Saturday, February 6, 2016


Pope Pius XII in His Holiness 1947 Encyclical,  Mediator Dei which encourages authentic, organic liturgical development, His Holiness nonetheless criticizes what is sometimes termed “archaeologism” in the following passage:
… one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table-form; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See. (§62)
As you know, I love both forms of the one Latin Rite. Yes, this is 2016 and the New Liturgical Movement born after the promulgation of the 1970's Roman Missal has given new direction and purpose to liturgical renewal.

This New Liturgical Renewal went into high gear with Liturgicum Authenticam which requires vernacular translations of the most up-to-date revised Roman Missal to maintain the theology, doctrine, spirituality and even syntax of the Latin Original--which is the template still for the Latin Rite Modern or New Mass.

However, because the liturgy is never a dead entity, nor is the Church which is always reforming in the authentic orthodox way, Pope Paul VI allowed for limited use of the 1962 Missal although mandating the New Order in 1970 for the majority of Catholics. His Holiness did allow for broader use of the Church's ancient Liturgy for England. Pope Saint John Paul II allowed for a much broader application of the ancient Liturgical Form found in the 1962 Missal and of course Pope Benedict XVI allowed for the 1962 Missal and other liturgical celebrations of 1962 to be celebrated by every priest in the world.

Thus the liturgical life of the Church did not stall into an unchanging reality with the 1970 missal and much of the drivel of liturgical theologians of that period has been repudiated by more brilliant theologians of the stature of Pope Benedict.

Pope Francis has contributed to the on-going reform of the modern Liturgical idiom with the Ordinariate's Divine Worship, the Missal which contains His Holiness Imprimatur. At the same time, His Holiness mandated that the name of Saint Joseph be inserted in all of the modern Eucharistic Prayers of the Latin Rite. On the more progressive side, His Holiness has allowed, but is not forcing, the washing of the feet of women at the Holy Thursday Mandatum by tweaking the rubric for this ritual.

However, if you want to know about the archaeologism that I was taught in the 1970's seminary in order to elevate the Modern Order of the Mass and to denigrate the Ancient Order of the Mass handed down and organically developed from antiquity, this is what we were taught (although what is printed below is from a younger Benedictine Monk in Collegeville, Minnesota and printed in the last couple of days, talk about bringing me back to the 1970's!) My comments in red:

But there is no unchanging ‘Mass of all times,’ – I hope we’re clear on that point. (No Kidding! this is a rude Benedictine poke in the eye and quite nasty to say it in this rude way.)

Yes the Roman canon dates back some 1,500 years. But there were additions and variations in it well into the Middle Ages. And in the 4th or 5th century when that ancient canon was used in the Roman Rite: how about Prayers at Foot of the Altar? nope, didn’t exist yet. Nor the introit, nor the Kyrie, nor the Gloria. Not yet part of the Roman rite. Did the pope genuflect, or elevate the Host and Chalice at the consecration? No, not for nearly another 1,000 years – he prayed the canon straight through with no such gestures. No Agnus Dei yet. No altar rail, no kneeling for Communion. No withdrawal of chalice, for laity only received under both forms. No Last Gospel. Communion bread? Big loaf, leavened, no little unleavened hosts. Language of Roman liturgy in 4th century? Same Latin for canon as for the sermon – just let that sink in! The preaching was in the same language as the canon, the vernacular of the people. (Everything written in this succinct paragraph tells you about the Collegeville Benedictines'  use of archaelogism beginning in the 1950's to deconstruct the liturgical patrimony of the Latin Rite which developed in an organic way over centuries. If you want to know about modern Catholic iconoclasm of the liturgy and of our church buildings, read this paragraph over and over again. This is what I taught about the Liturgy too and thus as a newly ordained [riest in order to lift up the Modern Form, I had to denigrate the Ancient organically developed form just as this modern Benedictine does which he inherited from his particular Benedictine community. In the 1970's I went to seminary Masses without an entrance chant or spoken introit, no Sign of the Cross, no Kyrie, just greeting and made up Collect. The Eucharistic prayer had no genuflections or elevations. Some other hymn was substituted for the Agnus Dei and leavened crusty French bread was used; no one kneeled except when the Mass was on the floor, meaning no altar, just a cloth on the floor and we sat Indian style for the Mass!)

And most important of all...: the Mass in the 4th century, like the Mass of Vatican II, was an act of the people (e.g. they sang a vernacular responsorial psalm refrain, there was no ‘gradual’ yet by the schola – just reflect on the ecclesiology implicit in that!), and the Mass had not yet undergone its Carolingian transformation into a clerical drama that the people attended, prayed at, were inspired by, perhaps loved, but did not participate directly in. (Organic development in one era might not be the best in another. But to imply that the EF Mass can't be participative is shear lunacy. To say that a person who hears Mass but does not speak or sing is not directly participating in it is an ideological lie of the now 1970's repudiated liturgists who had another agenda in mind. And to raise a form of ecclesiology to a liturgical dogma is just silly! But folks, the good Benedictine in a nutshell shows you what the 1970's was all about and why the liturgy we have today is in the state it is in. It needs reform starting with the ideology and achaeologism of this particular Benedictine's school of thought!)

So if you’re hoping we can go back to the way it always was, … dream on.

But there is no unchanging ‘Mass of all times,’ – I hope we’re clear on that point.

My final comments: So if you want to know the perspective of Archbishop Bugnini and his cohorts as well as what led to unofficial exploitation of the Modern Roman Missal, read once again what the Benedictine Monk writes which I have highlighted above.

You can see too how this dastardly ideology (it can't rightly be called even theology) led to the desacralization of not only the Mass but of our church buildings with wreckovations and horrible new architecture. The Collegeville Abbey being a case in point.

