The New Liturgical Movement

Actually this posting should be titled The “New” Liturgical Movement. This blog aka Novus Motus Liturgicus has been around since 2005 – or perhaps I should say “MMV”. Its founder is a Canadian named Shawn Tribe. He has a number of collaborators, who from their pictures are all relatively young. In reality, the only thing “new” about The New Liturgical Movement is the sophisticated technology used in presenting traditional Roman Catholic liturgy. Whoever does their photography knows what he or she is doing. The website is extremely attractive – often with excellent photos. If one of the aims of the website is to put the best face on the former Roman Rite (yes, I mean former) then the creators of NLM have been very successful. The site also contains a number of articles on liturgical architecture and music. These are very well done. The series, the stational Masses of Christmas and the breviary reforms of Pius X – just to give two examples – are very well done.

Advocating the return of the older Roman Rite (or Usus Antiquior as the contributors love to style it) is not the only aim of NLM. One often finds articles on the latest papal interpretations and adaptations of the liturgy under the new Marini. They love to show the “Benedictine” altar arrangement with six candles and a large crucifix reminding us that the focus of the Eucharist is the Lord. Of course our focus should be on Christ, but the real liturgical movement has helped us to realize that we find Christ both vertically and horizontally in our celebrations. Pope Paul VI and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal made that abundantly clear with the outlining of the four-fold presence of Christ in the Eucharist (word, minister, assembly and pre-eminently the gifts). It has been the unfortunate aim of the present pope to weaken the gains made by the post-Vatican II reform of the liturgy. Instead he seems to be hearkening back to a nostalgic liturgy of the past.

Readers and supporters of NLM no doubt are on the same train as Pope Benedict XVI – and the train doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. That’s why they think it’s the “new” liturgical movement. They are convinced that the future is going to look a lot more like 1960 than 1975.

Anyone who’s read my recent work on the critics of the liturgical reform knows that I am sympathetic with many of the criticisms launched against the sometimes careless and ideologically irresponsible application of the post-Vatican II liturgy reforms. The criticisms are often accurate enough, but the problem with NLM and groups like it is not their criticism so much as their prescription. The movement to have the priest and the faithful face in the same direction is a good example. There are many excellent examples of Eucharistic celebrations versus populum in which it is quite clear that Christ (the whole Christ – head and members) is at the center of the celebration.  The fact that there are celebrations where this is not the case should not discount the former. As I’ve said elsewhere, each “side” of the liturgical debate has the tendency to caricature the worst of their opponents in favor of the best of their own practice. It doesn’t take much sophistication to realize that those kinds of arguments are less than useful.

Before I leave the subject of the NLM I must pay tribute to their right and left hand columns which are treasure troves of bibliographical and other information. I certainly intend to recommend them to my students in a seminar on Medieval Liturgy. Those are the people who will benefit most from the NLM – not my students who are trying to understand and appreciate the liturgy as well celebrate it in the Roman Catholic Church today.

John F. Baldovin, S.J.
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

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43 comments

  1. John, thank you for your balanced and insightful comments on the “new” liturgical movement. Right on!
    Many of us, myself included, are already dreading the promulgation of the new Sacramentary, with its elitist and often incomprehensible translations.
    Peace,
    Delores

  2. I’m looking forward to bookmarking your blog and reading it. I admire what the NLM is doing and would like to read your input. I think most of us who celebrate the two forms of the Mass appreciate both when celebrated as they should be. What Pope Benedict has done, and we must be reminded that he has not yet celebrated the EF Mass publicly, is to show us a way to celebrate the OF well, either in Latin or in the vernacular. His altar arrangement which has a long standing tradition, much longer than what we are accustomed to for the last 45 years, simply places the orientation on Christ through the symbolic use of the Crucifix on the middle of the altar facing the celebrant. This is a very good solution if one is opposed to the ad orientem posture which is permissible in the OF form of the Mass. I believe the EF could also be celebrated toward the people, although most who appreciate this Mass don’t want that.
    So the goal of the reform of the reform is to celebrate all the options we have for Mass in a solemn (holy) and dignified way and according to the rubrics. The re- translated English Mass will fast forward this reform of the reform.

