Review: Revelations of Divine Love

Revelations of Divine Love (Penguin Classics)Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once you get your mind around the slightly archaic English that is being used, this book is remarkably easy to read. The task of grasping the meaning of this book is, however, a task that will last a lot longer, since it deals with things that are of God.

There is much to grasped in this spiritual classic, though, and this is a book that, while possible, is not one to be simply read and then forgotten; this is a book that will linger in one’s sub-conscious and will need to be read over and over again. Only then will the true value of what is contained in the words written by Julian of Norwich ever fully be grasped.

From the blurb:

Written by Christian mystic Julian of Norwich in the 14th century, based on visions she received while praying for her recovering from a life-threatening illness. After her recovery, she dedicated her life to God and the church in gratitude. As part of this process, she shared the sixteen visions of Jesus the Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Unlike many of her contemporary religious writers, she wrote in the language of the common people, Middle English, rather than Latin. In that spirit, this version has been translated into modern English, making it ideal for someone with less experience in medieval literature.

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Review: Amazing Graces: The Blessings of Sacramentals

Amazing Graces: The Blessings of SacramentalsAmazing Graces: The Blessings of Sacramentals by Julie Dortch Cragon
I wasn’t impressed by the contents of this book; it promised much and didn’t deliver. What could have been a thoughtful and erudite exposition on the place of sacramentals in the life of the (Catholic) Church was surrendered to an overly sentimentalised and pietistic text.

Not recommended.

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Common Law and Common Sense

A long quote, but worthy of being shared given the subject matter:

…it is not necessary for anyone to demonstrate that the Missal of Paul VI abrogated the missal that was in force from 1962 to 1969, because this is clear according to common liturgical law. It is up to those who would argue otherwise to provide the proof to support it. As long as they do not offer reasonable arguments of a juridical or liturgical nature, as long as the “double contemporary form” is only affirmed, but not demonstrated and proven, the general principle must be presumed: the new Roman Rite substitutes the older Roman Rite, and a conflict cannot replace the simple fact that only one rite, only one form, and only one use is in force, according to the principle of common law (not to mention common sense).

To that we can add, to be thorough, another consideration. Not only is it impossible to deduce from the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium some parallel existence of two ritual forms in force in the single Roman Rite; in fact, such an idea clearly runs contrary to the conciliar text, which indicates clear intentions of revision and substitution of the preconciliar liturgy. Indeed, a great many implementing measures of the reform, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, demonstrate a clear intention to substitute the older ritual regime with the newer one (as has been the case throughout the history of the church). Furthermore, one can even recognize such an intention in Paul’s predecessor, John XXIII, who, in the document that introduces and makes possible the 1962 edition of the Tridentine missal, emphasizes not only the desire to continue (and bring to completion) Pope Pius XII’s project of a complete revision of the rubrics of the Breviary and of the Roman Missal but of doing so for the period of time – still difficult to foresee in 1960 – until the convocation of the Second Vatican Council and the work of liturgical reform it was expected to accomplish. It should not surprise us, then, that the Missal of 1962 – the very one that is today claimed to have force sine die alongside the one approved by Pope Paul VI – was approved by Pope John XXIII as a “provisional text” in expectation of the Council and of the liturgical reform that was in 1960 already expected to result from it.

The nonabrogation of the Missal of Pius V, then, means little. Supporting such a central and decisive affirmation with an argument from silence – together with the fact that two preceding popes (one could even say three, since, as we have seen, one could also include John XXIII) each understood the postconciliar rite as the only one effectively in force, making exception to this case by the use of indult – raises an objective and urgent problem that must be clarified in some other way, in order not to leave a grave uncertainty that would influence reasoning and practice on related matters.

Andrea Grillo, Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform, trans. Barry Hudock, Rev. Ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), pp. 107-109. ISBN: 978-0-8146-6327-1.

Review: Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform

Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical ReformBeyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform by Andrea Grillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At the heart of the ongoing struggles – some might say wars – surrounding the liturgical life of the (Roman) Catholic Church, between those who embrace the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and those who resist them, stands a fundamental misunderstanding of what has been happening in the liturgical life of that Church for at least fifty years before the Second Vatican Council – and it’s liturgical reforms – was even conceived.

So argues Andrea Grillo, professor of sacramental theology at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, argues that the liturgical reforms of the Council were only the second phase of an ongoing revitalization of the liturgical life of the Church, and thus of the Church itself, that started with a consideration of the “liturgical question”, the development of a new theological methodology, and the rise of what has become known as the Liturgical Movement. Grillo passionately presents the case that unless and until the Church addresses once more the “liturgical question”, of which both the Liturgical Movement and the Conciliar liturgical reforms are tools, we can never fully appreciate the liturgy of the Church – and more specifically the celebration of the liturgy of the Church – as the very source of the Church’s identity.

Originally written in 2007, the text was revised in 2013 following the publication of the motu propria of Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum that significantly liberalised the possibility of celebrating what Grillo would strongly argue was the abrogated pre-Conciliar liturgy (often referred to as the Tridentine rite). The new edition includes a new chapter in which Grillo analyses the contents and effects of this document – and subsequent documents that draw on it – in light of his prevailing thesis that the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council was not the end of answering the “liturgical question” but rather a tool that will assist with the longer term, and as yet unstarted, process of initiating the Church into the reformed rites so that the liturgy truly becomes the ‘font and summit’ of the Church’s life.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the liturgical life of the Church, and to anyone who would like to deepen their understanding and knowledge of that liturgical life.

