May I beg of your charity the use of your columns to reply to those recent correspondents of yours (December 14) signing themselves Nigel P. Bavidge. G.
M. Stothard, John P. Evans, E. S. Preston. Philip Turner and Mary Thomas — all of whom, as the tone of their letters suggest, might well be doctors. not merely in theology. but of the Church?
For them to he able to measure immediately the immense gap existing between the height of their lights and my lowly darkness, I will begin by declaring that what they have written about me and my article of November 30, to which you gave the title "So-Called Renewal," strikes me not as confusing but as very confused.
Indeed, if I take each of their sentences in isolatiOn, I can, with total candour and no effort, agree with every one of them. Only the truth they express appears to me in each case quite irrelevant to the article.
I fail to see, for instance. why the renewal—to speak as the French do — the conversion we arc in continual need of so as to he more charitable towards the poor. more compassionate towards the suffering, more concerned with the persecuted. should require a liturgical revolution.
1 would even maintain, obtuse as I am, together with all the other Doctors of the Church in previous centuries, and with the Apostles, and with Our Lord himself, if one is to believe his saying about "the better part," that it is precisely by "kneeling before the altar in comfortable (and why not rapturous) contemplation," as writes Mr. Preston, that one builds up the sort of strength necessary for becoming a St. Vincent de Paul.
I also fail to see why one should take with blind faith any decree emanating from the reigning Sovereign Pontiff or his immediate predecessor — both incidentally. almost life-long personal friends of mine — and why one should not attach the same importance to all the decisions and teachings of all the other Popes.
Reigns in the Church, I would maintain most stubbornly. are not successive but cumulative. Hence I consider it the duty of the members of religious orders. male and female, who are the official thinkers and "beacons" of the Church, to detect the connections and warn against the discrepancies, as did St. Jerome and St. Bernard, St. Catherine and St. Theresa. John Henry Newman and Teilhard. On such grounds I would ask Mr. Turner how he can reply by a single and sweeping ‘"No' to the four questions I put in my article on the position and responsibility of the Throne of St. Peter in the international world and the order of civilisation. when a long succession of encyclicals throughout the centuries including the first one of the reign of Paul VI, and the very decor and setting of the Vatican, and some of the prophecies in Scripture would more than suggest that the answer is "Yes."
Given, besides. that my article was nothing but a series of searching interrogations which he found — it is his own term "most disturbing," Mr. Stothard surprises me with his plea to me to "think, learn and criticise."
Is it not precisely because I have thought and learnt critically that I have come to the con clusion that when one is in possession of a treasure. such as the former Latin liturgy, which had proved its value over centuries, in all parts of the world, and has inspired innumerable saints, it is far wiser to preserve than to innovate?
Moreover. if I entered the seminary at 36 and renounced then a profession that I loved and for which I felt born, it was because I had participated in Mass so pers,,nally and so deep ly that it revealed to me the Lord Jesus. as directly as he was before Mary in the garden. after he had pronounced her name.
But now that the Mass has become similar in its human clothing to a combination of a very vulgar choir-practice and a no less mediocre gymnastic lesson. and is furthermore turned away from Christ's Real presence in the tabernacle or his figure on the Cross, that type of man-to-man encounter with the Saviour is humanly ruled out.
As for Mr. Bavidge, who accuses me of disregarding the Holy Spirit, would he allow me to ask him whether it was not the same Holy Spirit who favoured Christianity at the appropriate moment with three religious writers who have not their like in the whole history of literature — St. Jerome, Luther and Cranmer; and who therefore appointed them Himself. For my unshakeable paracletic faith is to provide the Church in its three main Western branches with 'an everlasting and ever-inspiring form of prayer.
May I ask him also, since he states — and to my Mind rightly — that "Mass is for the whole world," and not only for the congregation actually present, whether the form of Mass to be preferred ought not to be that which helps the celebrant and not the "president" — to transcend time and place. and to he transfigured into another Christ. for the benefit, among others, of any who might happen to be there.
