"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, May 22, 2020

Daniel Galadza, Robert Taft, and the History of Communion Spoons

I should hope you count no savages among your so-called friends who might utter such horrifying phrases as "Byzantine liturgical history is of no use in the 21st-century." If they do say such things, send them here for some remedial therapy at the hands of a young practitioner who has already proven himself a worthy successor to the late Robert Taft. I refer, of course, and not without some bias, to Daniel Galadza, author of Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem. I interviewed him here about that book.

Daniel quotes in there one of the most valuable of many quotable lines from Taft: history is instructive, but not normative. Each generation of the Church remains free to determine events and affairs for itself. It is not "traditional" simply to copy what some past practice was without consideration of what has changed, of what is different now. We were all given minds by God to use in our own time and by our own lights, guided, to be sure, by the past, but never its prisoner.

If you wish a powerful but short explanation of why this is so, then you would do well to track down a copy of Hans Urs von Balthasar, either in his 1939 essay "The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves" or, perhaps more readily to hand, the very eloquent introduction to Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa.

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