The novelist’s complaint about the new mass

The new mass was “a bitter trial,” said novelist Evelyn Waugh.

In 1965, Evelyn Waugh wrote to the archbishop of Westminster of the growing tide of liturgical changes: “Every attendance at Mass leaves me without comfort or edification. I shall never, pray God, apostatize but church-going is now a bitter trial.”

The prominent Italian Catholic literary figure Tito Casini went further in 1967, publishing the provocative tract La tunica stracciata (“The Torn Tunic”), with a preface by a curial cardinal. He virulently took to task the cardinal charged with implementing the reform, Giacomo Lercaro, for “a perverted application [of the council] detested alike by Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and unbelievers, in the name of piety, unity, concord, art, poetry and beauty.”

­Lercaro’s adept secretary, Fr. ­Annibale ­Bugnini, would describe Casini’s work as “defamatory” and as a “poisonous attack on the liturgical reform and on the conciliar renewal generally.” As the New Yorker of ­September 9, 1967, reported, Pope Paul VI was not pleased.

Casini and Waugh had a point. What began to happen to the Sacred Liturgy of the Western Rite of the Catholic Church in the 1960s (or perhaps earlier), and which led to the production of brand-new rituals produced to meet the needs—almost self-consciously—of that ethereal entity “modern man,” was perceived as madness by many, and caused distress to a great number of faithful Catholics.

How the cookie crumbled once these reformers had done their work.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Evelyn Waugh pressed his case


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