What Fr. Ruff wants
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    For some years now I have been wondering what Fr. Ruff of PrayTell has been arguing for. We probably all know what he has been arguing against: a constellation of ecclesial structures, attitudes, practices, Summorum Pontificum, and especially the new translation of the Roman Missal. But his own positive liturgical philosophy has been, to my knowledge, occult.

    So it comes as something of a relief to me that Fr. Ruff explains in a more transparent way the nature of his progressivism, in his comments #22 and #24 here.

    ...We can’t be literalist about what it means in the Greek of the Bible. Then neither can we be literalist about what it (allegedly) means in the Latin liturgical books. It has been taken up into a living liturgical event that has meaning in a particular liturgical culture that speaks English. What the Church once did in moving from Greek to Latin, the Church can (and must) keep doing as we move from Latin to the many vernaculars...


    ...Words have meaning in a context, not absolutely or apart from the time and place. There is no timeless, unchanging, “accurate” translation.

    In evaluating the switch to “and with your spirit,” it’s fine to look at the original Greek and various English bibles in the last 50 or 100 years and what the Latin (from 5th century or from 1969) said – but none of this really settles the question. What we really have to look at is, “what does this say to people today? how is it heard? what meaning will it take on after this problematic process? after this ‘continuity’ agenda which wasn’t there 10 or 40 years ago is now being advanced?

    The idea that it isn’t suited to our liturgical culture actually holds water very well – since our liturgical culture isn’t what it was 75 or 50 years ago. “And with thy/your spirit” will have lots of connotations after 40 years of “and also with you” that it wouldn’t have had otherwise...


    Fr. Ruff's liturgical sense as said here--doubtless there is more but this is all we have been given, to my knowledge--raises more questions than it answers. For exaample:

    -Whose "living liturgical event" are we discussing? The Collegeville expression of liturgy? Or that of another progressive Catholic university-affiliated center?

    -What particular "liturgical culture" is it, that speaks English? Is it the hymn-singing English, Sarum-related culture? Is it the St. Louis Jesuit culture embraced by the membership of a fringe group of priests, whose liturgical aesthetic sense was videotaped and published by that group last year?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAssDlvaxEM#at=26

    -Can the "'continuity' agenda" be truly said to be a new agenda, when, as one at of many examples in the liturgy, the first-millennium practice of the commingling of the Body and Blood expresses continuity in several different and important ways?

    -Isn't the burden of proof on the "discontinuity agenda" to show why its new methods are better? Have they been shown to be more pastorally effective than traditional liturgy? Are they in fact able to reach the young?

    -Would the Church be wise to entrust the next 40 years of our pastoral practice to progressive liturgists? Why or why not?


  • doneill
    Posts: 191
    Kathy,

    With all due respect, is this really the proper forum to raise this discussion? I know Fr. Ruff to be a firm supporter of chant, the sacred arts, and beautiful liturgy. That is in full accord with the principles of CMAA, and it does not do good to denigrate him on this site. If you have problems with other aspects of his ministry, perhaps it would be better to engage in respectful discussion on another forum.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Douglas,

    Fr. Ruff is an outspoken critic himself. I am sure that he will be a good sport about having his own views criticized. Writers on this forum in fact often criticize public remarks or public actions by many people across a wide range of views. I may have been criticized once or twice myself. It's part of the virtue of intellectual honesty.

    I hope it goes without saying that I am speaking in the first person, and not as some kind of spokesperson for the CMAA.

    However, since the title of this post is a trifle flippant, I shall change it.
    Thanked by 2Bruce E. Ford IanW
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    There is no timeless, unchanging, “accurate” translation.

    And that is one of the main reasons Latin WILL BE the official language of the Church until the end of time. It is why serious composers of sacred music will always defer to Latin as the standard for composing... timeless, unchanging, universal. The FAD and NOVELTY of the heavy emphasis on the use of vernacular at Mass will over time, disappear.

    "Continuity" is not an agenda; it was the basis on which the Church was established and developed over the entire history of its theological praxis. "Discontinuity" was the irregular heart beat that occurred in the entire life of the church, and "continuity" is the church returning to a normal pattern of living.
    Thanked by 1IanW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Francis
    I wish I could concur with your clairvoyance re. vernacular Mass. But were I you , next time in Rome drop some serious coin in Trevi Fountain. Just like our love. It's here to stay.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Even if vernacular is here to stay, it's not normative for the Mass, according to the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. It's allowable, but not normative.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    If I play out Fr Ruff's second statement a bit, I might translate "et cum spiritu tuo" as "..and may your innermost being be joined with and show forth the Lord, too." That may be a better "translation" of the text for 21st C. folks which brings across the full meaning.

    (Maybe that's not what he would write, but...)

    But in 50 years "innermost being" might have a less-than-desirable idiomatic meaning where "spirit" prolly won't.
    Thanked by 3Kathy CHGiffen IanW
  • The views of Fr Ruff (and I agree with doneill that we should be respectful of a true scholar of chant and proponent of sane liturgy the likes of which are rare and almost worth their weight in gold) as perceived through the limited examples of his verba which Kathy offers above, would indeed seem to be representative of that post-modern relativism against which Holy Father Benedict spoke at the beginning of his papacy. All meaning (and, perhaps, reality itself), as I understand this stance, is relative to the individual's or the community's experiential understanding, and, thus, there is no objective truth. Thus, 'et cum spititu tuo' (for one example) has no objective positive nor negative, nor immutable sense other than what a given person or group would make of it within the quite limited environment of his/their own experience or understanding. This makes all of us and all our societies into, essentially, provincial, atomised, entities, each of which is a (very relative) law unto itself (one thinks of Aristotle's folk viewing shadows in the cave). This makes it impossible, ultimately, to assert any ontological categories, or that they even exist; outside of the contextual experience or thought world of one or more like-minded persons there is no reality, no objective truth. This has obvious implications for the veracity of the Church's witness and teaching (assuming that the idea of veracity is expressive of some reality). Hence, for some 'Christians' of today, the resurrection is the 'resurrection event', which may or may not be the same thing as an actual resurrection (assuming that there is such a thing). I am not at all comfortable with labelling Fr Ruff as such a person. It would SEEM, though, that the quotations rendered above would lend themselves, perhaps out of context, to such an interpretation. I genuinely respect him think that we should ask him for clarification, rather than make conclusions which may not be accurate assessments of his thought.

    (As a brief footnote, I am moved to observe that it seems to me that those who dislike and detest 'and with your spirit' as a translation of 'et cum spiritu tuo' are really upset at the projection of this meaning into our consciousness and public worship. The ontological references are rather indisputable, the meaning plain as day; further, if the Romans had meant the rather stupid sounding and inept 'and also with you' they would have said 'et tecum' in no uncertain words.)
    Thanked by 3marajoy CHGiffen IanW
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    I don't want to assume Fr. Ruff means anything in particular (I'm sure he means something in particular- I just mean, I don't want to assume I know what it is), nor do I want to argue with "the idea of Fr. Ruff," which I think a lot of people have engaged in during previous conversations.

    I do think the issue that he raises in reference to "And with your spirit" is a salient point of disagreement between myself and my fellow progressives, so I'll just mention that I have written about this in past:

    http://musicforsunday.com/2011/and-with-your-spirit
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    ISTM there is a difference between talking about a quote you came across on the interwebs, and turning it into a discussion of this person's personal "liturgical sense," or "philosophy."
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    I suppose what is most troubling to me, and perhaps one cannot attribute this to Fr. Ruff, is the way the liturgical culture of our time is not so much a product of development as of engineering. It's not a populist movement at all. It has been imposed. I can't imagine any reason why such a contrivance should take precedence over long-standing, slow-developing tradition.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    is not so much a product of development as of engineering. It's not a populist movement at all


    This.

    Most "populism" is that way.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    melo

    the Trevi Fountain has nothing to do with continuity of tradition, and proves nothing. what is your point?
  • Adam, respectfully what does "fellow progressives" mean? I'm confused, and maybe it has nothing to do with the thread...
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    Adam, respectfully what does "fellow progressives" mean? I'm confused, and maybe it has nothing to do with the thread...


