Friday, May 28, 2010


The older I get the more convinced I become that the beauty of our churches and the corresponding beauty, accessibility and transcendence of our Liturgy, the more our Catholic faith will be strengthened and we will overcome the many cultural obstacles that are being placed before us from outside and from within the Church. In fact what Pope Benedict said recently on his trip to Fatima, that the problem in the Church today comes from within can be applied not just to the mismanagement of errant clergy who sexually abused children, but from the gross mismanagement and misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council in all of its documents and specifically in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document on the Liturgy. As well, there was mismanagement from within as it concerns the implementation of the post-conciliar documents of the Liturgy and what happened to music and architecture of the Church. But we can and will recover and the reform of the reform is on the cutting edge of this recovery!

The photos below are of The Archbishop of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who celebrated the Ordinary Form of the Mass at the famous London Oratory Church for this occasion.

Keep in mind this is an Ordinary Form Mass in the splendor of an Extraordinary Form Church. Was there really any need with the reform of the EF Mass to reconfigure our traditional churches in the most hideous way and then celebrate the reformed Mass in the most hideous way, thus obscuring the splendor of Christ and who we are as Christ's Holy Body? I think not. Can you imagine the money that could have been saved, the time and energy that might not have been wasted and all the controversy and parish schisms that could have been avoided if we had just left our Church interior architecture alone and designed new Church in the noble way in which our heritage handed liturgical architecture to us?

I think that the OF Mass celebrated in a church like this, at an altar like this and in a solemn and dignified way like this would have brought about the "new springtime" for the Church that so many had desired after Vatican II, but something went radically wrong and we are paying the price today.


Marc said...

But, Father, if the Church doesn't change to suit the whims and sensibilities of "Protestant-leaning" Catholics, there may be fewer people in the pews? Don't you know it's the Church that must change, not the people!

Henry said...

When a court needs to determine the meaning of a law, it reviews not only the legislation itself, but also the record of the congressional and committee deliberations that produced the law.

Recently, I read through (in the book on Card. Antonelli) the minutes of the 50+ meetings of the Vatican II commission on the liturgy. It worked methodically through 662 “interventions” submitted by Council Fathers (totaling 1200 printed pages of suggested amendments). My impression of these meetings, in which the Council’s liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Consilium was shaped, is that the deliberations were detailed and careful, based on the finest scholarship available in a Church having then a much finer historical memory than is generally apparent now.

It seems entirely obvious that what commission and council intended was a renewal of actuosa participation -- in the form urged by Pius X and then Pius XI and Pius XII -- in the existing Tridentine Mass, with some simplifications like those in the 1965 Order of Mass (which some of us recall being presented as the final Mass of Vatican II). No formal or informal discussion of anything resembling a new form such as the Novus Ordo is evident in the minutes.
In any event, the ars celebranda of Brompton Oratory (for instance) would have been preserved.

But after the Council, Paul VI appointed an entirely new implementation commission, its general secretary being Msgr. Bugnini who had not been involved during the Council itself. The proceedings of this new commission, in contrast with its predecessor, were chaotic, no minutes were kept, no recorded votes were taken, and even members of the commission did not know how the decisions were made that resulted in the Novus Ordo. (All this reflected in the notes of Card. Antonini, who was favorable toward liturgical reform, but sensible by today’s standards.)

Jody Peterman said...

To me, this recent quote below documents all to well why the Churches built after VII look like barns and Protestant worship centers. It has to do with so many modern Bishops and theologians rejection of the real presence. Why else would they allow for this wreckovation? I think we are all fools if we don't start talking openly that there are far too many foxes in "Our Chickenhouse."

“Regrettably, all too frequently, the only Presence focused on is Christ’s presence in the elements of bread and wine. Inadequately described as the change of the “substance” (not the “accidents”) of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, the mystery of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist carries the intellectual baggage of a physics no one accepts. Aristotelian physics makes such nice, however implausible and now unintelligible, distinctions. They are meaningless in the post-Newtonian world of quantum physics, which is the scientific context we live in today.” – Fr. Michael Kelly, Jesuit

Templar said...

Now that's an OF Mass I can serve without feeling disappointed about afterward.

Jody, your quote is very interesting. In a conversation with a devout Baptist friend of mine the subject of the "real presence" came up, and he asked me plainly; "But you really don't believe that you are eating the Flesh and Blood of Christ do you?". And I naturally enough replied; "Yes, I do. Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity." And he looked at me as if I just told him I was quitting work to become a Neurosurgeon, and after sputtering a little he asked me, "How could you possibly believe that?" And again quite naturally I told him, because Christ said so, here in John Chapter 6."

I find it amazing that lots of non-Catholic folks, can believe in Miracles of all sorts, and be devout readers of the Bible which is replete with miraculous stories; but you ask them to accept that the miracle of Transubstantiation occurs on that Altar on Sunday, and God is somehow incapable of doing it. He can walk on water, cure with his touch, feed masses with handfuls, and change water into wine, but he simply CANNOT be present in that Communion Waver.

I get scientists having a tough time accepting it, because most of them have long abandoned "faith" as a prerequisite of being "scientific". But I don't understand how any professed Christian of any faith, can quote the Bible all day, and not accept the notion of the Real Presence.

But if you can't get your head around that basic notion, it'll never be about anything but you, or at best it will be about Community or Fellowship, but it will never be about God because he's still going to be off somewhere else as an after thought.

All of which is my very long winded way of saying, you're right. Modern Churches look like Picasso designed them while stoned because people lost sight of their purpose when they lost sight of God.

Robert Kumpel said...


This post is morsel of common sense thrown to us in a desert of postconciliar confusion. I agree with almost everything you've said. However, the needed restoration will not come until we have priests and bishops willing to do it. I know you are willing, but where are the others? When, WHEN will they come to our rescue?

Anonymous said...

Architecture has a GREAT deal to do with promoting faith.
Had I grown up in St. Joseph Parish, surrounded by images of saints in stained glass windows, symbols representing the history of Christianity, and side chapels for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary then there is a very very good chance I wouldn't have drifted away from the Church which seemed empty and left me totally disconnected from the previous 1984 years.
If I had returned to a parish with architcture similar to what I grew up with, it would have felt familiar and comfortable at first, but again empty shallow and uninspiring. I would have drifted back away again.

The architecture is a link to the whole history of the Church and should itself be reverent in style and serve as a reminder that this building is just any building.

But we must remember that architecture is just one tool, albeit a potentially powerful tool.
It is ultimately neither necessary nor sufficient.

What is vastly more important is the reverent postures and behaviour that occur inside the building.

Anonymous said...

This was one of your better posts.
Your story of the Baptist and explaining the Real Presence will be most helpful whenever I have that conversation in the future with someone, possibly even a Catholic!