Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Judge a Church by its Incense

Last week, John L. Allen, Jr., a senior correspondent at The National Catholic Reporter, penned a New York Times Op-Ed on the announcement that Pope Benedict will soon formally expand permission for use of the old pre-Vatican II Latin Mass as an optional style of worship within the Catholic Church. He worried that “[w]hen the decision officially comes down, its importance will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press.”

His concern is that “[m]any on the Catholic left… will make a cause célèbre out of the document because, to them, it symbolizes a broad conservative drift in Catholic affairs. They will read it as another sign of a “rollback” on Vatican II.”

But is a more traditional, conservative style of worship necessarily indicative of social conservatism? Not in the least.

The crucial point is that the Tridentine Mass will be optional. If Latin were reinstated as the only acceptable language of the church, it would create a wholly unnecessary barrier between worshippers and the God who’s trying to speak to them by restricting the interaction to a language almost no one speaks anymore. There is no reason a person shouldn’t be allowed to worship, pray and study Scripture in their native language. After all, that’s the entire meaning of Pentecost, the 50th day after Easter when, according to the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and empowered them with the ability to speak in other languages in order to spread the Good News. They weren’t all speaking Latin.

By making the old-style mass optional, the Pope is broadening appeal, not restricting it. People need to be able to experience and worship God in the setting that feels “right” to them. There is tremendous power and beauty in the old liturgy, with its focus on solemnity and reverence (admittedly, not for everybody) and a meaningful link to centuries of tradition. The old Latin texts – again, not for everyone – are innately musical and beautiful. Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae…it’s magnificent. Would I encourage a 7 year old to sit through it? Hell, no.

In practice, worship styles transcend neat categorizations like “liberal” and “conservative.” We can see this plainly enough in our own country. Many conservative churches in America have modern settings and an informal Sunday service. Mega-pastor Joel Osteen preaches in a converted stadium in a manner far closer to self-help seminar than traditional Eucharist. You’re not likely to hear a Palestrina motet there.

Conversely, consider the Episcopal church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square, locally so famous for its high church “smells and bells,” as Allen terms it, that it’s affectionately known as “Smoky Mary’s.” I attended the Good Friday service there this year, with its two-hour chanted liturgy, endless kneeling and barefoot veneration of the cross, and can attest this is about as old-school as Anglicans get. (Ironically, they don’t use incense on Good Friday; it’s considered an extravagance inappropriate for the solemnity of the occasion.) This was also the gayest congregation I’ve ever seen.

I’m not a Catholic, but I think Allen is wrong to assume that there is any link between social progressives and a preference for informal worship styles. In fact, perhaps the best conclusion that can be drawn is that many social progressives are more interested in tradition and orthodoxy than their detractors want to admit.

38 comments:

DJRainDog said...

You make my point for me. I don't think people who know me socially as the hard-drinking drug-abusing foul-mouthed temperamental man-slut slacker would necessarily guess that I LOATHE the heretical crap that resulted from Vatican II and prefer to find my God and His Heaven in dark, draughty, incense-clouded chambers through which resound centuries-old chants (I can sing the Creed to two of them off the top of my head) and none of this happy-clappy rhythmic dumbed-down modern bullshit.

For me, that musical language, and indeed, the Latin texts for which it was intended, reverberates through, and consequently, defies, not merely space, but also time. It remains filled with the wonder and reverence and joy at the presence of God with which it was first created. "Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby."

Andy said...

Indeed, almost half the reason I left the Lutheran church where I grew up -- the major part being my struggle to reconcile my sexuality with Christianity -- was that they started abandoning the beautiful pipe organ in favor of a small folk-band; they traded "Ein feste Burg" for "Rainbows and Butterflies and Smiling Children and Happy Jesus!" (Not a real song, but the sentiment is accurate.) I was outta there.

little-cicero said...

I hate to sound cynical, but this is much more a matter of dollars and sense at a practical level. Formal latin liturgical styles will only be adopted in conservative Catholic parishes- if it catches on beyond seminaries, so be it, but ultimately this is sort of a freeing up of restrictions to open up the spiritual market, hopefully revitalizing the church by giving people more options of worship. But the dollars and cents come in with the fact that Latin masses will only be applied when they can be prophetable, likewise with English masses.

We all know the church is a bureaucracy, so I don't suppose it's heretical to imply that it's a business. Just go to one church funding meeting and there can be no doubt that the incantations and incense all boil down to a bottom line.

(Did "prophetable" strike your eye. It had been a while since I'd made an amusing spelling error on this blog, so there you go!)

Andy said...

Prophetable. A uniquely spectacular example of LC's occasional unintentional wisdom. : )

My WORD, man, but you ARE cynical.

Anthony said...

My mother has been known to recall the days of Mass in Latin with a degree of nostalgia: not necessarily down to any particular liking for the language, but because she knew she could attend Mass at a catholic church anywhere in the world and be able to take part.

There can't be very many cases of a (nearly) dead language lending an event a sense of universitality.

little-cicero said...

As any cynical person would say, "I'm not a cynic, I am a realist"

DJRainDog said...

Interesting statement, l-c, and I'll be watching to see if you're correct. The opposite trend seems to be true in Episcopal parishes. I can't say it's necessarily the socially liberal ones, but certainly, the ones with the better-educated congregants, which tend, in fact, to be old-money liberal parishes and parishes in academic communities, tend to be the ones who are prone to more of a "high-church" style, while the more socially conservative parishes tend to be utterly boring and tasteless.

kr said...

I love the Mass-in-the-Grass 1970s guitar stuff.

But then, I have long horrified the majority of my friends with my entirely unsophisticated musical tastes, which can be best summarized by that Dance Fever(?) critique, "It's got a good beat and I can dance to it."

I also sing all the cheesiest lyrics (as long as they are theologically sound) with full emotional commitment ... which irritates the folks who would like to write them off as merely trite and the songs as completely worthless. I am all about peace-on-earth and Jesus-joy songs.

I expect to be alone on that, in this crowd ;).

---

LC, there are movements both specific and accidental, driven by the USCCB (see the bishops' document on stewardship), driven by specific clergy, and driven by the (justly irritated) layity, to properly refocus the American Church's thinking about finances. Presumably they are in reaction to descriptions like yours! Proper management of parish finances? Good. Parish as a business? Entirely innappropriate : P!

People will choose their mass by what speaks to them. Choosing the type of mass that speaks to most people is good pastoral management. A church that doesn't speak to its people isn't doing its job.

Fr Chris said...

I found my way over here from Fr Jim Tucker's blog. You're right to raise this concern -- many people see a thurible or a cassock or hear two words of Latin and assume they're among people who are conservative on just about everything. Speaking as an Independent Catholic priest, our movement is full of people who are liberal on sexual issues, economics, and other things but love the traditional liturgy. I know plenty of RCs who love the old mass and are all over the political map, too.

The traditional liturgy has a transcendent beauty not usually matched by the Novus Ordo, and I think that comes across even to people who aren't committed to its revival. I'm big on the vernacular -- for me, Latin is a sometimes food -- but even Latin has a beauty that's hard to deny.

little-cicero said...

Well, kr, the problem with church ethics is the same with any other business ethics. From a consumer's perspective, we don't see how the local inn or the office supply store are constantly on the brink of going under, but they consistantly are- as are the churches that we tend to look at from a consumer's standpoint.

As long as church membership is down, church leaders have no choice but to treat their houses of worship as storefronts.

So, do churches have to make more moral decisions that are not economically correct? Perhaps in their case, it is economically prudent to make purely moral decisions that have no immediate financial benefit. In the case of the church, the hospital and the daycare center, morality and economy become at certain points of decision, inseparable.

Andy said...

As long as church membership is down, church leaders have no choice but to treat their houses of worship as storefronts.

Ah, and here LC displays his true conservative colors: the power of the market! I have no knowledge of church finances, but it would seem to me that a church's income is tied less to regular, "sold-out" attendance than to ongoing commitment, though those are clearly related issues (though similarly clearly separate).

We're treading into sticky waters here, if I may utilize so ungainly a mixed metaphor. Am I here advocating that church is merely what you want it to be? ERrrrrrr...no. I think if you're in a church that doesn't make you uncomfortable/embarrassed every once in a while, you're not in the right place. I don't mean being called up in front of the congregation and having your sins read aloud, but rather that church should be a place where your preconceived notions and long, hard-won conclusions are regularly challenged. Don't go to church to be coddled.

But on the other hand, as I have long said on this blog, I really deeply believe what matters most to God is sincerity, rather than doctrine. And to that end, one cannot worship sincerely in a religious environment that doesn't organically feel "authentic" or "genuine," and no one gets to be the arbiter of those standards except the worshipper.

I think -- hope -- this is what the Pope is going for, providing an alternative for those of us who feel called to this ancient, more ritualized (and indeed, theatrical) style of worship, so that those of us who tend to retch when we hear guitars singing about Jesus and butterflies have a spiritual home in the broader community of Christianity. I hope it's not motivated by something as simultaneously base but necessary as improving church finances.

kr said...

Did I ever tell you about the time the Youth Mass choir decided to close mass with "Jesus is Just Alright with Me?"

Jesus is just Alright, Oh YEAH!

I'm still not sure I think it was appropriate, but it was pretty freaking hilarious--because all the not-really-youth-mass, only-there-because-they-missed-morning-mass people, including many teenagers who didn't actually dig on having everything about Jesus called "AWEsome!" by the youth mass coordinator (yuck) ... they all just about had apoplexy and died, right there in the pews, accompanied in their journey to the afterlife by thumping electric bass and a full drumkit and ALL of the radio-version repetitions! (The teenage drummer they had then was a phenomenon; I hope she did something with her talent when she graduated.)

You would have hated it ;). Oh YEAH!

(Normally they played the more standard cheesy Holy Spirit/love your neighbor stuff.)

little-cicero said...

I think Hank Hill was right on the money when he said "Christian Rock doesn't make Christianity better- it just makes Rock and Roll worse"

Yes, I am touting the "power of the markets" and also the good that the "power of the markets" can do for people. The populism it directs ultimately seeks the individual parishioners' sincerest mode of worship. I'm amazed by the popularity of a local non-denominational youth mass relative to my old fashioned Italian church. The former is probably more business-like because they're dealing with so much input and output (the church is probably the biggest building in my town), but it also changes and molds more souls than the latter, and for that I am thankful.

I guess "making money" isn't the primary concern consciously considered, but rather simply "attendance," By concerning your self with attendance or parish size, you can as readily ascribe your concerns to "saving souls" as to "making money," because at the end of the day, when it's time to count the money, they're one in the same.

Jade said...

Anthony - your comment reminds me of a cultural awareness seminar I attended at my old job. The man giving the lecture was originally from Mexico and was describing his first visit to the northern US, where he felt very out of place culturally speaking until he went to church. Here was a place where he would understand what was going on! When he met the priest he gracefully knelt before him, took his hand, and kissed his ring... and stayed there, waiting for the priest to sort of wiggle his hand as a sign that he could rise and return to his seat. The wiggle didn't come, so he kissed the priest's ring again... and again... not realizing that this sort of lavish display was specific to his region, not the Catholic church at large. :)

KR - on the music... I have a friend who works for Amy Grant on a regular basis, and he is the only reason I've listened to anything that resembles "Christian Rock". I'll say her stuff is decently spiritual without being overtly cheesey... but Doobie Brothers in church? *shudder*

Andy said...

Interestingly, some Episcopal churches have started experimenting with U2charist. This sounds very cool to me. So, it doesn't HAVE to be Byrd and Bach and chant for me to be into it. (Remember, I'm the one who claimed Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth" was a far better exegesis of Revelation than Left Behind.)

kr said...

LC--you ignore the many parts of the country and the world where
more parishoners => more money OUT

My parish, following the dotcom pop, was not pulling in enough money per person to make ends meet, and we are a homeowning, taxpaying neighborhood.

Congratulations on living such a secure life, in such a secure neighborhood, that you think churchgoers will always pay for themselves.

little-cicero said...

"Congratulations on living such a secure life, in such a secure neighborhood, that you think churchgoers will always pay for themselves."

Are you by any chance implying that I am isolated from the world's troubles? You're probably right, but this comment seems a bit impolite (though not hurtful) considering the source. Perhaps you've read my post on politeness, convincing you to speak so bluntly. For that I congratulate you, as you have spoken most truthfully.

Truthfully, my church is in the inner city, but consists of a loyal Italian-American parishoner base that services the community through such means as the school and daycare center, both of which have self-sustaining aspect. My church does not persay run soup kitchens, but it assists the surrounding community fiscally as well as spiritually.

I assume that yours is a standard Catholic church that answer financially to Rome. Mine does not have to pay as much as it is part of the Mercederian Order. This avoidance of "taxation" to the Papacy, as well as using fundraisers such as the annual carnival, helps us to pull through such hard times.

kr said...

I wasn't meaning to be viscious or sarcastic. It seems like it would be nice to have more financial security in parish life. But your argument about popularity doesn't hold, universally, is all.

little-cicero said...

