Participatio Nonsensio

If you care to, you can “sign” your name (how that’s done electronically, I’m not sure) to a document that tries to grease the wheel for the supposed upcoming motu proprio which will liberalize the usage of the 1962 Missal.

One hope caught my eye:

(That … the) ancient liturgical usages of the West might be fostered as living forms of worship in the Church, enjoying full right of citizenship in the same – the classical Roman rite as well as the ancient liturgical rites and uses of the religious orders and primatial sees which formed a part of the living, organic and legitimate liturgical diversity of the Church until recent times.

In order for a “usage” to be a “living form of worship,” it would seem to require a certain mutability in face of the changes of the times, an adaptation to the secondary goal or worship, the sanctification of the people. I’ll repeat what I wrote for this survey, that the Roman Rite liturgy heading into Vatican II was in need of reform. The council called for it explicitly:


In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community. (SC 21)

And I would find the movement for a “traditional Latin” or “classical” Mass more convincing if at least a substantial subset of its proponents were open to the reforms of Vatican II.

So you think Annibale Bugnini was the devil incanrate. Fine. I know people who believe in aliens and UFO’s. Just read Sacrosanctum Concilium, and come up with your own approach for aggiornamento where liturgy is concerned. Meanwhile, don’t feed us this nonsense:

(W)e believe that the presence of the classical form of the Roman liturgy in broader ecclesial and parish life will positively contribute to the ongoing efforts to implement the liturgical reforms promulgated by the Second Vatican Council

… if you’re not prepared to take a serious look at “liturgical reform” yourselves.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Participatio Nonsensio

  1. Eric says:

    I agree, all this talk of a motu proprio helping to advance the reforms of the Council is just a smokescreen. Those who want the Tridentine Mass want a return to the nostalgic experience of the 1950’s, and will howl like hell if any reforms are made in their own individualistic, private Sunday experience. If they’d only be honest about it, that would be one thing. But to pretend they are in favor of any reform is just plain deceptive.

  2. Gavin says:

    I agree, of course. I think the motivation may, in many cases, be more one of misguided nostalgia than of genuine concern of following the liturgical reforms. I guess you and I can take comfort in the fact that the Tridentine Mass won’t explode onto the scene like supporters suggest, nor will its supporters become an overwhelming majority in the church. In the meantime, it is unfortunate that all my work at promoting chant, or my boss’s work at restoring Latin goes unacknowledged by them just because we use the Pauline Mass. And of course Bugini being the anti-Christ ranks up there with the stories about “Pope Joan”.

    I have wondered lately whether the Pauline Mass did go too far or was truly “inorganic”. Although what do people expect? Have the Secret said aloud, wait 200 years, allow vernacular, wait 300 years, restore the Responsorial Psalm, wait 100 years, allow hymnody….? And how does an organic change happen in a rite where any changes in it are specifically forbidden? In any case, I don’t think promoting the Tridentine Mass is the best way to “fix” the Pauline Mass, particularly when no one in the Vatican seems convinced that it’s all too “broken”.

    I’m curious, having been to a few Pian Masses, do you think that the Pian Mass excludes the Participatio demanded by the council? And what would have to change in it for that to be possible? Not for it to really happen (I still say the only way you’ll get EVERYONE in a church singing is to sing happy birthday) but for it to be possible for a well-intentioned participant to act as the council envisioned?

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    As some one who was raised with the Tridentine mass, I have to grin when I read of “nostalgia” for it. It was dull, rote, a show for the priest to perform as quickly as possible, and absolutely NOTHING for which to be nostalgic.

    There may have been good performance art liturgies in larger cities, cathedrals, monasteries, etc., but the average Pre-Vat II mass … particularly low masses …. were simply uninspiring and did nothing to inspire the masses to a deeper prayer life. That is why rosaries were said and stations of the cross “done” which the priest’s show was taking place.

  4. Dale Price says:

    Yep. It’s all nostalgia for the 50’s. You’ve forgotten the Bing Crosby movies, though. And the Baltimore Catechism. And the choruses of “To Jesus Hearts All Burning.”

    Yes, you’ve unveiled us in one swift brilliant move. Especially 37-year-old Methodist-until-1999 me.

    Now pardon me while I attempt to get my eyes to roll back down.

  5. Michael says:

    I am one hoping for greater availability of the traditional Mass. Having been born in 1962, I can hardly be nostalgic for the 50’s. Too young to remember the old Mass, I am still old enough to have watched the old sensibilities fade out. After the new Mass arrived, we still knelt for Holy Communion, and genuflected when crossing in front of the tabernacle, and maintained a prayerful quiet before and after Mass, remembering that we were in the house of the Lord.

    But over the last 35 years, I have seen the people of my parish behave at Mass more and more like they were in a meeting hall, rather than a church. The traditional piety that was lost here seems to have survived in the traditional Masses. With traditional Catholics less marginalized, it is my hope that some of the practices that led people to sincere worship of God in the past will benefit more people in the future.

    The “individualistic, private Sunday experience” that Eric decries is the Mass that spiritually formed St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis de Sales, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more holy saints besides, through which the Catholic Church has been blessed. The traditional Mass is nothing to sneer at.

    It is not the mutability of the Mass that makes it a living form of worship; it is the presence of the Lord, and the adoration of His people.

  6. charles R. Williams says:

    Sacrosanctum Concilium was never implemented. Instead the Novus Ordo was promulgated. Implementing SC requires that we start from an authentic liturgy and a people formed by an authentic liturgy. While the Novus Ordo is certainly valid and licit, it is not an authentic organic development of the Roman Rite.

  7. Todd says:

    Thanks for posting here, Charles. Authentic “organicity” was not a prime quality promoted by the council. What was even higher on the bishops’ list was participation with a view to greater holiness. I think we have a significant road ahead to realize a fuller implementation of SC, and perhaps the council was remiss in not attaching more importance–theologically or pastorally–to organic development. But there’s not doubt that the lack of organic development in the Roman Rite dates to the 16th century, not the 20th.

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