Saturday, December 7, 2013

Reform of the Sacred Liturgy

shared with me on Facebook by Denise Anne Gill. Worth reading by folks on both sides of the fence so to speak.
: The Pauline Liturgy: A True Restoration) by I. Shawn McElhinney Catholicism on the whole is one of diversity in worship. As the renowned theologian Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (in light of the later 1984 Indult) had noted in "The Ratzinger Report" (in an interview with Vittorio Messori): "Prior to Trent a multiplicity of rites and liturgies had been allowed within the Church. The Fathers of the Council of Trent took the liturgy of the city of Rome and prescribed it on the whole Church; they only retained those Western liturgies which had existed for more than two hundred years. This is what happened, for instance, with the Ambrosian rite of the Dioceses of Milan. If it would foster devotion in many believers and encourage respect for the piety of particular Catholic groups, I would personally support a return to the ancient situation, i.e., to a certain liturgical pluralism. Provided, of course, that the legitimate character of the reformed rites was emphatically affirmed, and there was a clear delineation of the extent and nature of such an exception permitting the celebration of the pre-conciliar liturgy…Catholicity does not mean uniformity…it is strange that the post-conciliar pluralism has created uniformity in one aspect at least: it will not tolerate a high standard of expression…" [1]
"Liturgy for the Catholic is his common homeland, the source of his identity. And another reason why it must be a ‘given’ and a ‘constant’ is that, by means of the ritual, it manifests the holiness of God. The revolt against what has been described as the ‘old rubricist rigidity’, which was accused of stifling ‘creativity’ has made the liturgy into a do-it-yourself patchwork and trivialized it, adapting it to our mediocrity…[2]
The Council rightly reminded us that liturgy also means ‘actio’ something done and it demanded that the faithful be guaranteed an ‘actuosa participatio’, an active participation…But the way it has been applied following the Council has exhibited a fatal narrowing of perspective. The impression arose that there was only ‘active participation’ when there was discernible exterior activity ?speaking, singing, preaching, reading, shaking hands. It was forgotten that the Council also included silence under ‘actuosa participatio’, for silence facilitates a really deep personal participation, allowing us to listen inwardly to the Lord’s word. Many liturgies now lack all trace of this silence." [3]
The situation in the Church at the present time is certainly not ideal and there are problems that need to be addressed. But the problems go much deeper than the mere superficialities of reverting wholesale back to the Tridentine Ritual which would be just as disastrous for the Church as the wholesale discrediting of the Tridentine Ritual was after the promulgation of the Revised Missal. History should not repeat itself here because it would be even more disasterous a second time around then it was the first time. It is hardly outside the bounds of orthodoxy to point out that the handling of the Tridentine Rite after the Revised Missal was promulgated on the part of many bishops in the Church was disgraceful. More then anything else - except the liberal "interpretations" of the Council’s intentions, this was a very damaging process undertaken. The rationale was hardly one that was historically justifiable. (As I hope to point out a bit later on in this article.) However, before getting to that, an all-important maxim of the Faith needs to be reinforced.