From the blurb:

The reform of the liturgy is at risk, says Andrea Grillo. Recent developments have sown doubts and confusion within the church. While many authorities pay lip service to the importance of the liturgical reform that followed Vatican II and cite all the right documents, what they offer is “out of tune” with the fundamental reasons for the reform.

Grillo argues that the church today must refresh its collective memory of the essential meaning of the liturgical reform. For Grillo, this means understanding

* the meaning and significance of Vatican II in the history of the church in the twentieth century
* the key concept of “active participation”
* the core ideas of the original liturgical movement and the role they played during and after the reform of the liturgy
* what the reform has accomplished and what remains to be done

Beyond Pius V is not simply a set of pastoral observations. It is a strongly argued theological essay on the true meaning and purpose of liturgy and liturgical reform. That reform, Grillo says, must continue to challenge and provoke us, never to be reduced to the precious past of our ancestors; rather, like children who honor the legacy of their parents, we are called to carry on and nurture the life of the reform.

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A Lack of Liturgical Hope

There seems today to be a lack of hope in the liturgical reform, both among some young people who despair in new rites and presume that older rites better safeguarded the church (or at least what they imagine to be the true church) and among some older folks, prophets of doom who are also in some cases prelates of considerable influence. For both of these subjects, albeit for different reasons, memories that are not real result in an obstruction of vision and a weakening of spirit. While the young presume things about a time they did not live through themselves, those who are older idealize their ecclesial infancu in a way that lacks a sense of reality(1). This leads to a nostalgia expressed in grave forms of presumptuous despair or, more often, of desperate presumption. We see this, for example, in the presumption that the liturgical reform that followed the Council not only preceded various difficulties of our day but also caused them. To listen to such diagnoses, which are instances of the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, one would think that if only the liturgical reform had never happened, everything would be fine(2).

Andrea Grillo, Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform, trans. Barry Hudock, Rev. Ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), p. 93. ISBN: 978-0-8146-6327-1.

Grillo’s two footnotes contained in this paragraph are worthy of note:

  1. A demonstration par excellence of this regressive nostalgia for Latin is found in the idea – more widespread than one might think and often promoted by pastors with a thoughtless automatism – that “the liturgical reform never abrogated the earlier rites” (that is, the rites that were the fruit of the Tridentine reform). In reality, this idea can only be defended by turning the burden of proof on its head. It is the nostalgic promoters of the Tridentine Rite who must demonstrate that it was never abrogated; it does not fall to those who follow the tradition of the church by celebrating according to the rites (those of Paul VI) which explicitly reformed the earlier ones. If the rite of Paul VI is the fruit of the reform of the preceding rite, it is clear that, at the moment it was promulgated and put in force, the preceding rite was substituted with the new one. Otherwise, why was ther a reform at all? Another naive assertion – also quite common – regards the ritual plurality that Trent permitted and that Vatican II ought therefore to be able to permit as well. In reality, this is only a fallacy, an instance of bogus reasoning. Trent permitted the restoration of Latin rites other than the Roman Rite, not a Roman Rite other than the one determined by Trent. In other words, what Trent did, Vatican II also did. Reforming the Roman Rite, it did not permit the existence of another Roman Rite. At best, this allows for the use of the previous rite “by indult,” as an exception to the rule – including the rule of common sense – according to which there can be at any one time only one Roman Rite, one Ambrosian Rite, one Hispanic Rite, one Gallican Rite, etc. …
  2. Even if there is a clear contradiction, at least for those traditionalist authors who still retain a glimmer of realism in the heat of argument, in an “ancient” Roman Rite that, in order to be usable, needs to be reformed! This, paradoxically, they acknowledge that the possibility of using the “Missal of Pius V” today would call for at least a reform of the lectionary, the calendar, and the sanctoral cycle in order to make them adaptable. But this is precisely what led to the Missal of Paul VI, and that was already done forty years ago, evidently when these authors were not looking. …

The Ongoing Liturgical Movement

third phase [of the liturgical movement] begins, broadly, in 1988 and extends up to today and into the future. Its precise nature is not yet entirely clear, but it promises a return of attention to the dimension of “initiation into the liturgy,” withat all that this entails. this might appear at first glance to contradict in some way the reform of the rites, almost a repudiation or a turning back, a problematic “reform of the reform.” In this phrase, “reform of the reform,” one sees above all a clear narrowing of perspective in how the liturgical question is understood and in a possible response in terms of the liturgical renewal. If everything that is not reform is perceived as a negation of the reform, we risk falling into having to make a fictional choice: either reform or a return to the past. On the contrary, the “other issue of the reform” – foreseen by [Romano] Guardini while the Council was still in session – is that because of the reform, and in a way that does not contradict its rites and texts, the more fundamental and structural question of the “liturgical form,” of “liturgy as fons,” be addressed, and this suggests for the church a fundamental need for education, formation, and initiation into the act of worship.

Andrea Grillo, Beyond Pius V: Conflicting Interpretations of the Liturgical Reform, trans. Barry Hudock, Rev. Ed. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), pp. 58-59. ISBN: 978-0-8146-6327-1.