Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More sartorial raging

~from the LA Times which is always perilous to read. So do yourself a favor and read with Fr. Z's comments. Here's an excerpt with Fr. Z's comments in brackets
Then the papacy passed to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a critic of post-Vatican II liturgical practices who traced his own vocation to the priesthood to a youthful infatuation with the old Mass as it was celebrated in Baroque-loving Bavaria. [I think this may betray something of the position of the writer. Some critics of Pope Benedict’s choices chalk his motives up to mere personal preference.] In a 1997 memoir, Ratzinger recalled how "it was a riveting adventure to move by degrees into the mysterious world of the liturgy which was being enacted before us and for us at the altar."

Assisted by Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal master of ceremonies he inherited from John Paul II, Benedict sported Gothic vestments and modest [?] miters for a while. But last year, the pope replaced Marini with a prelate with the same last name, Msgr. Guido Marini. With the assistance of Marini No. 2, Benedict has returned to his liturgical roots, sporting [Note the deprecatory word choice.] massive miters, celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel with his back to the congregation [This is typical… it is also a canard. But readers of WDTPRS know well enough why this is an inaccurate description of what is really going on in ad orientem worship.] and leading Good Friday services vested in a fiddleback chasuble. The pope’s aides say that his choice of vestments is designed to demonstrate continuity with the church’s past. Liberals are more inclined to see it as a slap at the spirit of Vatican II. [Gee… I wonder who is right?]

Even some Catholics might wonder why so much attention is paid to the pope’s preferences in vestments. If hemlines can rise and fall, why not miters? Besides, special robes for priests and bishops are a tradition, not a matter of faith, and whether Gothic or Roman, ecclesiastical vestments originated in the everyday civilian dress of the Roman Empire. "The first Christians were waiting for the second coming of Christ, which they expected in their own lifetime and so made no attempt to formalize their religion," writes Janet Mayo in "A History of Ecclesiastical Dress." "They certainly had no desire to adapt or create specifically Christian clothing." [Yes… but we should not fall into the trap of a false archeologizing, either adopting things simply because they are old or even eschewing things because in ancient times people had certain expectations. Over the centuries our needs and knowledge have deepened with time for reflection.]

But that was to change. The introduction of vestments [ummm… has the writer read the Old Testament description of how GOD designed the vestments for those set apart among the People of God, the clergy?] coincided with a greater distinction between clergy and laypeople and the belief that only ordained priests and bishops could "validly" celebrate Mass [No… that was of divine origin, not merely a human development.] and bring about the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. To a greater or lesser extent, the churches of the Reformation rejected this view. They emphasized the "priesthood of all believers" and defined the Mass (or Eucharist) as a memorial meal rather than as a sacrifice offered by the priest for the forgiveness of sins. Not so coincidentally, many Protestant churches also did away with or simplified clerical vestments even as the robes worn by Catholic prelates were becoming more elaborate and over the top. [I think the writer has stumbled into a rabbit hole, unless he is carrying on a subtle polemic.]
The maneuver is to marginalize someone by referring to their choices as merely aesthetic....a passing fancy.

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