To seek to restore what is perceived as the "good" of the Tridentine Ritual by ripping down and demeaning the Revised Missal in any way violates the ancient maxim of one cannot do evil in the hope that something good comes out of it. There is a difference between legitimate criticisms and borderline-heretical speculations. While self-styled "traditionalists" unquestionably fail to make this distinction in the discussion of these issues, they are not the only ones that do this. I fear also that many who are loyal to the Church who nevertheless base their critiques on a flawed view of Church history particularly as it applies to the liturgy. (Even those who make criticisms that are fully within the bounds of orthodoxy.) As the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) from the Second Vatican Council noted, the purpose of the reform was to achieve the following aims:
21. 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 unchangeable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These latter not only may be changed 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 less suitable. In this restoration both texts and rites should be drawn up so as to express more clearly the holy things which they signify. The Christian people, as far as is possible, should be able to understand them with ease and take part in them fully, actively, and as a community. [4]
The problem with the defenses of many "Tridentine" Catholics of the legitimacy of the Pauline Rite is that they fall into many of the same traps as the "traditionalists" whom they wish to be separated from. They too make comments defending the Tridentine Ritual most commonly along the lines of "the Traditional Latin Mass" (Tridentine Rite codified by Pope Pius V in 1570) is "the Mass of the past 2,000 years" or "the Mass of All Time". These are comments that betray a profound lack of understanding of the dynamics of the ancient liturgical traditions of the Church. To give a few ideas of how different the ancient Masses looked in distinctions from the Tridentine Mass consider the following examples for starters:
Initially Mass was celebrated in a more intimate house setting and before Mass there was an "agape" or love feast. The "agape" was dropped in the early to mid second century and there was a move from primarily worship in homes to church buildings starting in the fourth century. There was no "High Altar" used in celebrating Mass but instead a smaller table-form was the altar of Mass in the earliest time periods. Yet to even "Tridentine" Catholics the absence of a "High Altar" is anathema (much as it is with the self-styled "traditionalists").
There are also arguments about changes of the Mass forms along the lines of replacing certain liturgical sections are ones that boomerang back at the "traditionalist" and "Tridentine" Catholic alike for one very good reason: such modifications are not at all uncommon throughout history. Where is the Te Igitur, Secret, Gloria, or Nicene Creed in the pre-Nicene Masses??? They are not to be found. The Tridentine Rite did not exist in the substantial form as we have it now before the eleventh or twelfth centuries. However, the Canon of the Tridentine Rite received the majority of its current structure in the fourth to sixth centuries when the Canon was recast in its form or to quote Fr. Adrian Fortescue on the matter:
This brings us back to the most difficult question: Why and when was the Roman Liturgy changed from what we see in Justin Martyr to that of Gregory I? The change is radical, especially as regards the most important element of the Mass, the Canon… We have then as the conclusion of this paragraph that at Rome the Eucharistic prayer was fundamentally changed and recast at some uncertain period between the fourth and the sixth and seventh centuries. During the same time the prayers of the faithful before the Offertory disappeared, THE KISS OF PEACE WAS TRANSFERRED TO AFTER THE CONSECRATION, and the Epiklesis was omitted or mutilated into our "Supplices" prayer. Of the various theories suggested to account for this it seems there is so much in favour of Drews's theory that for the present it must be considered the right one. We must then admit that between the years 400 and 500 a great transformation was made in the Roman Canon" (Euch. u. Busssakr., 86). [5]
Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) is generally considered to have been the last to touch the Canon as it existed up until Vatican II. However, prior to him the Canon was (in the words of Fr. Fortescue) "greatly transformed." This is not fundamentally different from what Pope Paul VI approved of with the Pauline Mass canons. One of these canons is a subpar translation of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer #1). Another is based heavily on the old Spanish Mozarbic Anaphoras (Eucharistic Prayer #3). Also, numerous additions were made in the first centuries of the second millennium including adding the "filioque" to the Creed and making the Creed a fixture of all Masses (eleventh century), the introduction of community Low Masses for the first time (twelfth century), and other modifications through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. (Such as the Offertory prayers, institution of the Last Gospel and the Tridentine Lavabo respectively.) All of this culminated in the Old Roman Missal of 1474) that was substantially identical to the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope St. Pius V in 1570. The "Tridentine" Catholics believe that the Church was justified in making previous liturgical modifications but seemingly no longer is in practice (if not in theory). Now admittedly the Pauline Rite was the largest modification of the Mass liturgy in centuries but a similar modification was done of the liturgies in the two centuries preceding Pope Gregory’s time (the 400’s and 500’s). The "Michael Davies" of that time period (sixth/seventh century) would have written a series of books on "The Gelastian Upheaval", "Pope Gregory's Mass", etc. denouncing the "overemphasis on sacrifice which contradicted the more balanced ‘traditional’ outlook of the Mass since the earliest of times" much as the self-styled ‘traditionalists’ (and even some "Tridentine" Catholics) have claimed that "the Pauline Mass underemphasizes the importance of the Sacrifice of the Mass." Does the Pauline Rite "underemphasize" the sacrificial metaphor or does it merely seem this way because those making the claim are not sufficiently informed on liturgical history and are overlooking that the Pauline Rite places an added emphasis on another equally ancient aspect of the Mass that got neglected in the Middle Ages??? The latter is the position I hold and I have adequate historical basis for adhering to this point of view.
