The Real Problem: Schleiermacher
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    In a thread on recollection, M. Jackson Osborn wrote:

    "I ask of Kathy to elaborate on just how she perceives the Protestant and Catholic worlds to be two sides of the same coin. I continue to maintain that they are for the most part irreconcilably different. There is unimaginably more common ground between Catholicism and Orthodoxy (with Anglo-Catholics somewhere in between) than between either of them and Protestantism, which repudiates both."

    Although it was Jam and not me who said that the Protestant and Catholic worlds are two sides of the same coin, I would like to take Jackson's invitation to discuss the Protestant-Catholic divide as such.

    My Orthodox friends in college tend to place the blame for the Orthodox-Catholic schism, which rent the bonds of unity with incredible force, on St. Augustine. And since Augustine has been the most influential theologian for the entire Western theological tradition except for St. Thomas, who drew heavily from Augustine (though not without critique), and since St. Augustine also had a special influence on Protestant theology, the Orthodox tend to see all of "the West" as different branchings from this corrupt root. My friends thought there were cultural reasons for "the West's" religious errors as well, but most of the blame was St. Augustine's.

    Suffice it to say that a divided Christendom is scandalous and it leaves the members of the Orthodox Churches without the papacy and the fullness of unity, which are great helps to salvation.

    Like Jackson, I believe that the difference between Protestants and Catholics is greater and, as things stand, somewhat difficult to overcome. The difference as I see it has something to do with the intuitions of an influential theologian named Freidrich Schleiermacher. Schleiermacher followed the philosophical schools of his day in conceiving of a system of the world in which God cannot be known with any certainty. For Schleiermacher, faith is precisely a human feeling of complete dependence, and "All attributes which we ascribe to God are to be taken as denoting not something special in God, but only something special in the manner in which the feeling of absolute dependence is to be related to Him."

    This kind of system is completely incompatible with the religious sensibilities of Catholics and Orthodox alike. For us, God can be known, not as He is exactly, but by a religious knowing. We can "taste" God; God is present for us. The firmament is permeable: God can reach us and we can contact God.

    God is particularly present in the Liturgy.

    The question for Catholics is whether Catholic Liturgies are true to Catholic sensibilities. Sometimes one attends Mass in a Catholic church and there seems to be no entryway left for God. In fact it seems that liturgists have gone out of their way to provide us with a Schleiermachian universe, in which every circle is neatly closed against the divine invasion.

    -Attention: the priest attends to the people and the people to the priest. Closed system.
    -Position: the people face one another “in the round” and the priest eye to eye. Closed system.
    -Prayer: didactic. Closed system.
    -Music: self-referential, self-congratulatory. Closed system.

    Aside from the serious theological problems, may I say on a personal note that I find such liturgies incredibly boring, which is something one could not reasonably say about an Orthodox liturgy or about a Colloquium week liturgy.

    The question for Protestants, it seems to me, is whether the liturgy is in fact a place where human beings can meet God. If so, do Protestant views of liturgical actions attest to this meaning of liturgy? If not, should one be worshipping in a different way?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Can we encounter God in the liturgy? Do we as liturgists sometimes frustrate God's desire to encounter us in the liturgy?

    Is the firmament permeable, or not?
  • As a total non-theologian, I'll jump in and say, yes, the firmament is permeable only by God or by His gift. I'm thinking here of the Advent I Introit, 'Ad te levavi animam meam." To Thee Oh Lord, I lift up my soul. Yes, I'm lifting, and yes it's hard work--my soul is a heavy, dull thing. But lifting it to Him can only be begun by His inspiration--by grace.

    In terms of liturgy, this means keeping in mind that yes, we Christians have real work to do, and it's hard work for us, but ultimately all depends on God. The whole liturgy is the work of Christ as the head of the whole body, the Church. Christ gives us the opportunity and responsibility to work with Him in accomplishing it. A great mystery.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,610

    I intuit that you are frustrated. Yes? Or am I just reading into your questions? Is this just a theological question or are you searching for something deeper on a personal level?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Francis, you crack me up. In the subject of this thread, I'm searching for something deeper on an ecclesiological level. What is the philosphical-theological grounding of the errors of the liturgists? What is a truer philosophical-theological grounding that can answer theirs?

