Ranjith on Reform2

Jimmy Mac sent this link on Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith’s foreword in a new book on liturgy. He added his own title, “They just won’t give up.” No, I don’t think they will. Archbishop Ranjith doesn’t have a very good grasp of history or the intent of the Second Vatican Council. Many, many council bishops rejected the pre-conciliar shenanigans of the curia, who wanted a quick-in, quick-out rubber stamp of their authority of modernism.

Why are the curia modernists? How are they not? It’s all about power and control, and you don’t see anything like them in the Scriptures or Patristics or Orthodox Christianity. Holy Orders is deacons, priests, and bishops. It is not about cardinals, secretaries, and dignitaries.

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of “active participation.”

Um, no, archbishop.

Vatican II, as its critics are fond of pointing out, wasn’t a true dogmatic council. And in spirit, this is true. It left work to be completed by bishops in consultation with clergy and laity in churches around the world. In the sense it did not give the curia a blueprint for control, then yes, there were things the secretaries, dignitaries, and some cardinals did not envision.

Too bad.

Archbishop Ranjith could have joined us on this web site for our perusal of every significant conciliar and post-conciliar document. If you were reading along, you have one on the CDWDS Secretary, because it’s pretty plain he didn’t read Sacrosanctum Concilium 30:

To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

It seems that many Vatican II critics seem content to just repeat the same myths. Like telling scary bedtime stories to your kids: eventually they think twice about sticking their foot over the edge. But Catholics–laity and prelates alike–need to grow up. Growing up means facing the truth. And the truth is that every “not-contemplated” development he lists were approved by almost every bishop in the world in the years following the council. And others, such as the “giving up” on chant, was well underway before Vatican II. Had Sacrosanctum Concilium been written in 1870, or better yet, 1563, then the treasury of Roman musical style may well have saved and permitted to evolve in far different ways. Anathemas and infallibility were higher priorities for Rome than music and art. Go figure.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see and hear these guys discuss liturgy not in the forewords of each others’ books, but with people who have a different grasp of the events and follow-up of the council?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Ranjith on Reform2

  1. JC says:

    The two quotations have absolutely no relationship to one another. “Active participation by gestures” does not directly imply “desecration of the Eucharist by spilling the Precious Blood all over the floor.”

    The quotation you give says that laity are to engage in hymnody and psalmody. That does not imply “get rid of Gregorian chant.” The very word “psalmody” implies chant. There are several texts which emphasize that Gregorian chan should have primacy of place.
    Go to the Byzantine Church; they chant. Go to the Maronite Church; they chant. Their chant is much more “lively”, easier to follow and more thoughtful (true chant should emphasize the words) than Gregorian chant as it has evolved (and especially moreso than Polyphony), But it is the polar opposite of the politically correct, New Age filth in _Gather_.
    And where did “increased use of the vernacular” turn into “No Latin at all”?

    Again, the Other Lung of the Church knows how to strike a balance between having a common, uniting liturgical language and doing things in the vernacular.

    If the things Bishop Ranjith has said are so wrong, then please show the *exact* places where the Council called for:
    a) removal of altar rails
    b) removal of tabernacles
    c) ad populum posture
    d) reception of communion in the hand, or under both species
    e) fat 50-year old men playing bongo drums, pounding guitar strings and swaying their hips like Elvis.

  2. Todd says:

    Ranjith runs off the rails with an over-the-top critique of participation. SC 30 addresses what has happened since Vatican II.

    You don’t have to convince me of the value of chant, eastern or western. But chant had largely been discarded as a singing medium in Catholic congregations decades if not a few centuries before Vatican II.

    As for your specific examples, a through d were endorsed in Church documents, by bishops collectively after the council, or both. e is just a silly caricature. I take it your parish has a dancing Elvis playing guitar and drums at your parish. How fortunate you are.

  3. Brendan Kelleher SVD says:

    Todd
    As you rightly note, points a through d were endorsed by the appropriate authorities during the early stages of the implementation of the Constituion. And the red-herring, point e is a caricature that really ought to be buried away and forgotten.
    Archbishop Ranjith shows a very poor knowledge of history that is common among Reform 2 proponents. Further, some of your readers may be interested in the background of Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli, whose papers are the basis of the book by Mgr Nicola Giampietro a curial official under Archbishop Ranjith. Antonelli, a Franciscan, was relator general of the historical section at the pre-Conciliar Sacred Congregation of Rites. The in-house point man who came from a different school to Annibale Bugnini, secretary of the liturgical commission established under Pius XII. Both before, during and after the Council Antonelli is consistently on various committees as the Curia point-man. When briefly an attempt was made to place him in a stronger, more influential position, and to side-line Bugnini Paul VI stepped in and placed Bugnini in control. A strong enough indication, I would say, that Bugnini had the confidence of Paul VI.
    A reading of Bugnini’s “The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1875″, or more recently Piero Marini’s “A Challenging Reform” and John F Baldovin’s “Reforming the Liturgy-A Response to the Critics” is recommended to all who positively welcome Archbishop Ranjith’s endorsement of the Giampietro/Antonelli book. All three books are based on the officials sources and major reference works produced on the Council.
    May I also recommend to readers of this blog John O’Malley SJ’s most recent book “What Happened at Vatican II”, particularly to those who try to downplay any talk of the spirit of the council as a significant factor in its interpretation and reception.

  4. Deacon Eric says:

    Perhaps some day the Holy See will appoint a liturgist to be in charge of the Church’s liturgy. Yes, a revolutionary idea, but I’m just sayin’…

  5. JC says:

    It is not covered in SC 30. SC 30 is incredibly vague. By your own admission, these things were done *after* the Council by particular bishops, commissions, etc., and not by the council as such.

    Actualyl, to be precise, it was my parish 8 years ago that I was specifically referring to in point “e”. That parish also had a pastor who was sleeping with the secretary and encouraged parents to show their kids R-rated movies.

    However, just about every parish I’ve been to late on a Saturday evening has something of the sort, and the kinds of gyrations many hippie bands engage in during Mass are not only irreverent but immodest.

    As for chant being abandoned long before the Council, that’s why teh Council emphasizes it. That’s why St. Pius X wrote Tra Le Sollecitudini, which JPII reaffirmed as still being valid on its 100th anniversary.

    It’s funny that “progressives” are talking about lack of knowledge of history. Of course, your knowledge of history only goes back to about 1960. After all, the founders of progressivism fried their brains on LSD and marijuana in the 1960s and can’t remember that there was a Catholic Church before then.

  6. Todd says:

    SC 30 is not vague. Neither are the prescriptions given in the Roman Missal: active participation is all over the conciliar constitutions, decrees, and declarations and in the follow-up rites and documents.

    The council was responsible for taking matters properly in the hands of bishops and returning them there from the curia.

    How unfortunate for you and your parish. But there’s no connection, any more than the most heinous sex abusers were trained in pre-conciliar seminaries.

    “Of course, your knowledge of history only goes back to about 1960.”

    Nice try, but big swing and a miss.

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