Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Critical Mass: Beyond Panaceas

(This is a unique segment in mwbh's continuing occasional series on the state of Catholic worship entitled "Critical Mass." You are unlikely to read the contents of this piece anywhere else. What precedes it, however, is nothing new to those familiar with the subject.)

There are Catholics who suggest that the 1970 Missal of Paul VI, promulgated in response to the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (its being the response the Council Fathers had in mind a matter of some conjecture), has been the major cause of any and all forms of irreverent behavior in worship, even the herald of a false religion. It is further claimed that nothing short of the normative use of the Roman Missal, as it existed before Vatican II, will counter the "smoke of Satan" that has entered the Church -- as if, in the fifteen centuries of a discernible existence of the "Roman Rite," such has ever stemmed the tide before.

Many of those concerns might be explained by the ancient maxim: "Post hoc ergo propter hoc." ("After this, therefore because of this.") Never mind any attempt at establishing a causal relationship, when the intended audience is inclined to presume it. If it happened afterwards, it must have been caused by what happened before, thus we can build our entire case on it. This modus operandi long diverted any attempt by interested members of the faithful at serious study of the real cause of the derailment of the liturgical movement. Thankfully, the last decade has seen new influences brought to bear, due in no small part to the writings and initiative of the man once known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and who now wears the Shoes of the Fisherman.

This should not be construed as an apologia for the official liturgical reform, let alone the manner of its implementation. Rather, I submit that misguided forces within the liturgical movement, riding the wave of popular culture and social change of the mid-20th century, would have been enough for a deconstruction of Catholic worship, whether or not one word of the official texts were ever altered. Such designs existed not only before the Council (in such groundbreaking, if somewhat overly speculative works as The Mass of the Future by Gerard Ellard, SJ, among others), but would be found in Catholic parishes even before the Council was concluded.

For me, this is not a matter of opinion. I have living proof, sitting on the shelves of my library. It is a book I remember from the parish of my childhood.

By the end of 1964, the People's Mass Book, published by the then-Cincinnati-based World Library of Sacred Music (acquired by JS Paluch some years later), appeared as a second edition, with a new schema of Catholic worship, of an origin unspecified therein, known as "The Community Mass." Composed for use with the Roman Missal as it appeared at the time, with limited use of the vernacular, it departed in various places from what would later be identified as the Ordo Missae of 1965.

At the beginning, there is reference to the Entrance Hymn, followed by a litany...

+ + +

In Masses without music the reader leads the congregation in the following prayers:

Leader: Our help + is in the name of the Lord.
People: Who made heaven and earth.
Leader: For a clean mind and a pure heart,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may honor God by loving our neighbor,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may be greatly attentive and truly devout,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: That we may hear in faith and act in love,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For your blessing on all who are here,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For those who fail to worship you,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: For the grace of true contrition,
People: Hear us, Lord, hear us.
Leader: Let us pray together:
All: I confess to Almighty God...


+ + +

The Mass continues as it normally (and officially) would, even resorting to the official Latin texts for certain parts as yet still mandated in that language.

Moving right along, we come to the Offertory...

+ + +

Before he continues with the Prayer, the priest prepares our gifts of bread and wine to be offered to God our Father. While he does this, we pray the Prayer of the Faithful...

Leader: In peace, let us pray to the Lord:
People: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: For the peace that is from above, for the conversion and salvation of all mankind, let us pray to the Lord:
People: Lord, have mercy.
Leader: For the well being and unity of the Church of God...


+ + +

What continues is clearly taken from the Entrance Litany of the Liturgies of Basil the Great and John Chrysostom -- the Byzantine Rite, a sign of a long-running fascination of the liturgical reformers with the worship of the East. It is unfortunate that a fascination with the transcendent did not accompany it, but that's another story. To continue, everything in this schema goes on as expected, including the exhortation for people to join the priest in the Lord's Prayer -- for some, an early step on the road to perdition, for reasons that as yet boggle the mind.

After communion, we are treated to a third and final litany; again, for recited Masses without music...

+ + +

These prayers are said alternately, starting after the priest closes the tabernacle door.

