Matthew J. Franck
Robert P. George
William J. Haun
David T. Koyzis
Robert T. Miller
James R. Rogers
Russell E. Saltzman
Thomas More College now has posted the video of a recent talk R.R. Reno gave on the ancient roots of today’s liturgy:
You can find related videos by people like Anthony Esolen and George Rutler on Thomas More College’s video channel.
Volumes could be (and should be, in my opinion) written about the observation that Rusty makes toward the beginning: Today, the Temple sacrifice of biblical Judaism is recalled in the Mass of Catholicism more vividly than in any other religion, including rabbinic Judaism and Islam.
Is that good? Or bad? To the modern imagination, blood sacrifice is mostly dark and barbarous. Even among mainstream Catholics, the long-standing understanding of Mass as a ritual sacrifice has become unfashionable. That dimension of it was muted with the introduction of the Pauline Mass forty years ago, while the volume was turned up on the understanding of Mass as a ritual meal.
Those audio settings, by the way, are flipped in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite of Mass. There the priest faces the altar, not us, because he’s not the presider but literally the priest, whose job it is to perform a sacrifice, which is exacting, serious business. During the Canon, there are moments when I almost expect to see blood flying off the altar.
It would be hard to overestimate the degree to which most of us now assume that liturgy framed in those terms is self-evidently evil, or at least pernicious.
I wonder what the religion scholar Jonathan Klawans would say about Rusty’s talk. Klawans has written extensively on sacrifice in biblical Judaism and is skeptical about the modern tendency to anathematize the practice. Referring to Rene Girard’s highly influential work on sacrifice, violence, and scapegoating, he once quipped that “Girard makes sacrifice in the ancient world the scapegoat for violence in modern experience.”
Correction: It was Bruce Chilton who wrote that “Girard makes sacrifice in the ancient world the scapegoat for violence in modern experience.” Klawans quoted him.