Friday, December 4, 2015

“Exaggerated and Senseless Antiquarianism”

From Vultus Christi:
It has become fashionable, over the past few decades, to introduce liturgical innovations by referring to practices, real or imagined, of the “ancient”, “primitive”, or “early” Church. One sees traces of this among certain new communities and movements, as well as among proponents of the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand. Very often the proponents of such practices appeal to “our Jewish roots” and, paradoxically, at the same time, privilege a style of polyphonic singing, mistakenly qualified as “Byzantine” when , in fact, it is an ersatz imitation of 19th century Russian chant. Metanies (an act of reverence performed by bowing and touching the floor with one’s right hand) abound, and there is a peculiar fondness for wee little wooden benches upon which worshipers half–kneel–half–crouch. Beautiful icons and vesture complete the picture. One detects the influence of people like Lanza del Vasto and the founder of the Community of the Beatitudes, with the occasional dash of charismatic happy–clappiness. The total effect can be altogether worthy and reverent . . . and yet, one has the impression of a certain artificiality, of an attempt to plaster foreign elements onto a structure that was not designed to accommodate them. In any case, it is not the Roman Rite.

[Another school characterised by the same appeal to practices of the “early Church” eschews the sobriety and dignity of the Roman Rite in favour of a more domestic approach to the sacred liturgy: the dining room table, pottery vessels or oversized chalices with handles, large altar bread, much sitting about in a circle, and singing to the accompaniment of guitars and tambourines. The emphasis shifts from the offering of the Sacrifice to the sharing of the meal; the whole experience is more didactic than latreutic. Such things do not reflect the practice of the “early Church” — they reflected a very dated and subjective projection of someone’s idea of what the liturgy of the “early Church” may have looked — and sounded — like.] (Read more.)

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