okt 272011

Liturgibloggen jeg nevnte for et par dager siden (av ukjent forfatter, og med ganske få innlegg og kommentarer) har enda et innlegg som jeg syns er ganske oppklarende. Det handler om hvordan man skal klare å rydde bort forstyrrende overbygninger over messen (det kan være musikk, arkitektur, fromhetsformer) som holder oss borte fram kjernen.

Jeg har i det siste tenkte en hel del på Pius X’s reform av messen i 1903, der han ønsket to ting; 1) å gjenopplive den gregorianske sangen og 2) å få lekfolket til å delta mer aktivt i messen – først og fremst gjennom å synge sine deler av messen. Dette var også den kanskje aller viktigste (og positive) deler av den liturgiske bevegelsen, helt fram til 1960. Jeg må innrømme at jeg ikke helt forstår at parallelle bønner (som ikke følger messens gang) noen gang kan ha vært ideelt – samtidig som jeg syns at reformatorne på slutten av 1960-tallet ikke klarte å fornye messen på en særlig god måte. Slik leser vi i bloggen – som starter med idealene og ønskene til biskopen i Trent:

… the Council (of Trent) considered banning all music that was not plainchant from the Liturgy (for the Liturgy is indeed larger than the Mass), and this highlights something very important and often overlooked about the Missal of 1570: that the Council sought to restrain artistic excess and bring in a more solemn manner of celebration.

This is, indeed, entirely in keeping with the aesthetic of the age: the new realism brought into the visual arts … This was not the exuberant mysticism of the high Middle Ages, but an attempt to return to the (perceived) simple dignity of the pre-medieval liturgy, and to couple with it the new realism. Gone are the icons, showing the saints in Glory; now we see the Saints as historical persons. I am convinced this is the reason for the ‘Roman-cut’ type of chasuble: a deliberate paring-down of the liturgical aesthetic from the ‘excesses’ of the highest gothic.

And yet, even by the close of the 16th Century, this trend is changing, both in liturgy and in art (which) marks a transition toward the baroque. There are many things which can be said of the baroque, but it is neither restrained nor is it solemn. The word which must be used, if a single word can be chosen to encompass such a movement, is exuberance. The baroque overflows with joy, with verve, with motion and ornamentation. This aesthetic, over the 17th and 18th centuries, sweeps Europe, and the Church is swept up with it.

… Ornamentation, filligree, little gold swirls and curlicues: these become the artistic order of the day. Music becomes grand and ornamented, to fill the new, grand and ornamented spaces around it. This will culminate in Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, each expressing a variation upon this sense of cornucopia. …..

There is something interesting going on here. The aesthetic that the Tridentine Era began with – realistic, classicising, solemn – has been transfigured. Baroque architecture, beginning from the classical orders, does the most peculiar and distorting things; the musical order which was to be solemn and dignified becomes exotic and exuberant; the art which began as realistic and earthy becomes as surreal as it is sentimental.

And yet the rubrics of the Mass remain rooted in 16th Century rigorism; precise, exacting, ground exceeding small. Yet on top of this, we have an outpouring which is, while undoubtedly adhering to a structure, beyond the wildest dreams of the most riotous medieval liturgist!

In the 19th Century, the Church, failing to truly re-embrace the Greek and later Gothic styles that became the fashion in Northern Europe, instead adapts the overriding aesthetic ethos of the day to its own aesthetic. That is, to summarise very briefly, that over the top of the exuberance of the baroque is layered the overwhelming sentimentalism of Romanticism. ….

…. The most bizarre thing here is that this is, to many, Tradition with a big ‘T’. The very thing which the Council of Trent reviled is become the keystone of archaism! The idea that the Church should be a space for collective solemnity, encounter with the numinous, and terror before the Lord, to “stand in fear and trembling”, has become obtenebrated (though neither destroyed nor totally obscured) in a miasma of emotionally-charged, personal devotion; a…. ‘papering-over’ of the liturgy with personal devotions.

It was in this situation, then, that the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council sought a reformation of the Liturgy, and in this context that restrictions were lifted and the aesthetic changed. And the Church, for the first time in 400 years, attempted to catch up with modern art.

The essential point here is this: First, that Tradition is not always where it seems to be; second, that the state of the Church today is as much the result of the final collapse of Tridentinism as it is the result of errors or misconceptions in the new Church; and third that history does indeed repeat itself, though not always identically.

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