Thursday, July 13, 2017

FOTA X: session III

There was only one talk on Sunday afternoon (one of the speakers is unwell) and it was worth waiting for.  Fr Mark Withoos, an Australian, spoke on 'ad audiendum silentium narrationis eius' (Ep 147): Silence and Liturgy in St. Augustine.  I make the same provisos as on the previous posts.

For Augustine silence is a rich concept.  Faithful to tradition Augustine has a great veneration for silence not merely as the absense of noise but the cultivation of an attitude, an attentiveness to the Lord who is speaking to us above all in His Mysteries.  Silence makes possible our attention to the God who speaks to us through His self-revelation in history, through the Sabbath rest, and through the inward turning of the heart.

Our God is not averse to revealing or hiding Himself according to the needs of the soul.  He reveals Himself through mystery and bids us to enter mystery not to understand but to engage with endless future opportunities for growth.  He urges us to engage with this God who is in mystery and in silence to wage war on our vices.

The Augustine saw in the seventh day of the old dispensation, the Sabbath rest, an anticipation of Heaven while in the new dispensation, the eight day, a day outside time.

 It is the humble attitude necessary for hearing the Lord interiorly.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

FOTA X: Session II, talk ii

After Fr Böhler's talk and a brief break we came back to hear Fr Johannes Nebel on The Paradigmatic Change of the Post Conciliar Liturgical Reform from actio to celebrate in the Light of the Latin Fathers.   I begin again by reminding any reader that this is based on hastily taken notes and
on my memory and is not a verbatim report!  Nor is it official!

Wow what a talk.   Fr Nebel began by giving us the example of the offertory composed for the new Rite of Mass and the addition that B. Paul VI insisted on putting into it.  Archbishop Bugnini, following the thought of Fr Odo Casel OSB,  wanted to place the emphasis on the cultic mystery, the presence of Christ in the faithful united to worship (celebratio) whereas the B. Paul VI wanted to retain the Conciliar emphasis on the offering of the priest, the cultic act or actio.   This leads to a tension in the text of the new Rite between these two concepts.

Fr Nebel took us on a whirlwind tour of the Latin Fathers and their understanding of celebratio and actio.  For the ancient Romans they were distinct but inseparable concepts.  Celebratio was a gathering of the people, often festive, on sacred days to do actio, that is cultic worship of the gods.  This involved the concepts of religio and pietas which was how one venerated the gods and did them justice both through ritual and behaviour.  This often had a public character.

The early Latin Fathers took over these concepts to explain the Faith.  They linked them to the Liturgy and to Christain daily life and values.  To separate celebratio and actio would make sense neither to the ancients nor to the Latin Fathers.  What was offered in the Liturgy and in daily life was for the common good and welfare of all and it was also what was due in justice to God.

The importance of Vatican II in this matter is its refocusing of attention on the Paschal Mystery based on the Pietas Dei.  After Vatican II however Casel's ideas found their way into certain documents so that there is tension between the Conciliar emphasis on the actio of the priest offering what is due to God and the new emphasis on communal involvement and Christ's presence in and through the local community with a resultant loss of a sense of the universal Church.  But both of these approaches are approved by the same Pope!

I think that is about as close to the gist of the talk as I can get!

FOTA X: Session II, talk i

This afternoon we began with Fr Dieter Böhler SJ (see not all Jesuits are enemies of the Church as some are claiming!) who spoke on Jerome and the Recent Revision of the German Einheitsübersetzung Bible.  Please note again that this is not a verbatim report and it is entirely based on my notes and memory.  Apparently the Einheitsübersetzung is the fruit of a long project to produce a common German translation of the Bible for all the German-speaking dioceses in Europe.

Fr Böhler gave a brief history of the project and then went on to explain the origins of the Septuagint and its relationship to the Masoretic text of the Old Testament.  From there he explained how the Vetus Latinus came about and Jerome's commission to translate the Bible into Latin for the Western Church.  Jerome, having translated the New Testament from the Greek, initially set out to use the LXX for the Old Testament.  Upon seeking the number of variant readings, though, between the Greek and Hebrew texts he set himself to make the Latin translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew instead.

Fr Böhler then explained how this translation was received and the Church's approach to translation since.  Jerome's approach if not all of his work has received the imprimatur of the Church.  While the LXX is valued the Masoretic is now the primary source.

The German translators following that approach have used the Masoretic text.  The policy of Liturgicam Authenticam of staying close to the imagery of the original texts has lead the text to be a little difficult in places.   That said Fr Böhler presented a number of examples from the psalms where the policy has lead to the re-emergence of richness of the Hebrew text.  That said the Greek is not to be despised.  It is also inspired as Augustine maintained over against Jerome and the Church agrees.

As Fr Böhler explained there are two distinct approaches to the Old Testament, one Hebrew and one Greek.  Both are valuable and inspired but they have their own frameworks and they should not be confused or mixed.

FOTA X: First session, talk ii

For our second talk of the morning, refreshed by our coffee, we heard Gregory DiPippo on the Patristic Sources of the Roman Lectionary in Lent.  Again what I write is my memory based on my notes.  It is not verbatim nor is it exhaustive.  If Markus Bünning had a strong German accent Gregory DiPippo had a fast and soft spoken American one but I managed to understand both of them, mostly.

There was so much in Mr DiPippo's presentation that it is impossible to do it justice.   I look forward to reading the final article.  Using the two of the oldest surviving liturgical texts of the Roman Rite, the lectionaries of Wurzburg (Wurzburg Capitulary, c.700) and Rohrbach.  These lectionaries are from about 250 years after the era of the Great Fathers of the Church.  They reflect the readings used by the Roman Church as the Pope visited the various station churches in the city during Lent to offer Mass.  Mr DiPippo showed how the Church in Roman meditated on and used the readings to make connections not only to the mystery of Christ but also to events in the history the Church and her ancient conflict with Judaism as well as the ongoing struggle against heresy.

Here in the readings were the echoes of the Church's own ancient origins.  In the lectionary and in the  history of how the Church has used scripture in the Liturgy we have the finest commentary on those scriptures.  There is always more than meets the eye in the texts and the contexts of their use by the Church.  As Mr DiPippo remarked there's a book (perhaps more than one) in all of this.

FOTA X: First session, talk i.

So obviously I made it to FOTA X.  For FOTA VIII I was stuck in the very room where I write this, before this very computer but with my foot in a cast while for FOTA IX I was up in Ards, Co. Donegal ministering to the faithful (Confessions and Mass, etc).

 This year it seems well attended with a mix of clergy and laity, Irish, German, French, American and British.  The first talk this morning was not the scheduled one by Fr joseph Briody but instead we had Mr Markus Bünning, from Munster Germany.  He spoke to us on Panis animarum - The Eucharist in St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  I must point out that what I write here is my poor impression based on my own notes and not a verbatim record.

Mr Bünning introduced us to this giant of the Church, a true Father of the Church, for he was a holy, orthodox and loyal witness to Tradition.  Bernard's spirituality emerged from the talk as deeply Christocentric but a Christ encountered intimately in the Liturgy of the Church as it has been handed down from the earliest days.   Bernard was not a monk cut off from the sources of the Faith in a remote monastery but a man who used Latin as if it were his mother-tongue.  Indeed Bernard's Latin is that of antiquity not the Middle Ages.  He knew the Fathers, especially the Latins, but he knew Christ more, his 'Iesus meus'.  He was not a scholar in the mold of Aquinas but a pastor in the line of Ambrose and Augustine.  Bernard was a man who radiated holiness and challenged his age and those subsequent to really encounter Christ.  Like Francis of Assisi to see him was to see a prayer and feel the call of God.

It was Bernard's profound love for Christ that fueled his love for the Liturgy and his fear of any innovations.  In the Liturgy Heaven and Earth mingle. He believed that to change the Earthly liturgy was to risk adding to the heavenly praise and so to weaken it.   Therefore it was safer to stay with Tradition.  Prudence was needed when dealing with the Liturgy especially when it came to necessary changes such as the addition of feasts for new saints.

Bernard believed in the virtue-promoting power of the Liturgy, especially the Eucharist.  The Eucharist was the  refugarium (place of rest) of souls and our link between Heaven and Earth.  It was the panis animarum our food for the growth of our souls.  This is why in his sermon for the Feast of All Saints he preached on the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is primarily food for the soul given by the Father through the priest to His people.  We are beggars before the door of the rich King.  We must be properly disposed to receive this richest of food.

Note that Bernard's understanding of the Liturgy is not priest-centered.   The Father gives through the priest's ministry.  Bernards ultimate concern is the relationship between the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist.  He believes deeply in the 'sin-inhibiting' power of the Sacrament, that if we remain free of sin it is because of the grace we have received in the Eucharist.  But proper disposition is necessary.  Bernard does not believe in cheap grace.   The Eucharist requires all our attention, intention and preparation.  Since in every Mass the Sacrifice of Christ is offered, that Sacrifice whihc restored peace between God and man, we must have a peacefull  attitude toward, God, our neighbour and our own self.

In his great and influential work on the Song of Songs Bernard explores his nuptial mysticism.  He sees in Sg 2 "sweet to my palate" a reference to the Eucharist.  In the overshadowing of Mary he sees the flesh of Christ as that which shadows her and so combines Mariology and the Sacraments.  In the Mass, the Wedding Feast of Christ and His Church, Christ renews His love for His Bride.  This love drove Bernard to be a peacemaker.


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