Friday, December 9, 2011

"Revelation Through Veiling in the Old Liturgy"

                                                                 Chalice veil and burse

We continue to be astonished by the fresh perspectives on the beauty of the Mass offered throughout  Martin Mosebach's "The Heresy of Formlessness."   After describing the many ways in which veiling in the old liturgy served actually to reveal truth, Mosebach says this:

"The argument given for the liturgical reform is always that it has liberated the rite of Mass from all later accretions and "restored" it to the "purest" possible form, closer to that of primitive Christianity.  In this context, veils and veiling are held to be instances of these "later accretions", although in fact they are signs of the mystery character the liturgy had in those first centuries.  Liturgical archaeologism, like all forms of historicism and restorationism - in the world of art, too - falls under the accusation Faust makes against his acquaintance, Wagner, drunk with too much history: "Call it you may 'the spirit of the time': It is the spirit of the powerful, to which the times must bend."

In this context, a liturgy that renounces all veiling has nothing to say.  Presenting us with nothing but naked materiality, it takes account neither of creation's supernatural perfection nor of the world's need of redemption."

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