Monday, October 10, 2011


From the New Liturgical Movement:

Interview with Dr. Alcuin Reid in Deutsche Tagepost: The Council, Organic Development, Rupture and Continuity
by Shawn Tribe

From September 12-14th an academic conference took place at the University of Freiburg, Germany, organized by Dr. Helmut Hoping of Freiburg, entitled “The Roman Mass and Modernity: the Reform of the Missal in the Twentieth Century”; the conference involved participants from many German universities and liturgical centres from across the liturgical spectrum. Dr. Alcuin Reid presented a paper “Refining ‘The Organic Development of the Liturgy’ – The Fundamental Principle for Assessing the Reform of the 1970 Missale Romanum.”

During the conference Katrin Krips-Schmidt of the Catholic paper Deutsche Tagespost conducted the following interview with Dr. Reid, published in German and presented here on NLM in English:

1. What positive things came from Vatican II regarding the reform of the liturgy?

The most positive element was the insistence that participatio actuosa – true, actual participation in the liturgy – was the heart of the life of the Church. This was the goal, the ‘why’ of the reform. The liturgical movement had been promoting this for over fifty years before.

The second was the Council’s requirement that thorough liturgical formation take place at all levels of the Church. This was the means, or the ‘how’ of the reform. But this important element of the Council has been forgotten. Without this formation the foundation necessary to facilitate participatio actuosa is lacking, no matter how many changes to the rites are made.

The Council also asked for the use of a wider selection of sacred scripture in the rites, gave permission for a more extended use of the vernacular, Holy Communion under both species, concelebration, etc., as other ways to facilitate participatio actuosa.

2. What criteria are there for liturgical development in continuity? Is a Council competent to change or to remake the liturgy?

Neither councils nor popes are competent to construct the liturgy. The Council’s does not speak of making a new liturgy, or of “change” – it uses the word “renewal” (“instauratio”). The Council wished to bring about fruitful participatio actuosa through widespread liturgical formation at all levels of the Church and through moderate ritual reform, not a rupture either in the official ritual or in the perception of the faithful in their experience of the liturgical celebration.

The criteria for development in continuity are found in article 23, read in context and as it was approved by the Fathers of the Council. I have published a paper on this. It means that development is proportionate – the liturgical tradition may be developed, as is necessary, but it is not completely changed. There must be a continuity of rite where new texts or practices are integrated, naturally, over time. A good example is the Ordo Missae of 1965. It is the rite of Mass as handed on to the Council, pruned and developed in line with the discussions at the council. But the 1969 Ordo Missae is very different, a new construction of the Concilium. To be sure, it is more conservative than they wanted because Paul VI refused their requests to abolish the Roman Canon, the Orate fratres and the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass. But even so, the 1969 Ordo as a whole is a radical ritual and theological innovation, not an organic development in line with Sacrosanctum Concilium 23.

3. Continuity or Rupture? Could one say that “traditionalist” Catholics agree with the thesis of a rupture?

I am not a “traditionalist”. I am a Catholic. I am also a liturgical historian. As the latter I can say that there is evidence that those responsible for the reform intended rupture – ritual and also theological. They did not want what was handed on in tradition. They did not want to develop that. They wanted something new, something that would reflect ‘modern man’ in the 1960’s and what they thought he needed.

This is an historical reality, not an ecclesio-political position. Liturgists from ‘both sides’ agree that the reform was radical and a rupture. As a Catholic I regard this as a significant problem, because it is unprecedented in liturgical history and it is not what the Council, out of respect for liturgical tradition, called for.

4. What authority did the Consilium – the body to reform the liturgy - have? Did it follow the intentions of the Fathers of the Council or exceed its competence? Are there examples of radical innovations?

The Consilium’s full name indicates that it was an organ to implement the Council’s Constitution. In effect its work rested on the personal authority of Pope Paul VI, who followed it very closely and authorized each change in forma specifica. It is clear that they went well beyond the Constitution: there is no authorization there for any new Eucharistic Prayers, for the 100% celebration of the Mass in the vernacular, etc. But all of these reforms enjoy the authority of Paul VI.

5. If the liturgy is seen as “changeable” as Sacrosanctum Concilium 21 says, is there the risk to its impact upon ordinary people, as Martin Mosebach speaks about the “Heresy of formlessness”?

Elements of the liturgy that do not come from the Lord Himself are, of course, able to develop or even to be left aside, and new elements can be introduced. Change is possible. We know that from history. But if, all of a sudden, everything in the liturgy except those things concerning validity are seen as changeable – and almost constantly so – then the rite as a whole can be subjected to a “formlessness” whereby it looses its nature as a rite and becomes a temporary conglomeration of the “good ideas” of those who celebrate it. That would not be Catholic liturgy, which is always the liturgy of the Church, received by her in tradition and carefully handed on, with proportionate development as necessary. Even authorized developments, if they involve disproportionate changes to the received tradition imposed very quickly, risk bringing about such a “formlessness”.

