Rorate Caeli

Editorial: Doctrine can never be bartered
(and the indelible influence of Michael Davies)

Editorial: Radicati nella fede, January 2015
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy

It has finally arrived. It came like a kind of unexpected Christmas gift - it was so long in coming. It comes as a beneficial gift for those who want to profit from it. What, you might ask, has arrived? The Italian version of “The Liturgical Revolution - Cranmer’s Godly Order”* by Michael Davies – that’s what’s arrived!

Over the past years we have given ample extracts from it on this bulletin and on our blog, but we needed the complete publication in Italian. Now, thanks be to God, we have it!

This first editorial of the year, is simply a heartfelt invitation for many to take this fine work into their hands and delve into it. Since our encounter with Davies’ writings was fundamental, we urge this in a warm way. We cannot say that they were the only motive for our passing to the Old Rite, but undoubtedly they contributed in clarifying the reasons for it definitively.

In fact, it is all about reasons. In Catholicism we move for reasons; we decide, we choose and we work in one way or another for reasons, which the intelligence illuminated by Grace acknowledges. It is reason that determines action, not sentiment or personal taste. This is why Doctrine is never sacrificed in the Church. There is no gap between Doctrine and Holiness, between Doctrine and Charity, between Doctrine and Prayer and between Doctrine and Faith.

The popular neo-modernism of today (of a very low level) has introduced this gap, and for this many say that it is important [just] to live well; it doesn’t matter how or what you believe and doctrine isn’t so important. In the life of the Church today, there is a disdain for Doctrine, which favors [personal] experience of faith: but how can you have a real experience of God, if, disdaining Doctrine it is reduced to living “religious things” unmoored from God’s Revelation?

Forgive us the digression, but it is only to repeat that Davies’ text offers, in a clear and synthetic way, reasons for taking decisive steps towards Tradition. We shall say it again, after repeatedly writing about it on these pages: the abandonment of right faith, the abandonment of Catholic unity, the loss of the priesthood and sacraments do not always happen in an immediate and explicit way, but may happen subtly and gradually, as a result of the gradual reforms in the Rite of the Mass and the other sacraments; and these gradual and subtle reforms will never state anything explicitly heretical, but will be increasingly more silent on the fundamental aspects of Catholic Dogma.

And what is going to happen to Christians, who, in order to have a quiet life, don’t reject this process of decadence in a clear way? They are going to experience a gradual transformation of their faith – so gradual that they won’t even notice it. They will not be aware! Certain in their desire to remain Catholic, but not moved by reasons, that is, not watching over Doctrine intellectually, they will not be aware in time, that they have been transformed, until they become a shadow of what they were. At first they were simply Catholics, after they will become vaguely religious, regressing even to a natural religion - to naturalism; hoping that they don’t lose faith in God completely.

If there are no reasons, this and more may happen!

This is what happened after the schism in England – as you know well - and if you don’t know yet - read Davies. It was what happened in England, but will it happen only in England? This must be understood through reason fortified by grace. And is why we invite you to read “LITURGICAL REVOLUTION - Cranmer’s Godly Order”. Reading it though, let’s try to grasp the logic of Davies’ great work. Let’s not look only for some information that may whet our passion for Tradition or our outrage at the novelties.

Instead, let’s look for the logic that conducts this enlightening investigation i.e. the Doctrine that commands in [matters of] Faith. You cannot hope to remain Catholic, and in a state of grace, without maintaining the right Doctrine. It is for this, that the Church over the centuries, with Her Magisterium, has defended and spread right Doctrine; it is for this that She has created catechisms; it is for this that She has worked so hard so that the people were not left in ignorance, but that they would know the Revelation of God. However, even before all this, God revealing Himself, spoke to man’s reason.

Doctrine always prevails, it is never substitutable; it is never to be bartered with anything else, not even with what seems holy and spiritual; but anyway, if something is not doctrinally sound, in truth it is not holy. There can be no prayer pleasing to God that doesn’t respect Catholic Doctrine, which springs from the Revelation of God. There can be no holy action, pleasing to God, no holy work in the Church, which omits or is silent on some aspect of Catholic Doctrine! This is true even in the action par excellence, in the work par excellence, which is the Holy Mass.

This is true for everyone. For those who are easily modernized, worried constantly about being left behind the times; for those Catholics who love modernity, we mean. Yet it’s true, in fact very true, even for conservatives, who gripe about the novelties that perturb them, but by not looking for the reasons of their perturbation, by not seriously studying Doctrine, they remain weak. And since one cannot live one’s entire life griping, sooner or later one adapts to the ambiguous reforms, deluding oneself that they will never change one’s faith. And while one is being deluded, one has already adapted to many ambiguities.

Well then, enjoy reading Davies’ work; study it well to discover the reasons we love Tradition.

And let us never forget that Doctrine cannot be bartered.

* The first volume of Davies' "The Liturgical Revolution" trilogy -in Italian, the title of the volume is “La Riforma Liturgica Anglicana”. For Michael Davies' life and full list of works, see this previous post.

[Rorate translation by contributor Francesca Romana]