  3. I am very excited to read this blog in the future. I too very much enjoy reading the NLM blog but I also agree with your moderate thoughts. I am also very excited to see your thoughts as a Jesuit. (Don’t take that the wrong way.) I went to a Jesuit high school and, as a result, I deeply respect the Jesuit order while at the same time acknowledging that many Jesuits aren’t exactly orthodox. I am excited to see you insights in the liturgy as a Jesuit who respects the sacredness of the liturgy.

  4. Yes, it is possible for a versus populum Mass to have Christ at the center; possible but, in my experience in my diocese, not likely. I am lucky that the parish I now belong to seems to be an exception. Our priest (administrator) utilizes the Benedictine altar arrangement and I think that helps. He also observes the rubrics and includes some Latin chant as well as English classical hymns. In many ways the Liturgy in our parish is the extraordinary rite turned around -versus populum. He makes no attempt to be entertaining or to introduce a theme of the day; there is just no nonsense. His sermons are rock solid. As a result every Mass is –as my mother used to say– beautiful! Even so, I think we lost too much with Mass facing the people. The time seems right to reintroduce Mass with celebrant and people facing the same direction; not all at once, of course, but perhaps on the feast days of the calendar: Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, some Holy Days.

    What has been lost? I like nearly everything Martin Mosebach says in his book, “The Heresy of Formlessness.”

  5. Though I am an avid supporter of the NLM (in the sense of the website and the broader sense) I look forward to reading your commentary on matters liturgical. With regard to the NLM, I would offer one caution not to underestimate its significant influence among young people, especially seminarians and young priests.

  6. I certainly intend to recommend them to my students in a seminar on Medieval Liturgy. Those are the people who will benefit most from the NLM – not my students who are trying to understand and appreciate the liturgy as well celebrate it in the Roman Catholic Church today.

    Since the Holy Father has put forth two forms of the Roman Rite that may and are both celebrated in parishes today, shouldn’t your students understand both forms of the liturgy?

    Furthermore, even to understand the reformed liturgy, isn’t it necessary to understand what things were like before the reform? Rubrical manuals, liturgical journals, and the liturgical books themselves are all part of this. In my experience as a Master of Ceremonies for the new rite, it’s impossible to enact the liturgy without reference to the prior practice. You end up just making stuff up on your own authority and that’s not really the way of the Christian Church is it? The reformers intended their work to be read and understood in a living context, the context of the previously used liturgy, not in a vacuum. Maintaining knowledge of that formerly used liturgy is necessary, especially as the living experience of it has died off.

  7. I am one of those “zealous traditionalists” alluded to in the first post on this site by Fr. Anthony – and proud of it. But I look forward to an earnest and civil discussion of the future path of the liturgy of the Church.

    However, I must confess that I don’t think it is getting off on the right track when you feel you have to employ the utterly unnecessary provocation of speaking of the 1962 rite as the “former rite of the Church” – even emphasizing that word “former” – as if there had never existed a Papal decree stating that the 1962 rite was in fact never abrogated and enjoys full recognition as a legitimate and worthy rite of the Church.

  8. “I certainly intend to recommend them to my students in a seminar on Medieval Liturgy. Those are the people who will benefit most from the NLM – not my students who are trying to understand and appreciate the liturgy as well celebrate it in the Roman Catholic Church today.”

    And this is another meaningless comment, as the fact is that a growing number of seminarians and young priests are becoming interested in the TLM – some of them precisely to better understand the 1969 rite and celebrate it better.

    I hope I am wrong to interpret your comment as showing a somewhat hostile attitude towards Mediaeval liturgy. Mediaeval Christians lived in a culture steeped in Christian spirituality and in consequence crafted some superb liturgical practices. The Byzantine rite is also largely “Mediaeval” but is unsurpassedly gorgeous.

    However, you may have a point: 13th century Christian priests would have had little use for studying the liturgy of St. Gregory the Great other than for scholarly purposes. Why should they want to celebrate a 7th century liturgy when it had been perfected in the meantime? Now the question is: did the 20th-century liturgical revisions add anything of substantial value to the liturgy that was lacking in its late-Renaissance form? Or did it actually represent a regression, which merits, even demands, a restoration of previous forms?

