Monday, December 28, 2009

First Nations Catholicism

I'd like to give a shout out for my friend's network "First Nations Catholicism." Though I'm just a white guy, I post there on issues I find relating to Native American Christianity, and think we have a really good start for being a platform for discussion of such issues. You may find that I re-post some of my thoughts from my posts there onto this blog as relevant.

My friend is something of a budding anthropologist, and has been interested in such issues because of his own First Nations heritage (Taino, specifically) for some time. However, it was initially inspired by our reading of the book I got for Christmas "The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian missions: from the colonial period to the Second Vatican Council" by Claudio R. Salvucci.

The question of the organic development of native liturgy in the Americas is one I have long been interested in. In the Old World there are generally ancient liturgies associated with Africa (the Coptic, the Ge'ez Ethiopian, etc) and Asia (the Syro-Malabar and Malankara in India, etc). And though the missionaries of the Roman Rite may have disregarded the traditional patriarchal boundaries when choosing which liturgy to introduce to various cultures (even Matteo Ricci assumed the inculturation would involve the Roman), and though a certain liturgical imperialism may have stunted the possibility of something like, say, a Chinese liturgy based on the Antiochene, these trends could be reversed today by a simple switch of the rites used in these areas (gradually, one would hope, to avoid too much disruption). After all, the Novus Ordo has basically wiped out any argument of keeping it anymore from the sheer inertia of tradition...

Also, the [Latin] Catholic population in many of these areas is small compared to the total population which could potentially convert. Yes, there are a few million Chinese Catholics with a tradition of the Latin Rite already in place, and I would not want to disrupt that for them...but, at the same time, there are hundreds of millions of potential Chinese converts who have no particular tradition of any Rite yet, and it might be advantageous to use this "blank slate" to correct a historical and geographical wrong.

The Americas are a much more interesting question, however, as they had no native liturgy associated with them. They are within the Latin Patriarchate, and so it would be assumed that Western Liturgies would be the "seed" for any native uses and eventually rites that could eventually have developed or still develop, though one might perhaps wish that a bit more local diversity had been used on the part of the "colonial" liturgy established (ie, the Spanish could have used the Mozarabic, the French a Gallican liturgy, the English the Sarum, the Portuguese the Bragan, etc.)

The "Indian Mass" texts nevertheless at least represent some of the latest examples we have, and some of the only post-Tridentine, of organic liturgical experimentation and development being allowed to occur. This gives us a peek into the process in progress, albeit at a nascent stage and one severely hindered by Tridentine ossification and legalism regarding strict limitations on alterations to the liturgical texts themselves. Still, it gives us some sources into how the process or organic development traditionally could work (in contrast with Vatican II artificial committee-made liturgy) and thus how it could be fomented once again.

This New Liturgical Movement post discusses the so-called "Indian Mass" uses as well and links to a very good source for this topic of which there is thus far scant research.

PS. This post is a good example of a "Renegade Trad" type of topic, as I know many non-renegade trads would plotz if they heard talk of "savage" liturgical inculturation, and scoff at native cultures the world over as "barbaric" and in need of "Civilization" (read: Europeanization), whereas Renegade Trads respect any traditional organic culture and believe that they can all be "baptized" just as the Greco-Roman was.

At the same time, we Renegade Trads are certainly against the Liberal inculturation whereby stereotyped symbols (like feather head-dresses and peace pipes and such) are slapped together into a rather patronizing "Disney's Pocahontas" Liturgy. And though we recognize that cultural exchange and evolution always happen, we generally support cultures co-existing on earth separately in their own homelands rather than being leveled and blended into one globalized Multiculture by pluralism.

Later today I'll post a rant I wrote a while back about the meaning of "traditionalism" as I espouse it in this sense, and how it contrasts with the Colonial mindset held by many trads (and many right-wing Christians in general).

No comments: