Friday, June 30, 2006

Coming to a church near you

Well, it didn't take long to find some Catholic news. The new secretary for the Vatican's Congregation for Worship, which since about 1990 has been systematically gutting the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, a man by the name of Archbishop Albert Patabendige Don, has said that the current liturgy is "not in the spirit of Vatican II," according to the Tablet:

"'The Vatican II decree Sacrosanctum Concilium ... was about making the liturgy the entry point to the faith, and liturgical changes were expected to emerge organically, by taking account of tradition, and not precipitately. The direction of liturgical prayer in the post-conciliar reform has not always reflected the texts of Vatican II, and in this sense, we can speak of a necessary correction, of a reform of the reform. We must regain the liturgy in the spirit of the Council.'

"Today, the problems concerning the liturgy turned upon language (vernacular or Latin), and the position of the priest (facing the congregation or God), said the Archbishop in an interview with La Croix, a French Catholic daily newspaper, on 25 June. 'Nowhere, in the conciliar decree, is it laid down that the priest must henceforth face the congregation, nor that the use of Latin is forbidden. If the use of modern languages is accepted, notably for the Liturgy of the Word, the decree clearly specifies that the use of Latin will be maintained in the Latin rite. On these subjects, we await the Pope's instructions,' he added.

"The archbishop noted how much young priests in Rome liked celebrating the Tridentine rite. 'I must make clear that this rite, that of the Missal of St Pius V [the Tridentine liturgical book], is not "outlawed." Should we encourage it more? The Pope will decide. But it is certain that a new generation is demanding a greater emphasis upon mystery.' "

That's right, kids, "facing God"--which means facing away from the people of God evidently--and Mass back in Latin.

I saw this coming; Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie has been warning people privately that worse things than new English translations were coming, and I figured this is what he meant.

But if the liturgy wars before were restricted to the Congregation for Worship, Vox Clara, ICEL, and the bishops’ conferences, the new one will be far worse, because if the permission is broad enough it will be up to either the local bishop or even to the presiding priest to decide which liturgy to celebrate. Imagine Fr. Junior, the oil still wet on his hands, showing up at St. Cunegunda refusing to preside facing the people, or even in English.

All of this is especially funny because the “reform the reformers” have been working hard to squeeze out any freedom for presiders, so we’ll have “uniformity”—which is after all what makes us Catholic, right? Yet at the same time, the same folks are pushing for wider use of the “ancient” [sic, they’re late medieval] liturgies. Doesn't sound like uniformity to me.

To use the current administration’s favorite expression, make no mistake: The “reform the reformers” want the Latin Mass, and everybody else be damned. Now, will anyone lift a figure or open their mouths? Any bishops?


At 10:41 AM, Blogger Mary Anne said...

Just curious, would this make you not want to attend Mass, or be a practicing Catholic anymore? Or would you begrudgingly accept the changes, while vocalizing your unhappiness?

At 11:11 AM, Blogger CtotheL said...

Hardly. Catholic is something I am by baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. Even if I think our bishops are complete idiots or doormats or both, I can no longer stop being Catholic than I can stop being American, even less so. I am considering, however, responding "And with your body." We do believe the Word became flesh, after all!

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous anr said...

C'mon, Bry, tell us how the bishops explain "And with your spirit." I need a good bitter laugh.

-- Notice how the Roman pointed to how the young priests visiting Rome like celebrating the Latin Mass. Wonder what the members of the assembly think? -- Oh, silly me, I forgot. They don't get a voice. Yes, this Roman shows us yet again that it really is all about the people on the sunny side of the ontological chasm.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Mary Anne said...

You believe rightly about the "Word made Flesh," but you apply, in this case, wrongly, ha. Try reading, carefully, Romans 15:1-6, for example. There are more than a few scriptural allusions in Paul to one's "spirit." I think that the Church is trying to make the responses to be more closely aligned to scripture so that we may better understand our great Faith.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Mary Anne said...


Something that I forgot to mention:
I think that one does need to read particular translations for "spirit" to be part of the text. I was reading the New American Bible translation, taken from original sources, but probably not a perfect translation, either, ha.

In my son's St. Joseph's translation of the New American, the word "spirit" is just omitted. However, it says right on the front page that the new testament writings are "revised" and my guess is that they were not revised as carefully as they should have been!

Have a great Fourth of July!

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Nate said...

Bryan -- Until the postconciliar reforms, the Mass had always been celebrated ad orientem in both the East and the West, all the way back to apostolic times. Why should we not return to that?

I'm a liberal myself, but I think that the Tridentine Mass should be made more widely available and I think that the Pauline Mass should be slowly reformed to be more consistent with Sacrosanctum Concilium. As you're probably aware, Sacrosanctum Concilium did not even call for a new Mass; it called for a reform of the Tridentine Mass, and quite a modest reform in comparison to what has occurred.

At 12:52 AM, Anonymous leticia said...

Nate, you truly fit the definition of a liberal "I may not agree with your point of view, but I'd defend with my life your right to express it". Too often , the liberal pastor in charge of my parish silences debate (we're not allowed to mention post-abortion healing to the Catholic women who need it)all in the name of tolerance. Hogwash!

At 10:00 AM, Blogger CtotheL said...

I think you're mistaken about SC, Nate. It called for a reform of all the rites with "full, conscious and active participation" being the key to the reform. By and large the Novus Ordo follows the general order of Trent minus the Latin and a lot of medieval attachments. The Novus Ordo is not a "new Mass," and Trent itself was hardly some "pure" liturgy; it was simply the Roman liturgy of the time imposed on all the churches, thanks mostly to the printing press. And evidently, the reformers after VCII got the intention of the council right, because the liturgical reforms of the Council have been widely welcomed. Besides, one has to interpret SC (which received only 3 negative votes) not just as an independent text, but by how it was received and implemented.

As for the direction of the presider, I'd be careful with "always." That's a big word, and I'm not sure it can be backed up. But's it's hardly a question of divine revelation.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous anr said...

My educated guess is that it wasn't until Constantine legalized the faith and the church started moving into basilicas and bishops began taking on the trappings of Roman nobility that the presider turned his back on the people of God.

In the earliest days people gathered around the table in someone's house and around the graves of the martyrs, disguised as Roman dining clubs and refrigeria. To have had the president of the dining club face away from the club at the height of the meal would have been distinctly unnatural.

Pliny (was it Pliny?) who wrote to his superior asking how much he should persecute these so-called Christians mentioned nothing about the person in charge of the gathering where they eat ordinary food facing away from his colleagues. He would have mentioned such an oddity.

So tracing the "ad orientem" back to apostolic times is a leap I wouldn't take.


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