Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I BEG TO DIFFER, POPE BENEDICT IS RIGHT!


Fr. Anthony Ruff of Praytell informs us about something Pope Benedict recently wrote about liturgical reform after Vatican II (my comments follow):

The context is the introduction Benedict recently wrote for a book of essays honoring Cardinal Müller on his 70th birthday. Benedict said that in today’s confusing times, both the competence of academic theology and the wisdom of those authorities who must make the final decision are very important. Applying this to the liturgical reform, Benedict wrote:
“I think for example that in the liturgical reform, things would have ended up differently if the word of the experts had not been the final authority, but if, alongside this, a wisdom able to recognize the limits of the approach of a ‘simple’ scholar had judged it.”   (tr. awr)
Fr. Anthony Ruff of Praytell, an academic, just doubly suseptible to clericalism of the clergy and the worst kind of clericalism, that of academics, writes this:
But with all due respect to the venerable pope emeritus, it is not quite accurate to claim that experts were the final authority on the reform of the liturgy.
As the great leader of the liturgical reform under Blessed Paul VI, Annibale Bugnini, notes in The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (English edition p. 383), Pope Paul wrote a handwritten letter to the Secretariat of State, which was then included in a communication of that office approving the reform of the Mass to Cardinal Benno Gut, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It read as follows.
Wednesday, November 6, 1968
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Together with Father Annibale Bugnini, I have once again read the new Order of Mass compiled by the Council for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, now that observations on it have been made by myself, the Roman Curia, the Congregation of Rites, and the participants in the eleventh general meeting of the Consilium itself, as well as by other churchmen and members of the laity. After careful consideration of the various changes proposed, many of which have been accepted, I give the new Order of Mass my approval in the Lord. Paul VI, Pope.
My comments:

The fact of the matter is that most bishops to include Pope Paul VI relied completely on the liturgical academics of the 20th century to guide them in revising the Mass. These bishops and popes were not liturgists and they were in "awe" of academics and trusted their judgement and thus often simply allowed these academics to bully them into allowing reforms. These academics for the most part looked down their noses at these popes and bishops because the academics knew that they (the academics) knew better.

And we know that academics certainly look down their noses at the ill-informed or what they would call the malformed laity. Just think about how these academics shoved their ideologies and theologies down the throats of the laity after Vatican II.

But a part from the reliance of Pope Paul VI on Father Annibale Bugnini, which His Holiness later came to regret and finally exiled him out of Europe (and this is extremely important footnote to say the least) after the 1970 Roman Missal was promulgated, it was liturgists who gave workshops around the world and in the USA who further deformed the 1970 Roman Missal by suggesting the most idiotic things that should be done to the Mass and church architecture not only for renovations of splendid edifices, but in new construction.

Once again, bishops allowed these academics to rule the day and most parish priests who went to these workshops or conventions immediately implemented the most outrageous reforms that evenally ran off nearly 88% of Catholics from attending Mass.

And the bishops, they went along with the academics until the academics of liturgies, the doctors of liturgy became such a powerful force that by 1998 they had suggested even more outrageous changes to the Mass and finally Pope Benedict gave us Liturgiam Authenicum and Summorum Pontificum and renewal in continuity.

Unfortunately with the return of the 1970's  mentality of many bishops, Pope Benedict's insights and direction are being reversed much to the glee of academic liturgists.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your comments are so much claptrap.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I beg to differ!

Anonymous said...

Of course you do, but that changes nothing.

"The fact of the matter is that most bishops to include Pope Paul VI relied completely on the liturgical academics of the 20th century to guide them in revising the Mass."

Claptrap. Pope Paul VI was not some ill-educated, poorly formed, liturgical waif in need of or in awe of "liturgical academics." The suggestion that he was some naïve bumbler lost among overbearing academics is laughable.

"And we know that academics certainly look down their noses at the ill-informed or what they would call the malformed laity."

