Friday, June 20, 2008

Some Comments on the Hermeneutic of Rupture

I have been reading through Cardinal Wiseman's: Four lectures on the offices and ceremonies of Holy Week, as performed in the Papal chapels : delivered in Rome in the Lent of MDCCCXXXVII (1854).

This is his comment at the end of Lecture 3 on (what was then the potential of) liturgical change and the demolishing of liturgical traditions:

I have represented these to you as an aggregate
of religious observances, gradually framed in
the Church, not by a cold and formal enactment,
but by the fervid manifestation of the devout
impressions of every age, till they had acquired
a uniform, consistent, and compact form. They
have retained upon them the marks of that
humbled, and yet deeply mystical spirit, which
the persecuted Church necessarily possessed;
they have preserved the expression of triumph
and glory of its more prosperous condition;
they have concealed in them symptoms of the
modesty and charity of the later period, and
they are depositaries of many relics of venerable
antiquity, by yet keeping in observance
rites once general, but now elsewhere

In attending them, you may consider yourselves
as led by turns to every period of religious
antiquity, and in the institutions of each may
commune with its peculiar spirit ; they are as a
museum, containing the remains of every age,
not arranged chronologically, but, as the good
taste that presided over the collections has suggested,
their disposition mingled in a happy confusion,
which shows how well they harmonize
with each other, and how completely the same
spirit has presided over the institution of them
all. To abolish them, to substitute a new,
systematic, formal, and coldly meditated form,
would be in truth a vandalism, a religious barbarism
of which the Catholic Church is quite

I thought of how how close his prophecy of a subsitution of liturgical forms was to what seemed to have happened 120 years later.

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