relationship of theology and liturgy (specifically at Franciscan University)
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    I firmly believe that theology and liturgy are inextricably linked: that orthodox theology produces traditional liturgy; likewise, theological innovation produces liturgical innovation. (and the opposite of them both, too, with orthodox liturgy/liturgical innovation affecting theology.)

    I'm curious as to whether I am right that it is a causal relationship, or if it is just correlation. Also, I wonder how this specifically relates to Franciscan University. That's the school I'm attending now (I'm one of two Orthodox people I know of on campus). I love it here. The academics are just what I was looking for, and the theology is very sound. It is unapologetically Catholic, and that's actually what I like about it--of course I disagree with certain things, but the honesty and integrity of the faith here is admirable. Dialogue can only really take place when people are honest, direct, and knowledgeable about their own faith. I feel as though I've had many edifying experiences of dialogue between my orthodox perspective and the catholic perspective of this place.

    So, while the theology here is definitely "small-o" orthodox on the Catholic front, the liturgy is not traditional by any means. At its best, it is the same as the normal situation in America right now. At it's worst, it's rock-n-roll Jesus.

    I actually have only gone to Mass here twice. First time was a daily Mass during my campus tour. The ordinaries were ugly settings but they used an organ, at least; the homily was stellar, patens/ciboria (sp?) handled only by priests (although they had an army of EMCs with chalices), and the piety of the people there impressive--almost everyone knelt to pray afterward for a significant amount of time, and chit-chat was reserved for outside the chapel. Of course the normal complaints about versus populum and whatever else still stand.

    The second Mass I went to was the convocation Mass, which had a very hard time achieving a sacred atmosphere because it was held in the gym. The music was over-the-top Western choral music with a huge choir and a brass ensemble which seemed to drown out everything. The hymns were theologically sound ones, but still hymns. I can't even remember anything about the homily (why I care so much about the homily probably has to do with my protestant upbringing), and they had so many priests concelebrating it seemed they were having a party at the altar. (I guess I think the way concelebration is handled in the West is a little stilted anyway.)

    I asked my friends about other Masses, though, and apparently all the ones I didn't attend during Orientation weekend were rock-n-roll Jesus. Glad I missed them, actually.

    Anyway, Franciscan University has a bad reputation for liturgy, actually, since its charismatic revivalist phase. Yet, the place now is one of the beacons of conservative Catholic theology in the United States. How is this possible, and will that elevate the liturgy or will the liturgy eventually drag them down again?

    On a somewhat sad note, I auditioned for the schola and didn't get in. Being able to read Gregorian chant notation got me brownie points, but there were very few slots open and I'm really just an average singer. Oh well. I'll learn a whole bunch of Vespers music and sing with matushka at Holy Resurrection, instead.
  • "I firmly believe that theology and liturgy are inextricably linked: that orthodox theology produces traditional liturgy"

    Obviously, this isn't the you can see at FUS, and as I've seen many places.

    Maybe it might be more accurate to say orthodox LITURGICAL theology produces traditional liturgy.
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159
    I think your apprehensions, Jam, are not unfounded. Just the opposite.

    Oroukebr, I would not jump to the "obviously" position on this subject too quickly. (Please check the link below). The overall tone of the campus indeed may be "conservative" but I don't think we should equate Catholic "conservatism" with orthodoxy, and certainly it has been my experience that so called Catholic "conservatives" are quite distinct from "traditionalists," and while both might be thought to be conservative from a secularist perspective, and indeed, have many shared traits and attitudes about the faith, many of their respective views concerning church matters can be radically different, most notably concerning things liturgical, but I would not say that it ends there. This has been a surprise to me personally, as I just started becoming aware of the traditionalist movement within the last few years, and would have thought them to be one and the same thing before that.

    I do, personally, think that a theology divorced from tradition and orthodoxy, liturgically speaking, is questionable and probably is flawed in not insignificant ways.

    Choice reading, the second comment on the page from the theology major.

    Could we draw from this account that "sloppy" or "squshy" or just plain "non-traditional" liturgical practice leads to that kind of theology department? Lots of room for debate here, and I don't think this (Francisan U. Steubenville experience) is a "slam dunk" for the idea that one does not affect the other. How about the idea that lex orandi, lex credendi? I think it still does, and must, hold true.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    Friends of mine who have attended in the past 4-5 years have noted an increasing attendance of the EF at FUS and also a general distancing of the university from its charismatic movement roots. It's hearsay, but...
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "Obviously, this isn't the case..."

    I mean over the course of generations, if the theology is consistently orthodox, the liturgy will grow more and more traditional. So while it is possible for orthodox theology to exist simultaneously with innovative liturgy, as time passes one or the other will change to match its partner. The reason the liturgy here is so messed up is because their theology got really messed up in the past, actually. So the relationship held true then and corrupted the liturgy. Now the liturgy is still corrupted but as they get back on track theologically I think the liturgy will get back on track. (I am not talking about these kinds of things happening within my lifetime, just in general in the church at large.)

