Proust on Cathedrals and the Mass.
#1
This is a very good article by the great Marcel Proust, translated for and published on Rorate. And I do emphasize that this is a very good article, which I highly recommend.

Proust argues against a bill that sought to decommission churches in France. He says that this will inevitably destroy the churches (he focus, for rhetoric reasons, on cathedrals), because without the first purpose for which they were made they lose their meaning (indeed, intentionality gives meaning), and even says that without the sacrifice of the Mass the buildings are dead:

Quote:Today there is not one socialist endowed with taste who doesn’t deplore the mutilations the Revolution visited upon our cathedrals: so many shattered statues and stained-glass windows! Well: better to ransack a church than to decommission it. As mutilated as a church may be, so long as the Mass is celebrated there, it retains at least some life. Once a church is decommissioned it dies, and though as an historical monument it may be protected from scandalous uses, it is no more than a museum. One may say to churches what Jesus said to His disciples: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you” (Jn 6:54). These somewhat mysterious yet profound words become, with this new usage, an aesthetic and architectural axiom. When the sacrifice of Christ’s flesh and blood, the sacrifice of the Mass, is no longer celebrated in our churches, they will have no life left in them. Catholic liturgy and the architecture and sculpture of our cathedrals form a whole, for they stem from the same symbolism.

He says that if the Church were to lose its Rite (how tragic!), even if scholars and actors were to carefully reconstruct the Mass—and many would, he claims, pay much money to see such reconstructions of the Rite that is/was the apex of art—something would indeed be lost, because faith was not there.
By the way, isn't that how we feel when we see a Bach cantata performed (sometimes even in “churches”)? Or the many religious music outside the Liturgy, or even artistic performances in churches? At least I feel very odd, maybe because I have the faith and its strange to see it so separated from the life that it should give.

Then he goes on through the symbolism of the Mass, giving bits of examples of its richness.

I wasn't expecting this article. I loved Proust when I was a boy—well, all right, every boy likes to read Proust, I suppose—but to see he speaking of the Mass in such genuinely Catholic terms and to defend the Mass not only as an aesthetic piece (though he obviously considers it that, albeit the supreme aesthetic piece) was indeed surprising. He sounds more Catholic then many priests!

Really, its reading such things that reveal a culture that was already in decline but still far superior than ours that I can understand Nietzsche's fears that we would turn up as insects by “killing God”. And to think the Church herself—at least in her human element—was complicit with such barbarism is truly sad.

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/01...rable.html
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#2
Yes, this is very much worth reading. I especially liked the examples of symbolism.

“The deep and sorrowful chant of the Introit opens the ceremony: it proclaims the expectation of the patriarchs and prophets. The clergy are in choir, the choir of the saints of the old Law who yearn for the coming of the Messias and do not see Him. Then the bishop enters and appears as the living image of Jesus Christ. His arrival symbolizes the Advent of the Lord that the nations await. On great feast days, seven torches are born before him to recall that, as the prophet says, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost rest upon the head of the Son of God. He processes under a triumphant canopy whose four bearers may be likened to the four Evangelists. Two acolytes walk to this right and left and represent Moses and Elias, who appeared at Mount Tabor on either side of Christ. They teach that Jesus held the authority of the Law and of the Prophets.

                The bishop sits on this throne and remains silent. He seems to take no part in the first part of the ceremony. His behavior contains a teaching: his silence recalls that the first years of the life of Christ were unknown and recollected. Meanwhile the subdeacon reaches the pulpit and reads the Epistle aloud towards the right. Here we catch a glimpse of the first act in the drama of our Redemption.

                This reading of the Epistle is the preaching of Saint John the Baptist in the desert. He speaks before the Saviour has begun to make Himself heard, but he speaks only to the Jews. For this reason, the subdeacon, an image of the Precursor, turns to the North, the direction of the Old Law. Once the lesson is read, he bows before the bishop, just as the Precursor bowed before Jesus Christ.

                The chanting of the Gradual follows the reading of the Epistle. It, too, refers to the mission of Saint John the Baptist: it symbolizes the exhortation to penance he directed towards the Jews on the eve of the new era.

                At last the celebrant reads the Gospel. This is a solemn moment, for this is where the Messias’s active life begins: for the first time, His voice is heard in the world. The reading of the Gospel is the very figure of his preaching."
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#3
I thought this might make its way onto Fisheaters. Thank you, Renatus Frater.

Unfortunately, the beauty of the article became ironic when I read this:

Quote:"alas, such things are as far from us as the pious enthusiasm of the Greeks at their theater performances, and our ‘reconstitutions’ cannot give a faithful idea of them.”