I must still claim, at the risk of being considered an abominable blue-stocking, that the image of the Church as Noah's Ark is no invention of mine, but of the Almighty in Person. For it is in order to prophesy the part that the Church is to play in humanity that the Ark figures in the Bible.
Nor did Our Lord climb to Calvary in the nude, as one of your correspondents seems to suppose. but clad in a robe of high price and even luxury, generally referred to as "the coat without seam."
Finally, to Mary Thomas, who writes: "Who on earth is Fr. Jean Charles-Roux, author of the article 'So-Called Renewal,' in your issue of November 30? Poor Soul!" I will dare to confide that were she to participate in Mass as I offer it, that is while giving Our Lord a chance to he heard and share with us his sight, she would know me as well as I do her. Dear soul!
(Fr.) Jean Charles-Roux St. Etheldreda's Ely Place, London, E.C.I.
Fr. Charles-Roux's article of November 30 on Renewal in the Church may he fairly representative of the views and sentiments of a number of Catholics today who regard with disdain and suspicion anything that departs from the oldestablished order dating back to pre-Council days.
There is no doubt that many devout people, particularly among the older generation, are genuinely bewildered and confused by the changes which have taken place and by which they are themselves intimately affected. Maybe not enough has been done, within the guidelines of the Council, to satisfy their nostalgia for the old, timehallowed ceremonies of their younger days. At the same time more enlightenment could be given concerning the meaning and purpose of the new rites.
Having said this, I must confess surprise at some Of Fr. Charles-Roux's innuendos. He is obviously concerned for the welfare of the Church and feels deeply about the Tridentine Liturgy, which is to his credit, But to imply that this particular rite was meant to last for all time is absurd, as is to call into question the value of the Normative Mass.
The Church is the Body of Christ. It is a living organism, continuously developing. There is no ground for thinking that it reached maturity in the Tridentine Rite. Neither has anything come out of the second Vatican COuncil to lend credence to the suggestion that the Catholic Church has revised or compromised its fundamental beliefs, for Truth is eternal and immutable — as Fr. CharlesRoux must know and acknowledge, otherwise he would he guilty of heresy, of which I will not accuse him.
The reference to Pope John as a caretaker Pope, who went beyond the terms of his election in calling the Council, is also grossly unfair. Sooner or later the Church had to face up to the fact that we are living in a climate of change and that ways had to be found of better conveying the Message of Christ to a world which was becoming more and more secularised and materialistic.
I believe that even without a Council the Church would have had 'to up-date itself in order to remain meaningful in this modern age—'to become more extrovert, less introvert. As a result of the Council and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit these changes are at least controlled and carried out under proper authority and supervision.
It was inevitable that some lukewarm Catholics. to whom their Faith never meant very much anyway, have found in them an excuse for lapsing even more or getting out altogether. It is equally true, though regrettable, that abuses have occurred and that occasionally doubtful theories have been put forward.
I am, nevertheless, convinced, that when the dust has finally settled, a healthier and more influential Church will emerge. If at some future date another Pope would embark on another Council of Renewal, some Catholics will surely again feel as passionately about the Normative Mass were it to be replaced by a revised rite, as Fr. Charles-Roux and others do about the Tridentine Rite Christ promised that he would he with his Church till the end of time. To suggest that the present Renewal is contrary to the will of God is to deny Christ's own words. This, 1 am sure, Fr. Charles-Roux would never do.
G. P. Stroucken 13 Holmer Road, Hereford.
Miss Merryn Howell (December 21) really should not try to defend Fr. Charles-Roux. Unless he is very careful, the latter will be defending the dominance of the Church by the State, which, it' I remember aright, is a heresy — possibly that of Erastianism.
Anyway, one has but to recall a little history to see its bad effects. Fr. Charles-Roux need look no further than his own France to see the had effects after centuries — of Simon de Montfort and his antiAlbigensian campaign. Visitors from England say that in country churches they arc a large proportion of the congregation.
The French resent religion practised pour le respect humain — because It is "the thing", and are contemptuous of it. After all, by a miracle of really bad popular philology, they derive Paris from parresia — the Greek word for free speech.
T. S. Williams Winterfuld House School.
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