Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, mandated that liturgical innovations, if required by a 'true and certain usefulness', should happen 'organically' (organice quodammodo). I would like to explore this a little by taking a magnifying glass to one particular detail. The tiniest details can illustrate big facts.
Here is a psalm which will so familiar to nearly all readers from Benediction that I will not bother to translate it.
Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum omnes populi. Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.
During the War, Pope Pius XII ordered a new Latin translation to be made of the Psalter. The work fell into the hands of a protege of his, Cardinal Augustin Bea, who was to play a destructively 'progressive' role during the Council. When the finished product appeared in 1945, there was horror on all sides except among the people involved in producing it. The Committee had translated the Hebrew text into a sort of Classical Latin and had obviously regarded with contempt, not only the texts which the Church had previously used but the whole tradition of Christian Latinity and the culture it embodies.
Readers of this blog will know that the Latin Church's Bible and Liturgy are in a particular dialect of Latin which developed in the first Christian Centuries. And those of you who have heard lectures I have been privileged to give in variously places when I have been invited to do so will be familiar with the name of the great Dutch Classical scholar Christine Mohrmann; who analysed and wrote brilliantly about this ancient and specifically Christian dialect of Latin which has fed and nurtured Latin Christianity for nearly two millennia. My heroine! She and experts like her castigated the Pian psalter.
She - and they - were right to do so. The entire exercise constituted a massive and contemptuous disdain of the worship, theology, and spirituality of Latin Christianity. It exemplified the Hermeneutic of Rupture with a vengeance, and did all this some twenty years BEFORE the Council.
In the second part of this piece, I am going to argue that Pius XII's action gives us a powerful example of change which is not organic and which therefore ought to be resisted by right-thinking Catholics. And we shall see that the Magisterium of the Church itself came, within a generation, to the conclusion that a big mistake had been made. So the Magisterium itself, by its own example, taught and teaches that non-organic innovation should be resisted and, ultimately, reversed! But we have further episodes to study before we have that conclusion safely in the bag.
To be continued