That is what one would say if the Catholic religion no longer existed and if scholars had been able to rediscover its rites, if artists had tried to bring them back for us. But the point is that it still does exist and has not changed, as it were, since the great century when the cathedrals were built.

Reading stuff like this really depresses me. It's a sort of backwards anti-prophecy. Most certainly the sacred liturgy has changed, and the Faith with it. I always find it darkly amusing how the Catholic - and not-so-Catholic - writers of the early 20th century banked so much on the unchanging nature of Rome and Her worship. Hopefully some day the dodos in the hierarchy will realize what they've done and return to Catholic rites.
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#4
(01-14-2015, 08:46 AM)Heorot Wrote: I thought this might make its way onto Fisheaters. Thank you, Renatus Frater.

Unfortunately, the beauty of the article became ironic when I read this:

Quote:"alas, such things are as far from us as the pious enthusiasm of the Greeks at their theater performances, and our ‘reconstitutions’ cannot give a faithful idea of them.”

That is what one would say if the Catholic religion no longer existed and if scholars had been able to rediscover its rites, if artists had tried to bring them back for us. But the point is that it still does exist and has not changed, as it were, since the great century when the cathedrals were built.

Reading stuff like this really depresses me. It's a sort of backwards anti-prophecy. Most certainly the sacred liturgy has changed, and the Faith with it. I always find it darkly amusing how the Catholic - and not-so-Catholic - writers of the early 20th century banked so much on the unchanging nature of Rome and Her worship. Hopefully some day the dodos in the hierarchy will realize what they've done and return to Catholic rites.

I agree.  Lately,  I've been making my way through a few of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson's works (I'm sure he is well known by denizens of this forum, he was an Anglican who converted and became a Catholic Priest/novelist in turn-of-the-century England) and the "unchanging nature of Rome and Her worship" is one pillar on which he always relies to hammer home the point that real Truth is found in the Catholic Church alone.  One example is his 1907 dystopian novel "Lord of the World" which depicts a futuristic world where everything has changed for the worse except for the Church, specifically the city of Rome itself, which remained totally untouched by the ideological and technological advancements of the secular world.  So yes, you can certainly see, for all their prophetic statements, few if any of the writers of the time anticipated that modernity would penetrate into Rome, and even into the Liturgy itself.  And this is depressing.
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#5
(01-14-2015, 10:50 AM)Christus_Vincit Wrote: I agree.  Lately,  I've been making my way through a few of Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson's works (I'm sure he is well known by denizens of this forum, he was an Anglican who converted and became a Catholic Priest/novelist in turn-of-the-century England) and the "unchanging nature of Rome and Her worship" is one pillar on which he always relies to hammer home the point that real Truth is found in the Catholic Church alone.  One example is his 1907 dystopian novel "Lord of the World" which depicts a futuristic world where everything has changed for the worse except for the Church, specifically the city of Rome itself, which remained totally untouched by the ideological and technological advancements of the secular world.  So yes, you can certainly see, for all their prophetic statements, few if any of the writers of the time anticipated that modernity would penetrate into Rome, and even into the Liturgy itself.  And this is depressing.

It seems to me that the mindset which says "let's appease the world" blossomed in the Church only because of the catastrophe that was the Second World War. Underneath the surface it was lingering since Pascendi Dominici gregis, but it had no power until the Holocaust "proved" how "extremism" and "absolutism" are dangerous. Somehow, the fact that Catholics were so absolute about their Faith disturbed the bishops following the War. Perhaps they thought that there might be new fascisms and nazisms arising because of Catholic Faith. They've certainly tried their best to make us Just Like Everyone Else in the last 50 years.

Thankfully, the post-WWII era was a flash in the pan, as far as Church History goes. I do have confidence that Catholicism will ride out this storm. The chaos was born of fear, after all, and only perfect love will cast out fear. We must show real, merciful love to the liturgical liberals and all others who are afraid of worshiping the glory of God, the absolute majesty of our Faith, and the purity of Truth in the clear light of the Roman Mass. Once they see that it isn't a thing of anger, mistrust, or legalism in us, they'll see that this fear of Being Completely Right was unfounded all along.

Proust really is to be commended for trying, despite his agnosticism. He unfolds the symbolism perfectly. I do love it. The Orthodox say that Vatican II's total contradiction of the expectations of Benson, Chesterton, Knox, Proust, et. al., is proof that Rome and her Magisterium is not of the Truth, for it has rejected Tradition - first among which is our most ancient Liturgical Tradition. I hope that the very thing which Proust said would never happen will be reversed in our generation and the one to come. In the end, only we can do it - by prayer and seeking ordination. Thanks to deprofundis for focusing on the positive aspects.
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