Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The 1970's saw liturgical iconoclasm shift into high gear as liturgical theologians and liturgical consultants saw a goldmine available to them and the arts and crafts economy as splendid old and not so old churches went under major renovation to accommodate the new liturgy and its "dogmatic" needs.

To say that the iconoclasm of these churches caused needless heartache and the loss of once staunch, practicing Catholics is an understatement. There is absolutely no reason why the revised liturgy could not be celebrated in older churches without any renovation or even a free standing altar employed. Just imagine the money saved and the liturgical continuity maintained if liturgical theologians were shunned and told to butt out in the aftermath of Vatican II.

Yes, in this period, as hard as it is to believe, liturgical theologians were elevated to the stature of an infallible pontiff as they foisted a new liturgical theology upon the various communities they visited. Liturgical theology was dogmatized and all in the name of the "spirit of Vatican II" and the liturgy designed by post-conciliar bishops and theologians. Yet, not even this liturgical commmittee backed by the pope suggested that older churches should be gutted to accommodate new wine made in a back alley.

But not so the liturgical theologians who became a parallel magisterium with more infallibility and authoritarianism than the most clerical bishop, they thought you couldn't put the new wine of the manufactured liturgy in a vintage wine bottle, for they knew that would show continuity rather than rupture, so they put their back ally cheap wine into a square box with a plastic lining in it for easy access and storage.

I saw a bit of the installation Mass for the new Archbishop of Indianapolis at their historic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. What struck me was the iconoclasm of this Cathedral and the horrible "new and improved" free standing altar and ambo. Who thinks of these things and then has the gall to shove this sort of liturgical art down the throats of parishioners who worship in an historic Cathedral and then keep the older altar to remind them of just how dumbed down the new liturgy and its accouterments are?

There is absolutely no comparison in artistic value or majesty between the two altars you will note below.

Also note how the faux altar is placed on a stage like platform jutting out into the congregation causing the cathedral to lose seating. Please note how everything is on the same level also and compare it to the black and white vintage photo of what the Cathedral looked like prior to the iconoclasm and waste of money in doing what they did. I suspect it was millions of dollars.




Unknown said...

This has been a sticky wicket of mine for almost 20 years now, as are most things which are liturgically destructive. My mentor Monsignor Schuler wrote an article for Sacred Music Magazine in 1993 which speaks about what you are talking about today.

I was lucky enough to be formed in an environment where the liturgical action was held to a very high standard and was not compromised by Modernism. And I was lucky enough to have these conversations daily.

The article was called "Turned Around" Altars. It can be found at EWTN.

John Nolan said...

I don't think you meant 'sticky wicket' although since there's not much cricket played in Iowa, cricketing metaphors perhaps lose their meaning. "He's batting on a sticky wicket" implies that he is in danger of being out next ball. People over here now talk about 'stepping up to the plate' although baseball is unknown, apart from the children's game of rounders which is related to it. Cricketers 'stride to the crease'.

But I digress. The sight of that table altar on a giant waffle reminds me of Plymouth cathedral which was wrecked by the liberal Bishop Christopher Budd, despite protests from many in the diocese. A lot of wreckovations are quite recent, witness St-Germain on Paris's Left Bank (ghastly and minimalist) and the Venerable English College in Rome (equally ghastly and minimalist). All done at considerable expense and therefore not likely to be replaced any time soon. It seems that the liberal/progressivists want to leave behind a lasting legacy, even as they see their cherished ideas being increasingly discredited.

Henry Edwards said...

The last chapter of James Hitchcock's new "History of the Catholic Church" deals with the tumultuous post-Vatican II era. In a review in the Dec 2012 Catholic League newsletter, Kenneth Whitehead says

Professor Hitchcock "shows that the Church's life has almost never been entirely tranquil; but in our day the outcome of a Council that was supposed to renew the faith, but instead became the occasion of determined attempts by dissident and disloyal elements to transform her belief in accordance with their own alien agendas, created an entirely novel situation."

Although this situation is finally beginning to be stabilized, it seems to me that these "dissident and disloyal elements" in the 1970s and 1980s gained control of not only Catholic seminaries and schools but of catechetical and liturgical leadership and of many or most chanceries and national bishops conferences.

WSquared said...

Suffice it to say that "noble simplicity" and cheap utilitarianism should not be confused. And "simple" does not equal simplistic.

And the thing about liturgical theologians, and anyone claiming to be a Catholic theologian, period, is that they need to be in full Communion with the Church and thus think with the Church. And by Church, we mean the entire Church throughout all ages, and not just who happens to be alive and kicking in the here and now.

Or that's what we should mean, as per the Nicene Creed, to say nothing of the fact that praying the Confiteor should beat us over the head with this repeatedly... Oh, wait. Your parish doesn't pray the Confiteor because it "makes people feel bad"?! Oh, dear.

"Parallel" or "alternative" magisterium, my eye.

While not meaning to sound alarmist, I wonder if anyone here has ever read Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World. The part about the alternative secularist liturgy presided over by a former Catholic priest who lost his faith (because he'd reduced Catholicism to intellectualism and forgot the part about practicing and conversion in the heart) was especially poignant.

Supertradmum said...

Beautiful photos. This summer, someone showed me photos of a church in London before wreckovation. I was in tears. The good news is that there is a phenomenal priest asked by the Archbishop to restore a church as he did such a great job on the first. People in the pew want the beauty. Yes, they do.

John Nolan, when we were living in Iowa, my son organized a cricket club. Hey, we played on the banks of the Mississippi. Broaden your horizons, Dude.

Supertradmum said...

Supertradmum said...

John (and Andy), here is a photo of part of the cricket club from the QuadCities. Two of those boys are now in the seminary. One is a doctor, the young lady is married (EF on my blog) and one is an accountant. Cricket makes people smart, but if they were EF cricketers, they would be in whites, of course.

Supertradmum said...

Apologies, I do not think the link is working. Here it is again on another link. This blog is sublime-liturgy and cricket.

ytc said...

So fugly. I saw that installation as well. The nasty Ikea table looks like a hideous combo of a wine rack and cutting board. Absolutely atrocious.

Joseph Johnson said...

I guess they were running out of storage space for the sacramental wine so they went down to Ikea and picked up that wine rack to double as an altar! Just wait 'til they fill all those little square holes with dark green bottles of unconsecrated wine--true post-modern minimalist functional design!

Supertradmum said...

And why are so many parishes, run by orders such as the Jesuits, Carmelites and Benedictines still being allowed the usage of crockery cup (not a chalice for sure) and paten? I see it all the time