Monday, November 03, 2008

Scott Hahn Conference

On Saturday we were pleased to spend the day in Oxford and catch the afternoon session of the conference organised by Second Spring, entitled Scripture and Liturgy in the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Clearly our Holy Father is such an accomplished theologian that it pays dividends for other theologians to analyse his writings more closely!

The theme of the day seemed to be that, in these 'new movement' times of the Church, the liturgical movement and the scriptural movement should cross paths. It was fascinating hearing Adrian Walker (who translated the Pope's novel Jesus of Nazareth) discuss the way we should read scripture in a 'spiritual way'. Funnily enough, I had come to a similar conclusion just by seeing the way the old Douay Rheims bible was annotated and edited. He focused particularly on a section of the Pope's book about the Johannine image of water, in chapter 8.

Likewise, I'm afraid I only began to fully appreciate the place of scripture in the life of the Church after being given a St Andrew's Daily Missal (published in 1954) which shows how the liturgy is crafted lovingly using scripture throughout. The old form of Mass also enables me to reflect and meditate on scripture, especially when the Mass is sung, as the Psalms were intended. I am not convinced that the Novus Ordo intention of bombarding the Catholic faithful with as much scripture as possible has really payed dividends.

Scott Hahn presented a paper he had written entitled Eucharistic Kingdom and the World as a Temple which he was as enthusiastic about as ever! I could not hope to recount everything he said, but needless to say he painted a beautiful image of heavenly worship throughout scripture, and how this is relevant to the Mass. Hearing his description of how we are partaking with the altar in heaven, where the Lamb is worshipped, was just awe-inspiring. It is enough to make me thirst all the more for Liturgy which is conducted with this vision in mind. The Novus Ordo can be performed in a variety of ways, and a lot is down to interpretation. I am always confident and secure in the knowledge that Mass celebrated according to the strict rubrics of the 1962 missal will be reverent, prayerful, and will reflect the heavenly reality in a way that has been accomplished through centuries of development.

There were a few people in the audience who enthusiastically asked questions, mainly I think about the liturgy, and I think the old Rite was more or less dismissed from serious discussion. However, we did not stay for the remainder of the discussion because we had a baby to rescue from the torrential rain outside! Also we did not hear Dom Aidan Nichols talk, which I'm sure would have been peppered with references to traditional liturgy.

The highlight of the day was of course meeting Dr Scott Hahn. We have enthusiatically followed his writings since 2004 when Wendy was an Anglican, and picked up a title called "Hail, Holy Queen". Reading and listening to his conversion story also had a profound impact upon us, and we went on to read the book Rome Sweet Home co-authored by his wife.

We took the opportunity to get our latest book, Reasons to Believe, signed by Dr Hahn. We were fortunate in that we were sitting very near him during his talk, and when the tea break came we were the first to approach him (before a long line developed behind us)! Of note was his happy and friendly demeanour, and the way he talked passionately to each and every person who mercilessly requested an autograph! He was very excited to hear about yesterday's Mass for the translation of Cardinal Newman's relics. A fellow convert; Hahn is a big fan of Newman!


  1. How immensely frustrating. We must have been six feet away from each other and never knew to say Hello.

    Here's my entry:

  2. It is a shame you missed Fr Nichols' presentation, which was excellent.

  3. Thanks for the post. It sounds like it was a great conference. Wish I was on that side of the pond!