Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts on Liturgy

From Germany, translated in England, to all 3 of our faithful readers. (Full text found at The New Liturgical Movement)

The author, a fellow named Martin Mosebach, proposes Six Theses regarding the Liturgical Revolution of 1969/70--ffd. Not a bad synthesis/reduction of the events, and accurate.

Paul VI’s reform of the Mass following the Second Vatican Council represents a unique event in
the history of the Church. Never before had the Church forbidden an old rite, never before had
she, as Cardinal Ratzinger has stated, put a “fabricated rite” in the place of a traditional one.
The defining rite of the Western Church prior to 1968 is in no measure “Tridentine”, i.e. the
creation of the Council Of Trent, as many would erroneously have it, but can, in its essentials,
be traced back to Gregory the Great.

...According to the oldest theological sources, which survive unbroken in Orthodoxy, it was
not the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, but primarily the sacrifice on the Cross which was
present in the Mass.

When, shortly before its demise, the ideology of secularisation had penetrated the Church in
various guises, and concepts such as sin, guilt, sacrifice and salvation had come to resemble the
barbaric-atavistic residue of a religion which caused only embarrassment in sophisticated society, the traditional Sacrament was reinterpreted as being a peace-bringing commemorative breaking of bread by the congregation. There has been an irresolvable contradiction in the Church ever since: Papal doctrine incessantly promulgates the traditional view of the Eucharistic Sacrament, whilst common practice, which always carries more weight than teachings, has more or less departed from the centuries-old position and created an entirely new mentality among the faithful.

It's not a co-incidence that tunes such as "Peace Is Flowing..." and "Let There Be Peace..." were de rigeur through the 1970's. In fact, it's quite logical--a post-facto affirmation of this thesis.

The post-Conciliar liturgical reform cannot make the claim to be based on the Liturgical Constitution of the Second Vatican Council.

...John XXIII revised the missal in keeping with these ideas and, in 1965, issued a missal which
reflected the will of the Council Fathers. The deviations were minimal: there had been no interference with the actual ritual act at all.

...The most important elements of today’s Mass practice, as in the celebration of the Mass facing the congregation and not with priest and congregation uniformly facing East and the dispensing of Communion in the hand and not in the mouth, are not even integral parts of the Mass reform of Paul VI. They were wrested from Rome in disobedience to the instructions of the missal. The paradoxal result is the fact that a mass celebrated according to the old missal is considerably closer to the wishes of the Council Fathers than a mass of the ‘Novus Ordo’, even on the rare occasions when the celebration is dignified and in keeping with the instructions of the missal.

The 'disobedience' was encouraged and furthered by the LitWonkTutu crowd here in the USA, but also in Europe. That crowd still exists, personified by Bp. Traut-person, for whom history stopped in about 1975 or so...

The post-Conciliar liturgical reform is the first reform in Church history which did not aim to
re-establish form, but instead sought its dissolution, abrogation and relativisation. Today, every
form of liturgical order is de facto at the individual’s discretion. Confession has been largely
abolished. Obligatory fasting has been reduced to two days in the year, eucharistic fasting is
simply no longer required. Liturgical music and liturgical art are no longer subject to order.
The criterion for any form of liturgy today is solely what is “acceptable” and “accessible”. The
list of liturgical rules of conduct which the modern churchgoer no longer “accepts” is a long one.
Kneeling is completely out of the question; ritual language is not accessible; Mass times must be
convenient; passages from the Scripture which are somehow unsettling or harsh are done away
with. When churchgoers claim that the liturgy is “not relevant to them”, that they “don’t feel
involved in the liturgy”, that the liturgy “doesn’t speak to them”, the reaction of theologians
is always retreat; the parish priest who takes on the liturgy committee of his parish council can
expect no protection from his bishop, only the charge of not being accommodating enough, of
not being duly subservient. The reform of the liturgy has absolutely nothing in common with
religious reform in the old sense of the word. It resembles the hectic special-offer and closing down-sale mentality of a department store desperate to attract customers.

A most egregious example was the declaration that those who knelt for Communion were "in sin," propagated by a West Coast Bishop and his lackey parochial-vicar. It's possible that the Bishop was actually the lackey of the parochial vicar, of course.

Paul VI’s reform of the Mass places the emphasis not on the adoration of God, but on the
placation, chatechising, manipulation, and even entertainment of the congregation. The priest
stands facing the congregation, like the presenter of a television programme; when he says
prayers, the actual addressee, even if he appears to address God, is the congregation, in whom
he wishes to kindle religious feelings and to spiritually guide. Just as good educationalists strive
to have their pupils involved in the lessons, the congregation is incorporated into the sacred
actions as if their interest would otherwise wane.

Shades of Malcolm Muggeridge gone bad...

The motives given for the reform of the Mass are pastoral ones. The claim is made that the
exodus of the faithful from the Church was to be prevented. “Pastoral” in this sense, constantly
gauging the reaction of the congregation during prayers, the old Mass certainly was not. The
old rite was often celebrated even without the presence of the faithful, ‘in conspectu angelorum’.
Despite this fact, although not ‘performed’ for the congregation but rather attended by the
faithful who gave thanks for the grace of being present, the old Mass preserved the Faith in a
manner unsurpassed today. Whoever attended Mass knew that he was witness to the presence
of Christ. The way Mass is conducted today no longer guarantees this handing-down of the
Faith. Entire generations of young people have since come of age who no longer know what
a sacrament is, who no longer know the Credo and the Pater Noster off by heart. This, however,
is the result of a pastorally oriented reform of the Mass, a pastorally oriented reform of
the Mass which has emptied the churches.

I'll disagree in part with his cause/effect thinking here. It is not 'the reform' which has emptied churches in the West--although one can argue that 'the reform' contributed to this problem. The demise of religious practice springs from the culture of consumerism. All our percieved needs are satisfied; if we are living in Heaven, who needs salvation?


The justifications for the reform of the Mass are contradictory. Too many birds were to be
killed with one stone. ‘Modernisation’ was to take place, but with the intention of adhering to
Early-Christian practices. Pius XII had already seen the threat posed by ‘archeologism’, the
temptation to force the results of ‘scientific’ research upon the ‘lex orandi’, the law of prayer.
The results of scientific research have a habit of becoming obsolete within a few generations;
today’s state-of-the-art insight is old hat twenty years later. Academics claimed to have proof
that the Early Christians celebrated the Eucharist at a table, with the priest facing and looking
at the congregation. Exhaustive study by Klaus Gamber has now confirmed that the Church has,
from earliest recorded times onwards, worshiped the resurrected Christ by facing East towards
the rising sun. Since Gamber’s research, what was once celebrated as scientific certainty is now
suspected of being ideology.

True, in the first centuries Communion was dispensed onto the hand, but the accompanying signs of reverence far surpassed the kneeling receipt of the Sacrament which later became customary: the communicant removed his shoes and laid a cloth over his hands in order not to come in contact with the transubstantiated Christ,

C'mon, be honest: did your local Liturgeist with a Master's Degree tell you about the part in red above? Naaaaah.

The Offertory prayers of the old Rite were among its most beautiful parts. In the attempt to suppress the sacrificial character of the Mass, these prayers, an important link to the Byzantine Liturgy, had do disappear. With its philosophical-juristic exactness, the same obsolete scholasticism was then just the right thing to prove how the Offertory prayers unduly pre-empted the result of the Consecration. They were replaced by a medieval Jewish prayer-before-meals which underlined the supper character of the Mass and simply no longer mentioned the sacrifice.

There are two VERY important concepts in the snippet above. First, the 'link to the Byzantine Liturgy;' second, the re-linking to Jewish meal-prayers. The first has had the consequence of stalling (to some degree) the East-West re-unification. The second, besides re-inforcing the "meal theory," tends to blur the delineation between the Old Covenant (now inoperative for Christians) and the New Covenant; which blurring has confused some popular Catholic blogsters.

The reform of the Mass has engendered in Catholics a deeply anti-religious self-mindedness.
The Christian ritual is now no longer a gift of grace to be received in kneeling reverence, but
a commodity examined with ill-disposed caution, spurned more often than not. The hitherto
hermetically sealed mysteries of the Mass had to accommodate the muddle of opinions. What
was previously revered as a semblance of the celestial is now recognised as being constructed and arranged, and what has been arranged can also be rearranged. Then there is simply no end to the rearranging.

Benedict XVI has mentioned this--in fact, he's pounded on the theme.

Unimaginable in the atmosphere of the new mass is a prayer which actually stems from the Greek Orthodox Liturgy but which consummately expresses the spirit of the old Latin Liturgy: “Count us worthy to partake of your heavenly and fearful Mysteries at this sacred and spiritual Table with a pure conscience, for forgiveness of sins and pardon of offences, for communion of the Holy Spirit, for inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven and for boldness before you; not for judgment or condemnation.”

As we embark on the reform of the reform, these theses are worth recalling.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to avoid the chicken-egg analysis of Vatican II, Novus Ordo, and the stupefaction of the American Catholic. I, for one, would like the challenge of learning some Latin, and would be flattered if my pastor would deem us pew-warmers worthy of the challenge.

Why is Trout-person so opposed? Are the nominals going to to stop coming to Mass if they don't understand the liturgy? Are they going to stop dropping those precious One Dollar bills in the tithe basket? Are they going to finally admit that they do not obey the Magisterium on select, or even many, issues?

Why not just do the right thing, and let the chips fall where they may?

Dad29 said...

Trautperson has obedience problems, for starters.

Beyond that, B-16's initiatives constitute a rejection of the LitWonkPoofter "reforms"--and Trautperson's investment in those reforms is substantial.

The reform-of-the-reform would dis-empower Liturgeists to a great degree, and the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy as well.

Beyond that, it's "Follow the Money." ICEL's income, which goes to LitWonkPoofter pals of Trautman's, would be significantly reduced as the re-Latinization occurs.

Money, influence, power, and his pals, coupled with an inclination to ignore or defy Rome.

What more do you need?