Saturday, October 01, 2005

Abuse and Reform

Most readers are aware of liturgical abuse of recent decades, but this is hardly new. During the Renaissance, we are told that scholars wanted to recover 'classical purity' in the Latin language. But what exactly did this mean?

Some wanted to retranslate the liturgy into Ciceronian Latin. But how about this abuse: Begetting of the Word was to be "Minerva Jovis capite orta"; the Holy Spirit was "Aura Zephyri coelestis"; the Trinity, "Triforme Numen Olympi"; and "Natus Eumolpho Lyricenque Sappho . . . Thracius Orpheus", referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary. All classical, and all thoroughly pagan.

Art became more classical during the Renaissance. Insofar as it encouraged high technique and classical realism, it was good, but when scenes from pagan mythology started appearing in Catholic churches, it went way too far. The iconoclasm of the Protestant rebellion is probably directly related to this Renaissance trend.

We are living in what is perhaps the tail end of another era of liturgical abuse, with more pagan influence in our liturgy and art. And this current paganization has emptied Catholic churches and has filled the halls of the Pentecostals and Fundamentalists.

The Renaissance ended with a sweeping resacralization of liturgy, which lasted nearly 400 years. Perhaps Pope Benedict could do the same.

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