Jansenists, strictest of the strict, promoted liturgical reform a la Vatican 2 . . .

. . . in the 18th century, according to a “non-Tridentine [non-Trent] model,” say scholars who researched Jansenist liturgical reform. (As cited by Brian Van Hove, S.J. in the American Benedictine Review, “Jansenism and Liturgical Reform,” in 1993.)

An American, F. Ellen Weaver, noted these changes which are familiar to us today:

. . . introduction of the vernacular, a greater role for laity in worship, active participation by all, recovery of the notion of the eucharistic meal and the community, communion under both kinds, emphasis on biblical and also patristic formation, clearer preaching and teaching, less cluttered calendars and fewer devotions which might distract from the centrality of the Eucharist.

Even the “kiss of peace” was practiced at [Jansenist center] Port-Royal, and a sort of offertory procession was found there and elsewhere among Jansenist liturgical reformers.

Their liturgy was to serve the reform which they had in mind. Prayer would be a way to teach, “lex docendi, lex orandi,” Weaver said. Jansenists would use liturgy to change how people thought and presumably for most to reinforce what they believed.

Indeed, the Italian Jansenists of Tuscany and Pistoia put liturgy at the center of their goals in the 1780’s.

Weaver on their requirements:

Inside the parish church the service must be made congregational. And here doctrine entered.

The liturgy was not an act done by priest for the people, it was ‘a common act of priest and people’. Therefore all the liturgy, even the prayer of consecration which was said secretly, should be said in a loud voice, and the congregation was to be encouraged to share.

Ah, a communal act of consecration. In which case, why not vernacular?

Not quite. They “plainly” believed in that, but they knew it would never be accepted by their people or “the Church at large,” so “radical a departure” would it be “from hallowed tradition.”

So they did the next best thing, calling for translations of the mass (missals) and reading of the gospel in the vernacular after the priest read it in Latin.

Which had become standard practice by the 20th century, as many of us remember.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Before 20th-century liturgical change agents were 18th-century church people who beat them to it . . .


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