2 April 2019

The Hermeneutic of Continuity (3)

I think it is fairly commonly agreed by those who have actually read the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium that the committees of experts who produced the new rites in fact hijacked and perverted both the spirit and the letter of the Council. Archbishop Lefebvre, who voted for the Decree and who patiently adopted the modest and organic alterarions of the next five years, justly and rightly made a prophetic protest against this process.

I have emphasised the centrality of the technology of printing to the history of liturgy in the last six hundred years. It was printing that brought in the chaotic situation to which S Pius V addressed himself in his liturgical reforms. And in the sixteenth century, it was printing that Pius was himself able to use to restrain and reform the liturgical dysfunctions of the Latin Church. The paradox of the twentieth century is that printing was again crucial: but, on this occasion, the Discontinuators who had seized the levers of liturgical power were enabled to use printing to do the opposite of what Pius V did: they used it to disseminate and impose disorders rather than, as he did, to restrain and eliminate them.

As my favourite liturgist, Lenin, would say: What is to be done? We may wonder what can be done when, for more than half a century, Christian men and women have been brought up to use a liturgy which was corrupted textually by Discontinuating ideologues in Rome; a Liturgy which was then heteropractically deformed by unmandated innovations (versus populum and vernaculars universally enforced, for example); and which was finally rendered even more unfit for purpose in the Anglophone world by the imposition of a 'translation' which refused to the People of God unfettered access even to such elements of the Tradition as had survived into the 'reformed' Latin texts.

Can we return to the preconciliar books and then give them such a revision, organic and cautious, as is actually mandated by the Council? As Cardinal Ratzinger explained when dealing with the question of versus populum/versus apsidem, however technically just it would be to set aside the malformations of forty years, such an action would simply disturb people. I would add that it would also, in fact, reinforce the deplorable notion that liturgy is endlessly changeable by mere fiat from Authorities ... fiats disseminated not now only by printing but by even more rapid technologes. The reinforcement of this unfortunate misconception could (if enough of Satan's smoke seeps into the Church of the future) make the situation ultimately worse.

One more post should conclude this series.

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