    Interestingly, the crafters of the 1960’s revision would argue that such a regression had already taken place between the 4th and 16th centuries, and that there was a need for a restoration of the more ancient forms (which was attempted, but did not really happen in practice). Why should it then be strange for someone to believe that the recent developments represent a regression?

  9. @Delores: Could you please give examples of an elitist translation and of an incomprehensible translation? I would be curious.

    The translations I’ve been hearing for years are often wrong and/or subversive.

  10. Bernie Dick’s comment: Yes, it is possible for a versus populum Mass to have Christ at the center; possible but, in my experience in my diocese, not likely. (snip) The time seems right to reintroduce Mass with celebrant and people facing the same direction

    The Bishop of Tulsa was reported as saying that he likes
    this ad orientem practice better because it “represents what the Mass is all about, showing that the people and the priest are united in a single action. They offer one sacrifice, he explained, but in their proper roles: The people joined to Christ as his body and the priest configured to Christ as the head of the body.”

    On another forum, the following comment was made in response to this:

    “What the good bishop and others engaged in this discussion fail to recognize is that the bishop in current position is already “facing the altar.” No matter which side of the altar he stands on, his positon is “ad altarem”. The people, in current mode, adopt the same position, so everyone is already facing the same way: toward the altar. And, according to the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar, “the altar is Christ”.

    1. Well, yes, that is a good point. Our priest seems to respect that fact -the altar is a symbol of Christ; he seldom looks up from the missal or elements/Body and Blood except for the ritual greetings or call to pray. Unfortunately, in my diocese there seems to be a concerted effort to instruct celebrants to look at the congregation and to recite the prayers and dramatize the actions in a “me and you” interpretation. A priest in my former parish never used the missal. He more or less made up the Eucharistic prayer as he went along all the while looking at the congregation. The altar seemed to be interpreted as a mere table, nothing more; certainly not an altar of sacrifice. He also often walked to the center of the chancel –away from the ambo– and proclaimed the Gospel from memory (fairly well, I might add). He often instructed the congregation to remain standing during the Eucharistic Prayer –incorrectly interpreting an ancient source that would seem to imply that to kneel would be a sin. I wish I could say that this kind of thing was an exception in my diocese. It isn’t; it’s the norm. Having the priest and people face the same direction (at least at some liturgies throughout the year) might help us all –people and clergy– refocus.

  11. “so everyone is already facing the same way: toward the altar.”

    Mr. Inwood, that may be true in theory (and it was for a long time true in the basilicas of Rome, though originally, as Bouyer, Gamber and Jungmann point out, the people would there face towards the east and thus away from the altar during the sacrifice). But so many places, it is not what happens in practice. Rather, the altar – and Christ – are quite forgotten.

    I have seen so often Mass degenerate into a ‘dialogue’ or even a form of ‘talk show’ between priest and faithful. I know a priest who has the habit of staring intensely at the faithful while he is supposed to be praying to God. When the priest faces the people for the entire celebration, the temptation to put on a ‘show’ is just too great for many priests.

    Previously in the Roman basilicas, whenever you had priest and faithful facing the same way there would be a crucifix flanked by candlesticks between the celebrant and the faithful. Mass would be celebrated towards the crucifix rather than towards ‘the people’. This is also what happened when versus populum celebration first came into vogue in the mid-20th century. At the very least we need this arrangement back so that both priest and faithful can be reminded that Mass is about Christ, not ‘the community’.

  12. “with its elitist and often incomprehensible translations.”

    Well, the liturgy is supposed to be a mystery that we are to spend our whole lives, and eternity, trying to understand.

    At any rate it’s far better than the current ‘translation’ which is really only a banal paraphrase. Read the new, more faithful translations beside the old, pared-down versions. You will see how much of the depth of the original prayers have been lost.

  13. Maybe the new translation just reveals that the Sacramentary itself needs to be rethought.

    Whatever your views on this translation, is the original useful?

    As a parish music assistant, I am always on the lookout for good texts and tunes that people will sing.

    The NLM is very quick to criticise the popular biblical music of Haugen, Farrell, St. Loius Jesuits et al, but has anything they have written have the widespread appeal of ‘Eagles wings’ for example?

