The Council in Question. A Dialogue with Catholic Traditionalism
Doorly, M & Nichols, A., Gracewing, Leominster, (2011) ix+97 pages
Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies
Marini, G., Newman House Press, Pine Beach NJ. (2011) 111 pages
The publication of Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum, stating that the older form of the Mass had not been abrogated, and clarifying that it is therefore not forbidden, has brought about a shift in the "centre of gravity" of the debate in the Church concerning the sacred Liturgy. These two books, in different ways, demonstrate that shift.
Fr Aidan Nichols OP and Moyra Doorly, in a series of articles published in the Catholic Herald, engaged in a serious, respectful and good-natured debate concerning the second Vatican Council. It is useful to have those articles collected in book form to enable a thoughtful examination of the arguments on both sides. Essentially the topics covered are those which have been under discussion in the recent dialogue between theologians of the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See. Those discussions have quite rightly taken place privately in order to avoid the inevitable disruption that would ensue if they were picked over in the press or in the Catholic blogosphere. Without prejudice to the important debate in Rome, it is not unreasonable to take The Council in Question as a helpfulintroduction to the topics that are under consideration there.
The reform of the Liturgy and the theological questions that arise from the Missal of Pope Paul VI naturally take a major place, but the debate concerning the Council itself is also rightly addressed. Moyra Doorly firmly sets out the traditionalist position that it is not simply a matter of the implementation of the Council but the documents themselves. Fr Nichols defends the Council but without a naive insistence that everything in the garden is rosy. For example he admits (p.54) that there are ambiguous statements in some of the Council documents, but takes the line that these must be interpreted in accord with the hermeneutic of continuity, a principle that Pope Benedict has espoused but one which still needs further development in itself.
In addition to the question of the rite of Mass, the dialogue addresses ecumenism, religious liberty and inter-religious dialogue. (One subject that concerned Archbishop Lefevbre, and continues to be an obstacle for many traditionalists, is that of collegiality. This is not addressed at length in the book, but perhaps might be the focus of further, similar discussions.) The really heartening thing about this book is that such questions can now be addressed with courtesy and respect by a theologian of international repute without his immediate deletion from everyone's Christmas card list. Myra Doorly presents the arguments of the SSPX with intelligence and good humour; Fr Nichols responds imaginatively and with the resources of his vast erudition without a hint of patronising orsuperiority. It is worth mentioning this, since both traditionalists and the neo-orthodox are often accused of clericalism or the denigration of women. Although it is indeed a side issue, it should be noted that this book, without even considering it necessary to mention the fact, sets out a perfectly respectable and courteous debate between a Dominican theologian and a lay woman on equal terms.
Mgr Guido Marini replaced his namesake, Archbishop Piero Marini as the Master of Pontifical ceremonies. Since his appointment, the Papal Liturgy has seen various changes that can be viewed by means of various Catholic blogs that have rejoiced in them. Commentators have observed the use of Roman vestments, Cardinal Deacons, and the throne of Blessed Pope Pius IX. Those who attend papal Masses are struck by the renewal of sacred music, the sense of reverence, and particularly the place of silence in the Liturgy. It is a powerful witness to the sacrality of the Liturgy to be in a crowded St. Peter's and experience the silence after Holy Communion.
In Rome, there are some who feel that Mgr Marini has gone too far, that the Pope is the focus of ridicule because of the lace on his alb or the stole of St. Pius X. Yet around the world, Catholics seeing these things are encouraged because the Holy Father, with the help of his MC, is sending out the message that we no longer need to be constrained by the assumption that everything old and beautiful must be discarded in favour of abstract designs on polyester fabric in the context of man-centred liturgy that replaces the sacred ritual with an informal dialogue in which the priest acts as presenter.
The first part of Mgr Marini's book is an address given to the Liturgy Conference at Mileto in September 2010. Essentially it is a call for a return to the sacred. As he says "The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers us an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, Whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realised in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it." Following the masterly book of the Holy Father himself, The Spirit of the Liturgy, Mgr Marini points out that it is a deception when the mystery is transformed into a distraction and the priest himself becomes the chief actor in the Liturgy rather than the livingGod.
