Saturday, September 15, 2012

FIUV Position Paper on Western Culture

Agatha Christie
Over at Rorate Caeli I've published the latest Position Paper on the 1962 Missal, this one on Western Culture: go over there to read it. In a nutshell it responds to the argument, made by proponents of the liturgical reform, that 'Modern Man' (which usually meant people of Western culture) did not find the ancient liturgy attractive, so it needed to be changed.

There were also arguments that changes to the liturgy needed to made for the sake of the Missions, and I hope we'll be able to follow this paper up with papers on other cultures.

As an appendix to this paper we have included the LMS Petition to Pope Paul VI of 1971, when it looked as though the ancient Mass would simply be banned. The signatures Alfred Marnau, my predecessor as Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, who organised it, was able to gather are astounding. I don't know how many were familiar in the curia, but it must have impressed people in the UK. The Duke of Norfolk, the Poet Laureate, the Controller of Music at the BBC, the Editor of The Times, the Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, politicians from all the main parties, and a host of musicians, scholars and novelists signed the petition. In a short list - 56 names - Marnau managed to include a staggering range of interests and bagged a high proportion of the most important cultural figures of the day, not only in Britain, but from across Europe.
Yehudi Henuhin

I have heard this petition criticised because of its inclusion of non-Catholics. That, of course, was the point of it. Having just, in its wisdom, promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae for the good of souls, the curia wasn't about to accept the argument that the ancient Mass had to be preserved for the good of souls, made by a bunch of laymen, who were't even liturgical scholars. At that moment, another argument had to be used, and I think it was a stroke of genius on Marnau's part that he appealed to its cultural importance. He was able to gather the support of people who were appalled by the vandalism being carried out in the Catholic Church, even from outside the Church. The recognition of the cultural value of the ancient liturgy, art, and literature of the Church is the tribute rightly paid by the cultural elite to the truth of the Gospel, even when they can't bring themselves to accept the truth in full. As a matter of fact, among the signatories were many prominent Catholics, many converts, and some, like Lord (Kenneth) Clark, who became Catholics later.
Sir Ralph Richardson

The recongnition of the cultural value of the ancient Mass by non-Catholics who have taken the trouble to think about it actually undermines one of the central arguments against: that the Mass does not appeal to 'modern man'. There can be few causes which could unite, on one petition, the ferociously right-wing Monday Club member and Tory MP, Sir Patrick Wall, a paid-up Communist, Theodore Toynbee, and a British spy turned expert on Zoroastrianism, Robert Zaehner? Or the literary critic F.R. Leavis, with the novellists Agatha Christie, Nancy Mitford, Robert Graves and Graham Greene? Not to mention Harold Acton, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Malcom Muggeridge, Ralph Richardson, Iris Murdoch, Yehudi Menuhin, and Lennox Berkely.

Alfred Marnau's account of the petition, and its reception, is available on the LMS website here,

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