    I do not see the point of the ‘Old Mass’- It has hardly any scripture, only one EP, and does not allow women on the altar or in the choir.

    1. The “biblical” music of Haugen, Farrell, et al. may have the bible as its inspiration, but none of it is the direct quotation of scripture set to music in the way that Gregorian chant sets scripture. Even the Joncas song that you quote is only loosely based on scripture. The word “eagle” is nowhere to be found in the psalm, and wings in the song are used for cover and protection, not for raising anyone up. In fact the wings referred to in the psalm are probably the wings of the cherubim that guard the Temple’s Holy of Holy’s and not an eagle’s wings at all. In other words, the adaptation of the lyrics hinder the likely intent of the actual scriptural passage.

      Although I can only agree that there was generally no Old Testament reading in Sunday masses in the Old Mass, the chant propers are absolutely more biblical than the current GIA-OCP choices currently used for Entrance, Offertory and Communion. To say that there is hardly any scripture in the Old Mass is not at all an accurate portrayal if the point of comparison is the Novus Ordo mass of Paul VI. If one were to compare it to a fundamentalist revival, you might have a point.

      1. If I recall correctly, the verses of Eagle’s Wings are a pretty close paraphrase of Psalm 91, while the refrain is more Joncas’s own creation. There seems ample precedent in the liturgy for biblical verses paired with a non-biblical antiphon.

        Don’t get me wrong: I’d be pretty happy never to sing that song again (a sentiment I think Mike Joncas shares), but I do think the text hews fairly close to scripture and to the Roman liturgical tradition.

  14. As for the readers of the New Liturgical Movement and the ages of the people I think you will find that the majority are probably younger. I am 53 and have bare recollections of the Mass prior to the 1965 reforms. I know many, many people under 30 who follow the NLM regularly. If you have not been to an Extraordinary Form Mass then you are unaware of what is really happening. It is being embraced by the generation under 50 with most under 40.

    As for the translation, again, I think most of us are looking forward to the Mass properly translated in language that is elevated.

    Please also remember that the Holy Father has referred to “two forms of one rite.”

  15. Thanks to Paul for the reminder that the Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar identifies the altar with Christ. I have read and reread Cardinal Ratzinger’s notions that while we address the Father during the Eucharist we should have our focus on Christ who is to come again. I don’t find his arguments compelling. But neither facing East to establish this focus on Christ, nor, according to Ratzinger’s preference, gazing on a crucifix on the altar, seem more appropriate symbols of Christ than the altar itself, which all in the assembly are already facing these days. It is the altar, after all, and not the crucifix, which is anointed with Chrism and kissed.

  16. “I do not see the point of the ‘Old Mass’- It has hardly any scripture, only one EP, and does not allow women on the altar or in the choir.”´

    So what? The fact that there are more readings in the New Rite only means more incomprehensible biblical passages the laity won’t understand properly because they are not touched upon in the homily. The Byzantine Rite has even less readings than the traditional Roman Rite – obviously they believe it’s best for the laity to hear a few readings and know them really well.

    As for the new Eucharistic prayers in the new Roman Rite, they are downright tedious, while the magnificent Roman Canon is almost never used any more.

    The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox have never allowed women in the sanctuary (except in convents) and believe this novelty in Catholic churches is a grave abuse, alien to Christian thought. Not that women are somehow inferior, of course – but the sanctuary is the reserve of the priests, who like Christ are male, and altar service is an extension of priestly service.

  17. I welcome reading both this blog and New Liturgical Movement – honest, respectful debate can only help our Church.

    My wife is a new convert to the Faith not as a result of having attended the Novus Ordo but out of a curiosity to learn more from attending our local Extraordinary Form. It has also helped me become a regular practising Catholic again. I felt God pull on the string to bring me back, as Evelyn Waugh put it.

