the line and defending capably when it looked like a mess for the visitors.

I think the Swans need Bony. The alternative is holding off the top teams and hoping for the best. Though it was a practice match in Minnesota, I wasn’t convinced the last time I saw Bafetimbi Gomis in a Swans jersey. If Bony gets transferred, I sure hope the French star wakes from sleep.

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