The second half of the book consists of a collection of short articles on particular matters. First of all the papal MC explains why at the papal Masses communicants are asked to kneel down and receive Holy Communion on the tongue. (A way of emphasising reverence and care for the Blessed Sacrament in case you didn't guess.) The articles on silence, beauty, and the use of Latin show how the improvement of the papal Liturgy can give a good example to bishops and priests throughout the world. It might be thought that the staff, the Greek gospel, and the Cardinals wearing dalmatics are of esoteric interest, but Mgr Marini's explanations show how these particular aspects of the papal Mass demonstrate continuity with the tradition of the Church's ancient liturgy as a model for liturgythroughout the Church.
The heading "The Crucifix" might seem of passing interest but it is perhaps one of the more important of Pope Benedict's initiatives in the "reform of the reform." The Holy Father has shown by example that the celebration of Mass facing eastward is to be valued in the newer form of the Liturgy: on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord he regularly offers Mass in the Sistine Chapel in this way. When Mass is celebrated "facing the people" there is a temptation to make the priest the focus of the liturgical action. Pope Benedict has offered a means of avoiding this distortion by placing six candles on the altar and a crucifix which becomes the centre of attention. Many parishes have found this an easy way to make a small step in the re-sacralisation of the Liturgy in union with the HolyFather. It is not uncommon nowadays to visit a parish Church with what has come to be known as the "Benedictine arrangement" at the High Altar.
In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict expressed his hope for a reconciliation at the heart of the Church. The sacred Liturgy is important to every Catholic who sincerely desires to worship God in spirit and in truth. Myra Doorly, Fr Nichols, and Mgr Marini demonstrate in different ways how this reconciliation might be
achieved. What is at stake is not simply rubrics, vestments and lace, but the way in which, as Catholics, we carry out what is, as Vatican II put it, the source and summit of the whole Christian life. As Catholics we believe that the celebration of the sacred Liturgy is vital to our witness to the gospel, to our works of charity, and to our personal holiness. Getting the Liturgy right is of major importance. It is good to read two books that contribute in different ways to furthering this vision of our Holy Father for the good of the Church.
Fr Tim Finigan
William Lockhart: First Fruits of the Oxford Movement
Nicholas Schofield, Gracewing (2011) 220 pages, £12.99
This is a timely publication. The State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to our shores in 2010 brought many blessings, not the least of which was a renewed interest in Blessed John Henry Newman, and his disciples. One of these disciples is now the subject of this book.
Because we see Newman, rightly, as the leader of the original Oxford Movement, we might assume that he was the first of that circle to become a Catholic. In fact, this was not the case - that honour fell to William Lockhart, then 'a young, rather highly-strung graduate', who had spent the inside of a year with Newman at Littlemore before being received into the Church by the Rosminian missionary Luigi Gentili, on 26 August 1843. Lockhart's conversion, given his residence at Littlemore, made Newman's position in the Church of England virtually untenable, and provoked his famous sermon The Parting of Friends' which may be said to have marked the end of his Anglican ministry.
Lockhart's entry into the Church then, was certainly a momentous event. What of his subsequent life as a Catholic? This is sketched for us in Father Schofield's short but scholarly life, the first real study of an almost forgotten Victorian priest, who called himself, with some justice, 'the first fruits of the Oxford Movement'.