    I am 45 and have no memory of the Extraordinary Form as a child. I was an altar boy in Ireland who grew disillusioned watching how first Communion began to be offered in the hand, and then altar rails were removed. Moving to California, I found that tabernacles were removed to an ‘undisclosed location’ a la Dick Cheney – resulting in few people genuflecting before entering a pew. Few kneel for or after Communion. Good luck finding holy water fonts at LA Cathedral (hint: they’re at the baptismal font at the back). No Sanctus bells either. Vestments replaced by ‘day spa robes’ (‘your therapist will be with you shortly for your treatment’). And by what authority?
    I cannot stress how much all the things I associate with being a Catholic have been removed – stripped bare, bit by bit, like we’re some kind of Presbyterians now (no offence to those good folk). Don’t tell me there wasn’t some policy at work here – I can’t imagine the disappearance of all these small acts of active participation as a lay Catholic is coincidental. I cannot imagine such policies are promoted by people with a burning belief in transubstantiation.

    An English friend of mine here tells me he has never attended an Extraordinary Form but is so distressed attending this alien style of liturgy in Los Angeles that he can barely stand to attend Mass any more. The last straw for me was attending Ash Wednesday at South Pasadena – the lay ‘pastoral associate’ (who is head of the parish rather than either of *three* priests on staff!!!) purported to bless the ashes herself even though it doesn’t take a degree in theology to know that lay people can only bless their own children.

    So, no, I am not an out and out traddy, but I cannot attend the Novus Ordo anymore (at least not in Los Angeles) without getting too stressed about the deliberate liturgical abuses promoted from above – even if there isn’t such abuse, I brace, waiting for it to happen – usually it takes the form of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion being called to distribute Holy Communion where it is obvious to a 4 year old that there are sufficient priests present to make their services unnecessary.

    Papa Ratzinger is not, I submit, trying to turn the clock back, but trying to ensure the Extraordinary Form will somehow survive to influence the Novus Ordo – it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – it is not an ffirmation of community or affirmation of self or any of these other thigns (those reasons are why God kindly gave us Unitarian services!).

    It would be nice if we just could just follow the rubrics correctly – for either form. It’s really not rocket science.

    So, thank God for Summorum Pontificum – it brought my wife to the Faith and me back to the Faith after years of disillusionment.

  18. As a frequent reader of NLM, I can’t help but take some exception to the way that the site is described. It seeemed to be a kind of opening shot across the bow in an unnecessarily antagonistic way, especially in the generally appreciative review of Fr. Baldovin’s book (http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2009/02/critiquing-critics.html). I for one am not wholly wedded exclusively to the usus antiquior or ad orientem, nor to I think that the majority of readers do. I certainly believe that the versus populum posture lends itself to liturgical abuse more than ad orientem (as corroborated by the horrific Christmas midnight mass I attended), but of course abusus non tollit usum.

    Anyway, I’ve already bookmarked the site, so I’m looking forward to a fruitful partnership. I hope that a sincere exchange of ideas will prove to be a sort of leaven for a deeper respect for and understanding of the liturgy. The danger for all such sites is succumbing to a kind of group think, of which certainly NLM can be guilty (disagreements on just how wide a Roman-style chasuble should be don’t count as a true marketplace of ideas).

    By the way I’m 36 (XXXVI) years of age, and I probably attend a mass in the usus antiquior four or five times a year.

  19. First a few disclaimers:
    1. I knew Fr. Baldovin in elementary school.
    2. Fr. Baldovin and I attended the same parish church
    3. I have attended a Mass celebrated (presided over by) by Fr. Baldovin.
    4. I now attend a Traditional Latin Mass in New York City and own several Tridentine missals and breviaries as well as Fr. Lasance prayer books.
    When my mother died and I attended her funeral mass, I was appalled at the delapidated condition of my former parish church. The new liturgical arrangement of the church itself and the service only further dismayed me.
    I also remember the last Mass I attended with her in Florida in a new church with two video screens for
    a karaoke Mass. Maybe she felt consoled and hopeful.

  20. I share the frustrations of many of the other commentators here.

    I read NLM on occasion, and I would say it has value beyond knowledge of the Middle Ages. Frankly, anyone crowing about the valuable gains of the liturgical changes after Vatican II in the US apparently never spends much time in rural parishes. Kids holding hands around the altar during the consecration, continually improvised additions to prayers during the consecration, dancing with polyester cloth, huge cardboard dice placed in front of the altar – all par for the course in my present parish in rural Tennessee. Rural Maine was not much better. With bishops apparently more concerned with urban and suburban parishes, its a free for all in the sticks. At least it isn’t rife with elitist nostalgia, though! Deo gratias.