A few things need to be looked at here to put these topics in proper context starting with the Tridentine Mass itself. What is it that creates the reverence towards the Tridentine Rite in actuality??? Is it solely because it is so much more ancient and hallowed??? Or is it in part of a sense of familiarity in a sea of seeming tumult since the close of the Council??? The canon reforms preceding Pope Gregory the Great were similarly substantial in the same realm as that of Pope Paul VI so if Vatican II was wrong to reform the liturgy in a substantial manner then logically so was Pope St. Gregory the Great and his predecessors (all the way back to Innocent I) in changing the canon substantially from what it was in Justin Martyr’s time (second century). We know though that the Sovereign Pontiff has the right to reform the liturgy as he sees fit because this was noted in no small detail by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei:
48. For this reason, whenever there was question of defining a truth revealed by God, the Sovereign Pontiff and the Councils in their recourse to the "theological sources," as they are called, have not seldom drawn many an argument from this sacred science of the liturgy. For an example in point, Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, so argued when he proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Similarly during the discussion of a doubtful or controversial truth, the Church and the Holy Fathers have not failed to look to the age-old and age-honored sacred rites for enlightenment. Hence the well-known and venerable maxim, "Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi"--let the rule for prayer determine the rule of belief. The sacred liturgy, consequently, does not decide or determine independently and of itself what is of Catholic faith. More properly, since the liturgy is also a profession of eternal truths, and subject, as such, to the supreme teaching authority of the Church, it can supply proofs and testimony, quite clearly, of no little value, towards the determination of a particular point of Christian doctrine...
49. From time immemorial the ecclesiastical hierarchy has exercised this right in matters liturgical. It has organized and regulated divine worship, enriching it constantly with new splendor and beauty, to the glory of God and the spiritual profit of Christians. What is more, it has not been slow--keeping the substance of the Mass and sacraments carefully intact--to modify what it deemed not altogether fitting, and to add what appeared more likely to increase the honor paid to Jesus Christ and the august Trinity, and to instruct and stimulate the Christian people to greater advantage...
58. ...[T]he Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification. Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship…
59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof. It has pained Us grievously to note, Venerable Brethren, that such innovations are actually being introduced, not merely in minor details but in matters of major importance as well. We instance, in point of fact, those who make use of the vernacular in the celebration of the august eucharistic sacrifice; those who transfer certain feast-days--which have been appointed and established after mature deliberation--to other dates; those, finally, who delete from the prayer-books approved for public use the sacred texts of the Old Testament, deeming them little suited and inopportune for modern times.
60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See...
The seventh canon on the Sacrifice of the Mass from the Council of Trent. This canon states: "If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of Masses are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema."
The definition of intrinsic evil is "something which in and of itself is evil," we see from the Council of Trent that an approved liturgy of the Church cannot be such. For something that is intrinsically evil is naturally an incentive to impiety, while the Council of Trent declares dogmatically that the approved liturgical ceremonies of the Catholic Church cannot be incentives to impiety.
The revised liturgy of Pope Paul VI, an approved liturgy of the Church. So according to the Tradition of the Church as dogmatically defined at the Ecumenical Council of Trent, we can only conclude that the reformed liturgy of Pope Paul VI cannot be an incentive to impiety. It necessarily follows, then, that neither could it be intrinsically evil.

No comments: