Guéranger and Newman

9 08 2010

Scattered jottings on historical theology

From this site:

Directly and indirectly he helped assure definition of the two great dogmas that were defined in the nineteenth century, that of the Immaculate Conception and that of papal infallibility. After championing for decades the substitution of the Roman liturgy for the hodge-podge of local rites that existed in France — the legacy of too many years of rampant Gallicanism — he saw his desire fulfilled before leaving this world in 1875. Above all, he presided over the rebirth of French monasticism, and, through it — even if he did not live to see the further development — the rebirth of religious life elsewhere. This last achievement can be seen as it ought only if it is recalled that less than 15 years before his birth in 1805 the practice of the Faith had been made illegal in France by a revolutionary government…

Yet, not long afterward, Bishop de la Myre would grant Fr. Guéranger permission to use the Roman Missal and breviary, a privilege that perhaps was not enjoyed by any other priest in the Diocese of Le Mans. Rome’s liturgical books enabled him, he tells us, to “enter ever more deeply into the inmost consciousness of the Church.”

When reading this essay, it became evident to me that much of what people consider “tradition” in the Western church is a product of rupture. What, for example, would drive the young Fr. Guéranger to want to say the Mass as used in Rome as opposed to the local missal? Perhaps it was the idea that the Gallican liturgies were less pure, that they had been meddled with by the Jansenists and rationalists, and so forth. But the Tridentine missal, while based on antiquarian sources, was not much older than they were. So authenticity does not seem to be a valid reason.
Read the rest of this entry »