Saturday, June 21, 2008

Weigel on The Latin Mass

An interesting column in Newsweek from Weigel.

Is Pope Benedict XVI determined to restore the Latin mass that many Roman Catholics thought had been consigned to the dustbin of history? The answer, in short, is both yes and no.

...the young Joseph Ratzinger was deeply influenced, both spiritually and intellectually, by the mid-20th-century movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church's public worship--a movement that helped pave the way for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Father Ratzinger was a peritus, a theological expert, at the council, and like many others, he welcomed the council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: here was a ratification of the liturgical reform movement he had long supported and a blueprint for further organic development of the celebration of mass. In the immediate aftermath of Vatican II, however, Ratzinger became convinced that organic development had been jettisoned for revolution, the liturgical Jacobins being a cadre of academics determined to impose their view of a populist liturgy on the entire Catholic Church

The initial movement began in the early 1900's; it was, inter alia, the progenitor of the "Dialogue Mass," used in a few US Dioceses (including Milwaukee) and in parts of Europe. As to the Jacobins: we know who they are...

In the decades between Vatican II and his election as Benedict XVI, Ratzinger became a leader in what became known as "the reform of the reform": a loosely knit international network of laity, bishops, priests and scholars, committed to returning the process of liturgical development in the Catholic Church to what they understood to be the authentic blueprint of Vatican II

(That is to say, the plain meaning of the text of the Constitution on the Liturgy...)

...The overwhelming majority of Catholics throughout the world have welcomed the new form of the mass that became normative in 1970, a mass celebrated entirely in English (or Spanish or French or Polish, or whatever language the congregation speaks). Over time, the silly season in Catholic liturgy that peaked in the 1970s--"clown" masses (with the priest vested as Bozo or somesuch), free-for-all prayers that ignored the prescribed rite, dreadful pop music, inept "liturgical dance," a general lack of decorum--began to recede. A re-sacralization of Catholic worship became evident in many parishes.

(That may be true--but evidence for Weigel's claim is scarce. Such evidence DOES exist; I will post on that a bit later.)

...It was to accelerate that "reform of the reform" that Benedict XVI issued a decree last summer permitting the widespread use of the 1962 Roman rite, known technically as the Missal of John XXIII. Amidst the recent, fevered speculations that Latin days are here again, it's important to note what the Missal of John XXIII is not. It is not the "Tridentine Rite," because it includes modifications of the missal mandated by the Council of Trent in the 16th century; it is not the "mass of Pius V," ...

...the pope's point in making this form of liturgy more widely available is neither nostalgic nor retrogade. Rather, by encouraging the more widespread celebration of this classic form of the always-evolving Roman rite, Benedict XVI intends to create a kind of liturgical magnet, drawing the "reform of the reform" in the direction of greater reverence in the Catholic Church's public worship.

Finally,

Among scholars and parish clergy alike, the more widespread celebration of mass according to the Missal of John XXIII may prove to be the reformist magnet that Benedict XVI wants it to be, encouraging those who are already at work re-sacralizing the liturgy. ...And the net result, over time? Almost certainly not "Latin days are here again" in every Catholic parish but rather a more reverent, more prayerful celebration of mass according to a reformed missal of 1970--and according to what the Second Vatican Council actually prescribed

There are some semi-informed opinions which Weigel voices in the essay. This is not a surprise; Weigel made similarly un-informed comments when in Milwaukee a couple of years ago. But then, Weigel is not a liturgical scholar.

Regardless, the essay's conclusion is correct. B-16 has spun the wheel of the Bark and undertaken a course-correction which will be fruitful for all.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

George Weigel insisted that the "overwhelming majority of Catholics throughout the world have welcomed the new form of the mass that became normative."

That simply is not true.

The majority of Catholics walked away from the new Mass years ago.

Dad29 said...

Umnnnnhhhh...it may be more accurate to say that a large number of Catholics left the Church, not just the N.O. Mass.

But Weigel's 'have welcomed' line is silly. Catholics were trained to believe that Bishops and priests were inerrant.

That didn't work out so well, did it?

Dan said...

A large number of Latin Catholics who were attached to the "new form of Mass" (Weigel's phrase)have left the Church.

A large number of Eastern Catholics have not left the Church.

Catholics who have remained attached to the TLM have not left the Church.

Catholic communities attached to the TLM have prospered.

However, a large number of Catholics who were attached to the "new form of Mass" have left the Church.

Weekly attendance at the "new form of Mass" has fallen to just 15 to 20 percent of Catholics.