Oooooh! Those evil "academics" again. Think about how evil the "academics" are the next time you need a prescription drug developed by pharmaceutical academics, or the next time you consult a lawyer who is nothing more than a jurisprudential academic, or you seek the ministrations of your doctor who is clearly nothing but a medical academic. More claptrap.

"Once again, bishops allowed these academics to rule the day and most parish priests who went to these workshops or conventions immediately implemented the most outrageous reforms that evenally ran off nearly 88% of Catholics from attending Mass."

The claptrappiest of all - an assertion without a shred of evidence to support it.

Claptrap, all of it.



Anonymous said...

Data from CARA survey, February 2008:

QUESTION: "If you missed Mass at least once in the last six months, how well do each of the following explain, if at all, why you missed Mass?"

Busy Schedule 51%
Family Responsibilities 48%
Health Problems/Disability 41%
Conflict with Work 26%
I don't believe that missing Mass is a sin 38%
I'm not a very religious person 21%

Again, if this were a liturgy problem, there would be no corresponding effect beyond Catholic boundaries. Changes in Catholic liturgy would not have caused members of other denominations to stop going to their churches and would not have caused a huge drop in the numbers of people who commit themselves to serving others through social service groups like the Jaycees, Sertoma, Lions Club, etc. But we have seen these declines across the denominational spectrum.

As long as we misdiagnose the problem ("It was the changes after Vatican Two") we will not arrive at a workable strategy to reverse the trend.

Victor said...

Fr Ruff's comments ignore some facts that have come to light since the Council. Whenever the name Bugnini comes up I shudder because I am reminded of Fr Louis Bouyer`s memoirs of the Council on how he caught Bugnini deceiving not only the Consilium responsible for the liturgical reforms but the Pope himself. (Bouyer put together EP 2.) When the Consilium was opposed to Bugnini's often radical liturgical ideas, Bugnini would claim that the Pope has willed them, so the Consilium had no choice but to unanimously accept them. Then Bugnini would see the Pope and tell him the Consilium was unanimous so, not being a "liturgist", the Pope had little choice but to accept the Consilium's expert and scholarly unanimous conclusions. The Modernist pseudo-scholars at the Council were not only well organised but underhanded too.

Anonymous: You ignore two key facts: 1) The Novus Ordo is generational, designed to appeal primarily to the WWII generation like Francis with its focus on external active participation. 2) Almost all Protestant denominations also changed their "liturgies" to conform to the zeitgeist of the post WWII euphoria like the Catholic Church did, so any stats regarding liturgical attendance would be similar, and show similar precipitous declines.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father McD:

It is funny to see Father Anthony Ruff pick at this subject over and over, because just as soon as he publishes something like this on whether Vatican II was properly interpreted, he'll get comments saying, no, of course it wasn't; and then Father will go off on such retrograde "ilk" (his actual word) and lambaste the commenters for riding the same hobby horse which the cognoscenti of PrayTell are so very tired of. But of course, it is Father Anthony who rides the hobby horse; he can't seem to help himself.

Henry said...

Anonymous @ 9:25 am misses what I believe to be the principal lesson of the last half-century of liturgical chaos:

The post-Vatican II replacement of the Mass--which previously had served as a bulwark against secularization--with a new liturgy unrecognizable as the Mass of old, so weakened the faith and identity of Catholics, that they began to mirror non-Catholic groups in their participation in undesirable societal change.

Studies like that of the cited CARA survey merely corroborate this observation.

James J. said...

Anonymous at 9:25 AM:

"If you missed Mass at least once in the last six months"
Huh?
Should we even include in the survey asking Catholics who missed mass only once or twice in the last six months? If that's all they missed,that would make them more than just nominal Catholics.

Wouldn't the better question be: "If you no longer attend mass,why is that?" or something along those lines.

Henry said...

"Pope Paul VI was not some ill-educated, poorly formed, liturgical waif in need of or in awe of "liturgical academics."