Consider that those who attend church are more obligated to donate than are the recipients of aid from the church. The poor Latinos surrounding the church give some money, but most of it comes from the Italian old guard. When down on their luck, the Latinos recieve the money- which is great, but any concern with church attendance is not really about getting the Latinos in (although my father is the lone voice insisting that this is necessary for the survival of the parish). The poor will come for money with or without coming to mass, so for purposes of this conversation, consider them non-sequitors. You can count on an average donation from each parishoner, so get as many parishoners as possible, then spend the money on a fixed number of needy on which it must be spent.

Concise version: The output is fixed; the input is flexible, and the two are barely related fiscally speaking.

little-cicero said...

By the way, I sensed impoliteness in the wording, which I was surprised at, but something in the back of my mind insisted that I was mistaken. No offense taken, but I do get the whole "Sheltered suburbanite" number a lot- even from Time, which was strange since he didn't know me beyond my alter-ego. Anyway...

Faustus, M.D. said...

I used to sing in the choir at Smoky Mary's, which has the most beautiful acoustic this side of Europe. They seemed to be navigating a slightly Low-Church-ward course, which troubled me. One Sunday we sang a gospel number and I thought it was hideous. I love gospel music, and this was a good arrangement, but it just didn't make any sense in that room. While I was there they also stopped doing--oh, crap, was it a tenebrae service?--something very High-Churchy and fabulous.

Anyway, you're right about its being the gayest congregation ever. Apparently in the 60s they decided to do a festival of lessons and carols, and they wanted a child to lead the procession, but not only did none of them have any children, none of them even knew any children, so they called Equity and hired a child actor for the part. Apparently he discharged his duties with aplomb.

anthony at 7:13 am: step into any synagogue you walk by.

Ttony said...

One point: the Holy Spirit didn't empower the apostles to speak in lots of languages. The apostles all spoke Aramaic: the miracle was that Parthians, Medes, Elamites, etc all understood.

Andy said...

Ttony: Not so, according to the NRSV (Acts 2:4): "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." I know this passage fairly well, as it is one of my personal favorites. Why? Because when the skeptics hear the apostles speaking in all these crazy languages, they say, "They must be drunk!"

And then Peter comes to their defense with one of the most (unintentionally?) hilarious comebacks in the entire Bible: "These are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning."

kr said...

ttony--Although I agree with you on the text, the alternate asserion is not outlandish, based on experience in contemporary charismatic Christian communities. For instance, I know one person who prophecized in a language she didn't know (German).

kr said...

Oop, I stand corrected--doh!

Also, though, Andy, the whole drunk thing (now that I have been reminded of it--dude, I have GOT to unpack my Bibles!) has often been touted as suggesting they were speaking in "Tongues," which made it especially confusing to the folks who were given the Gift of Understanding ...

bbfn :)

little-cicero said...

Andy, you have inspired me to write a post about ritual.

The Law Fairy said...

Oooo.

Chiming in late here, but I think you're completely right on, Andy (surprise, surprise...)

Case in point: I'm in the process of (erm, finally) becoming a member of a fantastic Episcopal church here in Los Angeles, St. Thomas in Hollywood. It's *extremely* high church and about as Catholic as Episcopal churches get -- incense, Latin anthems, chanted (sung) collects. It's also VERY gay and VERY Hollywood. Even though the priests don't particularly go political with their sermons, a radical religious leftist would feel quite at home in this church.

For someone like me -- raised in uber-conservative AND modern churches (Maranatha praise albums, guitars instead of organs, updated English Bible translations) -- it's the exact opposite of how I was raised and, interestingly enough, the perfect "fit" for me.

Crazy Catholic said...

I think a major frustration for those who prefer the traditional mass stems from the fact that when one reads the Vatican II document on liturgical reform, one finds a major disconnect between what the council wanted and what we ended up with. People always talk about how Vatican II "mandated" a switch to vernacular, "mandated" that the altars be turned around and churches renovated, "mandated" that traditional music be tossed out, etc etc. Yet when you read the document itself you find that Latin was to be retained and that all are asked that steps be taken so that the faithful can sing the parts of mass that pertain to them *in Latin.* The direction of the priest was never brought up, and liturgical books produced after the council still acted as though the pre-Vatican II position of the priest "with his back to the people" was still the norm. Communion standing and in the hand was never intended, the church's glorious tradition of music was held up as its greatest treasure, and gregorian chant was to be given "pride of place" in Mass. Vernacular was to be introduced where it would be most beneficial - like the parts of mass that change week, but Latin was never supposed to vanish, and the mass was to be trimmed a little bit to get rid of useless repetitons - it wasn't supposed to be overhauled like it was.

When you get right down to it and read the actual document from the council, you pretty much conclude that the council wanted mild reforms that did not create a break with long-standing tradition. The pre-Vatican II mass, oddly enough, is closer to what the council envisioned than the post Vatican II mass is.

Also, I don't agree that that a seven year old should not be subjected to the church's liturigical heritage - I've heard of children being taught Latin chant and even liking it. Heck, my mother, who was born in the early 50's, sang in a children's choir and everything was in Latin.

little-cicero said...

Come to think of it, I know someone who attends Roman Catholic Latin Mass weekly (hey- whatever gets his spirit flowing. Unfortunately because of our discussion on that matter, he'll probably ask that I join him at some point.) These masses have been held since Vatican II, so I suppose this is just a suggestion- an endorsement of the Latin option designed to add defacto equality to the options already at hand.

crazy catholic said...

The pre Vatican II mass has been allowed since 1984 or so - providing the local bishop approves of it. The problem is that many bishops are hostile to the old mass and refuse to grant permission, or when they grant permission they only allow the mass to be said in odd locations at odd times, even changing the time and location on a weekly basis so that it's hard for people to attend it regularly. I've also heard of Latin mass churches not being allowed to post mass times or publicize the mass. This new motu proprio would allow those who desire the mass to bypass the bishop, because so many bishops have ignored Pope John Paul II's desire that anyone who is attached to the old mass be given it.

And of course, the new mass can be celebreated in Latin with all the music and smells and bells of the old mass. Indeed, I've heard that part of the reason the Pope is granting universal permission for the old mass is that he thinks it will be a positive influence on the new mass - encouraging a greater use of Latin, etc.

kr said...

Unfortunately ... he'll probably ask that I join him at some point
Hey, LC, it looks like you and I agree on something ;).

All of the discussions on the topic by learned Catholics I've ever been exposed to (many) agree with Crazy Catholic: "The Reforms of Vatican II" were not actually "of Vatican II," and the Latin was never supposed to even become subsidiary, much less was it supposed to disappear altogether.

PJPII was heavily involved in Vatican II; I assume Benedict/Ratsinger was as well. While I do not myself love the Latin (Gregorian chant OK, post-medieval frippery, not so much), I am glad to see the higher-ups sticking to the decisions that were made in Council (thereby being appropriately anti-heirarchical).

Aethernaut said...

"I really deeply believe what matters most to God is sincerity, rather than doctrine."

Terrorist suicide bombers are sincere, KKK members are God-fearingly sincere, the Phelps family are sincere...

God help us if sincerity is what counts most. A critical look at our doctrine and liturgical practises is essential to informed spirituality. What matters most, and the judge of our doctrine and liturgy, is precisely how much our lives are transformed into the living presence of Christ in the world, traditionally stated, our own "holiness of life", judged by the standard of Christ's example.

God deliver us from the sincerity of anyone who just "feels right" or is simply sincere about what he is doing, unfetterd by the checks and balances of conformity to the Master who came to serve.

If the Tridentine Rite enables someone to be more Godly, more an example of living holiness, more of a visible witness to the joy God intends for all of us -"the fruit of good living"- if that Liturgy brings someone to embody the Beatitudes, then it should not only be available, but commended to that person.

If it does not bring out these things, the sincerity of anyone for that, or any other liturgy, accounts for little, if not nothing.

The call of Christ is a call to the sweet joy and daily cross of holiness of life in the reign of God. That fundamental doctrine should inform all of our liturgical practise.

Andy said...

Aethernaut: great comment. I didn't say sincerity was the *only* thing, but I think it's undervalued. I wasn't endorsing a "whatever feels right" religious aesthetic. I'm simply saying I think it's important for people to express their faith (and their faith is defined and guided by doctrine and scripture) in the worship setting that feels authentic, genuine, or organic to them. Whether that means we feel a strong sense of connection to ancient rituals and traditions or whether we feel that is all so much "frippery," our worship expression has to be sincere. I didn't mean that God will be happy as long as one sincerely hates fags, I meant that I'm pretty sure that God doesn't give a connubium citivolus whether you worship in Latin with incense or in a storefront with a guitar in Norwegian.

Anonymous said...

hey, the Norwegians have a long, honored tradition of story and song ... sans guitar ...

Apostolic Anchoress / Rowena Hullfire said...

