Thursday, 5 June 2014
TLM in Denmark and a distraction about "Canute"
Rorate Caeli reports on the Society of Saint Canute which promotes the Traditional Mass in Denmark. This is good news, but I thought I would hijack it to make another point in view of the almost inevitable reaction of some people in England to a traditionalist society with the name "Canute" in it.
Ho ho ho, they would say, King Canute thought he could halt the waves, but he couldn't, and was humiliated by getting his clothes wet. Well first of all, that is the wrong Canute. The traditionalist society is named after the Saint, Canute IV of Denmark (born about 1042.) The story about the waves is told of King Canute the Great who died in 1035.
More importantly, the story is often misunderstood, as though the silly King Canute thought he could stop the waves by his kingly power. This provides an easy jibe against traditionalists who, the liberals might say, are trying to stop the relentless march of modern liturgy.
Actually, the story in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle is to the credit of King Canute who used the inexorable power of the sea to proclaim that the power of kings is empty and worthless because nobody is worthy of the name of King except God "whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws." So perhaps it is rather the unstoppable tide of traditional liturgy that is willed by God, that earthly power tries, but fails, to halt.
As I said, this does hijack the original story about the Society of Saint Canute and it is about another Canute in any case, so let me say how delightful it is to hear that the traditional Roman rite is being fostered in Denmark.