"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ"

"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ"
"The Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ" according to Bishop Athanasius Schneider: 1. Mass versus populum. 2. Communion in the hand. 3. The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers. 4. Disappearance of Latin in the Ordinary Form. 5. Liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women and ministers in lay clothing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What is the hermeneutic of continuity?

Sunday, September 01, 2013


What is the hermeneutic of continuity?

Ever since the pontificate of Benedict XVI, the term "hermeneutic continuity" has been proposed
 as descriptive of an interpretation of the Second Vatican Council that stresses continuity between
 pre and post-Conciliar teachings. This "hermeneutic of continuity" is generally opposed to a
 "hermeneutic of rupture", which sees Vatican II in terms of a break or rupture with tradition.
 Progressive are generally "rupturists", while conservative, orthodox Catholics favor
the hermeneutic of continuity proposed by Benedict XVI and enthusiastically embraced by
 those advocating a reform of the reform.

But what exactly is the hermeneutic of continuity? Is it as self-evident as the simple definition
 I gave above would lead us to believe? In fact it is not, and while I support the concept of
 the hermeneutic of continuity, I must firmly insist that we begin by understanding what
 the hermeneutic of continuity is exactly - and what it implies.

To say that the hermeneutic of continuity stresses continuity between pre and
post-Conciliar teaching is not sufficient, because there is two ways one can interpret
 what this means, and as we shall see, much is riding on which approach one prefers.

Two ways of interpreting "hermeneutic of continuity":

1) The teaching of the Second Vatican Council is already in perfect continuity
 with Tradition, and in proposing a hermeneutic of continuity, we are being
 asking to realize and appropriate this truth. The hermeneutic of continuity is 
simply recognizing what the Council "really taught" as opposed to what liberals 
drew out of it. In this interpretation, discontinuity is a myth that must be dispelled
 by proper catechesis.

2) The teaching of the Second Vatican Council presents a departure from
 Catholic Tradition, and in proposing for a hermeneutic of continuity, 
we are being asked to look for a way to reconcile Conciliar teaching with
 pre-Conciliar teaching. The hermeneutic of continuity consists in new statements
 or actions on the part of the Magisterium, bishops and priests to bring the 
Vatican II documents into synthesis with prior Magisterial
 teaching. In this interpretation, discontinuity is a fact that must be rectified.

Look at these for a moment and notice how different the two approaches are. While both
call for an interpretive schema that stresses continuity, the former denies the existence of
 objective discontinuity while the latter actually takes it for granted. It might be
objected that the latter interpretation actually puts one in the camp of the rupturists, since
 it presumes that there is a true divergence between Conciliar teaching and
Catholic tradition - an objective rupture. But it is important to point out that a
true rupturist interpretation not only acknowledges the rupture, but celebrates it
and works to further it. We, on the other hand, acknowledge the fact of a rupture,
 but work to rectify it, to close the gap, to bring all things into harmony inasmuch
 as is possible.

It is in the second sense that I, too, believe a hermeneutic of continuity is vitally
 important for restoration. But this does not consist of simply returning to
the documents, uncovering the "riches" of the Council, or stressing what
the Council "actually taught" as opposed to how it was "implemented."
I have written elsewhere on how the Council Fathers noted many problems
 with the Conciliar documents from the outset; I have alsodemonstrated that
 the theory of a council "hijacked" by the media and other outside interests is
 not tenable. We need, desperately need, a hermeneutic of continuity,
 but it does not simply consist in rediscovering the documents or returning
 to what the Council "really taught." These are dead ends.

It would be worth asking: if there really is an objective discontinuity,
a real rupture of sorts, what's the use in trying to "bring it into harmony"
 with tradition? Discontinuity, by definition, means there is no continuity,
 and if so, how can we speak of "reconciling" or synthesizing it?

In acknowledging an objective discontinuity, I do not mean to say that the break
 is so grave, the chasm so wide, that it cannot be crossed. The majority of
the Council Fathers, even men of unimpeachable orthodoxy like Marcel Lefebvre,
ultimately signed off on the Council documents, which indicates that they must
 have believed that the documents were compatible with Tradition in some sense,
 even if only "with great difficulty." Vocabulary was novel, the manner of
 speech was different from prior Councils, different angles or aspects
 of questions were explored which previously had not been, the ends
of the Council were pastoral rather than dogmatic, and the very "mood"
of the Council was profoundly different from previous Councils.
All of these things taken together signify an objective "change of direction"
in the Church's understanding of itself - but, as Vatican II itself and Paul VI
 himself noted, this orientation was fundamentally pastoral, which ultimately
means discretionary. If the Church wanted to, they could go back to its
 pre-Conciliar orientation or even adopt a new one without any change in teaching.
 So, when we speak of harmonizing or bridging the gap, we mean not the
attempt to put a square peg into a round hole, but rather effecting a true metanoia,
a change of direction, within the Church, such that her fundamental orientation
 is realigned with Tradition.

But this means we must confess that the orientation is currently not aligned.
In calling for a hermeneutic, we are implicitly acknowledging that there
 is a discontinuity that needs to be addressed. Or, as Chris Ferrara put it recently,
 "What kind of Council needs a 'hermeneutic' just to understand Catholic teaching?"
 If the hermeneutic of continuity is more than just "rediscovering the riches"
of the Council, then it is in fact something extrinsic that needs to be applied.
 It is something akin to a syllabus, or an explanatory note followed up by
 a rigorous campaign of implementation - a dedicated, intentional effort on the
 part of the Magisterium to impose continuityon the Council by stating
 definitively how the documents are to be interpreted and bringing them
 into harmony with Tradition.

Can this be done? A recent statement of the SSPX opined that the Council could
 only be brought into harmony "with great difficulty." But to counter that with
Cardinal Newman, "ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."
 So, yes, we need a hermeneutic of continuity, but paradoxically, this hermeneutic
 of continuity must begin from the premise of acknowledging an
 objective discontinuity. Only if you acknowledge where you are can you
 even begin to think about where you ought to be going.

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