    Generally speaking, people who (like myself) have a more liberal approach to theological and/or ecclesiological matters than might be considered strictly orthodox.

    I don't really want to get into my own theological opinions, or the politically-infused labeling process that these matters often devolve into. But, I'm on the record as supporting/agreeing-with a number of issues which are not (strictly-speaking) orthodox, and which I am in agreement with Fr. Ruff.

    I am also on the record (over and over and over) stating that I don't think heterodox theological positions should be allowed to influence the public celebration of the Church's liturgy, and (moreover) that specifically "traditional" liturgical orthopraxis can and does support the most important theological position: THE TRUTH.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    We write too much about Fr. Ruff's eternal angst. Sturm und Drang, Sturm und Drang.
    Thanked by 2Gavin IanW
  • Without Sturm und Drang there would have been no Beethoven... nor Mozart... nor...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    But there can be too much of a good thing - bad things too.
  • You mean like all Sturm and no Drang? (Or, worse, all Drang and no Sturm!)
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Can you have storm without stress? Good theological question? Some here routinely visit that infamous blog which must not be named, and get their shorts tied in knots over what the dark lord says there. Don't read it. I don't and my stress level stays lower.
    Thanked by 1IanW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Maybe we could work some schadenfreude into this as well?
    Francis, I have to conclude my attempt at humor was too oblique. No relevance to the actual topic at hand, just a gesting response to your declaration, though I do believe the "Vernie" (h/t to Kathy) is "here to stay."
    Kathy, your assessment is correct and undeniable, and reflects all our sentiments of "were it so ordered." Idealism/pragmatism are as east is to west. It's not that they can't, don't or need to meet, it's that they're essentially concepts; words that we want to express that which is most important to us.
    But I have to wonder, in light of today's gospel, which is the better part for us here? Should we rhetorically scamper about trying to enlist folks to our duties and causes, sometimes with complaints afresh, or live in the discipline ourselves and in community with ourselves and the Lord, at his feet?
    Typical me, huh?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I just played some Vernie (Lou Vernie) at church this morning...
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    melo

    Time alone will tell.
    Thanked by 2melofluent IanW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Lou Vernie is good stuff. I am playing his Marche Episcopale soon. One of my favorite postludes.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Melo,

    I believe it is our task to teach,catechize and form. After that, its God's problem... we are only human.

    From the bourbon lands,
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • MHIMHI
    Posts: 324
    .
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I believe it is our task to teach,catechize and form. After that, its God's problem... we are only human.


    Said I, ...or live in the discipline ourselves and in community with ourselves and the Lord, at his feet?

    MHI- did Bernanke print up enough Benjamins for "Diachronics" to be uttered here, or should it have been deigned purple prose?
    the study and description of the change or development in the structural systems of a language over a stated period of time. Also called historical linguistics.
    And does one have some sort of breathalyzer test for immoderate or toxic levels for academes of this stuff?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    Thanked by 4Kathy MHI CHGiffen IanW
  • MHIMHI
    Posts: 324
    .
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    A priori analysis is quite rare, though, and since we do have the "de fructibus" test, and we know its pathetic results...
    Thanked by 1MHI
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,221
    To Kathy;
    I don't understand you in saying that venacular mass was not a
    Populist movement. This is totally untrue. The people wanted the
    mass in the language that they speak. This is of course over and
    Beside what Sac C had to say which is another matter.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Hmmm. Did I say that?
  • WGS
    Posts: 244
    Populist movement? - not from my vantage point - This is purely anecdotal, but in the 1950s-1960s, as a public high school student, then a student at a couple of colleges
    and then a U.S. Naval Officer who had sung in a parish choir of men and was a member of the CMAA, I have no recollection of any cry for a vernacular liturgy.

    The bishops came home from Vatican II, and the periti told them what they needed to do. The bishops told the clergy what to do, and in that age of obedience,
    the clergy acepted the fact that what they had been doing for hundreds of years was all wrong. I don't think the bishops would get such a cooperative response now.
    Thanked by 1IanW
  • It was not the people that wanted the Mass in the vernacular. If it had been it would not have happened, just as today we are unable to get chant back in the church as it should be.

