Happy Birthday Novus Ordo? – The American Catholic

having fun with the new-mass disasters — :

Among my many flaws is a deep appreciation for biting sarcasm. A recent post by Damian Thompson at his blog at the Telegraph is a masterpiece of this form of verbal combat:

“It is 40 years ago today since the New Mass of Paul VI was introduced into our parishes, writes Margery Popinstar, editor of The Capsule. We knew at the time that this liturgy was as close to perfection as humanly possible, but little did we guess what an efflorescence of art, architecture, music and worship lay ahead!

There were fears at first that the vernacular service would damage the solemnity of the Mass. How silly! Far from leading to liturgical abuses, the New Mass nurtured a koinonia that revived Catholic culture and packed our reordered churches to the rafters.

So dramatic was the growth in family Mass observance, indeed, that a new school of Catholic architecture arose to provide places of worship for these new congregations. Throughout the Western world, churches sprang up that combined Christian heritage with the thrilling simplicity of the modern school, creating a sense of the numinous that has proved as irresistible to secular visitors as to the faithful.

For some worshippers, it is the sheer visual beauty of the New Mass that captures the heart, with its simple yet scrupulously observed rubrics – to say nothing of the elegance of the priest’s vestments, which (though commendably less fussy than pre-conciliar outfits) exhibit a standard of meticulous craftsmanship which truly gives glory to God!

The same refreshing of tradition infuses the wonderful – and toe-tapping! – modern Mass settings and hymns produced for the revised liturgy. This music, written by the most gifted composers of our era, has won over congregations so totally that it is now rare to encounter a parish where everyone is not singing their heads off! Even the secular “hit parade” has borrowed from Catholic worship songs, so deliciously memorable – yet reverent! – is the effect they create. No wonder it is standing room only at most Masses!”

Did Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who birthed this kairos, have any idea just how radically his innovations would transform the Church? We must, of course, all rejoice in his imminent beatification – but, in the meantime, I am tempted to borrow a phrase from a forgotten language that – can you believe it? – was used by the Church for services before 1969: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”

I attend Novus Ordo masses, but I do think a fair argument can be made that there seems to be almost a deliberate effort over the past 45 years to strip from the Church the beautiful, the traditional, the mysterious and the moving for the ugly, the novel, the trite and the banal. I dimly recall the Latin Mass as I was born in 1957, but I do remember often being overwhelmed with awe. The Novus Ordo is many things, but awe-inspiring is rarely one of them, at least for me, except of course for the Eucharist. It is a legitimate Mass, and I have no time for those who would argue otherwise. However, I think the Church can do better, and has done much better, than what has often been inflicted on the people in the pews since the Sixties.

People for whom the whole business was to get them to PARTICIPATE and love it.

Searing comments by the highly esteemed Louis Bouyer on Novus Ordo as it was devised

From his Memoirs, here gathered by the prolific Joseph Shaw. The widely published Bouyer was in on the process from the start of Vatican 2. He refers to the concilium, or commission, charged with concretizing liturgical reform according to guidelines given by council’s document. Italics are added here.

Wrote Bouyer:

I should not like to be too harsh on this commission’s labours. It numbered a certain number of genuine scholars and more than one experienced and judicious pastor. Under different circumstances they might have accomplished excellent work. Unfortunately, on the one hand a deadly error in judgment placed the official leadership of the committee in the hands of a man who, though generous and brave, was not very knowledgeable: Cardinal Lercaro. He was utterly incapable of resisting the manoeuvres of the mealy-mouthed scoundrel that the Neapolitan Vincentian, Bugnini, a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty, soon revealed himself to be.

Even besides this, there was no hope of producing anything of greater value than what would actually come out of it, what with this claim of recasting from top to bottom and in a few months an entire liturgy it had taken twenty centuries to develop.

Shaw notes:

Bouyer’s description of personally bodging [trying this, trying that until somehow you get a product] together Eucharistic Prayer II with [another liturgiologist] Dom Botte in a cafe in Trastavere [in Rome], before rushing to the meeting at which it would be discussed, has already passed into legend. He was, in fact, revising it by the time he got to the cafe, but the scorn he had for the haste and the amateurishness of the whole process is searing.

He continues from Bouyer:

The worst of it was an impossible Offertory, in a Catholic Action, sentimental / workerist style, the handiwork of Fr Cellier, who with tailor-made arguments manipulated the despicable Bugnini in such a way that his production went through despite nearly unanimous opposition.

More Bouyer:

I prefer to say nothing, or so little of the new calendar, the handiwork of a trio of maniacs who suppressed, with no good reason, Septuagesima and the Octave of Pentecost and who scattered three quarters of the Saints higgledy-piggledy, all based on notions of their own!

Because these three hotheads obstinately refused to change anything in their work and because the Pope wanted to finish up quickly to avoid letting the chaos out of hand, their project, however insane, was accepted!

Of which more later. Call it the trials of Paul VI, or something like that. A saint he may be; but a judge or manager of men, not so much.

Bouyer, finally:

After all of this, it is not much surprise if, because of its unbelievable weaknesses, the pathetic creature we produced was to provoke laughter or indignation … so much so that it makes one forget any number of excellent elements it nevertheless contains [Shaw
liked the lectionary and the Common Preface, for example, though
the former was was too hastily composed], and that it would be a shame not to salvage as so many scattered pearls, in the revision which will inevitably be called for.

As it was, early and often in the decades to come, to little effect.

More later on the fearful mystery that became the Novus Ordo . . .