Having been received by a Rosminian priest, it is perhaps unsurprising that Lockhart should have entered that order himself. His novitiate was spent in Leicestershire and he was ordained to the priesthood on 19 December 1846. Like most Rosminians, he then spent some time preaching missions -all over England and indeed in Ireland. Later he became a much-loved parish priest at two important London parishes. The first was Kingsland, near Hackney in North London, the second the famous church of St. Etheldreda, Ely Place, the sometime London chapel of the medieval bishops of Ely, which the Rosminians had managed to acquire. Lockhart could take a particular pleasure in his association with St. Etheldreda's, since he came from an ancient noble family, and could make some claim to be a directdescendant of the saint, although as he noted 'it would be such an absurd dandyism to speak of the connection. I will just enjoy the blessed privilege for my own sake and we won't talk about it to anybody'. Alongside these pastoral labours Lockhart was also active in the 'apostolate of the press', writing books on subjects as diverse as the correct cut of the chasuble and the corporate reunion of Christians. He was also drawn into the controversy surrounding the writings of Antonio Rosmini (since beatified), the founder of his own order. Father Schofield guides us skilfully through this rather complex theological debate, noting some interesting points along the way. One would not immediately have guessed, for instance, that the 'arch-conservative' and ultramontane Cardinal Manning shouldhave favoured the Rosminians, even after they fell out of favour in Rome, while Newman (supposedly the 'theological progressive') should have regarded Rosmini's philosophy very dubiously ('I wish to believe it is all right, but one has one's suspicions'). It is also salutary to be reminded that it was the 'reactionary' Pope Pius IX who defended Rosmini's writings, whereas the more 'liberal' Leo XIII (who made Newman a Cardinal) had those same books placed on the Index. Such are the intriguing side-lights this work is able to shed on a well-trodden period of English Catholic history.
Father Schofield's work reminds us of other half-forgotten episodes as well. He notes that immediately after his conversion in the mid 1840s, the Rosminian Lockhart undertook direct missionary work around the villages of Leicestershire, as Gentili had done before him, tramping the country lanes and preaching in the open air, accompanied by a Tyrolese confrere, the two of them resplendent in clerical soutane and feriola. However, the wearing of such distinctive priestly dress soon became impossible due to the anti-Catholic fervour stirred up by the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850, while direct missionary activity among English villagers was abandoned in favour of providing pastoral care to the immigrant Irish who flocked in ever greater numbers to the great cities of England (Lockharthimself devoted much of his pastoral ministry to the Irish poor, and despite his rather patrician background, became much loved by them).
There is then, much to discover and enjoy in this book. William Lockhart was a fascinating character (as were his mother and sister, who both followed him into the Church and whose lives are also sketched here). Moreover, he can stand for the many hundreds of humble Catholic priests who made the 'Second Spring' of English Catholicism possible. As Pope Benedict XVI has consistently reminded us, a renewal of priestly life and ministry is necessary in our own time if contemporary society is to be reclaimed for Christ: these great figures of the past can light us on our way today as well.
Fr Richard Whinder
This pamphlet would be brilliant if it only took seriously how unusually good it is. It is very good in bringing out the theistic implications of modern science. Yet it is unusual to see such arguments in the Catholic World. This very rarity brings out an aspect of the estrangement between the Church and modern science which is not properly dealt with by Professor Barr.
Where else since the 17th century scientific "Revolution" has a prominent Catholic thinker uttered statements such as "the discoveries of modern physics actually strengthen the ancient argument from design", or "the idea of 'purpose' in nature is by no means dead .... the evidence for this comes largely from physics and cosmology"? Catholics, and other Christians, tend either to deny the relevance of science to proving the existence of a transcendent creator or to deny the possibility of so proving.
Explaining why this is the case and why such statements are so unusual should be an important aspect of justifying the thesis in the pamphlet's title. For such synthesising of modern science with traditional theism is certainly the way to diffuse what the pamphlet calls the "sharpest" conflict in this whole relationship of science and religion. This has been a conflict "between the Catholic faith and a certain philosophy called 'scientific materialism' that falsely claims to be the logical outcome of scientific discoveries." The lack of showing this philosophical falsehood through these scientific discoveries has allowed such reductive materialism to become the most influential philosophy of science. Culturally speaking reductionism has tragically won the argument. And the fallout is all about us.
Diffusing the Heart of the Conflict
As we explain below Professor Barr does dispel the myth that prominent scientists and prominent churchmen have been at loggerheads in recent centuries but does not properly deal with the incompatibility of their thought-systems. He does ask the question: "Why have the discoveries of science led so many people to embrace this [materialistic] philosophy?" Yet the two reasons he gives, in his otherwise first class essay, are surely inadequate. First he asserts that "materialism is an 'occupational hazard' of being immersed in the material world" and secondly he argues that the laws which science has discovered are, by definition, "impersonal" in their operation. Yet already in the pamphlet Barr has shown that medieval thought was not against science. Through the concept of "secondarycausation" this thought argued that only on "extraordinary occasions" does God "'interfere' with nature." If this belief did not lead to scientific materialism, why should the clearer establishment of laws of nature by the New Science?
