That old council maneuvering came as a grim surprise to many a cardinal who voted for liturgical openness . . .

Do not be fooled by the near-unanimity of support, writes Fr. Hunwicke.

“Only four bishops voted against Sacrosanctum Concilium“. Dishonest commentators glibly use this fact to imply that all the changes which were introduced after the Council were enthusiastically mandated by the Council.

Not in a million years. The point is that the vote for SC [the council document on liturgy] would not have been anything like so overwhelming if the Fathers had realised that, as far as the radicals were concerned, they were being dishonestly tricked into signing a blank cheque.

The chief architect of post-council changes, Msgr. Bugnini, at one point telling Pope Paul VI one thing and the commission he ran another. Oh boy.

Who will succeed Cardinal Robert Sarah as Prefect of the Roman Congregation Divine Worship and the Sacraments?

Everything seems to indicate “an attack on ‘Summorum Pontificum’ and the Usus antiquior in general”, said Monika Rheinschmitt from Pro Missa Tridentina at the end of February.

When early Lutherans in 1616 got liturgical marching orders and were told to get rid of altars etc. . . .

. . . and said the heck with that and kept their altars and crucifixes and communion not on the hand and bowing “as if” God were present and seeing the priest “with his back to the people” and going to confession before “communing” and not considering the words of consecration “symbolic,” etc.

Ordered to go low in 1616 by Johann Georg, Margrave of the the Silesian duchy of Jågerndorf, they faced him down.

His decree:

All images are to be removed from the church and sent to the court.
The stone altar is to be ripped from the ground and replaced with a wood table covered with a black cloth.
When the Lord’s Supper is held, a white cloth covers the table.
All altars, panels, crucifixes and paintings are to be completely abolished, as they are idolatrous and stem from the papacy.
Instead of the host, bread is to be used and baked into broad loaves, cut into strips and placed in a dish, from which people receive it in their hands; likewise the chalice [in their hands].
The words of the supper are no longer to be sung, but rather spoken.
The golden goblets are to be replaced with wooden ones.
The prayer in place of the collect is to be spoken, not sung.
Mass vestments and other finery are no longer to be used.
No lamps or candles are to be placed on the altar.
The houseling [communion] cloth [for catching the host if it dropped] is not to be held in front of the communicants.
The people are not to bow as if Christ were present.
The communicants shall no longer kneel.
The sign of the cross after the benediction is to be discontinued.
The priest is no longer to stand with his back to the people.
The collect and Epistle are no longer to be sung, but rather spoken.
Individuals are no longer to go to confession before communing, but rather register with the priest in writing. [?]

The people are no longer to bow when the name of Jesus is mentioned, nor are they to remove their hats.
The Our Father is no longer to be prayed aloud before the sermon.
Communion is not to be taken to the sick, as it is dangerous, especially in times of pestilence. [Covid
The stone baptismal font is to be removed and a basin substituted.
Epitaphs and crucifixes are no longer to be tolerated in the church.
The Holy Trinity is not to be depicted in any visual form.
The words of the sacrament are to be altered and considered symbolic.

These prohibitions have the flavor of 20th-century Catholic liturgical reform, do they not? The writer, a longtime Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor, drawing on Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism: Choir, Congregation and Three Centuries of Conflict, by Joseph Herl, has uncovered what he calls “a sort of photographic negative of Lutheran worship!

“Drop the prohibitions,” he says, “and see the description of the normal practice, the actual shape of Lutheran worship to which this complaint bears witness.

“From the images and crucifixes to the chanting of collects and readings; . . . from the rich use of the Mass vestments to the beautiful and precious vessels that distributed the Lord’s blood; from the piety that knelt to receive the Sacrament and bowed to the Christ truly present in His body and blood when approaching or departing the holy altar to the bowing of head and doffing of hats at every mention of the holy name of JESUS.

“And what truly matters and is clear is that all these ceremonies . . . were clearly heard and seen as confessions of the Lutheran faith. And that is why they had to go.”

But the “surprisingly stubborn and resistant populace . . . was not about to give up their faith for some princely whim of his; they smelled Calvinism and wanted no parts of it.” Indeed, soldiers were sent to “enforce the changes . . . and the Margrave backed down. The people got to keep their Lutheran ceremonies.”

Reminds you of Catholic traditionalists today, in any number of points, including the boldfaced proposed prohibitions above. And it give me quite a different feeling about the staying power of Catholic liturgical customs and ritual even 100 years after Martin Luther’s break from Rome.

The mentality and modus agendi of Novus Ordo reformers, in a few words . . .

Key words and phrases here, help us understand what we have in Novus Ordo masses:

The feast of St. Thomas the Apostle has been kept on . . . December 21 from at least the ninth century. It was moved to July 3, the day mentioned by St. Jerome as the date of his martyrdom in India, by those who revised the calendar after the Second Vatican Council. They did this so that his feast would not interrupt the major ferial days of Advent leading to Christmas.

They wanted to tidy things up, calendar wise. They considered the feast of St. Thomas in later Advent out of place. Their liturgical rationalism made them blind to the wonderful interruption of late Advent made possible by the feast of this apostle.

You see this in the masses, where it’s almost a head trip that is offered worshipers. No room for what does not fit the outline.

The Gospel of the day is

the famous Gospel of “doubting Thomas” . . . heard also on the Sunday after Easter, Low Sunday. Heard on Low Sunday it makes sense as the continuing narrative of Jesus’ resurrection and appearances to the disciples. But it also makes sense in a discontinuous way today, four days before the celebration of the birth of Christ.