    "certainly it has been my experience that so called Catholic 'conservatives' are quite distinct from 'traditionalists'"

    I feel like that is right, but I can't explain it, exactly. I see conservatism on this campus as meaning a great desire to know and follow what the church teaches. Many of the students here were badly catechized, but they have a desire to learn about the past, and to know what the church teaches, and I'm sure that when they learn how much the Pope loves Gregorian chant etc., then they'll love it too. Even the people here who like rock-n-roll Jesus don't have a PROBLEM with latin and chant like some old-guard folk Mass people have a PROBLEM with it. They realize that their musical preferences are just preferences, and that the Church has a tradition much grander in scope and scale than their own experience. They don't know much about it, but their being OPEN to it is the first step on the way.

    "traditionalists" are not necessarily good for the church. I'm thinking like the Old Believers in Russia, who split over liturgical things as simple as changing how you hold your fingers when you make the sign of the Cross, or the SSPX at large nowadays. There's traditionalism, which accepts only what is old just because it is old, and orthodoxy, which holds to Tradition (not "small-t" tradition necessarily) because it is right and true.

    I don't know anything about the theology department, but the English department here is good. The academics here are ten times better than the liberal arts at Texas A&M, where I was, and though that is an engineering school, the liberal arts there are by no means sub-par. Here I have greater control over the classes I take, too, so I really can concentrate in writing (unlike at A&M when a writing concentration meant, like, two classes and a thesis). My Latin class is just as good as my one at A&M. The theology 101 class I'm in--a requirement--is good. I got to write a really fun paper on a heresy (I chose iconoclasm) and so far all the research I've needed to do at the library, they've had plenty. The library is small, but I actually really like it.

    Then again, I have heard that the grad program here is kind of a joke. I'm an undergrad, so I don't know, but my boyfriend is a grad student in education and he likes his classes so far. Or, at least, he likes his professors a lot.

    "I do, personally, think that a theology divorced from tradition and orthodoxy, liturgically speaking, is questionable and probably is flawed in not insignificant ways."

    I agree here, too. Therefore I think that the liturgy is actually gonna get back on track here. Otherwise, their theology will warp again. As an Orthodox person, I tend to see the "not insignificant" flaws in the theology as stemming from scholasticism and the like.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,932
    The liturgical and devotional life at FUS has slowly accepted more traditional forms: eucharistic adoration was not always prominent there,during the early charismatic-revival years (late '70s), nor Marian devotion. A few years ago, there was said to be opposition to Latin, plainchant, and the EF Mass. It sounds like the trend of gradual acceptance is still underway.
  • Now that I have some more time, I'll try to weigh in a bit more.

    To me, what seems to be the main issue here is education. 99% of anybody who is 40 or younger only knows the OF...and of those 99%, 90% only knows the OF in a way which is not in continuity with the faith, nor is it faithful to the GIRM, documents of Vatican II, etc.

    That being said, I think it gives somewhat of an explanation to what we see at FUS and I see in a lot of the circles in which I run...people simply don't know any better. I grew up in a parish which was basically a showcase for Marty Haugen, St. Louis Jesuits and the like. No organ ever, we didn't even have one (now we do), it was either guitar or piano. The other parish in town is not traditional by any means, but at least it had an organ and used maybe one decent hymn per Sunday Mass. But that other parish was considered the traditional isn't that crazy!?!?

    But at FUS you have to account for the very heavy charismatic influence. And I'm coming from a background that has been involved heavily in charismatic groups, but I'll be the first to tell you, and my friends, that the Liturgy is no place for this music. And actually now that this discussion has come up, it's been something that I've been sort of trying to figure out. I'm involved in a lot of different Catholic groups where I live...youth groups, college groups, men's groups. And while they are all as Orthodox as can get, they always fall short when it comes to Liturgy, and this has puzzled me. I've often said, and actually been saying outloud to people, if we want to be orthodox and follow the Church down to the T, then why don't we when it comes to Liturgy, which is the absolute center of our lives? And so far I've been getting an extremely positive response.

    Again, as I said above, this is an example of why I think the problem is education. Most people don't know what the GIRM or the Graduale is...and I tell them and they are blown away. People simply don't know that Mass is not supposed to be this way...and when they find out, as it did for me, it lights a fire in them. I had to educate myself, and I think it's our job to educate others.
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159
    Yes, orourkebr:

    This is a question mostly of people not knowing, and a lot of trusting folks within the Church have been following bad prescriptions brought from "on high" and these folks who have managed to gain influence -- and it goes all the way up to cardinals -- have just led so many astray and there are usually social, political, even anti Christian agendas being advanced with the speciously bad teaching (anti Christ is not too strong a term here in some cases). So, yes, as sincere believers, truth seekers, become more exposed to the treasure trove that is tradition, they will undoubtedly embrace it. That is why this site is a key element, for the "tradition" must be true and it must represent truth and hence beauty. The anti beauty, anti intellectual move in the church is breathtaking, just leaves one gasping. Why this rejection of the riches Christianity has brought, not only to its adherents, but to the whole world, has gained so many advocates is really mind boggling, yet there it is.

    The word "traditionalist," not unlike the word "jazz," has so many interpretations based on the many "flavors" that fall under its wide definition. So the word itself often calls for some more specificity when being discussed or one risks being misunderstood in using it and placing all who have respect for "tradition" into some lump that is surely going to misrepresent many within the overall movement.

    Jam, you are right, there is that group who argue for tradition for the sake of tradition and do risk stumbling as well, into the Pharisaic. I think of those types as being a special kind, sort of the "guardians of tradition," to coin a phrase, sometimes operating without much depth of understanding of what is essential and what are the mere "affects" of tradition.

    Within the ranks of those to whom we refer to as "traditionalists" there is another "sub group" who will attach a sort of "super piety" to its expression, for those I would say it is largely it is the drummed in "fear of everlasting torment" that awaits those who tow not the very narrow line sometimes that is the over riding factor of their motivation in identifying with tradition, and most Catholics, at least of the over 40 gang, and younger folk sometimes as well, are exposed to that (fear of hell) at some level. That is not to say that this is, per se, wrong, but there seems not to be a balance, again, within this group of traditionalists, of some other theological truths and so we see often the traits of being super scrupulous, legalism, withdrawal from the world, judgementalism, narrow mindedness to an extreme and the like. But I say this only to explain that we must be careful not to "broad brush" everyone who has a deep respect for tradition with the term "traditionalist," especially when it would be understood to be used as a pejorative or understood only in that sense as a sort of super peity, more Catholic than the pope, etc.

    Then there are some who see tradition as the full embodiment of the faith, the "best of the best," winnowed, filtered, aged like fine wine, infused with the reasoning of the finest minds the world has produced. In other words, just as the appreciation of history guards against repeating mistakes of the past, those who adhere to tradition likewise seek to avoid reinvention of theological wheels and other conundrums that are all too present among today's advancers of "new and unique" understandings of the "mind of God" not properly understood to have already presented Himself about as much as we will understand Him to be, and those understandings are there for those who would simply read the writings of the Fathers of the Church. It is just about that simple, and yet "sophisticated" (remember this comes from the same word root as "sophistry," i.e., subtle deceptive reasoning or argumentation) thinkers, especially of our own times, always want to invent some new revelation of God through an interpretation of some anthropological find or the study of ancient language, and usually one sees that at the end of this is something akin to a tax lawyer looking for "loopholes" in the tax code. Such riches as 'God smote Sodom and Gamorah for the sin of "in-hospitality."' This kind of nonsense fills our hallowed halls of learning in this new upside down world of "advanced understanding" supplied by these new "finds" in the aforementioned fields of study. So, really, enough IS truly enough and now back to "tradition," in the best sense of the word.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "Then there are some who see tradition as the full embodiment of the faith, the 'best of the best,' winnowed, filtered, aged like fine wine, infused with the reasoning of the finest minds the world has produced."

    Mmm, yes. There is so much depth and richness in the Western tradition, that it grieves me to see so much of it lost over time. Honestly, though, I think that stems from a combination of only Latin being used and people not being educated properly in its meaning and the meaning of/different parts of the liturgy. I've been to enough Divine Liturgies in English that no matter what language it's in when I visit a place, I can follow along. If it was only ever in Greek, it would have taken a more concentrated effort from me to learn it and know it well.

    As for the difference between traditionalists and conservatives, I think a lot of the difference at FUS really does stem from people "not knowing better." But people seem to have a willingness to learn. I remember hearing a story that college-age Catholics back in Texas who had never heard of ad orientem, when they heard about it and what it meant they were all like, "why don't we do that anymore?!" Likewise, I talked to one girl here who wears a chapel veil and it was a similar thing with her; she grew up not knowing about it, but when she discovered its meaning and significance, she accepted it wholeheartedly.

    I think even the most die-hard supporters of rock-n-roll Jesus here could be easily convinced, with proper catechesis, to enjoy their rock-n-roll Jesus outside of a liturgical context, and during liturgy to join themselves with the tradition of the church through the ages. They get that liturgy is a mystical experience, outside of time. They understand how hard it is to achieve sanctity in a gym (one of my roommates laments the fact that all the huge liturgies have to be in the gym). Step by step, they will understand even more.
  • Wow, I just read that comment you posted above Mr. Z. Looks like someone had a really bad experience at FUS.
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159

    Of course, you are referring to my original post and the link to that student's opinon. It is for probably obvious reasons (like not really knowing the source) that I just posted the link and not put up any quote. Of course on the internet, everything in this category has to be taken with at least a grain of salt, although from the matter-of-fact tone it does not sound like any axe is being ground. More students' opinions need to be heard from, however, to get anywhere near to a balance take on what is actually transpiring there. It just goes to perhaps lend a little more credence to the idea that indeed, liturgy and theology do influence each other, and how could this not be the case. I think from there it is just determining to what degree.