Pope ends Latin Mass restrictionIt's Sunday, so someone somewhere is saying "Credo in unum Deum" right now (EDIT: or, if it were Good Friday, "Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis"), which is why, I guess, I thought today would be a good day for this post. I can tell you what I thought of when I was reading the BBC article, but I simply don't know enough to make anything even imitative of a final or just judgment (knowing of course that such things are impossible). First I thought of what I wrote here:
Pope Benedict has lifted restrictions on celebrating the Latin Tridentine Mass, pleasing some traditionalists.
The Latin Mass was largely abandoned in the 1960s, as part of reforms to make Catholicism more relevant to its worldwide congregation.
Traditionalists wanted to bring the Mass back, though some Jewish groups opposed it because of a prayer calling for their conversion.
The Pope denied claims the reversal could cause a schism in the Church.
The late Pope John Paul II partially relaxed the prohibition in the 1980s, allowing bishops discretionary powers to let priests celebrate Mass in Latin if members of the congregation asked for it.
The Pope wanted to heal a rift with ultra-traditionalists who rebelled against Second Vatican Council changes.
The Church believes the majority of its congregation will continue to hear Mass in their local languages.
Catholic commentator John L Allen told the BBC in April he did not believe there would be much call for the Mass - and 40 years after the Second Vatican Council, there would be few priests able to read it.
In his chapter on Derrida in The Premodern Condition, Bruce Holsinger describes at length the "interventionist medievalism" (120) of the Radical Orthodoxy group, in particular, Catherine Pickstock's After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy. As Holsinger explains, Pickstock "aims at a wholesale dismantling of Derrida's critique of Western logocentrism through a 'recasting of the premodern' against what she sees as its pernicious recruitment by deconstruction" (121). After Writing presents a pretty easy target for a medievalist, at least so far as Holsinger summarizes it. This is despite Pickstock's erudition in Western philosophical traditions, in fact despite her insistence that the deconstructive critique of language inadequately accounts for the bodily presence necessary to produce language (a point I know I find attractive, even as I find the implied prediscursive body-as-presence argument suspicious). For Holsinger, Pickstock's work presents an easy target because she mourns the loss of the "liturgical civilization [that] existed in its purest form in the Western Middle Ages and achieved its most coherent expression as the liturgy of the Roman Rite" (125) and because she longs for something she calls "genuine liturgy" (qtd 127) to restore "real language" (qtd 127). Far from being a medieval artifact, the ideal(ized) liturgy from which Pickstock quotes dates from the Counter-Reformation, a period of intense religious longing, nostalgia, and reaction against Protestantism, and now, I suppose, recuperated for much the same purposes to inveigh against a secular "nihilistic" philosophy that suspects all promises of presence.Also, when I think of the Latin Mass and traditionalists, I think of the most famous enthusiast for the Latin Mass, Mel Gibson:
What leapt out at me, I suspect wholly uncharitably, was the Jewishness of two of Pickstock's bêtes noires, Lévinas and Derrida. Keeping this in mind renders Pickstock's "commitment to credal Christianity...to deploy this recovered vision systematically to criticise modern society" (qtd 119) a bit pernicious, at least to my eyes, right now.
An avowed family man still on his first marriage, with seven children to show for it, Gibson smokes, raises cattle, publicly shuns plastic surgery and seems wholly unmoved by most of the liberal-left causes favored by industry peers. Recently, however, something beyond the impulse to entertain has been showing up in Gibson's work. Last year he played a former minister who rediscovers religion amid an alien invasion in ''Signs'' and a reverent Catholic lieutenant colonel in the war drama ''We Were Soldiers.'' In these films, but especially in a new movie, a monumentally risky project called ''The Passion,'' which he co-wrote and is currently directing in and around Rome, Gibson appears increasingly driven to express a theology only hinted at in his previous work. That theology is a strain of Catholicism rooted in the dictates of a 16th-century papal council and nurtured by a splinter group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists and disaffected conservatives -- including a seminary dropout and rabble-rousing theologist who also happens to be Mel Gibson's father.
Gibson is the star practitioner of this movement, which is known as Catholic traditionalism. Seeking to maintain the faith as it was understood before the landmark Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965, traditionalists view modern reforms as the work of either foolish liberals or hellbent heretics. They generally operate outside the authority or oversight of the official church, often maintaining their own chapels, schools, seminaries and clerical orders. Central to the movement is the Tridentine Mass, the Latin rite that was codified by the Council of Trent in the 16th century and remained in place until the Second Vatican Council deemed that Mass should be held in the popular language of each country. Latin, however, is just the beginning -- traditionalists refrain from eating meat on Fridays, and traditionalist women wear headdresses in church. The movement seeks to revive an orthodoxy uncorrupted by the theological and social changes of the last 300 years or so.
Michael W. Cuneo, a sociology professor at Fordham University who reported on right-wing Catholic dissent in his 1997 book, ''The Smoke of Satan,'' wrote that traditionalists ''would like nothing more than to be transported back to Louis XIV's France or Franco's Spain, where Catholicism enjoyed an unrivaled presidency over cultural life and other religions existed entirely at its beneficence.''
Finally, I think of
I’m yet another subject of anachronism, experiencing a kind of expanded now in which past, present, and future coincide. My point in all this is that one way of making the concept of temporal heterogeneity analytically salient, and insisting on the present’s irreducible multiplicity, is to inquire into the felt experience of asynchrony. As I was suggesting earlier, such feelings can be exploited for social and political reasons; the evangelical Christian movement in the United States, for example, works off of people’s feeling out of step with contemporary mores. (190)And that's all I have for the moment. Surely our readers have something to say, even, I hope, corrections for me and my obviously suspicious mind. Have at it.