Leader: For your Holy Name enshrined in our hearts:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the gift of faith to believe in this Sacrament:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the gift of life it brings us now:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: For the happiness of heaven to which it leads:
People: We give you thanks, O Lord.
Leader: Let us pray:
People: You, Lord Almighty * have created all things for your Names' sake. * You have given food and drink to men * that they may give you thanks. * But to us * you have given spiritual food and drink * and eternal life * through Jesus, your Servant. * To you be glory forevermore. * Remember, O Lord, your Church: * free her from all evil, * form her in your love, * and from the four winds assemble her, * your holy people, into your kingdom * which you have prepared for her. * To you be glory and majesty * and power forever and ever. * Amen.


+ + +

The final portion which is prayed by all, bears some resemblance to a thanksgiving for the Lord's Supper as found in the traditional Book of Common Prayer.

The Postcommunion Prayer follows the third litany, and the Mass is concluded as would be expected.

This hymn and service book received a "Nihil Obstat" from Fathers Eugene Maly and Lawrence Mick of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati as Censors Deputati. Mick would go on to become Director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese, and write numerous essays and bulletin inserts on the liturgical renewal. It received an "Imprimatur" from Auxiliary Bishop Paul F Leibold, also of Cincinnati (and who while in that position, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to yours truly in 1965). Liebold served briefly as archbishop beginning in 1969, following the death of Karl Altar, before his own untimely death in 1972. Apparently satisfied that the work is free of moral and doctrinal error, the editors provide no commentary, no attribution, no explanation contained therein, for what would have appeared to the average pew-sitter to be an official adaptation of the Roman liturgy, but which in fact (if only in retrospect) clearly was not.*

The point -- and I do have one -- is that the more strident advocates of a complete return to the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite, have made the official reform (the so-called "Novus Ordo") into the whipping boy for all manner of devious shenanigans in the last forty years. The reality is that most of it would have happened anyway.

If the above proves anything, it already did.

(NOTE: The cover design for the featured hymnal was by William Schickel, a liturgical artist based in Loveland, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. Images used without permission or shame.)

---

* If anyone can explain the proliferation of the above schema for Mass on such an ostensibly official level (although I do have my suspicions), mwbh would be pleased to publish it here, with proper attribution. Please contact manwithblackhat at yahoo dot com with your submission.
.

6 Comments:

At 7/31/2007 02:12:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

If you hadn't specified otherwise, I'd have been prepared to finger Bp. Joe Bernardin for that...

Both Cinin. and Milwaukee were "liturgical hotbeds" in the US Church. And they were both influenced by the 'reform' movement emanating from Regensburg which began in the late 1800's.

Milwaukee promoted and used the "Dialog Mass" (when it was licit to do so), although the 'standard' book around here was "Our Parish Prays and Sings" in the mid-'60's (St John's Abbey.)

So it doesn't surprise me that PMB had 'ad experimentum' stuff in it.

Who were the listed authors?

 
At 7/31/2007 02:15:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

FYI, I sent the link to a very knowledgeable friend. He may be able to assist you with the historical details.

 
At 7/31/2007 03:46:00 PM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"Who were the listed authors?"

There weren't any. Like I said: "[T]he editors provide no commentary, no attribution, no explanation contained therein, for what would have appeared to the average pew-sitter to be an official adaptation of the Roman liturgy..."

I also said I had suspicions -- to be exact, that this was based on a proposal made by the Consilium in the mid-60s. Something I read somewhere once.

 
At 7/31/2007 10:31:00 PM, Anonymous Jeff Culbreath said...

"The point -- and I do have one -- is that the more strident advocates of a complete return to the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite, have made the official reform (the so-called "Novus Ordo") into the whipping boy for all manner of devious shenanigans in the last forty years. The reality is that most of it would have happened anyway."

I see your point, and perhaps you're right. But the Novus Ordo is still an appropriate whipping boy. If not the cause, then it is the consummation of all the mischief you described. Returning to the TLM may not prevent another round of modernism in the future, but it will reduce its influence today. That's worth something, don't you think?

 
At 8/01/2007 03:59:00 AM, Anonymous John L said...

That is very interesting, although not something that detracts from detraction of the novus ordo. The almost complete acceptance of the new liturgy (except for one diocese in rural Brazil) shows that the attitudes it embodies had already become dominant among the clergy, as this illustrates. What I would really like to know is what were the deficiencies in culture, selection of seminarians, theologians, and bishops, and spiritual formation, that led to this widespread acceptance.

 
At 8/01/2007 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

John, my belief is that the problem in the West (and it's limited largely to the West) is material prosperity; I think there is a direct inverse proportion relationship between Faith (practiced wholly) and Prosperity.

One could have a lot of fun refining that with better definitions, etc...

 

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