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Monday, March 17, 2014

Heresy and Liturgy

"When I search more thoroughly... I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: 'móda']. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us." ~ Pope Francis, 14 Feb 2014
While speaking to the Czech section of Vatican Radio, Pope Francis pointed out that liturgy doesn't save us.

He's right. It doesn't. Only the sacraments save us. Liturgy is wrapped around sacrament, but liturgy - by itself - has no saving power.

A lot of people think older liturgies are more beautiful and protect people from heresy. Maybe they do, but there isn't any particular proof for the proposition. Take, for instance, the East-West schism.

Here is a list of all the bishops of Constantinople who presented or advocated heresies:

Eastern schisms and the Councils that responded to them:
  • Eusebius of Nicomedia: Arian archbishop of Constantinople, reigned 338 AD, answered by Nicaea (325)
  • Nestorius: 2-person Christ,  archbishop of Constantinople, reigned 428-432, answered by Ephesus (431)
  • Acacius: Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 471-479, answered by Chalcedon (451)
  • Anthimus: Monophysite Patriarch of Contantinople, reigned 535-36, answered by Chalcedon (451)
  • Sergius: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 610-638, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Pyrrhus: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 639-641, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Paul: Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 641-648, answered by 3rd Constantinople (681)
  • Photius: Patriarch of Constantinople, reigned 858-867 and again 878-886. No heresy: just schism, answered by 4th Constantinople (869-870). Notice that 4th Constantinople expressly ordered that Photius never hold episcopal office again, much less the see of Constantinople. Notice also the Pope completely ignored the ruling of 4th Constantinople that the papal throne had fully accepted just ten years before, and allowed Photius back into the episcopal chair at Constantinople. Councils don't mean anything if the Pope doesn't enforce them. Remember that when you wail about "what Vatican II did." It did nothing. The Popes did it all.
  • No more Ecumenical Councils in the East.

Now, all these men celebrated beautiful liturgies, in many cases, liturgies that had been developed by Doctors and/or Fathers of the Church. Liturgy doesn't get better than that. You can make a strong argument that the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Cyril is much more beautiful than the liturgy put in place following the Council of Trent, a council that had no Fathers or Doctors upon its roll.

Despite their great liturgies, all these bishops of Constantinople fell into heresy, as did hundreds of their brother priests and bishops.

The liturgy does not save.

The Tridentine Mass is nice. It doesn't save. Don't get hung up on it.

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