Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The first is a "Book Worth Reading: Cardinal Antonelli on the Liturgical Reform at the New Theological Movement, which you can read by pressing this sentence.

"While Cardinal Antonelli certainly held that a more expansive reform was needed and desirable after the reform of Holy Week in 1955 (which he was in large part responsible for), and while he claimed that Sacrosanctum Concilium ultimately was “a success”, his gripe was with the Consilium (the committe entrusted with implemting the reforms of Sacrosanctum Concilium). In Antonelli’s analysis, what began as true, organic, and necessary development quickly turned into decline once this committee was formed. His notes provide a clear understanding of the actual process by which we have the newly revised Rites, Breviary, and Calendar. While expert periti worked on the various commissions studying particular questions, non-expert members who sat on the Consilium voted on their proposals. Further, the Consilium was responsible for drawing up new texts. He ultimately concludes that the Consilium had basically turned into a “continuation of the Council” and notes that many of its members were both theologically incapable as well as progressive in their outlook. In some instances he alludes to their tendencies to “de-sacralize” the Liturgy. Connected to all of this is the larger problem of theological decay in which we can place the Liturgical turbulence that ensued after the Second Vatican Council."

Then Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith gave a speech expanding on the need for the reform of the reform of the ordinary form of the Mass which you can read by pressing this sentence.

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had this to say on this ever-increasing spirit of relativism:

[The Council] already during its sessions and then increasingly in the subsequent period, was opposed by a self-styled “Spirit of the Council”, which in reality is a true “anti-spirit” of the Council. According to this pernicious anti-spirit [Konzils–Ungeist in German], everything that is “new” … is always and in every case better than what has been or what is. It is the anti-spirit according to which the history of the Church would first begin with Vatican II, viewed as a kind of point zero. (The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1985 pp. 34-35)

Cardinal Ratzinger discounted this view as untrue, for “Vatican II surely did not want ‘to change’ the faith but to represent it in a more effective way” (ibid). He affirmed that in fact “the Council did not take the turn that John XXIII had expected”. He further stated “It must also be admitted that, in respect to the whole Church, the prayer of Pope John that the Council signify a new leap forward for the Church, to renewed life and unity, has not — at least not yet — been granted” (ibid. p. 42).

These are hard words indeed, yet I would say, very true, for that spirit of exaggerated theological freedom indeed hijacked, so to say, the very Council itself away from its declared goals.

The Consilium, too, in implementing the Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, was not exempt from being influenced by this overwhelming tidal wave of a so-called desire for “change” and “openness”. Possibly some of the above-mentioned relativizing tendencies influenced the liturgy too, undermining the centrality, the sacredness, sense of mystery as well as the value of what the continuous action of the Holy Spirit in the bi-millennial history of the Church had helped ecclesial liturgical life to grow into.

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthropologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation — and, indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the liturgy in the second millennium — were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools. Liturgists had also tended to pick and choose sections of Sacrosanctum Concilium that seemed to be more accommodating to change or novelty while ignoring others.

Besides, there was a great sense of hurry to effect and legalize changes. Much space tended to be provided for a rather horizontalist way of looking at the liturgy. Norms of the Council that tended to restrict such creativity or were favorable to “the traditional way” seemed to be ignored.

Worse still, some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the liturgy, like Mass “versus populum” (facing the people), Holy Communion on the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian chant in favor of vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extending beyond any reasonable limits the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of “active participation” (actuosa participatio).

All of that had its effect on the work of the Consilium. Those who guided the process of change both within the Consilium, and later in the Sacred Congregation of Rites, were certainly being influenced by all these novel tendencies. Not everything they introduced was negative. Much of the work done was praiseworthy. But much room was also left for experimentation and arbitrary interpretation. These “freedoms” were exploited to their fullest extent by some liturgical “experts”, leading to much confusion.

Cardinal Ratzinger explains how “one shudders at the lackluster face of the post-conciliar liturgy as it has become, or one is bored with its banality and its lack of artistic standards....” (The Feast of Faith, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1986, p. 100)."

