I learned from the blog The Pinoy Catholic that another grand lecture was held at the Royal Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas with no other than the intellectual Dominican Bishop Leonardo Legazpi as the keynote speaker. The focus of the lecture this time is on the new translation of the Roman Missal. During Fr. Anscar’s lecture, a priest clarified over the microphone if the Philippine Church is going to use the new translation starting this Advent. Fr. Anscar, apparently opposed to the Vatican-initiated Missale Romanum (a word for word translation from its original Latin) categorically said “no”. Back to the lecture at UST – the roster of speakers include the Latin mass-saying Fr. Zerrudo, the Jesuit Liturgist Fr. Tim Ofrasio, Bishop Teodoro Bacani, former CBCP president Archbishop Oscar Cruz and Fr. Anscar Chupungco.
Let me drop some notes about The Pinoy Catholic because for all his combative, apologetic anonymity in the blogosphere, bashing even the liberal theologian in Bishop Tagle, caricaturing his TV program The Word Exposed, I think I met him during Fr. Anscar’s lecture. The Pinoy Catholic is definitely a lover of the extraordinary mass, quite knowledgeable on liturgical paraphernalias, on the difference between a black-fringed fascia from a cappa magna, the mantilla from a clerical rabat. He is one K of C who can’t seem to distinguish between a sound theological argument and an ad hominem. As for the monk Fr. Anscar, he always labels him as “nutty,” calling his passion for the liturgical vision of Vatican II a mere hatred of the extraordinary (Latin) mass and sour-graping for not being consulted. He attacks Episcopalian and Rome-graduate Fr. Maddela, for all his credentials and groundbreaking work in inculturated liturgy especially among indigenous communities, as having no right to teach at a Catholic theologicalschool. He spews personal attacks on professors and pedagogies at St. Vincent School of Theology. He downplays the power of inculturation and liturgy, but rather rejoices on elaborate golden papal rings and cathedra.
The Pinoy Catholic is quite an articulate advocate of the Missale Romanum; adept in quoting the Church Fathers on “communion by mouth only”; professorial on the details of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. With the Reproductive Health Bill now contested again in the hall of Congress, The Pinoy Catholic is as fiery as an Islamic extremist. One wonders if he is one paid lobbyist of the New Liturgical Movement for his bashing views!
The import of these notes is simply to highlight the fact that since the issuance of the Liturgiam Authenticam by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline in Sacraments in 2001, advancing the word-for-word (rather than meaning) translation of the Roman Missal from Latin, ultraconservative Catholics like The Pinoy Catholic have been adamant in caricaturing the agenda of Vatican II, and in the context of the Philippine Church, the Second Plenary Council. They now have a document to lean on to contest the preservation of the Tridentine rite for all its inculturated, Germanic form. They have given face to the human propensity to resist change, advancing the argument that only a Tridentine rite creates a more “mystical” experience in liturgy. While I agree with him that some local celebrations of the Eucharist border on the superfluity of symbolic resources (ex. a deacon carried through a twin bamboo, holding the lectionary on his way to the ambo), because most clergies including liturgists have no consistent love for silence, his “Tridentine argument” falters on his narrow understanding on the dynamic interplay between intelligible speech and silence, that is, only ones consistent love of silence can bring one to a more contemplative celebration of a liturgy. For someone who loves silence, even the words “This is the cup of my blood” (rather than precious chalice in the new translation) is evocative enough of a contemplative experience.
The Pinoy Catholic is simply one face of the resistance and division by “romantic historicism” (the US Catholic Bishops approved the new translation in 2009), that grinds even against a local contemplative experience of liturgy.
It’s a wait-and see for the Catholic Church in the Philippines – a romantic retreat to the less intelligible old days, or a greater awareness of the Sacred in the locality of universal grace?