6. Sacrosanctum Concilium has been criticized for having too much room for interpretation. Do you share this view?

Yes, it is clear that much of the language of the Constitution is capable of different interpretations. Article 36-2 is just one example. It is also clear from the memoirs of Archbishop Bugnini himself that there was a very wide interpretation of this article, and others.

7. What consequences are there for the future of the liturgy?

We must look again at the liturgical reform following the Council, not as partisans of any side, but as good historians, good theologians, good Catholics. If it is clear that we have lost important elements of the liturgical tradition, or have introduced ones that are harmful, then we must have the honesty to admit this and do what is necessary. This has been begun through Sacramentum caritatis and Summorum pontificum and the personal example of Pope Benedict XVI in his liturgical celebrations.

We must also move forward with charity and pastoral sense. It is not possible to re-impose the past rites on everyone or to take away the new ones in an instant. At this moment, though, it would be possible to permit – facultatively – some older elements (the offertory prayers, some of the ritual gestures made by the priest, etc.) in the modern rites. It is also possible to adopt that ars celebrandi spoken about in Sacramentum caritatis, where the modern rites are celebrated with a liturgical richness that is in more tangible continuity with tradition.

History will see how the liturgy develops from this point. Our duty is to ensure that nothing “sacred and great” is lost to the Church of today or of the future.


Templar said...

THIS is precisely why good Catholics are frustrated. Everyone of intelligence and honesty agrees that what was intended at V2 was renewal and not creation, yet what we got is creation and rupture. Clearly it was wrong, clearly it remains wrong, so THROW IT AWAY. You can not reform a fallen souffle, you must start again.

Andy Milam said...

I don't mean to quibble, because I thoroughly agree with Dr. Reid on this, but he isn't a priest. He's a deacon. It's sticky, but he isn't a priest. The diocese in Australia to which he was attached refused priestly ordination.

Like I said, I think that the article is wonderful, it just must be noted that Dr. Reid isn't a priest.

Ave Verum said...

Excellent article about what happened to us...thanks for posting it, Father. I actually lived through all of that as a new Catholic; I converted at age 16 in 1963 and my little back-water parish knew nothing of V-II. When all the changes hit, I was in college in N.Y., confused and finally exasperated by all of it! The liturgy that had called to me as a teen, and was my focus, nourishing a new spirituality, no longer inspired or nourished. I began to feel that the Church I had studied and converted to was fundamentally different, the liturgy was unrecognizable and I felt betrayed. I left for a time, then returned, but never felt the same. I now live in an area with FIVE (yes, 5, one of which you served, Father!) large Catholic parishes, and NO access to the liturgy that has always lived in my heart. Those of us who long for it were allowed access ONE time only, then the Bishop himself shut it down. We have been ridiculed and scorned by a succession of priests, by their staff and by some "progressive" laity.

Because of all this nonsense, and now that children have moved on, the Eastern Catholic liturgy calls my name. There is no confusion, no angst... instead, true reverence, joy and peace. Thank you, God for Your faithfulness and mercy.

Father Shelton said...

If we throw away the new (1970+) Roman missal, or if a pope or papal committee redesigns its rubrics, then we will still have the same problem: man-made liturgy. The only way out of our Western liturgical troubles is organic development born from close dialogue with Christ and under the gentle inspiration of the Holy Ghost. As ecumenical efforts with the Orthodox are teaching us, the particular form of the sacred liturgy should not depend upon the personal preference of a reigning pope. The pope should be the guardian of the liturgical forms, not their author.

pinanv525 said...

Well, if the Priests and Bishops won't say it, somebody needs to. Let's have more Deacons just like him.

Father Shelton said...

I may be missing something, but where does it say he's a priest? He speaks with authority here as a liturgical historian.

Templar said...

He is a Monk, and a Doctor, and a Published Liturgist of world wide repute. He is considerably more qualified to speak on Liturgical Matters than most of the Priests I have encountered in my life.

Ave Verum said...

Father Shelton, I absolutely agree with you! Twas the Holy Spirit who "authored" our Divine Liturgy; the Holy Father is/should be the guardian and he leads by example!

Andy Milam said...

@Fr. Shelton..

The Title of the article.

Second, I guess as I look at what you say, you're absolutely right, the Holy Father should not be the author of a Mass. However, that is more or less what happened with the Pauline Missal. I think that the contrivance of the Missal (1970 & revisions) is man made. Insofar as that is the case, can't the argument be made that it should be scrapped and the Mass which developed over 1600 years and codified by a Council be restored? I would think that you would have to agree 100%, using your logic.

