So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Appreciating the sacral dialect of the Sacred Liturgy. A few reminders from Dr. Clinton A. Brand.

Clinton Allen Brand directs our attention to "some principles relevant for appreciating the sacral language of Divine Worship".
FYI—Clinton Allen Brand, Ph.D., K.S.G. is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas, and served as a member of the Anglicanae Traditiones Interdicasterial Commission.
An excerpt from Very Members Incorporate: Reflections on the Sacral Language of Divine Worship.


1. Liturgical language is not so much a tool of edifying information as it is the simulacrum of divine encounter and revelation; it is not and has never been the diffuse idiom of everyday communication; rather it is the Church’s focused, concentrated instrument of mediation to effect, to incarnate our participation in the saving mysteries of our faith and to immerse, to wash the faithful in the figural meanings of Holy Scripture.

2. Liturgical language is stylized, enacted speech with its own kind of mediated intelligibility, and far from excluding archaic elements it welcomes a modicum of traditional expressions and ritualized, formulaic conventions that “reach to the roots,” resonate in the auditory memory, and habituate an experience of worship wider, deeper, older than ourselves, transcending the gathered congregation in time and space to represent and configure our incorporation into the Communion of the Saints.

3. Liturgical language is recursive and immersive; it bears and demands repetition, day by day, week by week, season by season, year by year, without ever exhausting its capacity to stimulate meditation and work ongoing conversion of life; its words are “poetic” in the sense of being athletic, even ascetic, by gently, insistently stretching the limits of expression in order to exercise, train, tune, and elevate our faculties that we might lift up our hearts to God and open out our lives in love and service.

Dr. Brand acknowledges the dependence of the above principles on extant sources:
"The principles ... claim no originality and are gleaned from the following, among others"(:)
  1. Uwe Michael Lang, The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012);
  2. Kevin W. Irwin, What We Have Done, What We Have Failed to Do: Assessing the Liturgical Reforms of Vatican II (New York: Paulist Press, 2013);
  3. Aidan Nichols, Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of Its Contemporary Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996);
  4. Jeremy Driscoll, “Conceiving the Translating Task: The Roman Missal and the Vernacular,” in The Voice of the Church: A Forum on Liturgical Translation (Washington DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2001) 49–95;
  5. Bruce E. Harbert, “The Roman Rite and the English Language,” Antiphon 9 (2005) 16–29;
  6. and Daniel B. Gallagher, “What Has Language to do with Beauty? The Philosophical Foundations of Liturgical Translations,” in Benedict XVI and the Roman Missal, ed. Janet E. Rutherford and James O’Brien (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013) 226–244.

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