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Father James F. Wathen, O.S.J.
Chapter Four Part Thirteen


The Purpose of Archaism

    I have already touched upon what is referred to by true liturgists as the error of "archaism," that is, an exaggerated attachment to the early Church. And I quoted Pope Pius XII's encyclical warning against it, which, as you know, has been sedulously forgotten. Like some old people, the "new religionists" remember the remote past, (and only that part of it which suits their purposes) much, much better than yesterday. They seem to have adopted the phrase, "in the Early Church," just as Communist groups in America and around the world adopted the slogan, "End the war!" Both expressions are used with equal mindlessness.

    "In the Early Church" is the main (and almost the only) reason given for tearing the Church asunder nowadays. You will hear these words to explain why laymen should be allowed to distribute Holy Communion and should receive it in their hands, why priests need not wear vestments, why the Blessed Sacrament need not be kept in churches at all, why the churches should be stripped of every sign of religion and scraped to their grey concrete and rough-hewn timbers. These words are also the reason why sisters should not wear habits, priest should marry, Popes are unnecessary, discipline is a nuisance, and Christ is not divine. It is not at all surprising to hear such things from the lips of present-day high school students who (you are certain) know less about the Church in its primitive days than they know about astrophysics or biochemistry.

    In any such discussion, if you go one step further and ask your apologist why all of a sudden in the 1970's everything should be done exactly as it was done in the Early Church, usually you will receive absolute silence for an answer, or much stammering, or silly, laughable imaginings. The true answer to this question is very useful to have, however, so let us hasten to give it.

    The pretended loyalty to the Early Church serves the purpose of suggesting that its fervor was never again equaled, that it resembles the current fervor for renewal, and that the Church has been in the state of progressive deterioration from those days to these. It will be remembered that the old Protestant Reformers also told their followers they were returning to primitive usages. In doing so, the Protestant purpose was simply to negate with a single stroke the development of the Church. Their "Reform," therefore, was a not very subtle way of denying and bringing the people to deny, all those doctrines which have become explicit in the Faith and in the Prayer of the Church. The ecumenical advantage of our present regression to the Early Church should be clear - it is an implicity way of ceasing to profess any Christian truths which Protestants refuse to accept to this very day. No wonder, therefore, many Protestants think this "updating" craze in our Church is a promising thing! The slight and begrudging attention given the most holy Mother of God in the "New Mass" is a certain example of this artifice, and there are many others.

    Hence also, if you wish to play "ecumenics" with the Jews, you just continue further back into history, into the Old Testament. And if you think I am trying to be funny, tell me what reason has been given for allowing the fulfillment of one's Sunday obligation on Saturday and his holyday obligation on the day preceding. "They" say that, in the Bible, the day went from sunset to sunset. This is pure Judaism, of course. Never in the entire history of the Church was there such a practice. (In the Early Church, the people kept a vigil till midnight before celebrating their feasts - but we are not supposed to know that.) Further, the old Holy Saturday and Vigil of Pentecost liturgies lent themselves perfectly to this ancient practice. But they have been discarded.

Next Issue: Chapter Four - part fourteen G. The Rite of Peace

For installments to date, see Archives of The Great Sacrilege

See INTRODUCTION for an explanation of this work.

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by Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.
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