True. Although Paul VI did exhibit a curious susceptibility to Msgr. Bugnini's machinations--as had Pius XII (but not John XXIII) before him, he was sympathetic with liturgical activism even before being elected pope.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

You respond to Father McDonald's alleged over-simplified explanation of the recent decline in religious observance with your own over-simplified rejoinder.

It is quite correct to say that changes in religious observance by Catholics cannot be explained merely by one variable: namely, the changes introduced after the Second Vatican Council.

Even so, that does not preclude analyzing whether the changes that came after Vatican II were -- in the midst of all other changes of the past half-century -- were helpful or not.

A much more solid foundation for demonstrating they were not helpful is to focus on how Catholics, in the past half-century, have themselves responded to the changes after Vatican II. For example:

- In the immediate wake of liturgical and catechetical changes, there was demonstrably confusion. And there was active protest of the changes, among both the laity and clergy. The SSPX was born.

- A whole generation of Catholics -- lay and clergy -- will tell you, if you ask, that they came out of this period very confused about what Catholics believed. Priests will tell you about how the textbooks they'd used in the seminary were being tossed out, and none were available to replace them. Similar things happened with the catechetical materials used by the laity.

- Similar things happened in parish life. Devotions previously fostered were discouraged; a tangible sign of this was the active destruction of art and architecture in parish churches. Churches were stripped bare; altars and statues were not merely removed, but destroyed. I don't know how many times I've heard people say, the priest claimed the wood altars and statues had termites. Well, of course, that was probably true in some cases, but I very much doubt there was a massive infestation of termites in Catholic churches across North America. Something else was at work.

- Confusion reigned in the actual celebration of the liturgy. Priests celebrating the Holy Mass on a coffee table, sans vestments except for a stole, are not an urban legend. I experienced it in my own home.

Now, all these things indisputably happened, and they were justified (erroneously) by Vatican II. But then something much more notable happened:

The people of the post-Vatican II Church have rejected all this.

It wasn't Ottaviani, returned from the grave, who revived the Traditional Latin Mass, and instigated movements everywhere to return tabernacles to the center of the church, to return devotions, return artwork, and to restore churches that had been wreckovated, er, "renovated." It wasn't initially priests; it was the laity! And not holdovers from the old days, but younger laity who had very little experience of the old days. Time after time, they found pictures of what the church used to look like, and came to the priest and said, why can't we have this?

In just the past 15 years, they are increasingly getting priests and bishops who agree with them. As it happens, I was ordained 15 years ago; I was an older vocation, yet I was born during the Council. My peers are generally younger, meaning: the priests who are fixing these problems are all children of Vatican II. It what happened after the Council was all so wonderful and healthy, why this reaction?

Of course, no one but God can really demonstrate a counter-factual: that is, how things might have been had there been no Council, or had the Council acted differently, or had the implementation been different. But it is not a counter-factual to observe what really did happen, both in the immediate aftermath of Vatican II, and then what has followed since.

I might add: there is a real sadness here, because there are priests and laity who were heavily invested in the first implementation of Vatican II, who are bewildered and not a little dismayed to see what they thought so worthwhile being pushed aside.

Anonymous said...

Victor:

What evidence, not anecdote, not hearsay, can you offer to support your assertion that the NO was designed to appeal primarily to the WW2 generation?

And when you say the "WW2 Generation" are you talking about those who fought in the war? Those born in the decade after the war? Who are to putting into this artificial age grouping?

How were Baptist services changed according to the zeitgeist of the post WW2 phenomena? Or the Congregationalist services? Or the services of the Reformed church?

John Nolan said...

Victor

Indeed. There's little point in asking someone why he missed Mass at least once in six months in 2008 and expect him to cite liturgical changes which took place forty years earlier. He'd have been long gone.

TJM said...

Anonymous, is that you Kavanaugh, wasting our time with left-wing, liturgical bilge?

Anonymous said...

"Even so, that does not preclude analyzing whether the changes that came after Vatican II were -- in the midst of all other changes of the past half-century -- were helpful or not."

Let's start with whether the changes CAUSED the 88% decline in attendance.

That's Fr. McDonald's (unsupported) claim. "Once again, bishops allowed these academics to rule the day and most parish priests who went to these workshops or conventions immediately implemented the most outrageous reforms that evenally ran off nearly 88% of Catholics from attending Mass."

After that, it would be helpful to investigate further the real causes of the decline in commitment to faith, to church, to community.

The data is available through, I suspect, PEW and CARA. Of course, it may not fit into the confirmation bias of many traditionalists who want to blame everything, even their children's acne, on Vatican Two.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous said (in reply to me):

Let's start with whether the changes CAUSED the 88% decline in attendance.

No, let's not. As in, let us not. As in, leave me out, please.

As I said already, I think that is an unprovable assertion. That doesn't mean it's false; it means you cannot prove it; at least, if it can be proved, I don't know how you do it. So I have no interest in that.

There's a reason why my last comment went in entirely different direction. You're welcome to say what you like of course, but let's be clear that you aren't in any way responding to my own comment.

Victor said...

Anonymous:
"What evidence, not anecdote, not hearsay, can you offer to support your assertion that the NO was designed to appeal primarily to the WW2 generation?"
-Ratzinger himself spoke about how people at the Council were swept by the zeitgeist of the post ww2 times, including himself. It was still a time of great optimism for the future.

"How were Baptist services changed according to the zeitgeist of the post WW2 phenomena? Or the Congregationalist services? Or the services of the Reformed church?"
-I have no idea, but the mainline Protestants (Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc) did, and they have been in steep decline since then. Go to a Lutheran or Episcopalian Communion service, and you will nigh see much of a difference with the Catholic Novus Ordo Mass. That should make sense because Bugnini himself stated that the Novus Ordo does not in any way offend these Protestants....pathetic. Moreover, the really growing denominations are the Jehovah's W., the Mormons, and 7th day Adventists, and guess what, they prosletize...ooops a sinful word according to Francis.

To give you a first hand anecdote, there had been a Latin Mass community of around 100 people in my city for quite some time. In this area, Catholic Novu Ordo churches are being closed at the rate of one every few months. Nevertheless, the new archbishop called on the FSSP to come and take over the Latin Mass community, and gave them a big church with the mission that it be eventually filled with stable worshipers. This is a mission church and a miracle is happening: it now has well over 300 worshipers after just 3 years, and growing rapidly! When I look around at the worshipers there, I see mostly people under 45, and the priests under 35, and plenty of men. Sorry Mr/Mrs Anonymous, but the future in heavily secularised parts of the world is with the TLM, not the Novus Ordo which is a dying liturgy because it has no depth to it.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox - Yes. Let's be clear. I did indeed respond to your comment, but not in the way you wanted.

If you are willing to stand by assertions that are unprovable, so be it.

Or, if you think that because an assertion cannot be shown by evidence to be true, then it should not be discussed at all, so be it.

I don't think that offers much in the way of discerning the causes for the decline in Mass attendance.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous:

Fr. Fox - Yes. Let's be clear. I did indeed respond to your comment, but not in the way you wanted.

If you are willing to stand by assertions that are unprovable, so be it.


I don't think I offered assertions I conceded to be unprovable. Instead, I declined to associate myself with one in particular: that the decline in Catholic practice in the past half-century can be shown to be caused, directly, by Vatican II. So I don't know what you mean by my "standing by" such an assertion. I'm not. Others are making that point, and I'm standing aside from that debate.

Rather, I was attempting to make a different and simpler point: that there were and remain problems in how Vatican II was implemented. And I offered evidence for that.

I choose not to make any general cause-and-effect assertions about the decline in Mass attendance.

So, I'm still waiting for you to respond to what I actually said; that is, if you so choose.