And finally, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth states the following shocking truth:

“the Second Vatican Council, an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known
Very few people could have foreseen the wholesale revision of the liturgy which would come in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and certainly few could foresee that the unifiying experience of a Latin liturgy would become entirely alien to most Catholics born in the last third of the twentieth century. The unchangeable nature of this characteristic of the Liturgy was a view largely shared by Blessed John Henry Newman, Mgr Robert Hugh Benson, Mgr Ronald Knox and, until the liturgical reform happened, also by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Commentators such as Fr Joseph Gelineau SJ, composer of the famous psalm tones, went as far as to say “the Roman Rite, as we knew it, has been destroyed”!
The factors which fed into the liturgical reform after the Council were complex and in some ways, not entirely contemporary. I think we must admit that until relatively recently there has been very little scholarship that is able to accurately identify the sources of the liturgical reform. In some cases, the scholarly opinions upon which some decisions were based does not stand the test of time. We must hope that scholarly commentary which unravels some of the mystery surrounding the making of the new liturgy becomes more readily available in the near future."


John Nolan said...

Fr Gelineau's comment quoted by Mgr Wadsworth was made in 1967, two years before the present missal was promulgated by Paul VI. It is a statement of fact, and also a boast - Gelineau worked closely with Bugnini on the new Mass, and if you are to erect a new structure you must perforce demolish the old one. If you examine the interim mass of 1967 you will find it completes the rupture which began over three years earlier (I'm referring here to the Mass used in parishes, not the prototype Missa normativa trialled in the Sistine Chapel, with its heretical, and later withdrawn preamble, which was too much even for the weak and vacillating pontiff). And much as we like to vilify Bugnini et al. they could have done nothing without the backing of Paul VI.

Ergo, the Novus Ordo is not the Roman Rite, but rather a rite authorized by Rome, which isn't the same thing at all. It can be celebrated in such a way as to resemble the Roman Rite, with the inclusion of the Roman Canon which was rescued at the last minute by Pope Paul. But a reform of the reform can only go so far. Ideally we need to go back to 1962 and start again, but you can't turn back the clock. We can take some comfort from the fact that the Roman Rite, since Summorum Pontificum, has parity of esteem with the new liturgy.

It is, however, an unholy mess which will take decades to put right. Meanwhile the Devil is laughing his socks off.

Henry Edwards said...

According to Fr. Anthony Cekada's book "Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI"--which (though Cekada is a well-known sedevacantist) has been quite favorably reviewed by Msgr. Wadsworth,
(with 343 PrayTell comments)

Pope Paul VI did not merely approve officially the final product--or "fabrication" (in Card. Ratzinger's description) of the Bugnini concilium. He personally approved it on a line-by-line basis, sometimes penciling his own changes in margins of the drafts with which Msgr. Bugnini consulted him on a one-to-one basis. According to Card. Antonelli, Bugnini used these "pre-approvals" by the Pope in declaring consensus on them in consilium meetings, without bothering with the careful discussions and formal votes that (according to Card. Antonelli) had characterized all the previous liturgical commissions prior to and during the Council itself.

Of course, none of these sausage-making details affect the validity or legitimacy of the Novus Ordo. Moreover, in fairness to Paul VI, perhaps it ought to be mentioned that he not only restored the Roman Canon and the Orate Fratres after the Ottaviani intervention and the denunciation of the Novus Ordo by Cardinan Heenan (among others in the large majority of the 1967 bishops synod that disapproved it), but evidently also in his later years grievously lamented his own role in the disintegration of faith and liturgy.

John Nolan said...

Henry, yes. We cannot imagine the anguish Paul VI went through in the last years of his pontificate. After his death it was revealed that he wore a hair shirt. The destruction of the liturgy occurred under his watch, but previous Pontiffs cannot escape blame, particularly Pius X and Pius XII. Had Montini been elected in 1958 the story might have been different. Oremus pro eo.

ytc said...

Does anyone have the text of the Missa Normativa and the preamble of it?