Being incarnate beings, made in the image and likeness of the One Infinite God, we are diverse in our senses and minds and how our "disk is formatted." (Although that's probably an obsolete metaphor now.) --Not a matter of right and wrong, just different facets of the one diamond, the vast and infinite intelligent goodness that is God. No one of us finite creatures can capture or conceive of the infinite Beauty of God, so all our differences added together give us a hint.

We have different resonances to stir up the Spirit.

Go where you resonate!

And different people resonate differently, and one person can have different resonances at different moments in their life.

I like occasional TLM and I like occasional put-your-hands-in-the- air-and-wave-them-like-you-just-
don't-care pentecostal charismatic Catholic worship; best of all I like the NO - EP4; I can sing chant and polyphony and Mozart and dePalestrina and Haugen and Haas and Millenium Three and the Southern Musical and Harmony Companion. I don't like inappropriate mixing of disparate styles; but each is heartfelt, good worship of God.

I really get irked the TLM enthusiasts or charismatic renewal Catholics (or any lay ecclesial movement, spirituality, group, etc.) start getting all prideful like they know what's best for everybody else. "No salvation outside of us!" Puhleeze.

My sibs left RC for ECUSA because of bad RC music, now it's coming to them anyway because the rest of their parish likes it. Ha!

I ended my resistance to RC schlocky music, a decision of the will out of charity, and now I sing it wholeheartedly and spontaneously change the words of the Pelagian stuff and sing it loud until everyone else submits to my lyrics. HA! (We shall build the City of God, First Person Voice of God lyrics, We rise again from ashes and create ourselves anew. Yuck.)

You the Lord of sea and sky
You have heard Your people's cry...

get my drift?

It hurts less if you don't tense yourself in resistance. Ha!

Apostolic Anchoress / Rowena Hullfire said...

Last ditch desperate panic button move for bad music:

You can always go to the bathroom or go help set up for coffee hour / the agape feast. The latter task makes you look good and you can say you have a Martha spirituality.

DavidJustinLynch said...

In Episcopal circles one can find many parishes which are socially liberal but liturgically very, very traditional. Examples would include Trinity, St. Louis, MO; St. John the Evangelist, Boston, MA; Christ Church, New Haven, CT; St. Andrews, Buffalo, NY; St. Ignatius, NYC, NY; St. Thomas, Hollywood, CA; St. Marys, Palms, CA; Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco, CA; St. Pauls, Sacramento, CA; and many others. Many, but not all, female priests are Anglo-Catholics, particularly the ones who have come from Rome because they couldn't get ordained there. I was raised in a progressive Anglo-Catholic parish and I believe in transubstantion, the Assumption, and the Immacuate Conception, and Solemn High Mass is my preferred worship style. Yet I am pro-choice, pro same-sex marriage, anti-war, and pro social justice. It all fits naturally for me, as it does for many other Episcopalians.

Alogon said...

Social liberalism and liturgical conservatism have gone together, at the latest, ever since the ministry of the Tractarian Edward Bouverie Pusey in the 1840s. He and other Oxford Movement luminaries underwrote and supported many mission churches in the slums of England, passionate both in their glorious liturgies and music, and in their practical works to relieve the lot of the poor and marginalized. They were often assailed by demonstrations and riots from middle-class outsiders. I'm not sure why these folk found them so objectionable, but suspect it was because what the congregations experienced in these churches was dangerously ennobling: the poor mustn't be treated so well-- they don't deserve such splendor, and it will make them uppity. The protesters probably also sensed a threat in the corporate emphasis of Catholicism, in contrast to the almost solipsistic individualism of protestant spirituality, which made it so much easier to divide and conquer. Ever since, Anglo-Catholics have been among the most socially and politically progressive Anglicans. For a stirring contemporary witness, see the web site www.anglocatholicsocialism.org.

We can see this heritage today in the vast difference between Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Bishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. South Africa has inherited the high church tradition, whereas most other African countries have not.

I can believe it if somene tells me that he is any two of traditionalist, Republican, and Anglo-Catholic, but not all three. Think about it: it doesn't compute.

As for Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio, I happened to a guest in the men's schola of a Roman Catholic church in suburban D.C. on the first Sunday after its promulgation. As was often the case in this parish, the mass was in Latin and most of the music was Gregorian chant. The entire liturgy was almost more of a class act than I could believe the RC church capable anymore. Immediately following the mass itself, we sang a solemn Te Deum of thanksgiving for the Pope's
proclamation, complete with ringing of bells. There were tears of joy in many an eye. How making it easier for decent, law-abiding, tasteful people to recover a beautiful tradition dear to them in worshiping God can be lamented by a soi-disant "liberal" boggles my mind.