    In the many Gabonese Catholic churches I have attended, I see the value in using local languages, but priests even in small Gabonese rural parishes still follow common rubrics in the liturgy – unlike the US. If one wants to consider the NLM and its advocates as misguided reactionaries, then one can certainly do so. I just hope the same treatment might be given to the misguided reactionaries determined to give their parishoners a taste of the liturgical freedoms of the 1970s might also receive criticism.

  21. I share the frustrations of many of the other commentators here.

    I read NLM on occasion, and I would say it has value beyond knowledge of the Middle Ages. Frankly, anyone crowing about the valuable gains of the liturgical changes after Vatican II in the US apparently never spends much time in rural parishes. Kids holding hands around the altar during the consecration, continually improvised additions to prayers during the consecration, dancing with polyester cloth, huge cardboard dice placed in front of the altar – all par for the course in my present parish in rural Tennessee. Rural Maine was not much better. With bishops apparently more concerned with urban and suburban parishes, its a free for all in the sticks. At least it isn’t rife with elitist nostalgia, though! Deo gratias.

    In the many Gabonese Catholic churches I have attended, I see the value in using local languages, but priests even in small Gabonese rural parishes still follow common rubrics in the liturgy – unlike the US. If one wants to consider the NLM and its advocates as misguided reactionaries, then one can certainly do so. I just hope the same critical treatment might be given to another group of misguided reactionaries determined to give their parishoners a taste of the liturgical freedoms of the 1970s.

  22. I am one of the contributors to The New Liturgical Movement blog, and the author of the aforementioned “appreciative review” (Ioannes Andreades) of Fr Baldovin’s book. The “reform of the reform,” as I see it, seeks a restored or “common” rite in discernible continuity with the “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite, yet shaped by the best impulses of the Liturgical Movement and Sacrosanctum Concilium. This means learning from mistakes, prudently improving deficiencies, mining the riches of the revised rites, all within a (now axiomatic) “hermeneutic of continuity and reform.” In the light of experience, certain permission and modifications to the reformed rite since 1970 need to be withdrawn or undone. Unfortunately, Fr Baldovin seems to believe that any such action constitutes nostalgic restorationism. Would it really be “restorationism,” for example, to reinstate the rule that cremation, if chosen, must take place AFTER the Funeral Liturgy (such that “cremains” are not permitted in church)? Our parish secretary booked a funeral for this coming Monday. The deceased has already been cremated, and the funeral director now informs me that the urn contains not only the deceased’s ashes but also those of his wife, who predeceased him three years ago! Yes, a “reform of the reform” would entail a reversal in some ways, because wrong turns have been taken. Blind restorationism? No, sanity.

  23. Thank you for providing an online counterbalance to the ofttimes astonishing arrogance exhibited at NLM.

    PS-I hadn’t realized that Tribe is Canadian. Interesting. Very interesting.

  24. Regarding a “hermeneutic of continuity,” one must be able to discern a distinction with a “hermeneutic of obstruction,” which, while not mentioned by the pope, has certainly been an inescapable fact after every church council, dogmatic or otherwise. It was,m in fact, the modus operandi in many dioceses and parishes in the years after the council.

    I also applaud the design of NLM and the tenacity of many of its bloggers. While they seem to shy away from direct engagement, I admire their staying power. The chief drawback of the web site would be their unwillingness to engage opposing views directly.

    I don’t agree with Fr Kocik’s suggestion that an ideal Roman Rite is somewhere between 1962 and 1970/2002. The case for “organic reform” of liturgy is overstated, imo. Liturgy is meant to worship God and facilitate or invite the sanctification of the faithful. The council bishops were perceptive enough to see a Roman liturgy in need of reform. Given the activity behind the scenes of those of the “hermeneutic of obstruction” I can understand that a reformed liturgy would be a priority above a decades-long gradual plan. In fact, the principle of participation vastly out-populates the mention of “continuity” in the conciliar and post-conciliar documents.

