Friday, August 31, 2012


MY COMMENTS FIRST: This is a fascinating read as it is a time warp written on the eve of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. It lets you know that there was considerable foment prior to Vatican II for liturgical reform and that what the Second Vatican Council recommends did not appear as in a vacuum, but took into account the liturgical movement of the 20th Century.

I would have to say though, that what Fr. Mannion hopes the Council will do is not realized in the actual Council documents but by stealth in the Concilium that devised the new liturgy and I suspect Fr. Mannion may have had some input with Cardinal Bugninni and others, but I could be wrong.

The other things you will note that Fr. Mannion hopes the Council will do, which it doesn't do, but will be done after the Council is that anything that is of the domain of the priest's private prayers and liturgical piety, such as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel should be removed. It is interested that almost every private prayer of the priest is erased in the new liturgy except for a very truncated Lavabo and his private prayer before his Holy Communion, not to mention the lengthy offertory prayers that are substituted with a new concoction. Enjoy this read:

First, the Liturgy
Posted on August 27, 2012 by Deacon Eric Stoltz

From the June 28, 1962 issue of Commonweal Magazine, a provocative call for liturgical reform by an organizer of the North American Liturgical Week recently held in Seattle in conjunction with the World’s Fair, imagining how liturgy might be celebrated 50 years from now.

By John B. Mannion

Of all the actions likely to be taken by the forthcoming Ecumenical Council, few will affect the Catholic people so directly and personally as the liturgical reforms. For most of us, our principal public contact with the Church is Sunday Mass. And indeed, this is as it should be, for the liturgy is “the chief duty and supreme dignity” of Christians, and takes precedence over any other religious activity—public or private, individual or corporate. For this reason the Mass should be our most meaningful Christian experience. That this is not the case is one of the several motive s which have prompted the liturgical reforms of recent decades. Pope Pius XI’s “outsiders and mute spectators” of 1928 have become Pope John’s “telegraph poles” of 1960.
A first for Seattle and most attendees: Mass facing the people.

Clearly the reforms instituted have not been adequate to the task of conveying to the people the true nature of liturgical worship and their role in it. Perhaps this is because the changes have been within the structure of the Roman liturgy as it was frozen in the sixteenth century.

To the man of the twentieth century, the Mass does not appear to be what it actually is: a formal proclamation of the Word of God, a sacrificial oblation re-presenting “in mystery” the redemptive work of Christ, and a community meal renewing the covenant—the pledge of eternal life and love—between the Father and His chosen sons. This threefold reality is not immediately and directly revealed by the words and actions of the Latin rite Mass, which fact has led to a growing realization of the need for further reform.

A sign which means little or nothing to me is not really a sign at all; it is an enigma.

But why reform? Why not better education in the liturgy as it is? The answer lies in the very essence of what liturgy is. Let us define it here as that complex of rites or sacred signs which contain what they signify and through which God is glorified and man sanctified. No one questions the essential efficacy of the Latin liturgy in glorifying God and sanctifying man. What is in question is its efficacy as “sign,” for insofar as our Mass today fails to signify or communicate to the man of today what it actually is, it fails as “sign” A sign which means little or nothing to me is not really a sign at all; it is an enigma.

What we may hope for, then, is that the fathers of the Second Vatican Council will provide us with a complexus of intelligible, meaningful signs (if the reader will forgive the redundant adjectives). Precisely what changes are called for are well known to anyone who has been observing or engaging in the liturgical movement. The innumerable details need not concern us here; those seeking them are earnestly referred to such recent works as H. A. Reinhold’s Bringing the Mass to the People (Helicon, 1960). Let us be satisfied with selective comments on the broad outline o f reforms, keeping in mind that these suggestions are not the official proposals of the Liturgical Conference or any other body; at the same time, insofar as they reflect the writer’s study and discussion with clergy and laity, scholars and “typical parishioners,” they may be considered representative of a general trend of thought in the Church today.

Taking the Mass in its sequence, it seems imperative that the readings from Scripture should be presented in a manner which clearly demonstrates that this is the formal proclamation, by the Church, of God’s revealed Word to His people duly assembled. This might be accomplished by providing that the lessons be read facing the people, from lecterns or ambos (which would also serve the purpose of distinguishing between the “service of the Word” and the service of the altar).

The cycle of selections from the Bible might be expanded, say to three years, so that more of the Word could be offered the people than is now possible in a one-year cycle.

The cycle of selections from the Bible might be expanded, say to three years, so that more of the Word could be offered the people than is now possible in a one-year cycle. Should not more Old Testament readings be included, perhaps by more frequent us e of three lessons in the Mass instead of two? And, needless to say, all such readings should be in the language of the people (more on this later), and delivered reverently, not hurriedly for the sake of satisfying an obligation. The ancient “prayer of the faithful” or litany of special intentions might be re – stored to use to conclude the first important segment of our worship service.

