Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Hildebrand on the Requiem

Bishop Hopes blessing the catafalque at the LMS Annual Requiem
'To see the purely human aspect of things is a necessary foundation for seeing the supernatural aspect. One who does not see the human aspect is insensitive and superficial, and his attitude is incompatible with the true faith. The deeper one sees the natural tragedy of death, then the more one is able to grasp the tremendous significance of our redemption through Christ, and the more one possesses that true faith which St Paul expresses by asking, "O death, where is your sting?" But as soon as one jumps over the human aspect without passing through, one does not ascend to the supernatural aspect, but rather replaces the natural with the supernatural aspect, which can only be attained by faith - one treats the supernatural as if it were the natural, one takes it for granted, and omits the sursum corda, that ascent into the supernatural world which is possible only in faith, If the human aspect is not duly seen, then the aspect of faith is naturalized, and dragged down to the level of the obvious. If the human aspect is suppressed or omitted, then the aspect of faith becomes ungenuine, unreal.

'Thus the Alleluia and the elimination of black vestments in the Requiem not only ignores the human aspect of death, but also distorts the supernatural perspective on death. The death of a man is the moment of judgement, it is the great and fearful encounter with the divine Judge. Although death is transfigured by hope - hope for our dead beloved one, and for all who loved him and mourn for him - this hope does not take away ultimate seriousness and holy fear. It is simply not the right form for the Mass for the Dead when this Mass gives the impression of celebrating the entrance of the deceased into eternal blessedness. ...

'The optimism of the new Mass for the Dead, as well as its tendency to introduce a harmless note into the theme of the judgement of God (there was none of this in the Tridentine Requiem) is deeply related to this-worldliness, and to a loss of a sense of the supernatural.'

Dietrich von Hildebrand, 'The Devastated Vineyard'. pp224-5

See my extracts from this book, on grief, and on truth and the via media.

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