If the Novus Ordo is born out of Tradition, then the radical differences with regard to Theology wouldn't exist as they do. How do we reconcile the celebrant v. presider mentality? How do we reconcile the meal v. sacrifice mentality? Then there are the other issues language v. translation? Diversity v. unity? and there are any other number of things which lead to the idea that the Novus Ordo is a rupturous path as opposed to a continuous one.

I also think that validity isn't an issue. Something can be valid and harmful...look at some instances of how Confession is administered...many "Form II" Penance services are not ideal, but they are valid.

Bottom line, I do think that your point is important, but probably not for the same reasons.

Anonymous said...

Ave, I can only wonder how many felt that way and how many will return when the forty years ends this Advent?

Reminds me of a C. S. Lewis quote that gets me through a clown mass of liturgical dancers:

He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.


Marc said...

@ Andy: Great post! This is almost exactly what I was going to post, but stated much better than I would have stated it.

pinanv525 said...

The meal emphasis was specifically to appease and woo protestants. It was all a part of the Committee on Church Union (COCU...not so affectionately known as Coo Coo in my seminary days)plan for some great honking ecumenical utopia to be brought about by all those wormy looking need-a-bath-and-a-haircut-sissy seminarians and their Patchouli stinking, granola munching, earth biscuit seminarian girlfriends. God deliver us!

You can bet if you hear a Priest consistently referring to the "meal" or the "communal supper" he is one of their ilk.

pinanv525 said...

The theology of the Eucharist, the Sacrifice, is radically different from the "meal" concept. We participate in Christ's death and resurrection and He fills us with his living Spirit and draws us ever nearer to Him and the bodily resurrection life He has promised to the Faithful. This is life and death stuff, and I am happy to notice that some in our RCIA classes are having that "Aha" experience, having come without exception from "meal" theological traditions. The prots "remember" Christ...they "memorialize" Him...sort of like John Doe who lived on your block and died and everybody remembers him kindly, gently pities him, and says nice things. But John Doe is dead...I mean like, dead, dead, dead. None of us, except perhaps Priests and nuns and monks, contemplate the momentousness of the Sacrifice and the power of the Eucharist nearly enough. This is the first thing that leaped out at me when I came from the Calvinist tradition, the power of the Real Presence. It must be preserved and insisted upon in the Liturgy.

Frajm said...

Perhaps I've been blessed but every parish that I've been since being ordained has had the Ordinary Form of the Mass celebrated in a dignified and reverent way but always following what the rest of the diocese is doing in terms of the common chalice, standing to receive Holy Communion and active participation. I have found these celebrations life-giving and reverent. I have found most of the participants reverent also. This Mass has also produced many priests and holy people. With that said, I realize there is room for improvement, but we can't move ahead in a Protestant congregationalist way independent of our bishop and the bishops he is in union with including foremost the Holy Father. As Bishop Lessard use to tell me, priests aren't in private practice and I think that also extends to individual Catholics and parishes.

pinanv525 said...

Well, Fr, anything you might do at St. Jo's would be well within the limits of the traditional and appropriate, not to mention (if I read correctly some of the other posts regarding the Vat II intention and actual documents)in keeping with the true spirit of Vat II. You and a few others are exceptions, but it seems to me that the Novus Ordo has invited nothing but "private practice" on the part of Priests. Perhaps you should raise these issues with the new Bishop. You are a very persuasive fellow and tactful (mostly) to a fault. I'm sure you know the limits and would never push them in a rebellious way, but if good Priests like you do not speak up the more aggressive acting out Priests will never shut up.

Ave Verum said...

No question you've been blessed, Father...thank God for it!
You've been granted the great privilege of learning and celebrating a very reverent mass. And the laity who serve at such masses are privileged indeed.
It is so discouraging, to many folks I know (and many who participate in your blog here), that the faithful are deadened by those who would rather experiment with than care for souls. It occurs at every level. Call me a congregationalist (I've been called worse), call me what you wish, but when the mark of a good priest is blind obedience to wrong-headed thinking/behaving, something is terribly wrong. The mission of the Church is to save souls, not drive them elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

After thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that there isn't anything really wrong with the 1970 missal per se - my problem with it is that it was totally unnecessary. A completely needless change causing disunity that could have easily been avoided. Everything good accomplished by the Novus Ordo could have been just as easily accomplished within the framework of the Tridentine Mass.

A Tridentine Mass with looser rubrics, a few extra options in addition to the traditional ones (like the new EPs, for example), and a larger lectionary would have appeased pretty much everyone:

Celebrate the old Mass in English facing the people with contemporary music and you appease the "progressive" liturgists.

Celebrate it in Latin in a traditional way, and you would likely have appeased any traditionalists with reservations about the liturgical reform.

Celebrate it in Elizabethan English in a traditional manner and you would have a ready-made liturgy for many of the incoming high-church Anglicans.

It was a totally missed opportunity.