The "Scientific Revolution" is so named because the success of its mathematical, experimental and developmental methodology realigned not just Aristotelian cosmology but also his understanding of the "nature" of things. This latter concept explained the purposeful intelligibility of substantial things and their movement towards rest at the centre of planet earth, the centre of the universe. Historically speaking this paradigm shift marks the moment after which prominent Catholics stopped arguing convincingly from physics to metaphysics and to the one Transcendent Creator. Barr has brilliantly bucked the trend in this pamphlet. But rather than reflecting on this fact he restricts himself to recording that purpose in nature was "set aside by the Scientific Revolution ... and replaced by amechanistic view ... [such that] events were ... seen ... as being driven along blindly."
The absence of using modern science to develop metaphysics continues today and prevents an appropriate updating of the arguments for God. Against the flow this CTS pamphlet has very well attempted the former theistical task whilst not acknowledging the implications concerning metaphysical development.
On the one hand, Barr provides excellent arguments based on modern science for the whole of creation being under one law, and having purpose written into it. He even acknowledges with regard to the purpose present in the universe that "some of the arguments for it in the past have come to seem naive in the light of the insights of Darwinian biology". On the other hand, he does not take the further step of showing how the concept of purposefulness implied by the discoveries of modern science has profound ramifications for scholastic metaphysics, especially the concepts of formality, finality and universality. A development in this area of metaphysics is the fateful step demanded by modern science. It is implicit in Barr's argumentation for the one God, but needs to be explicit to dispelthe apparent conflict between science and Catholic thought.
Barr begins his argument by showing that a "law" concerning the arrangement of chairs in rows and columns does not explain the arrangement without reference to mind. He goes on to affirm Newton's appeal to an "order throughout the whole universe", showing how Einstein and others have confirmed this basic insight. "Few theoretical physicists doubt that beneath it all there is a truly basic set of laws that govern all of physical reality." He concludes that "the intimate structure of the laws themselves, the ultimate laws" cannot, by definition, be explained by further laws. "Such an order based on ideas which take the greatest efforts of the finest human mathematical minds to grasp, must surely originate in a mind far greater."
He then argues to purpose within the evolution of the universe through the existence of the environmental conditions necessary for the evolution of life and the now famous anthropic cosmological "coincidences" necessary for the evolution of the cosmos. He correctly points out that the hypothesis of a multi-verse, that is the existence of "regions" where other cosmological constants apply, does not detract from the basic unity of the fundamental laws. All this is evidence that "we were part of the plan and purpose of the world's existence".
He concludes with the example of the play Hamlet. The laws of grammar and character and plot development may explain aspects of the play, such as its beginning, but the reason "why there is a play at all is that William Shakespeare decided to write one and conceived it in his mind."
The Historical Myth
Barr ably puts the case against the idea, widespread among historians of science, that science and religion have been in open and active conflict for many centuries. He demonstrates this is a misnomer first propagated with some success in the nineteenth century. The reason for this success, according to Barr, and numerous other Catholics, is the "contempt many thinkers of the Enlightenment had for revealed religion" and "anti-Catholic prejudice". In the light of our above comments we would suggest a qualification of this generally accepted view. Namely it should be acknowledged that Catholic lack of interest in the metaphysical and theistic implications of modern science over the two centuries leading up to the invention of the "direct conflict" myth, aided that invention - and thecontinued lack continues to aid it.
There are today prominent Catholic and non-Catholic philosophers who take science seriously, but they, almost unanimously, take its agnostic interpretation seriously also. On 13 July 2009 at the Royal Society the Reverend Professor John Polkinghorne captured such agnostic philosophy of science in candid manner. He replied to a questioner concerning St Paul's claim that the existence of God could be clearly seen in nature (Romans 1:20) that he disagreed with St Paul since he did not think his atheist friends were stupid. Barr has provided a significant step towards overcoming such atheistic philosophy of science. We think that acknowledging the Catholic failure effectively to challenge the inexorable development of such philosophy is part of the reason why atheists are not necessarilystupid.
Fr Hugh MacKenzie