Monday, September 07, 2015

Latin Legalism

Fr. Hunwicke has a series of posts on the scholar of Christian Latin, Christine Mohrmann: 1, 2, 3

See especially the third post: "The ancient Romans were very legalistically minded. When they prayed to the Gods, they did their best to ensure that they covered everything; that they addressed the Gods by the right titles (and all of them) so that they could be assured that they were heard; that they asked for everything that they required so that an accidental omission would not frustrate their petitions. Christine Mohrmann showed that there is more than a little of this attitude in the prayers which comprise the Roman Rite of the ancient Latin Church."

A charge very often levelled at Roman or Latin Apostolic Christianity is that it is legalistic. Certainly, there is a narrowly defined legalism that is characteristic of post-medieval moral theology (see Servais Pinckaers). But can it also be said that a certain understanding of atonement is legalistic and even a certain strain of Latin spirituality, with an emphasis on merits and indulgences and the like, is legalistic. Do we find these tendencies rooted in the Latin culture that gave rise to Christian Latin? After all wasn't Rome known during the days of the Republic and of the Empire as being oriented towards the practical, to law and order?

Homiletics and the Three Year Lectionary Cycle

Reflections on the Novus Ordo Mass by Howard Kainz