More later on this very point about liturgical fixers . . . Fussbudgets . . .

Differences in the Old and New Liturgical Calendars: Slaughter of the feast days . . .

More of why liturgical change. “Armchair strategy of academics,” then-mere-cardinal Ratzinger called it.

It was incomprehensible and pointless to move feast days that people have been celebrating on particular days for hundreds (or thousands) of years, thus totally disrupting the annual nature of the liturgical year. And why change the calendar all around to a three year cycle named as years A, B, or C? Whoever thought that one up?

. . . .

From “the Feast of Faith” By J. Ratzinger ( later Pope Benedict XVI) in 1986:

“One of the weaknesses of the postconciliar liturgical reform can doubtless be traced to the armchair strategy of academics, drawing up things on paper which, in fact, would presuppose years of organic growth. The most blatant example of this is the reform of the Calendar: those responsible simply did not realize how much the various annual feasts had influenced Christian people’s relation to time. In redistributing these established feasts throughout the year according to some historical arithmetic – inconsistently applied at that – they ignored a fundamental law of religious life.”

Of course, Ratzinger later put his authority where his mouth (or pen) was, in 2007 as pope giving carte blanche approval for the Old Mass.

How the 1960s reformers treated the liturgy like mechanics putting car parts together, says Peter Kwasniewski

For instance, what ever happened to Ember Days?

The ancient tradition of Ember Days, like so many other traditions, was just wiped away in the 1960s, as part of the “extreme makeover” approach of a Vatican committee that suppressed or invented what they thought the world now needed. It’s completely contrary to the way the liturgy has always been treated: as an inheritance to be proudly maintained and jealously protected. How could such a thing have happened?

We were something new that had happened. Whoopee.

A purge of this magnitude arose from the belief that modern man is essentially different from his predecessors, to such an extent that what past generations possessed and made use of can no longer be assumed to be profitable to modern people. This belief, as false as the day is long, dovetailed with the mania for a system and method characteristic of modern times: with enough taxpayer dollars and enough committees, we can build a better world, or, in this case, a better worship.

A zest for tidiness came over the land.

There are multiple reasons for the mania, but they converge on one thing: the triumph of rational method and its (attempted) application to every domain of human life. By “rational method” I mean the sort of thing one finds in rationalist thinkers such as Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, or Comte: the attempt to dominate reality by a self-contained logical system of axioms, theorems, and corollaries. In civil society, this becomes the attempt to create a rational “science of politics” and a system of human rights so that man’s happiness can be procured on Earth and the evils the flesh is heir to can be banished.

Romanticism was a failed response to the rationalist mania, and its failure was all the heavier because it bought the premise of the mania — namely, that system and method are the only ways to be rational. In reacting against rational method, romanticism thought it had to react against rationality itself.

So went the Church:

The groundbreaking essay “Bishops Unbound“ by Bronwen Catherine McShea exemplified how this mania invaded the Church long ago. To respond to the rise of rationally organized states, the Church adopted the same type of rational organization herself, overriding and overwriting centuries of local, organic traditions. To be fair, Protestantism had played those traditions to its advantage: get all the local canons to be heretics, and they’ll elect a heretical bishop. Some response, then, was needed. But in adopting the tactics of modernity, the Church began to drink in the view that system and method are the answer to every problem. We see that mentality extending to governing structures, seminaries, advice for confession, spiritual manuals, mass-produced artworks, you name it. The Church imitated the secular state in its absolutism, its legal codes, its proceduralism, and its regimentation. John Lamont’s analysis of the corruption of the concept of obedience (“Tyranny and Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Jesuit Tragedy”) fits into this picture as well.

Etc. etc. I love this guy. Heard him at a Catholic Citizens of Chicago luncheon some months back. If you are up to a deep dive into what’s gone wrong, he’s your man. More later in this piece and in general . . .

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 . . .

Sacrosanctum Concilium 5

Now we start to get to the meat of what Vatican II said about liturgy. Chaprter I is entitled: “General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy” Section 5 begins under a chapter subheading, “The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church’s Life”

God who “wills that all … be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), “who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the (ancestors) by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart (Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18.), to be a “bodily and spiritual medicine” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2.), the Mediator between God and (humankind) (Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5.). For His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore in Christ “the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us” (Sacramentarium Veronese (ed. Mohlberg), n. 1265; cf. also n. 1241, 1248.).

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming (hu)mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passions resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby “dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life” (Easter Preface of the Roman Missal.). For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth “the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church” (Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in the Roman Missal before the restoration of Holy Week.).

This is a verification for the notion that the liturgy is all about Christ. Christ himself is “the fullness of divine worship.” God’s deliverance of the Israelites foreshadowed the unviersal deliverance offered to those who will accept God’s grace. Note that the Church itself is described as a “s”acrament, a visible sign instituted by God to give grace. Which is what it does.

The liturgy is important because it draws believers in. It beckons us to join Christ in the act of worship in glorifying the Father.


Catholic Sensibility

Now we start to get to the meat of what Vatican II said about liturgy. Chaprter I is entitled: “General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy” Section 5 begins under a chapter subheading, “The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and Its Importance in the Church’s Life”

God who “wills that all … be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), “who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the (ancestors) by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart (Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18.), to be a “bodily and spiritual medicine” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2.), the Mediator…

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