Monday, February 12, 2007

LOSS, ARCHAEOLOGY, and RECOVERY

Daniel Mitsui has a two-part article on the loss of religious iconography in art and patristic understanding of scripture, and what can be done about it.
Many Roman Catholic traditionalists are understandably nervous about any advocacy of a return to more ancient principles in ecclesiastical tradition, because they have seen such arguments dishonestly applied by modernists and iconoclasts of the last half-century. Wishing to protect whatever has survived of Roman Catholic tradition, they suspiciously view it as the sort of archaeologism condemned by Pius XII....

The surest guide to knowing these principles is the witness of the Church Fathers. When Christians emerged from the catacombs to openly profess their faith without the constraints imposed by persecution, they formulated the truths that they had received from the Apostles in dogma, liturgy, monachism, exegesis, mysticism, and iconography. It has been a universal conviction of the Catholic Church, magisterially expressed countless times, to accord the Church Fathers a qualitatively superior authority to later thinkers on these matters. Continuity with them is an essential element of authentic Christianity, because it is continuity with the Apostles.

Yet their principles have been so widely neglected in contemporary Roman Catholicism that a sanctified appreciation for divine worship, a deference to patristic witness; a didactic and traditional iconography with arrangement and content dictated by their exegesis; and a devotion animated by the same mentality are often considered peculiarities of the Orthodox East. They are not; they are the inheritance of the entire apostolic Church....
LOSS, ARCHAEOLOGY, and RECOVERY, part I
LOSS, ARCHAEOLOGY, and RECOVERY, part II

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