fredag 9 augusti 2013

Voris - sloppy but right in principle

Church Militant protagonist Michael Voris has been taken to task by Catholic writer David Armstrong for being sloppy about the background to the practice of receiving communion in the hand whilst standing. Armstrong points out that in the Orthodox rites communion is normally received whilst standing, whilst the practice of receiving communion in the hand can be traced by to the times of the early church fathers.

Voris can be irritatingly sloppy at times but is not usually wrong in principle. We are talking about signification here. Customs and gestures acquire meanings. Voris understands this. The view is well supported by semiotic theory and contemporary understandings in cognitive psychology. He may or may not know this theory but he seems to have a sound overall grasp.

Eastern (Orthodox) Rite churches receive do indeed receive communion whilst standing, but it is distributed in both kinds, using leavened bread, with the priest using a spoon, and it is received, of necessity, on the tongue. In addition, Orthodox liturgies use their own set of symbols in order to establish the sense of reverence - in particular, through the presence of the iconostasis in front of the altar, the elaboration of ceremonial and the use of modal music with drones and quarter tones.

The overall presentation of the Latin Rite Catholic liturgy is very different. The altar is open to view, the music is much simplified, and much of it is in an ordinary major or minor key.

In the Latin Rite, the reception of communion kneeling and on the tongue has been the practice for at least 1000 years, in which time it has come to acquire the meaning "reverence". To jump back to the practices of 1000 years previously was never how the church operated, since to do so would be to ignore the meanings that the practice had acquired in that period. Within the contemporary ie mid 20th century context, reversion to the earlier practice has the connotation of a reduction in reverence.

How that practice was perceived in patristic times is of interest but irrelevant in the contemporary context. The overall liturgy at that time would presumably have been closer to the Orthodox model. It does not do to pick and mix, especially down to the lowest common denominator.

1 kommentar:

Pétrus sa...

I liked that piece from Voris.

I think his perceived sloppyness is possibly more his American approach to things as much as anything else.

Otherwise good blog post. Thanks

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