    David, I recently gave some talks on St. Therese, and in the Q and A the discussion became intensely focused on cooperation with grace. The math seems odd, doesn't it? God gives 100%--there is no question. Everything is from God. And yet we give as well. What if a terrific parish brought 20% cooperation? Still, this would not diminish God's 100%. That is because we're creatures.

    I like your example from Advent I, and also the beginnings of the Hours: God, come to my assistance/ Lord make haste to help me, and Lord, open my lips/ and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. We wouldn't be saying these things if we weren't already roused to prayerr, by grace. And then we ask for grace to pray.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,610
    We worship through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that teaches us how to pray. It is only in this way that we can offer a sacrifice of praise that is acceptable to God, and hence what Jesus said to the woman at the well.

    4 20 Our fathers adored on this mountain: and you say that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore.
    patres nostri in monte hoc adoraverunt et vos dicitis quia Hierosolymis est locus ubi adorare oportet
    4 21 Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father.
    dicit ei Iesus mulier crede mihi quia veniet hora quando neque in monte hoc neque in Hierosolymis adorabitis Patrem
    4 22 You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know. For salvation is of the Jews.
    vos adoratis quod nescitis nos adoramus quod scimus quia salus ex Iudaeis est
    4 23 But the hour cometh and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him.
    ed venit hora et nunc est quando veri adoratores adorabunt Patrem in spiritu et veritate nam et Pater tales quaerit qui adorent eum
    4 24 God is a spirit: and they that adore him must adore him in spirit and in truth.

    If one is not given over to the Holy Spirit then his own thinking will cloud his mind. Sin and darkness blind the eyes that say they see and they (attempt) to worship Him who they do not know or love. Their error is apparent because it does not reside in truth. True worship can only come to us from the Father through Jesus Christ.

    The Mass is then the only perfect form of prayer. It is Christ Himself who prays through us through the form He has given us. All else is man's fleshly effort to reach God. He smiles and graces those efforts, but they are far from His perfect avenues of grace found only in the sacraments.

    One sacramental confession is more powerful than all the eloquent prayers one can muster throughout their entire life.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,610

    I am glad that I am a source of humor for you! However, I am compelled to state my personal conclusive answer to your question. My answer to you is first a question: Do we even need "liturgists"?

    Don't think so.

    Just say the black and do the red. Sing the prayers and re-enact the Holy Sacrifice; nothing more, nothing less.

    If it is performed in a dignified manner, adding NOTHING of ones own interpretation or commentary, then beauty will manifest itself most certainly, and perfect drama unfolds before us, more sublime than Shakespeare in the crafting of words, Barishnokov in the crafting of ritual movement or Mozart in the excellence of musical form. And though throngs find in these a sublimity in those various forms of art, even they are devoid of the purity that embodies what is sacred. (IMHO, Bach or Palestrina are the masters of musical composition, but people tend to flock to smell the aroma of the likes of Mozart, Barishnokov and Shakespeare : they represent the "earthy flowers", where the likes of JSB and GDP and most certainly The Chant, carry in them the fragrances unworldly.)

    The chant (joined to the Latin rite) and performed by priest, deacon, acolyte, schola and cantor will never find a more perfect and beautiful expression of the Love of God on earth that certainly breaks through into the sanctuary of heaven. (the ultimate permeable act singly found in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.) [proved in the fact that heaven comes down to join at our altars in Sanctus]
  • Kathy,

    Sounds lto me like you need a little Ratzinger in your life - "The Spirit of the Liturgy," perhaps?

    Sam Schmitt
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,368
    Sam, you're pretty close. What I need is the implementation of The Spirit of the Liturgy. That would cheer me up.
  • Kathy, mon cher, I'm not a cradle catholic, but I've heard tell of something they call "the Easter obligation." Cheer up says Charlie, we have the "Colloquium obligation" wherein implementation is de facto. And I mean that in all sincerity.
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we'll keep a close eye on the fencelines, on the strays, on rustlers or potential strangers who are friends to be, and on ourselves, both singular/plural. We'll sing, we'll tell stories, we'll look at an abrreviated expanse of sky full of stars that number less than those of the angels and saints, say our prayers and bunk down awaiting the revelation.
    See you in June, full or not moon, where spirits swoon to an unceasing tune.