Saturday, May 16, 2015

Michael Davies - Four Booklets not to miss

Davies, Michael 
     - A Short History of the Roman Mass. 
     - Liturgical Shipwreck: 28 Years of the New Mass.
     - The Catholic Sanctuary: And The Second Vatican Council
     - The Reign of Christ the King.
          TAN Books. Kindle Edition.(2015-02-15). 

Just the other day I somehow picked up that these four booklets of Michael Davies had been published on Kindle. For my compatriots eager for the restoration of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church there is little here to be considered novel or eye-opening. Davies merits being classed a bulwark of right thinking and tradition. He says many things better than others do and ranks a respectable teacher, especially when it comes to history. This is what makes valuable his A Short History of the Roman Mass. An illustrative quote:

"It is from this Gallicanized Roman Sacramentary that the finalized Roman Missal was eventually compiled. By the 11th century, and at the latest the 12th century, this Gallicanized Roman Rite had supplanted all the pure Gallican Rites in the West, with the exception of the survival of the Mozarabic Rite at Toledo and a Romanized version of the Ambrosian Rite in Milan. The principle that "rite follows patriarchate" had finally prevailed in the West as well as the East." (Kindle Locations 247-250). 

Compare all that you might have read about the Pew Research findings about the drop in the number of practicing Catholics 2007-14 with his succinct description from 20 years ago in Liturgical Shipwreck: 28 Years of the New Mass:

"In the U.S.A. attendance has declined from 71% in 1963 to 25% in 1993, a decline of 65%. If we consider this decline in terms of souls rather than bare statistics, it means that 24,000,000 fewer Catholics in the U.S. attend Mass now than was the case before the Council. During that period there has been a huge increase in the Catholic population of the United States, and so the picture is far worse than appears to be the case from these bare statistics." (Kindle Locations 313-317).

With his pamphlet The Reign of Christ the King Davies makes a helpful contribution to discussion about the Church's place in the marketplace of ideas, for the sake of the life of the world. I want to do a separate blogpost on a rather sobering notion he discusses there and hope the von Hildebrand book he quotes so often will soon be "Kindled":

"Among the two or three that should definitely be owned by every Catholic who loves his faith is The Devastated Vineyard by Dietrich von Hildebrand. In this book the author lamented the terrible decline of humanity, which is nearing the point of actual dehumanization. He stated that it is the superhuman task of the holy Church to save humanity, or at least her own children, from this downfall." (Kindle Locations 296-298). 

The Catholic Sanctuary: And The Second Vatican Council may be the one of the four pamphlets which lines up the closest with my own thinking in terms of the urgency of a liturgical restoration. The discursive is not proper to Divine Worship and Davies illustrates quite rightly the enormity of the new wave of iconoclasm in the last half century or so, which has stripped so many once beautiful churches and left us with any number of vulgar new constructions as well:

"Throughout the centuries the Catholic people have spared no effort and no expense to build sanctuaries which provided a worthy setting for the awesome Sacrifice, sanctuaries which provided a foretaste of the true Holy of Holies, Heaven itself. In the Eastern Churches the faithful are not even permitted to witness the most solemn moment of the liturgy as it takes place behind the ikonostasis. However, in the past three decades tens of thousands of exquisite Catholic sanctuaries have been destroyed — in obedience, it is claimed, to the requirements of the Second Vatican Council." (Kindle Locations 53-58).

A couple years ago I was put off by the bluntness of the title to the one pamphlet in which the word is of "shipwreck". It could just be that with Klaus Gamber (another one still waiting to be "Kindled") Davies love for the Church helped him to speak out clearly. In any case, you'll be doing yourself a favor by adding his perspective to your own.

For the squeamish or faint of heart out there, let me renew assurances that I stand firmly with Pope Benedict's counsel of pursuing the path of mutual enrichment between the two forms of the one rite. The violence which swept so much away in the late 1960's and 1970's cannot be repeated. The principle that "rite follows patriarchate" must once again prevail in the West. May the Holy Father find the heart to restore the Rite at Rome and thereby lead the way to re-grounding the organic development of our Liturgy!

Lots of priests and bishops out there are still dismissing our hopes for a restoration and with a certain belligerence even balking at reparation for past harm through a generous adherence to the principles of Summorum pontificum. Above all the attitude of official seminary programs toward the Extraordinary Form must turn positive.

Very few of the liturgical "perpetrators" from fifty years ago are left alive, but irrational attempts are still made by their disciples to excuse the excesses of those years. In lots of other areas of Church life we find people ready to dialogue and seek understanding; may it be so here as well.


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