    Just like today's episcopal church in which, when asked, TN episcopalians said they did not want an openly gay bishop to be installed...and the TN priests voted to have him installed.

    The priests run the show today and did then as well. They made their bed and lie in it while we complain...and most of them do not care. I worked at a parish in the 70's with 5 priests, 4 young. Three of them went folk, identified with the people, bought campers and motorcycles and wore boots and flannel shirts as they came into church in front of the people on the way to vest for communion and today the three are long gone from the priesthood. The old priest pastor could be found mopping the church. He was a great guy. The other one may still be being groomed to be a bishop, a real politician...

    No one ever, in my parish in the 1950's/60 expressed any interest in vernacular...and of course, they were never asked.

    My favorite associate priest 1965 went on sick leave twice and was assigned to a hospital as chaplain both times. In 1971 I was enrolling at a college and he was in line behind me...and the counseling center he founded now carries his name. It was impressive that he determined what he should be doing in life and did it. He never married, just moved on to where we was doing what he wanted to do. He's the one when he came out on the altar during advent and lent we were able to turn the organ off. He gave me his Liber then....guess I should have figured something was up.
  • Before this turns into a match....can anyone present proof that the "people wanted it" that disputes what WGS and I have said?
  • The opposite position, Catholic Choirbook, can't be demonstrated. It's like saying "Demonstrate that the people wantedthe priest to face them for all of Mass, or "Demonstrate that the people wanted an end to Meatless Friday".

    "The people" is an amorphous blob used by all sorts of people, so that their own opinions can appear to be acceptable.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • An amorphous blob, indeed, cgz! The people, the actual, real, people would never ever have dreamed of most of what forty years of chic 'Vatican II' imposters have commtited in their name, would they have? Just how many people does one think were sitting out there in their pews after the council thinking: 'Oh, I hope we don't have any more organ music, or chant, or choirs; no, I hope they bring in guitarists from somewhere and have them sing some new music with a pop beat and chic lyrics.' Just how many Catholics were dreaming, hoping, fervently desiring such things in the aftermath of Vatican II. Almost none... Nil. What we got was not what 'people' wanted or would have dreamed of (except in a nightmare)... no, it was all crammed down the Church's throat by a few determined oh-so-chic self-appointed apostles of relevancy and modernism who had the ear of far too many adled bishops and priests. Actually, many clergy intuited that the mass was being desecrated, but they just stood helpless by. No, friends, 'the people' only get what someone decides they are going to get, (they have little choice in the matter, and, being good Catholics, they just swallow whatever they are told to swallow) and then it is announced that it's what the people wanted.

    This reminds me of a book that I perused at B&Ns some while back. It was called 'Stuff that White People Like'.... well, I picked it up with a measure of reservation and perused it. No surprise... there wasn't anything in it that I liked. But there it was: a half humourous exposee of what multitudes, threaves, of White People are conditioned to like. I feel the same way about the cultural and liturgical situation in the Catholic Church. If I encountered a book called 'Stuff Catholics Like', I have no doubt that I wouldn't see myself in it... unless there were a big and sympathetic chapter about Walsingham and the Ordinariate. I am joyful in my Catholic Faith. But I would cringe if someone thought that meant that I would be doing anything other than climbing the walls at a typical pop-rock-folksy music mass 'presided' over by Fr Ed Sullivan. No. No. No. That is NOT what the people wanted or would ever ever have dreamed of. It's what they were given. And it's what they were given because that's just how little is thought of them.
  • Well stated MJO.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I wanted vernacular masses as a valuable teaching tool. It had become clear to me at an early age that most of the people did not understand much that was going on during mass. The mass had become so clericalized, the folks in the pews were just there, zombie like, with many reciting their rosaries. However, no one realized the extremes that would develop during the reign of Paul VI. That is when things went to hell in a hand basket. Of course, I realize, as many have written, that all this revolution and tumult was already present and underground before Vatican II. It was waiting for the right time and the weak-kneed leadership in the Church that would allow it to prosper.
  • MJO you are right on the money as usual.
  • Kathy--what is that video you posted? Thanks.
  • Since he's a monk, he's Fr. Anthony, not Fr. Ruff. Just saying.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    FWIW, anecdotes not being data of course, in from the mid-'60s to the early '70s, I certainly remember most people actively expressing approval for the changes, and those expressing displeasure or absenting themselves because of the changes being a very small minority. (The reason I paid attention to this was because I realized my taste preferences for classical sacred music were most definitely NOT the taste of the large majority.) Then again, this was not an area like the Midwest where there were lots of parishes that had seriously cultivated the Liturgical Movement (we had precisely one such parish - run by German-founded Benedictines - in a sea of liturgical minimalism).