The offertory can easily be revised to make it clearer that the gifts come from the people. At the same time, care should be taken that the offertory rite does not seem to be anything more than a simple presentation of the materials of the sacrifice; the celebrant’s prayers at this time seem to make more of it by confusing the offering of the bread and wine with the sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood.

Why invoke Roman saints unknown to us?

Some consideration should be given to the prayers and actions of the Canon: why the Preface of the Holy Trinity as the standard Sunday preface? Why invoke Roman saints unknown to us? Why not give more prominence to the concluding elevation and doxology, not delaying the people’s response by the celebrant’s genuflection or coupling it with the Our Father before Communion? And since the Canon is the central action of the Mass, why should it not be celebrated aloud as the focus of our attention?

It would also help if more force were given to the urging of recent Popes that the people receive Hosts consecrated at the same Mass.

The relationship between Communion and the sacrificial act might be more evident if the two were not separated by so much time. Couldn’t the private prayers of the celebrant be eliminated? And shouldn’t it be stressed again that sharing the Eucharistic Food is the proper and normal conclusion of the Mass for all who are present? It would also help if more force were given to the urging of recent Popes that the people receive Hosts consecrated at the same Mass.

The “last Gospel”—like the prayers at the foot of the altar—began as a private devotion of the celebrant, not as prayer proper to public worship. There is considerable opinion that both practices might best be dropped for the sake of clarity.

Among all these changes, however, the central problem remains that of language. If it is a valid principle that changes are intended to make the forms of the liturgy conform more appropriately to their inner nature and purpose and to make them more meaningful to the people, then we cannot lightly dismiss the increasing desire for more vernacular in the rites of our public worship. Since the liturgy is a sacred sign—an external, intelligible signification of an interior, invisible reality—and since words are essential in the sacramental rites, the use of an unknown language obstructs the purpose of liturgy considered as a sign, a means of communication.

Pope John’s recent Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia, reaffirms a centuries-old tradition that Latin is the official language of the Western Church. This precise, succinct tongue is admirably suited as the vehicle for preserving normative formulations of Church doctrine, against which all vernacular teaching can be judged. It serves an equally valuable purpose as the language of official communications and documents within the universal Church, and of the official books of the sacred liturgy (Missal, Office, Ritual, Pontificale, etc.).

This principle would not be compromised if the Church were to permit vernacular usage in parochial liturgy. It would still be the Latin rite. The Latin texts would be the norm for all vernacular editions. Some parts of the Mass might well be retained—without any threat to intelligibility—in Latin (and Hebrew and Greek), e.g., the familiar greetings and other versicles, and in prayers said silently by the priest. Moreover, the liturgy would be celebrated completely in Latin in monasteries and other religious institutions, in Rome, perhaps in cathedral churches, and at international gatherings.

To ask that Christians, when assembled in their parish churches, be permitted to worship in their own language is not to abuse the honored place of Latin; it is simply to recognize the fact that the people no longer understand that venerable tongue.

To ask that Christians, when assembled in their parish churches, be permitted to worship in their own language is not to abuse the honored place of Latin; it is simply to recognize the fact that the people no longer understand that venerable tongue. Viewed objectively, the loss of Latin as the language of public worship is indeed a loss, but the same objectivity should tell us that we risk an even greater loss if we sacrifice meaningful, sincere worship in favor of thi s or any other matter of liturgical discipline.

These remarks on the vernacular constitute no attempt to exhaust the question. But they are deemed necessary, if only because so many have been led to believe that Veterum Sapientia was intended to banish the possibility of vernacular in the liturgy—which it was not or it would have said so—as well as to stifle any and all discussion of this possibility—which it wa s not or it would not have singled out only those who are “moved by an inordinate desire for novelty.” If not all, then certainly the majority, of those clergy an d laity who call for the vernacular speak from the conviction that they seek only the essential purposes of the Church: the glory of God and the sanctification of man.

The fact that the cry for the vernacular is so widespread among clergy and laity in so many countries (if a vote were feasible, or in order, I would not doubt the outcome) might suggest that the Holy Spirit is active in this matter, again making His inspiration known through the consensus of the faithful. Certainly the fathers of the council, no matter what their persona l preference might be, will consider this a possibility.

Space prohibits any detailed discussion of additional reforms, but a few deserve mention:

It is commonly said that the Divine Office in its present form is not in harmony with daily routine o f the secular clergy in the modern world. Most commentators on the subject urge that the number of “hours” be reduced, that it be recited in the vernacular, that the choral elements be altered for individual use, and that some of the contents be revised.

