Monday, May 20, 2013


For Pope Francis, the reform of the reform is much more than about the liturgy or the curia, it is about Catholics and our identity and recovering a strong Catholic identity lost after Vatican II, a reform of the reform of the clergy, the religious and the laity, built upon the "reform of the reform in continuity," that Pope Benedict kicked into high gear!

My personal opinion is that we are actually into part III of the reform of the reform. Part I began with Pope John Paul II with his election in 1978. He brought the papacy to the world in order to shore up a lagging Catholic identity foisted upon the Church by a strong minority of liberal theologians and bishops who misrepresented Vatican II and tried mightily to deconstruct the Catholic Church in order to make the Church more Protestant in order to accomplish Christian Unity. Divisiveness resulted instead and a dramatic loss of Catholic identity.

So Pope John Paul II went about restoring the great discipline of the Church. But his weakness was that he focused too much on the force of his personality, what some would call the cult of the personality.

Then Pope Benedict, an intellectual and academic liturgist took the helm and he calmed down the cult of the personality surrounding the person of the pope and placed it back upon the office and its trappings. He went about reforming the liturgy and bringing it into continuity with the 1962 Missal of Vatican II. He insisted that the revision of the Latin post Vatican II Missal have additional dismissals, the most important one being, "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life." His first encyclical was on love which is the basis and foundation of Catholic identity, for God is Love.

And now we have the Gospel simplicity of Pope Francis and his reform of the reform will focus on the people of the Church, the clergy, the religious and the laity.

He wants priests to get out of the sacristy and focus on evangelizing the parish and encouraging the laity to take their post-Vatican II role in the world seriously just as Vatican II taught. They are to take the gift of their Catholic faith and good works to the world to evangelize, to go on mission. This must be shored up with the liturgy properly celebrated, popular devotions and a keen sense of Catholic teaching.

The religious, especially women religious are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church just as everyone else who is Catholic is to be. This means stepping away from the radical feminism that so many women religious have embraced and a skewed understanding of obedience as though it can be accomplished in contradiction to the the Magisterium.

Folks this is about Catholic identity, built upon the reform of the reform of the Liturgy, the recovery of popular devotions, solid catechesis and going out to the world to convert, convert, convert, not by force but by persuasion, by witness and by love, especially love and care for the poor, the spiritually poor, the materially poor and the sick and suffering who are poor in another way. This can only be accomplished by a strong Catholic identity.

Up until now, it seems that for the past 50 years, we have focused in on the structures of the Church and rearranging the furniture, changing how we dress, using new languages for the liturgy. We've focused in on institutional, material things, when we should have kicked our Catholic identity into high gear and brought our Catholic faith to the world.

If we had simply done that 50 years ago when Catholics had a strong identity, rather than eroding that identity with superficial changes and calling into question the great patrimony of the Church inherited with 2000 years of tradition, maybe we would be in a much better place today.

But no, we imposed Vatican II's dissenting spirit upon unsuspecting priests, religious and laity and did it in the most pre-Vatican II authoritarian way possible. And it was mostly wrong and ruined the faith a millions of rank and file Catholics in the process. This happened with religious formation of our young and old, with liturgy, with prayer and with popular devotions.

Reform of the reform is going back to our traditional roots and building upon these roots rather than destroying them, especially our strong Catholic identity as clergy, religious and laity. This is about traditional Catholicism in the Church and in the world. Pope Francis gets it. Reforming the clergy, religious and laity is going to be his contribution to the "reform of the reform in continuity." I wonder what Part IV will be?


ytc said...

How do you have just a deacon assisting at an EF Mass in your header pic?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Liturgical creativity as it concerns the OF's gravitational pull on the EF. :)

Anonymous said...

Yep, well-thought out and stated post, Fr.
Get out of the sacristy, out of our comfy recliners in the TV room, away from Internet addictions and start putting our faith where our "mouth" is! Been telling my spouse that very thing for years, but we remain part of the inactive "silent majority", mores the pity...

Marc said...

Some see liturgical creativity, others see liturgical abuse.