While some of what he writes is the underpinning of some of the reforms of our modern missal, much of what he writes is what led priests to implement illicitly these aspects and impose them on the Modern Liturgy. It still happens today but less so than in the 1970's in which this ideology found its apex in high and low places. 


Gene said...

This all seems to me to be a tempest in a tea pot. Unbelief has been in the ascendancy in the Church since Vatican II, in fact, I believe the loss of belief was a direct cause of Vatican II...a large group of Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and even, perhaps a Pope, lost their belief and wrung their hands over "what do we do now." They joined with the protestant unbelieving ministry in deciding that the Church must be kept viable as a tool for social change and the maintenance of some kind of civic morality, common values, and social cohesion. Thus, the Articles of the Creed, the Gospel message of redemption, New Creation (apocalyptically) and eternal life became useful fictions for keeping the "sheeple" involved and making of them a huge and wealthy army for the furtherance of (liberal) social causes. Priests and protestant ministers lied all the time about their beliefs, conducted entire ministries tongue-in-cheek, and gradually turned their preaching away from themes of repentance and salvation to themes of social action, stewardship, and human encounter (love cures all). This continues to this day, with the current Pope being a prime example of it. All this frantic discussion of liturgy, missals, and the finer points of the Mass really is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. After all, in a Church filled with unbelief from top to bottom, it really doesn't matter what is done at witnessed by OF's all across this nation.

John Nolan said...

The Latin of the Mass was not the 'vernacular of the people', even in Rome, let alone across the far-flung western Roman Empire. If the aim was to have a vernacular Mass, then why wasn't there a Mass in Punic or, a little later, in Anglo-Saxon? The latter was a developed literary language by the end of the first millennium, whereas Italian was still regarded as a debased dialect of Latin, not suitable for liturgical use.

As for the 'Carolingian transformation', Charlemagne's aim was to bring the liturgical practice of his empire into line with that of Rome and he imported not just the Roman liturgical books, but also singers from the Roman chapels. The idea that Charlemagne imposed court ceremonial onto a chummy vernacular Roman liturgy is hogwash. There was, of course, cross-fertilization and some things (like the Nicene Creed on Sundays) were only adopted by Rome after they were the norm in other localities, but this is beside the point.

Victor W said...

It seems bizarre to want to replace the Mass that had evolved in the context of the changes in society for more than 1600 years with a Mass that was relevant to the society of the year 300AD. One would have to be an extreme conservative or be fanatically reactionary to do so. Yet that is what happened with the introduction of Novus Ordo, a Mass that was way more irrelevant by 1975AD than the EF is today, even with its Latin. No wonder people have left the Church in droves. Under John XXIII the previously rebuked "archeologism" became disguised as "aggiornamento", and then as "resourcement" during the Council. I suppose Gene (above) is right, that when there is a crisis of faith, one longs for the romantisised past.
But a romantisised past is highly risky, since it takes only one discovery to tear down a monumental construction of history, such as this Benedictine's. A lot of what he said about liturgical history can be challenged today.

Cletus Ordo said...


You make many good points, but I must disagree with your observation about the liturgy. The Mass IS the center of Catholic life and changing the Mass HAS changed the way people (priests and laity both) believe.

If more Catholics had access to a Mass that was offered as the sacrifice that It truly is, I think our beliefs would be different. Just read the translations of the prayers in the EF--they foster a deep belief in the four last things--which is about the last thing most Catholics seem to be concerned about in the modern Church.

I think Father M has done his readers a service in exposing this archaeologist claptrap. It's important to know that a holy pope foresaw its ascendancy and even more important to know the arguments against it.

Rood Screen said...

The only thing serious Catholics really want brought back to the sacred liturgy is reverence. It's the silly Catholics on the extremes who lament either the destruction or the preservation of various liturgical customs. The rest of us just want all the liturgical focus to be on Christ's Sacrifice to His Father for our salvation.

As for those monks, they need to go back to manual labor. It would do them good.

Gerry Davila said...

Mohrmann has shown that the Latin of the Canon and Collects was quite elevated and not in a style of the every day people.

rcg said...

I am prepared to embrace progressive views of liturgical development if they are willing to jettison the Novus Ordo as a failed prototype.

Rood Screen said...

I suppose if Catholicism comes to be illegal in the West, then the Roman liturgy could develop into a simpler form more suited to secret chapels and more similar to the Roman rites of the first centuries.

Jenny said...

rcg, so good to see you! I've missed you...
Where have you been?

John Nolan said...

JRR Tolkien, who died in 1973 and so experienced the liturgical revolution (which, like most devout Catholics of taste and discernment, he disliked) had an interesting take on archaeologism. Imagine the liturgy as a tree. As it develops and grows, its roots become deeper and its foliage more luxuriant. There are those who wish the tree had remained a sapling, but uprooting the tree does not recover the sapling.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't know if JRR Tolkien's daughter, Priscilla, is still living, but she had close friends in Augusta, ga who were my parishioners when I was pastor there. She visited twice and I was able to have a couple of very nice meals and visits with her. She said her father didn't think much of his friend C.S. Lewis writings!

John Nolan said...

As far as I know two of Tolkien's children are still living; Christopher (b.1924) and Priscilla (b.1929). Lewis and Tolkien frequented the Eagle and Child pub which is close to the Oxford Oratory (although in their day it was the Jesuit church). After the untimely death of his mother, the young Tolkien's guardian was one of the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory.

Unknown said...

Lol, Tolkien's writings aren't anything worth getting excited about, either.

Cold oatmeal is more exciting.

Gene said...

Well, Flavius, Tolkein beats Star Wars and the other crap out there. I was surprised at how well the movie trilogy stayed with the books. Amazing. Plus, Liv Tyler is true Confession material...