Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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Part III


Once again, from L’Art d’Eglise, we see some examples of metalwork in the context of both a chalice, as well as two monstrances.

Concluding Thoughts and a Caveat

The intent here was primarily two fold.

One was to introduce a further layer of nuance into the critical consideration of certain modern forms of the liturgical arts, which are too often simply thought of as product of the post-conciliar era. As with many things (and this was recently pointed out with regard to sacred music as well, by way of a 1957 editorial in the journal Caecilia), the roots go much deeper, often relating to a certain “vanguard” of the Liturgical Movement, and so if we are to approach these matters adequately, then we must look well before the post-conciliar period. (Paired with this is also the importance of noting that one likewise shouldn’t draw the simple conclusion that anything that came before, even if “traditional” in style is therefore necessarily good. As we have our share of poor pre-conciliar hymns, we also have our share of poor pre-conciliar art in traditional styles.)

The second was similar insofar as there was also a desire to introduce a layer of nuance into the consideration of the possibility of development within the liturgical arts itself. Too often, people on other side of the divide approach these matters in a very black and white way. Either development is rejected out of hand as necessarily inferior, or the traditional expressions are rejected out of hand as inferior or obsolete. (Hence we end up with situations where some attached to the usus antiquior cannot fathom Mass in those books without the accompaniment of Roman style vestments, and some attached to the usus recentior, the modern Roman liturgy, cannot fathom Mass in the modern books with such things — and of course, the Roman example is simply one example.)

Some of our most traditional monasteries today, monasteries which act either in a reform of the reform capacity (e.g. Heilgenkreuz), or within the capacity of the usus antiquior (e.g. Le Barroux), do a fine job in witnessing against such dichotomies — and it puts me to mind that, to date, much of what seems best in relation to the early Liturgical Movement (either in practical execution or in theory) is that which specifically came out of that movement within its monastic context.

This brings me to a final caveat. While the intent here has been to focus on development within the liturgical arts, there is an assumption that must be avoided, and which needs to be explicitly addressed lest the point be misunderstood — particularly since modernity has been given so much priority in recent decades, and traditional expressions having been viewed with such skepticism.

While it is important that we do try to re-approach development within the liturgical arts as per the new liturgical movement of Benedict XVI, and indeed, as per the tradition of the Church herself, and while we must drop principles and associations to the contrary, at the same time, this does not mean it is spurious for people today to have churches built in fully traditional styles (e.g the Shrine in La Crosse, or the chapel at Thomas Aquinas College), nor to have vestments made explicitly in historical styles (be they Roman, gothic revival, conical, Borromean revival or otherwise). In short, while the approach to development in continuity is important, both practically and in principle, it is not as though this supercedes these long-utilized historical expressions, nor is it an absolute requirement it be approached in each and every instance.

In point of fact, I would suggest our traditional, historical expressions have a kind of pride of place (similar to what we would think of with regard to chant), and given that they are the basis for that very re-approach we have been considering, it is quite important that they have continued, visible expression, particularly with so much of the approach to modernity having not been terribly successful to date.

These expressions continue to speak to modern man and are deeply seeded within our ecclesiastical, liturgical and even cultural vocabulary and so they are most certainly quite relevant and applicable within our times.

As Msgr. Guido Marini noted, “…the important thing is not so much antiquity or modernity, as the beauty and dignity.” When it comes down to it, that is the ultimate criteria. Continuity, beauty and dignity.

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