Wednesday, April 2, 2014
WHEN LITURGY BECOMES IDOLATRY AND IS EVALUATED NOT BY THE FRUIT IT PRODUCES BUT BY ACADEMIC STANDARDS
In the video of Archbishop Wilton Gregory giving a lecture on the Liturgy, he did a very nice, but somewhat tedious, survey of the Liturgical Movement of the early 20th Century that led Pope Pius XII to begin to make certain reforms in the Mass of that period. The apex of that development prior to Vatican II is the 1962 Missal that has been released from the bondage of the Church's history museum.
Sacrosanctum Concilium and later the Vatican Commission Consilium brought to bear many of the changes proposed by the Liturgical Movement of the early 20th Century.
Among these are:
1. Mass facing the People
3. More Scripture in the lectionary
Often when a group of academics begin to critique something about the Church they do so independently of the people who are formed by what is critiqued. For example the Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council had formed Catholics and their piety and spirituality and their way of life for centuries. One might say for 1500 years.
In the 20th Century these Catholics while diverse in zeal and authenticity of faith, at least attended Mass on Sunday. Some estimates in this country prior to and right after Vatican II is that almost 90% of Catholics attended the Mass that academic theologians have so denigrated in the last 100 years.
Now that many of the recommendations of these academic liturgical theologians have been applied to the manner in which the Mass is celebrated, in this country we are seeing about 20% of Catholics actually attending Mass each Sunday and in some places it is even lower. In Europe it is abysmal.
Yet without scientific evidence or sociological studies of any kind, those who think that the manner in which the reform of the Mass has progressed in the last 45 years still insist that if no changes had been made in the Church's liturgy things would be worse today than they are. This seems to me to be an incredible statement based upon opinion, subjectivity and no legitimate analysis.
On top of that of the 20%, more or less, of Catholics who bother to attend Mass on Sunday, one cannot presume with any certainty that the majority of that 20% actually believes what the Church teaches about the Mass or any other doctrine or dogma of the Catholic Church.
Often, in describing the fruits of the reformed Mass of Vatican II, academic liturgical theologians are quick to point out that the Mass embodies today the post-Vatican II ecclessiology. I wonder how many Mass goers of the 20%, more or less, who bother to come to Mass are impressed with this fact, that their gathering somehow shows better what the nature of the Church is compared to the 1962 Missal?
I am a realist and thus accept the Ordinary Form of the Mass as the Ordinary Form even though I think all that needed to happen to the 1962 Missal was more vernacular, especially with the changing parts of the Mass and more Scripture in a revised lectionary, and the congregation participating actually, both internally and externally, that nothing more really needed to be changed. I would go so far as to say that the "Liturgy of the Word" with lay readers and in the post-Vatican II fashion could easily have been incorporated into the 1962 Missal.
What did not need to take place and caused undo strife and division in the Church and has led to a diminution of the pure faith and morals of the Church are:
1. Mass facing the people--has led to a form of clericalism on steroids and the manipulation of the Mass by the clergy.
2. The loss of sacred silence while prayer to God is actually happening--especially in the Eucharistic Prayer--restoring silence to the post-Vatican II Mass always is independent of actual prayer ritual of the Mass and becomes a private, quiet devotion period for all, such as after readings, after the homily and after Holy Communion and is a bit tedious if too long--silence while some ritual action of actual prayer is quite different, such as the Roman Canon prayed quietly allowing for the priest's bodily gestures to be a sort of sign language in the sacred silence.
3. The loss of Catholic piety and reverence at the time of Holy Communion by eliminating kneeling for Holy Communion, allowing Holy Communion in the hand and the proliferation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion with little or no expectations of who is chosen and consistency in training.
4. The loss of sacred silence in the Church and the moving of the tabernacle to obscure places, the treating of the Church building, nave and sanctuary simply as a meeting place and nothing more.
I am a realist. I don't expect that the Church will significantly change the Order of the Ordinary Form of the Mass or mandate Latin for any parts of the Mass. I do pray and can hope that at least ad orientem will be encouraged and not mocked and that kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving in the traditional manner will be restored. Simply doing these two things will have a dramatic impact on going back to the past in order to come back to the future.