Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Saturday, 14 February 2015


Fr Hunwicke talks good sense on the theology behind privileging the Church Universal ahead of local concerns and structures.
(And I learned a new word!)
I would certainly not have condemned "the idea that the local Church has ontological priority" in those words, (I am neither sufficiently learned nor eloquent,)  but, as I believe I've mentioned so often everyone I know is bored to distraction by it, when I was first being drawn back into "church music" I was alarmed by a list I had come across of the purposes of such music.
Before I knew his music, I knew that anyone who would say that liturgical music should "provide a means of identity for the local church, the parish, [and] bond the community together," while completely ignoring what it had done and ought to continue to do for the identity of the Church Universal, was probably not someone whose oeuvre was worth the bother.
 (Since then I've come to learn that the man not only indifferent to that which could aid in strengthening our common Catholic identity, he bears it a certain animus.)
Even as a child, what was most attractive to me in the Church was the knowledge of its universality, and the reassurance that its liturgical practices were similarly global. (Well, at least in theory.)
I didn't WANT to belong to St. Thewaywedoithere's, and celebrate according to the Makingitupaswegoalong Rite, (and I say this as someone who has loved her parishes.)

But anyway, back to Fr Hunwicke.
It is sometimes suggested that, as an alternative to a Church which is pushed around by the Curia, we would be better served by having a much weaker and tinier curia and a lot of very powerful Episcopal Conferences. I find myself entirely out of sympathy with these sentiments. Partly, this is on personal and pragmatic grounds. We, in the Church of England, saw what happened when 'Provincial Autonomy' was allowed to ride rough-shod over Doctrine, Tradition, Bible ... and even the Dominical Imperative of Unity. It is a thoroughly nasty and miserable experience....
the idea that the local Church has ontological priority....  is ecclesiologically illiterate. There is one Body of Christ, One Catholic Church. It subsists in two modes. There is the Church Universal spread throughout the world. Then there is the Particular Church, Bishop, priests, deacons, people, in one place. This distinction goes back to S Paul, who uses 'Ekklesiai" in the plural to refer to the local churches, but "Ekklesia" in the singular to refer to the Universal Body of Christ which lies behind, as it were, each local church. Yet the two are one. The Catholica is in the local church, and you cannot participate in the Catholica without participating in your local Church. The whole Body of Christ subsists in the Particular Church. This theological simplicity calls into question any attempt to muddy its waters, unless it is firmly understood that that any 'groupings' are merely functional and ad hoc. Powerful regional "churches" introduce a, to me, incomprehensible confusion into the simple teaching of Scripture and Tradition. And they are subversive both of the unique role of the local bishop (with his curia of presbyters and deacons) and of the unique role of the Roman Pontiff (with his curia). 
You should read him every day.
(Oh, and fissiparous means something like resulting from fission or fissures.)

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