Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Mystagogy Revisited and Rediscovered

Nothing Superfluous
An Explanation of the Symbolism of 
the Rite of St. Gregory the Great
Rev. James W. Jackson, FSSP
Redbrush, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2016

I suppose that tomorrow I will have to get back to work, but these days of Christmas have been quiet and a real treat in terms of some great reading. Father Jackson's book is a choice part of that experience this year. He offers the reader something done by others before him, but also addressing some of the issues at the very heart of concern for men and women, priests and laity, seeking to do right by God in Jesus Christ in our day and time.

This book would make a worthwhile addition to any priest or bishop's library; it could well be found in any Catholic family's book corner. The bibliography is intentionally limited and the glossary of terms deserves special accolades.  

The overall tenor of Father's treatment of the symbolism of the Holy Sacrifice celebrated according to the 1962 missal, and thoughtfully termed by him the Gregorian Rite or the Rite of St. Gregory the Great, deserves the broadest possible exposure. The author is anything but strident. It is not so much that he demands a hearing on the force of his arguments as that, in the midst of so much which is bound up with the long-standing tradition, he comes out time and again with observations concerning the sublimity of the rite and its place in the greater context of what we are about in divine worship. 

Probably his best in the body of the book is Father's treatment of the proper role of silence in liturgy. If I were teaching a seminary class on liturgy, this book would be on the reading list with the challenge to the reader to uncover what is said there and tie it to another one of Father's affirmations about the freedom of each individual worshiping before God in the context of a corporate or communal action.

His appendices II and III, on Latin in the Liturgy and How the Liturgy Teaches, are great as well. III is a bit clunky and I probably need to read it again, but II on Latin has numerous merits.

This New Year started off with notice of a book which accuses Pope Benedict XVI of heresy. I guess we all have our story and Joseph Ratzinger, for well over a half century, has been exposed to intense scrutiny. I hope never to have to endure such. One of his great insights for me is that in favor of the mutual enrichment of the two forms of the Roman Rite. I think what he saw and offered to the Church as an admonition was a gentle but eloquent exhortation not to return to the violence and iconoclasm of the post-conciliar period, which has left us the poorer whether we are honest enough to admit it or not. Father Jackson, for his gentle eloquence, presents afresh the "Bride" to the Church, the Rite of St. Gregory the Great, beautiful as she always was and is yet today. We can only be enriched by the encounter with his gentle and winning treatise.

I am sitting on a couple of things I have read of late about neo-modernism. The insistence is that such can only be confronted with the sword... It may be so, but for today anyway I am grateful for a book entitled Nothing Superfluous.



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