Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Benedictine-Jesuit Controversy

There has long been two different schools of thought about the primacy of the liturgy of the hours. From Vultus Christi:
When, in 1947, Pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical Mediator Dei, he was fully and painfully conscious of two opposing currents of thought concerning the sacred liturgy and the interior life. At the risk of oversimplifying an exceedingly complex issue, I would argue that Pope Pius XII was, in effect, attempting in Mediator Dei to reconcile the longstanding Benedictine —Jesuit controversy. Not surprisingly, a number of Dominicans aligned themselves with the Belgian, French, and German Benedictines; the Jesuits, for their part, had behind them the strength of the Apostleship of Prayer, various retreat movements, and an enormous sphere of influence in institutions of learning and among congregations of women religious.

The theological current emanating from the  Rhineland Abbey of  Maria Laach, and made illustrious by the writings and teachings of Dom Ildefons Herwegen, Dom Odo Casel, and Dame Aemiliana Löhr, promoted an “objective” approach to the spiritual life, an approach exclusively grounded in and expressed by the action of Christ in the liturgy. Some in “the opposing camp” misconstrued the affirmation of the sacred liturgy’s primacy over personal prayer as an absolutisation of the former and a denigrating dismissal of the latter.

To add to the complexity of the situation, there were, notably among certain German Benedictine proponents of objective liturgical spirituality, voices critical of adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, of acts of reparation, and of the Eucharistic mysticism typified by Mother Mectilde de Bar and by the Institute she founded. The criticisms articulated by a few even affected the Institute of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration. I shall address this particular question in another article. (Read more.)
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