    YMMV.
  • I think a lot of folks quietly voted with their feet, whole branches of families left entirely. Where the liturgy was considered causal or trite it sent (sends) the message of "why bother? This is ok, bu nothing really special". People just leaving would help explain the emptier churches. Ok, that and more (most) Catholics using birth control.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,050
    Well, Humanae Vitae definitely got people leaving. Even as a young kid, I was made quite aware of that! (My parents did not contracept, but there was a revolution of rising expectations after the advent of the Pill; my mother described the long confessional lines of women for the "pastoral" priests in the years before HV - the men didn't bother in the same numbers . . .; after HV, the lines just gradually withered, and then eventually you started to see parents become more selective about Mass attendance and how far through the sacramental system they took their kids. This doesn't mean HV was wrong, but there was a noticeable reaction. The people who objected to the liturgical reforms were a much smaller group in our area, FWIW.)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen BruceL
  • I suppose what is most troubling to me, and perhaps one cannot attribute this to Fr. Ruff, is the way the liturgical culture of our time is not so much a product of development as of engineering. It's not a populist movement at all. It has been imposed. I can't imagine any reason why such a contrivance should take precedence over long-standing, slow-developing tradition.


    I take issue with this statement, though not its author, so please correct/enlighten/elucidate: the Mass of Pius V, the fruit of the Council of Trent, was itself an answer to the liturgical reforms of the Reformation. Let's take care how we use terms like "engineer" and "contrivance."
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Fr. Ruff seems to respond to detailed criticism of apparent poor translation with generalisations, rather than addressing the substance of the points made (my memory of his site suggests Kathy’s excerpt is representative, though I will happily stand correction). The first generalisation is a valid one: translation must be sensitive to the cultural context of both languages; but that doesn’t justify the widespread omission of content in the old translation, or the obligation of those who object to corrections to argue their position in terms of accuracy. He goes on to suggest that the new translation “isn’t suited to our liturgical culture”. In the context of his justification of substantial difference between the normative form of the rite and ours, this is problematic. It implies elevation of local ideas above those of the normative form, through which our faith is transmitted and of which Rome is ultimately the guardian. It also begs the question of the appropriate locality. The Anglo-sphere? North America? The USA? Minnesota?
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,027
    It implies elevation of local ideas above those of the normative form, through which our faith is transmitted and of which Rome is ultimately the guardian. It also begs the question of the appropriate locality. The Anglo-sphere? North America? The USA? Minnesota?


    IanW, this is exactly the issue for Fr. Ruff, I expect: it's really a question of ecclesiology. It's obvious that he favors local over normative, even if he would deny it. It's really Kasper vs. Ratzinger ideas here, especially if you read the recent PT discussion on the new wording of the baptismal ritual.
    Thanked by 2IanW CHGiffen
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    I don't know about the rest of you but I was reluctant to comment as we don't see much of the Pray, Tell tendency chipping in here, so I felt the chances of conversation were poor. After a while, though, I thought "****** it" [Anglo-Saxon vernacular], because the issues arising are significant: the transmission of the faith through the liturgy and resistance to those who protest it, not least if they're connected to a seminary and their own on-line avenue of debate is liberal only in name.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    "****** it" [Anglo-Saxon vernacular]


    I've often thought that swearing should be "excused" with the phrase "Pardon my English."
    Thanked by 1IanW
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    No offence, Adam. I was attempting to be culturally authentic while recognising the sensitivities of others. It comes of the cultural context (English birth, Welsh surname, Scottish forbears, US comment board, Roman Catholic predisposition etc). I'm sure Fr. Anthony would understand. Apart, perhaps, from the conjunction of that final qualification.