"The New Mass is what Vatican II ordered."
Vatican II, in its Sacrosanctum Concilium, gave sensible guidelines for the reform of the Liturgy. Unfortunately, these guidelines were largely ignored in the decade that followed. RUPTURE!
"All but four of the Council Fathers voted for the New Rite."
No; what all but four of the Fathers voted for was Sacrosanctum Concilium. But this actual Conciliar Decree was largely ignored once 'the Experts' got their hands on the levers of power. RUPTURE!
"Modern Catholic Worship is what the Council wanted."
Even the New Rite as actually drafted after the Council had ended, and as authorised by the post-Conciliar popes is not what you get in most ordinary parish churches. For example: the official New Rite wants the First Eucharistic Prayer, the 'Roman Canon' to be used on Sundays and major feast days. It is largely ignored today. Does anybody seriously think that the Ottavianis and the Lefebvres would have voted nearly unanimously and without complaint for a New Rite in which the Canon of the Mass would be replaced by poorly-conceived committee-manufactured Eucharistic Prayers? RUPTURE!
"Everything, the Liturgy included, needs to be updated. That's why we need the New, modernised, Rite."
Updated? OK, then, let's consider the implications of your claim. It's now more than fifty years since the the New Rite was brought in. Time, therefore, now, according to you, for an even newer one. WE NEED TO RUPTURE OUR WAY AHEAD, TO BOLDLY RUPTURE WHERE NOONE HAS RUPTURED BEFORE!!
"But the New Rite takes account of Modern liturgical thinking."
No it doesn't. It takes account of the thinking of the late 1960s.
"But isn't that recent enough?"
Well, the people who invented the New Rite around 1967 didn't confine themselves to the liturgical thinking of around 1907, so why should we all be stuck with 1967? In Liturgical studies, as in everything else, things move on. Sixty years can be quite a long time in the History of Ideas. You are reading this on a computer ...
"But only a few eccentrics are unhappy with the New Rite."
Really? Joseph Ratzinger? Cardinal Sarah? Competent academics throughout the world?
"So how does the modern thinking of today differ from that of the 1960s?"
Very briefly: in the 1960s, Liturgy was commonly seen as having a primary purpose of enabling the Laity to understand their Faith and Worship better. So everything ... the 'experts' felt ... should be very clear and orderly and precisely expressed. Within the last generation, academic work has taken account of a distinction between 'orality' and 'literacy'. The Liturgy , according to more recent linguistic analysis, is in an 'oral' style in which repetitions and digressions, even stutterings and rebeginnings, are natural. Body-language, hints, allusions and nuances are part of communication which is the Church's act both of union within herself across time and space, and of love towards her Lord. An Anglican scholar called Catherine Pickstock, and a Catholic theologian called Fr Aidan Nichols have written well about such things.
"And you're saying that in the 1960s nobody understood that sort of stuff?"
Well, there was a most distinguished Dutch scholar called Christine Mohrmann, but, poor thing, she was not a member of the highly exclusive Big Boys' Club (CathPop!) of "We are the Elite Liturgical Experts and we know everything". She was cleverer and more learned than the 'Experts', so she was never given a look-in
"So you're saying that every sixty years, the entire Liturgy should be turned upside down."
No, I'm saying the opposite. It is a very bad idea to put the entire liturgical inheritance into a melting pot every generation or two. What the Council actually ordered in Sacrosanctum Concilium (why not read it?) was an organic and evolutionary approach, gently updating and adjusting. Which is what has happened throughout the nearly two millennia of Church History. That was a good policy, human and humane. It is a shame the words of the Council were ignored.
"So where ... in practical terms ... should we go from here?"
At least for the time being, a mixed economy and a gentle tolerance of liturgical diversity seem to me sensible. New Rite in Latin; New Rite in English; Old Rite in Latin; Old Rite in English ... that would be a true policy of leaving things to God, wouldn't it? Look up Gamaliel in Acts 5!
I put a lot of today’s ‘wrong think’ down to a lack of an appreciation for history. It seemed to me to have begun in the 1960s, but I was wrong! “History is bunk” is a quote attributed to Henry Ford. What he actually said - decades earlier - was:
“History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we make today."
That could have been – and probably was – the mantra of the post-Vatican II ‘liturgy experts’.
The great centralising has created for the Hierarchy problems it never anticipated and so it spins its wheels and gets stuck in legalisms;
Mediator Dei #25 It is an error, consequently, and a mistake to think of the sacred liturgy as merely the outward or visible part of divine worship or as an ornamental ceremonial. No less erroneous is the notion that it consists solely in a list of laws and prescriptions according to which the ecclesiastical hierarchy orders the sacred rites to be performed.
You many not want a war with Tradition but Tradition wants a war with you....
Excellent Father, excellent !
"What the Council actually ordered in Sacrosanctum Concilium (why not read it?) was an organic and evolutionary approach, gently updating and adjusting. Which is what has happened throughout the nearly two millennia of Church History."
Here is my question. If this organic development was already happening and has been part of the natural course of events in the Church, why was there a need for the Council to order it? For all its talk about great care and proceeding gently, how was Sacrosanctum Concilium not a green light to open the floodgates?
Excellent. Thank you, Father!
Mr W. Knott and Sons would have a most wonderful contribution regarding your last suggestion...
However much one might desire to read Pastor Aeternus as limiting papal power and restricting innovation (which position some interpreters of Newman often take), the fact remains that it enabled those who expand papal power and centralize as much as possible into the Vatican. A prime mover, if not THE prime mover, of this trajectory was Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, who via the Catechism promulgated in 1917, to the various concordats he negotiated as Vatican Secretary of State, to his own UKASE when he was Pope, to grooming like-minded collaborators (Bugnini) and successors (Montini), Pacelli's world-view, principles and actions paved the way for the Novus Ordo and PF himself. There is a straight line from Pastor Aeternus and the current nonsense.
Uniformity does not guarantee unity. At present there are several Latin Rites (Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Ordinariate) which proclaim the catholicity of the Church. To those, one can add the 14 Eastern Rites. So why can't Pope Francis permit a flourishing of the Old Mass?
Having been nurtured by the old Mass, and having studied it deeply, I can say that there were some things that could have been tweaked. I refer to the many articles I read in the 50's in Orate Fratres (later Worship). But nowhere did any respectable Liturgist foresee the liturgical break that came after the Council.
Today, sadly many do not even accept the mystery of the Real Presence of Christ. Personally, I blame the orientation of the Mass. The Mystery is "exposed" and to the eyes...nothing happens.
The Roman Catholic Church was my mother. When the essence of the Church (the Liturgy) changed I left to seek a place where I could find it again. For me, the Western Rite of Orthodoxy provided that place and stability. Daily I pray that Rome will come to its senses and restore the ancient Tradition of the Undivided Church.
Prior to the present pontificate and going back to the late 19th c. the most rigorous Catholics - the intransigent ultramontanes (as oppose to the dangerous liberals) exalted the power and authority of the Papacy and emphasised how every word was to be takes as coming from our Lord Himself. Well that's my impression of groups such as Sodalitium Pianum and the words of Pope S.Pius X. The extreme ultramontane was reckoned to be the best type of true and traditional Catholic.
It seems that more and more traditional Catholics are now back pedalling and watering down the ultra-traditional claims of the papacy. Again and again I go back to Geoffrey Hull: THE BANISHED HEART as superb explanation of how we arrived at where we are now and it was first written in 1995 and then revised in 2010
If this organic development was already happening and has been part of the natural course of events in the Church, why was there a need for the Council to order it?"
Dear Anita. With my typical reticence and understatement I'll say it is as plain as the nose on the Sphinx.
Pope Pius XII changed the old maximum - the law of prayer is the law of belief - into - the law of belief is the law of prayer - and so when the New Theology began to take hold of the Hierarchy we required (it was thought) a new prayer to express the new belief.
The new prayer was the the new mass and owing to the triumphalism of the new theology the old mass is now seen not too differently than how Holy Water was seen by the same new theologians (Thank you Karl Rahner) as suspiciously superstitious and certainly as a marker differentiating Catholicism from those who do not accept the fullness of Faith once delivered and so now when you go into a N.O Worship space and dip your fingers into water and Bless Your self you are making The Sign of the Cross with Wholly water.
Doe that make any difference or signal a rupture?
Not anymore than removing the offertory and replacing it with part of Jewish meal prayer means the new liturgy is different than the old mass.
One has to understand what is called the hermeneutic of continuity which in its essence argues:
Everything is different, nothing has changed.
Great post Fr. H.
I read Sacrosanctum Concilium many years ago - before I even became a Catholic. I'll read it again soon. It's obvious that the liturgy one encounters in most Catholic parishes bears little resemblance to what Sacrosanctum Concilium envisaged. A problem is that, just as there is no Catholic tradition of lay people reading the Scriptures for themselves, there is no inclination on the part of most Catholic laity to read conciliar documents.
"What the Council actually ordered in Sacrosanctum Concilium (why not read it?) was an organic and evolutionary approach, gently updating and adjusting."
I am certainly not without sympathy for the approach you are taking here, Fr. H; but if we're being honest with ourselves, we are hard pressed to avoid the proposition that, however modest Sacrosanctum Concilium is up against the actual reform we *got*, it is nonetheless a prescription for a very ambitious program of liturgical reform. For example: It is after SC, not a committee of the Consilium, that ordered the unprecedented leap of a multi-year lectionary (SC 51) and, even more astoundingy, the abolition of the office of Prime (SC 89(d)).
If we were to start afresh today, I think just about all of us here would have serious reservations about many of the prescriptions SC sets out, and indeed many of the principles that inform them, as a basis for any reform.
The problem IS the council. While it is true that Sacrosanctum Concilium has not been faithfully executed, it is ALSO true that the authors purposefully inscribed many loopholes in it. Everything thing reads "this is the way it should be done, unless XYZ."
The fruit of the Council is rotten. The situation will not improve until that is repaired.
For now the most likely evolution for the Church is much prayer and attrition. As difficult as the current crop of leadership is to take, I firmly believe we are hearing the death rattle of this horrid generation.
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte
I have read that Charles Kingsley said something similar -- possibly when he resigned as Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.
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