There is no such gravitational pull from the Novus Ordo to the Tridentine Mass. I hope those more knowledgeable about this subject than myself will chime in.

rcg said...

Marc, not sure what you mean there: I would say the EF really caught fire when the New Translation came out. There certainly is little, if any, attraction the other way.

Also, FrAJM, I see only four candles in the masthead photo. Is that your arrangement?

John Nolan said...

Inter Oecumenici (1964) allowed Solemn Mass to be celebrated with only a deacon assisting, and moreover discontinued the practice of the subdeacon holding the paten in a humeral veil from the Offertory to the Pater Noster. In the days of Indult Masses it was probably legitimate to celebrate according to the 1964 or even the 1967 revisions (although few did)but the EF as defined by Summorum Pontificum is the Roman Rite according to the Missal of 1962, with the option of vernacular readings, which could of course be sung.

To celebrate according to the 1964 revisions would be irregular, but would not be a liturgical abuse.

Marc said...

rcg, my point was that Novus Ordo rubrics don't influence the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Of course, a properly offered Novus Ordo would inspire people to seek out "the real thing" in the Tridentine Mass, which I'm certain the new translation did.

Thank you, John Nolan, as always. Can you clarify how it is not liturgical abuse to apply later rubrics to a particular Missal without approval? I don't understand the distinction between irregular and abusive...

Pater Ignotus said...

The Novus Ordo is "the Real Thing." It is THE sacrifice of Calvary re-presented in an unbloody manner, as is the EF.

All the rest is midrash.

Marc said...

Father Kavanugh, you are right.

My meaning wasn't clear from my writing: I meant "the real thing" to refer to the continuity present between a properly offered Novus Ordo (that is, in accordance with the written norms) and the previous iterations of the Roman Missal.

The point I was making, albeit poorly, was that seeing the Novus Ordo without the abuses that often creep in might lead one to seek out the celebration of the predecessor Missal.

ytc said...

John Nolan, how can it be said that, "To celebrate according to the 1964 revisions would be irregular, but would not be a liturgical abuse?"

SP specifically derogated from all post-1962 inventions (except vernacular Low Mass readings, vernacular High/Solemn Mass repeat readings, and the changed Good Friday Prayer), so doesn't that make it an abuse, not just irregular?

John said...

Just want to say that this post sums up well the current situation in the Church. However, the speed of return a firm Catholic identity is still only in first gear. Time for a "Transition" check-up.

John Nolan said...

A Mass said according to the norms of 1964 or 1967 could not be said to be an abuse, since these norms were approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, albeit on an interim basis. The 1971 Indult granted to England and Wales (the so-called 'Agatha Christie Indult') specified the Mass of 1967 which is more a re-run of the Novus Ordo than an adaptation of the Roman Rite. However, Cardinal Heenan had already gained an Indult in 1967 to allow the celebration of the 1962 Mass, and so Indult Masses used this rite.

Similarly, if a community chose to celebrate the pre-1955 Ordo for Holy Week, they would exceeding the provisions of SP, but would hardly be committing a liturgical abuse. Mixing of rites does count as a liturgical abuse, however.

One thing puzzles me - if post-1962 canonical changes involving CITH, EMHC and female servers do not apply to the EF, then surely we should be fasting for three hours before Communion?

rcg said...

John, that's funny, because I fast from midnight until after Mass, Just To Be Sure. My version of the '62 MR has a page of instruction concerning fasting and I am not sure but what it merely muddies the waters a little more. It seems to encourage the 'long' fast but allows for the one hour. Our weekly bulletin has the required and the 'traditional' guidelines for fasts and other allowances so people can understand the difference. Our priest is not altogether happy with the '62, which he views as a little to modern for his tastes!!

John Nolan said...

I made my first HC in 1958 so never had to keep the old fast, which was 'nil by mouth' including water from midnight. The 11 am Sung Mass had plenty of communicants, since an early breakfast was permissible (and drinks up to an hour before reception). Why three hours was reduced to one, which makes it nugatory, is a mystery to me.