Saturday, November 14, 2015
THE BEST AND MOST VALID CRITIQUE OF THE REVISED (NOT WELL REFORMED) MASS--BY ROMANO GUARDINI
I appreciate the essay that Christopher Shannon writes about Romano Guardini. I had not thought about the cold rationalism of Thomistic theology that affected the Church of the first half of the 20th Century and how Augustinian theology as appreciated by Guardini and his student Joseph Ratzinger is the antidote.
But I appreciate especially Guardini's understanding of the Liturgy and how the ill-advised reform also veered off-track and brought a cold rationalism to its celebration, stripping it of playfulness, and making it a "work" of the people, a druggery where we have to have, in fact are given, answers to questions of "why" and "wherefore" thus eliminating the mystery aspect of the liturgy.
This is what Shannon says of Guardini as it concerns the Liturgy:
In his classic The Spirit of the Liturgy, Romano Guardini presented the experience of the liturgy as an antidote to the cold rationalism and narrow moralism that he saw afflicting the Church of his day. Against these, Guardini sees in the spirit of the liturgy a spirit of playfulness: “The soul must learn to abandon, at least in prayer, the restlessness of purposeful activity; it must learn to waste time for the sake of God, and to be prepared for the sacred game with saying and thoughts and gestures, without always immediately asking ‘why?’ and ‘wherefore?’”
Then Shannon writes:
Like so many of those French theologians, Guardini recoiled at the early efforts to implement the vision of the Council, most especially the liturgical innovations that worked directly against his understanding of the spirit of the liturgy. Those who directed the life of the Church in the decades following the Council were bad Thomists without being good Augustinians. It would take good Augustinians and careful readers of Guardini such as Josef Ratzinger to help set the Church back on the right path.
This path, however, involves neither a return to the pre-Vatican II Church nor a “conservative” interpretation of the Council. Guardini, Ratzinger, Wojtyla and Bergoglio have all in various ways sought to fashion a Catholic modernity, a new Catholicism appropriate to our time yet faithful to tradition. Catholics since the Council have largely either retreated into a fortress of unchanging, timeless truth or surrendered to the tyranny of relativism. Our Church offers us another way to think about living in time and embracing historical particularity. No one age can embody the entire truth of the faith. God gives us each age as a gift embodying the particular aspect of the faith most needed at a particular time. Romano Guardini was one of the first to offer to the modern world a vision of the Church nurturing the flourishing of free personality within community. If secular modernity has yet to recognize this vision, it is perhaps because Catholics themselves have yet to embrace it.
While Pope Benedict did restore much of pre-Vatican II signs and symbols to his liturgies and papal vesture, he was not going backwards, but forwards in continuity with the past and in a brilliant Augustinian way. This is what Pope Benedict called "reform in continuity" and it is still sorely needed now as never before.
How can we recover the "playfulness" of the Liturgy as Guardini envisioned? He immediately saw the reform of the Mass as a dismal failure.
We must look to Pope Benedict for this. He wrote Summorum Pontificum not to return the Church exclusively to the Tridentine Mass but to go back to its celebration widely applied as the template to renew the dismal reform of the same Mass.
Today, as a result of Pope Benedict's efforts, we have the Anglican Ordinariate's Roman Missal that now becomes a sort of template to properly reform the Tridentine Mass.
Let me bloviate on how the Anglican Ordinariate's Roman Missal along with Pope Benedict's modeling of the papal liturgies could recover the "playfulness" of the Liturgy as Guardini envisioned it by abandoning the rationalism and pedantic aspects of the reformed liturgy:
As Pope Benedict modeled the papal liturgy:
1. Use of Roman Vestments with Latin Rite ornateness from alb to chasuble
2. Chanting the actual Mass to include the priest's parts
3. The use of Latin for the propers and the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer) and the vernacular only for the changing parts
4. The recovery of ad orientem
5. The recovery of kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue
As the Anglican Ordinariate brings this forward a notch:
1. The revision of the Roman Calendar to include elements eliminated in the Latin Rite's reform, such as Septuagesima, the seasons of time after Pentecost and Epiphany and the Octave of Pentecost and ember days
2. The mandated use of the Roman Canon for Sundays and Solemnities and only Eucaharistic Prayer II for weekdays (no other Eucharistic Prayers)
3. The return of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the Tridentine Offertory Prayers and the Last Gospel
4. Rubrics that explicitly call for ad orientem, kneeling for Holy Communion and intinction as the means of the laity receiving the Precious Blood
I would also suggest that the Eucharistic Prayer be prayed in a low voice (not silently)
Finally, Guardini and his students, Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis give an antidote to Islam's war on secularism with its senseless violence as once again experienced in Paris.
Pope Francis wants to dialogue with secularism as Guardini desired and not retreat in a monastic enclosure sheltered from the world of secularism. None of these three popes wanted to circle the wagons and create a Catholicism that is an alternative society independent of the secular culture.
As in the early period of the Church and her engagement with secularism and pagan religions, the Church baptized what was good in society and incorporated it into the Church. Think of the timing of Easter and Christmas and praying for the dead and highlighting the saints.
The French Revolution's liberty, equality and fraternity are not alien to Catholicism.The new evangelization must not condemn everything secular society proposes but see the good behind it and the danger of secularism divorced from God and religion.