27 May 2010

Back in the Day

All of the following propositions of the Jansenist Council of Pistoia were condemned by Pope Pius VI in the Bull Auctorem Fidei (1796):
  1. That popular language be introduced into the liturgical prayers;

  2. That the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the community of the faithful to the pastors;

  3. That the Roman Pontiff does not receive from Christ in the person of blessed Peter, but from the Church, the power of ministry, which as successor of Peter, true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church he possesses in the universal Church;

  4. That it is fitting that there be only one altar in each temple;

  5. That cases of sacred relics or flowers should not be placed on the altar;

  6. To recall the liturgy to a greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language, by uttering it in a loud voice; "as if the present order of the liturgy, received and approved by the Church, had emanated in some part from the forgetfulness of the principles by which it should be regulated."
Something to think about, I guess; it seems things have changed somewhat.


Matt said...

True. I would need to see this in context of the rest of the document.

After all, we have more than one Altar at the Oratory, and enough flowers to choke a horse.

Marissa said...

I think you are mis-reading this a bit. These propositions were condemned by Pius VI, so the idea of there being only one altar and no flowers was condemned by him.

Some things to think about, indeed. I'm getting more and more frustrated by my home parish, especially the first week after I go to the Oratory for High Mass (about every six weeks).

StGuyFawkes said...

Note the eerie resemblance between Jansenism and Calvinism: the passion for rigid simplicity (no flowers! one altar!) and the Rousseau-like belief that ecclesiastical power derives from the popular will.

Belloc suggested that the Jansenist heresy actually sped the plow for Calvinism. (Or was it the other way around?)

On the other hand is it that heresies are like mistakes in driving. They are a constant possibility such that people just keep making the same mistakes again and again, and auto accidents, time after time, show up on the side of the road.

Jansenism, Calvinism, Vatican II, ....and.....whatever comes next.

Heresy is an eternal possiblility because Truth is an eternal fact.

Hey, has anyone noticed how often the "Women Priests" wear their hair in the helmet shape of Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads?

The Institutes of Calvin travel with us each day we walk into a health food store.

thetimman said...


I like your reference to the health food store Calvinism. Well played. I thought about a post on this phenomenon, but my head would likely explode.

StGuyFawkes said...


On the Calvinism of everyday American life much more could be said.

Tim, I implore your readers to explore the writings of historian Perry Miller, or just read more Hawthorne. In our unconscious habits of mind, we Americans, are still very much Puritans, or Calvinists.

The passion for unadorned simplicity, and the belief that the nation is to be saved or condemned by the severity of our looks, and the plainess of our beliefs, explains the weird passion for Birkenstocks, hybrid cars, re-cycling, and organic food which you find in liberal neighborhoods.

In addition, our Calvinist past explains the passion for political correctness which wants to cleanse America of anything which has even the scent of "sexism" or "racism".

It's not that "sexism" or "racism" are not bad. It is the belief that somehow the nation must punish and purge all remnants of these beliefs, or else our national covenant shall be breached: THAT, I maintain, is Calvinism, rampant, and even still, large and in charge of the American spirit.

There is nothing bad about Birkenstocks, or hybrid cars. But the religious feeling which seethes within the liberal passion for these commodities is ultimately a throwback to Cotton Mather's cry that we are all but "Sinners in the hands of an angry God" unless all the details of our life are made righteous and pure.

It's been a long strange trip as Jerry Garcia put it. But the descendants of Cotton Mather are now holding spare, drab, plain "Women's Liturgies" at CAN conferences on Lindell Boulevard and in a little parish on Boyle Street.

Remember, two Summer's back, when Fr. Gerry Kleba faced Archbishop Burke and Monseignor Gardin on the problem of his parish hosting roundhead women's liturgies? Fr. Kleba's defense included the fact that he drove a hybrid car!

It was simpler when the Puritans and Jansenists were promoting their theology from Geneva, or Port Royal, or Maynooth.

Now they lurk in Social Justice committees of your local parish, or Pax Christi retreats, or fund raisers for Haiti.

I'm all for Social Justice and raising funds for Haiti. I'm just not crazy about the Calvinist streak you find in such movements.

A personal anecdote may illustrate my point.

I was reading Perry Miller's "Life of the Mind in America" in 1973, which was the year many of us SLU Catholics became attached to the United Farm Worker movement and the drive to unionize Chicano farm workers.

We were picketing Schnucks on Hanley Road, in Clayton, one Saturday, when some of us took a break from the picket line to indulge in lunch.

Our particular protest was aimed at the fact that Schucks was selling "scab" lettuce picked by Teamster white men and not UFW-AFL-CIO, Cesar Chavez type Chicanos.

We went to have lunch at a nearby Howard Johnson's. When our Burgers came out each SLU Catholic righteously pulled the "scab" lettuce off his hamburger.

(The poor waitress was befuddled at the question: "Is this 'Farmworker' lettuce or 'Teamster' lettuce.")

I shocked my fellow protesters by eating the lettuce on my burger. My reasoning was that this was food that was going into the dumpster anyway if we left it on the plate. And a refusal to eat the lettuce already on the burger had NO political significance whatsoever.

However, what was necessary was a demonstration of PURITY. Everyone looked at me as if I had herpes.

It was then that I saw the connection between Perry Miller, Cotton Mather and my Catholic Worker friends.

Some of them are now running around at CAN conferences on Lindell Boulevard.

St. Guy

thetimman said...

Stguy, thanks for the comment. "Sinners...." was Jonathan Edwards, no? Not that Cotton Mather couldn't have delivered it.

StGuyFawkes said...


Thanks for the correction. When I rant I lose sight of important details such as WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY.

St. Guy