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Durham University

Centre for Catholic Studies

John Morris

Receipt of a Catherine McAuley Bursary has enabled me to pursue further a deep interest in the twentieth-century French Catholic Theology (the movement known as Ressourcement) which began with my undergraduate degree. I came to Durham five years ago to read Engineering, and by a path whose windings seem in retrospect all too strange found myself transferring to read theology and undergoing Catechesis in preparation for reception into the Catholic Church. Since then I have been fascinated by the creative tension in which Catholicism in general and Catholic Theology in particular stands—tradition and innovation, authority and critical scholarship. Those texts whose simultaneous reverence for Tradition and rejection of sterile formalism have remained with me ever since captivated me: I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the interplay between Theological practice and Ecclesiology in Yves Congar and discovered a theology grounded in the liturgical life of the Church.

I am interested, then, in Liturgy, as locus of the drama of salvation and restoration of cosmic order in Christ; particularly apparent in the cosmic dimensions of the liturgies of the East but present everywhere. In parallel, the concerns of the early Liturgical Movement for a deeper involvement in liturgy as prelude to a wider historical-theological consciousness among the laity (a dimension much neglected today) presents a challenge to contemporary approaches to liturgical theology. It seems to me that the increasing stress on the subject in modernity is fundamentally orthogonal to liturgical worship, and that the incultration of the Church in the modern west, often played out in the either/or of ‘accepting’ or ‘rejecting’ the world, is best conceived in terms of the ‘third way’ Ressourcement sought to open. I am thus piecing together the disparate remarks on liturgy Ressourcement thinkers scattered through their works in view of a future project on ‘Ressourcement liturgiology’. I am equally interested in the role of Music in Catholic worship, and have been for the past three years musical director at St. Cuthbert’s Catholic Church, and for the past four years a Choral Scholar at St. John’s College, both of which have given ample opportunity to reflect on the varying purposes and corresponding categorisations of Music in Liturgy.

My MA dissertation is on the role of prophecy in Congar and the nouvelle théologie more widely, paying particular attention to what Congar terms the ‘natural analogue’ of prophecy—poetry—and the sense of the poetic act as corresponding to the Church’s kerygma; the world seen through engraced eyes (poetry) and the cosmic order of creation (theology) finding their rapprochement in the Liturgy. The great respect shown to Péguy, (Rousseaux’s ‘Le Prophète Péguy’ appears a surprising amount in Congar’s footnotes) Claudel and Bernanos is of obvious importance given renewed interest in Ressourcement’s sacramentality (notably ’s ). But the wider ecclesial-theological framework has the kind of fascination I fully expect to last a lifetime.

I have chosen to continue at Durham in order to continue working with Prof. Lewis Ayres in the strong, yet non-partisan, Catholic environment Durham provides. I am very grateful for the CCS’s support without which this would almost certainly not have been possible, and for the community it provides through lectures, seminars and disparate events.

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