Lay people would surely benefit if some form of the Office were made available to them—at least as morning and evening prayer, for use individually, in family life, and as a public service in the parish church. In this way, the entire church—not the clergy alone— could share in that prayer which sanctifies the various periods of the day and offers a continuing round of praise to the Father.

At the present time, the Holy See reserves to itself all rights concerning the ordering of the sacred liturgy. It would achieve great pastoral good if the principle of local adaptation were restored by the council. This would allow local ordinaries or the bishops of a country to make adjustments and additions to the liturgy to accommodate local customs and cultures. Consider, for instance, the diverse wedding or funeral customs among such countries as Japan and South Africa, Poland and Indochina, the United States and India. In our own country the local adaptation principle would be more than justified if it resulted in evening Masses regularly, meaningful services for funerals, betrothals, Thanksgiving Day and other American customs, and—most urgently—for wakes, which are uncomfortably empty and un-Christian.

These are but samples of the sort of reforms hope d for among clergy and laity. Unfortunately, they have been articulated publicly only by scholars or specialists, and in books and journals which do not grace every home and rectory library. If our bishops are to engage in the deliberations of the Council with full knowledge of the mind of the faithful, more clergy and laity must speak up.

Such expression of hopes and needs for reform will surely be accepted as a manifestation of genuine concern for the effectiveness of the Church’s mission. Let us hope that no false notion of prudence or false concept of the liturgy as the exclusive province of the clergy will restrain lay people from revealing their legitimate and prayerfully considered aspirations concerning liturgical reform. Informed discussion, conducted with charity, loyalty, and mutual respect, ca n lead to that ordering of the sacred liturgy which permits intelligent and meaningful engagement in the redemptive realities through which we, united to Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit, offer all honor and glory to the Father.

John B. Mannion is Executive Secretary of the Liturgical Conference. This article is part of a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in connection with the coming Ecumenical Council.

From the June 28, 1962 issue of Commonweal Magazine. Reprinted with permission.


John Nolan said...

Interesting. It would seem that the movement originating in France, Germany and the Low Countries which came to dominate the Council had a fifth column in the USA. The "cry for the vernacular" which the good Father identifies was certainly not present in England, where a Latin liturgy proudly marked us out as distinct from the Established Church - which in 1962 was not in the state of decline which marks it in the present day.

I don't object to the vernacular per se, provided that it renders the Latin faithfully, which at long last it now does (minor quibbles apart). Nor should it entirely replace Latin. But it cannot be denied that its widespread introduction in the 1960s was the main reason why the liturgy became subjective, informal, irreverent, performance-oriented, infantilized, dumbed-down in cultural terms especially as regards music, and quite frankly not worth crossing the street to attend.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Perhaps it was by design to make us more like the Lutherans and Anglicans that Latin was dropped almost immediately altogether. Even in the south in the USA we say ourselves as different from Protestants and (thus better) because of our unique ways of doing things, Latin Liturgy, Meatless Fridays, habits, celibacy and chastity, etc
But therein lies the rub, this idea that if the Catholic Church comes to resemble the Protestant churches than we'll have Christian unity. It seems that having done all of what we have done to achieve that, we are still further away from it than we ever have been and have diminished ourselves in the process.

John Nolan said...

Fair point, Father. In the 1960s (my teenage years) the Church of England moved from a dignified (alhough distinctly Protestant) liturgy to a more informal worship style using pedestrian language. For example 'Te Deum laudamus' which was always 'We praise Thee, O God' became 'You are God. We praise you'. This was in large part imitating what the Catholics were doing; Anglican religious orders which used the Roman Rite (and in Latin) conformed to post-V2 practices even though they didn't have to. Yet the CofE never prohibited the older books (in their case 1662) and cathedral Evensong is not embarrassed about using archaic English.

Which brings me to a point I have probably made before, but is worthwhile stressing. The 'spirit of Vatican II' and 'hermeneutic of rupture' are not aberrations of the liberals - they were imposed by Rome nem. con. Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster from 1963 to 1975, disliked the changes and said in 1967 that he didn't even know the names of the members of the Consilium (or more importantly their advisors) who were pushing them; however he went along with them out of loyalty and kept the English bishops on side. It is no secret that we came close to having an English Lefebvre.

Templar said...

I don't know how anyone can read stuff like that and then question what ArchBishop Lefebvre did in not only forming the SSPX in 1970, but in the crisis averting Episcopal Ordinations in 1988. How can anyone read these stories and not see the assault being waged against the Church? Without the SSPX and their actions since 1970 the now belated discussion of reforming the reform would not even be taking place.

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Bugnini, not Cardinal.