At the Pertinacious Papist blog, the liturgy discussion is about par for the blogosphere. Conservative thesis: the 1970 Missal is an unconscionable break with tradition. I treat that motto not as a centrist thought, but as a position of extreme traditionalism. I did bad-mouth a liturgy scholar, Klaus Gamber, and the comboxes alertly right turned there, mostly bypassing my main argument:
(T)hat (clergy won’t celebrate the 1970 Missal in Latin) is a very telling point. For such clergy, liturgy isn’t about language, beauty, or awe, but it seems to be about politics.
Jordan Potter wrote, “In any case, from a sociological standpoint, it’s hard not to see the liturgical revolution of the 1960s as anything but a colossal mistake, terribly ‘unpastoral’ and bound to cast tremendous stumblingblocks in the paths of many, to cause the shipwreck of the faith of many.”
Interesting thought. And also far outside the experience of all but a relative few Catholics. “Many” Catholics continue to be beset by stumbling blocks and shipwrecks. Is the witness of traditionalists to be dismissed entirely? I wouldn’t say that. Not at all. But in turn, feminists (among others) have asked that the Latin homo be translated accurately and not identically to the way the Latin vir is rendered. That seems far less of a stumbling block for traditionalists, namely the accurate translation of the Latin. So where is it, already? Ah! Wait–feminists don’t count because they aren’t like “us,” some would say. Well, then you have to deal with abuse victims, people whose school or parish has been closed, the person who’s miffed because the pastor forgot a lunch date. What’s Latin for “Take a number?”
Keith Kenney added, “It doesn’t make someone a fringe lunatic for taking an objective look at the reform of the missal and suggest that the changes were not improvements. Lauren Pristas has done that with the collects, Gamber did it with regard to ad orientem among other aspects, Dr. Alcuin Reid has a lot to say on the subject, etc.”
“Lunatic” was his term, not mine. In my estimation, the liturgical fringe (not lunatic!)would include riverboat ordinations and those advocating conspiracy theories of Bugnini’s concilium hoodwinking the CDWDS and all the world’s bishops. This stuff just doesn’t hold water.
I’m not aware of Pristas’s work on collects, but I do know that the effort to harmonize them to a three-year Lectionary cycle seems a valid approach. Today we have the old Roman collects–we’ve always had them, really. Nobody’s denying the first round of translations were rushed. But we also knew that ICEL and the other language groups intended to revise and perfect a process few were satisfied with in the early 70′s. And it all was revised. And what do we get out of it today? The same old missal and a priest with a cottage industry built on his own expertise in Latin.
This is my point. We’re Roman Catholics. We have the Roman Rite. A Council sets a direction, and people take it seriously with regard to liturgical reform. In its sacramental essence, the Mass of 1570 is the same as it is today and vice versa. Christ worships the Father. We participate in that worship. Through God’s grace, the people are sanctified. The Offertory Prayers? Not essential. The Prayer to St Michael. Ditto. The Last Gospel? Same. That’s not to say that well-worded prayers, the intercession of an archangel, or the prologue of John’s gospel are not important. They were judged not essential to the core of the Mass, as a Roman approach of noble simplicity and intelligibility would suggest. Their omission does not mark a new rite, or anything of the sort of a novelty.
What we did experience in the immediate aftermath of the Council and still see today is a hermeneutic of obstruction: the resistance to Vatican II and its teaching on liturgy. Karl Rove cannot rescue fringe traditionalists by redefining the center.
By and large, advocates of the 1570/1962 Missal do not strive for alignment to Sacrosanctum Concilium, but to their beloved Missal. I can appreciate the spirit of that. But theirs is not a centrist position; it is a fringe stance. The Council mandated a new Lectionary. Where is theirs? The Council instructed that accretions be trimmed away from the Mass. What have they trimmed? The Council pushed for Sunday and Holy Day Vespers. Where are theirs? The Council advocated a full participation in the liturgy and numerous specific reforms. Where the heck are they in traditional parishes and chapels? And with those questions, I’m not implying I’ve successfully tackled all those myself. But at the very minimum, can one suggest that forty-three years later, some progress have been made on those fronts? This is what I mean by the fringe: not even an attempt to work toward the stated goals of the Council. Bugnini is long dead. Is he stopping you from going to the Ecclesia Dei commission and start working on a revised Lectionary? Well, somebody is. But who’s preventing adding holy day or Sunday Vespers? Is that an innovation too modern to bear?
This is what I mean by political: if we reform, we’ll look like those grubby Catholics rocking out to Marty Haugen and dressed like clowns.
Most Catholics embrace the particular reforms postdating the Council: vernacular readings, new music, preaching, a new openness, etc.. Could some things be done better? Certainly. But the 1570 Missal is no more of a guarantee of spiritual fruitfulness than the current Roman practice.
Being offended by hamfisted implementation of liturgy, sadly, bears no theological weight in the liturgy discussions. Catholics have been offended by having their knuckles rapped, by being sexually violated by clergy or religious, and by any number of sinners acting in the name of the Church, more or less. Fine. Own the pain. Then be healed of the hurt and move on. But please don’t try to sell yourselves as mainstream Catholicism.