  25. Todd Flowerday raises an interesting question: How much dogmatic weight should be assigned to the principle of “organic development”? Is this the controlling principle, or is there another (e.g., “participatio actuosa”)? I would welcome further discussion of this. Let me add, I’m not so sure what the “ideal” Roman liturgy would look like. The “reform of the reform” is a big umbrella. But I am certain that the Council Fathers envisaged something (immediately) recognizable and identifiable with the preconciliar liturgy.

  26. Agreed. More discussion on organic development would certainly be welcome. I would see it as a post-conciliar issue, rather than something taken from SC directly (even its one reference in section 23). If anything, organic development is as much a pastoral approach to liturgy as a scholarly one.

    I suspect most post-conciliar liturgists would not have given it much weight. There was certainly a stronger desire to recover the golden age of the patristics, perhaps. A reading of the conciliar and post-conciliar documents on liturgy seem to … harp, almost, on the principle of active participation.

    Even so, I’m not at all sure we should be making judgments along the lines of “dogmatic weight.” The driving need is a more prayerful, more fruitful, and more efficacious liturgy. That people of different approaches worship God in spirit and in truth is not up for debate, at least not in sensible circles. How to invite people to go deeper, and how to facilitate a more spiritual liturgy: that’s the goal for this progressive liturgist. The particulars of how I get there: Latin/vernacular, hymns/propers, etc. is not nearly as important as the goal itself.

    I would have to disagree about the council bishops, unless they saw the vernacular (and other developments) as virtually the same as pre-conciliar. In my studies of the TLM, I’d say there are clear similarities. SC prescribed some specific reforms: we know this. The Mass changed greatly. I might say it was quick, but it was undoubtedly organic.

    My suggestion is a more careful reading of the post-conciliar liturgy documents. By 1970, one sees a certain impatience with the problems of experimentation, and the tone changes from the early documents of 1964-67. That would be where I would find a genuine “reform of the reform.”

    1. IMHO, the place to look for what the intent of the Council Fathers was is not the post-conciliar documents, many of which have very limited doctrinal or legislative weight, but the pre-conciliar writings, such as Pius X’s Tra le Sollecitudini, Pius XII’s Mediator Dei, and the writings of those in the Liturgical Movement. It was these writings that the Council Fathers had in mind when debating and voting on the constitution.

      It is also worth remembering that when the synod of bishops in 1967 saw the new order of the mass, 71 bishops voted approval, 43 voted not to approve and 62 voted to approve with reservations. 105 of the 176 bishops expressed varying degrees of dissatisfaction. Since many of these bishops were at Vatican II, I find myself in good company when I experience dissatisfaction with the new mass.

      We need to have a great deal of charity in debating Sacrosanctum Concilium. It was a product of several working groups and items were inserted along the road to insure passing. Consequently, it is not a unified document (not internally contradictory, however) and it is easy for all of us to fixate on sections that we like and to dismiss sections that seem harder to square with our favorite ones. We need to accept the document as a whole, which is no easy thing to do.

      1. Ioannes, a caution on the relative importance of papal documents and curial documents. Remember that Liturgiam Authenticam is of the same species as Musicam Sacram, Eucharisticum Mysterium, and those others, including the IGRM.

        And while bishops in a synod may have expressed doubts about a preliminary stage, it is true that every national conference gave thumbs up to the documents and translations as they went through the process in 1970 and afterward.

        Agreement with you on the importance of examining the document as a whole. Looking at the post-conciliar documents are also helpful to get a sense of the post-conciliar scene–far more reliable than subjective memories or urban legends.

    2. I think we’re talking past each other here somewhat. When we talk about hermeneutics, we shouldn’t be surprised that the documents don’t tell us in what way we should understand them, and they shouldn’t have to. In other words, should we interpret the Vatican II documents in light of previous teachings or opinions? I think it is clear that we should read them in the light of tradition rather than in a vacuum or in light of later documents emanating from various congregations. We need to remember that the calls by Pius X and Pius XII for congregational participation and the restoration of Gregorian chant had not been actualized by the time of Vatican II. The bishops at Vatican II were bolstering and supporting previous statements, not dismissing them.

      Before that, perhaps, like I said, we have to look at the document Sacrosanctum Concilium as a whole. We have to reconcile both chapters 14 and 23. Fr. Kocik mentions controling principles. The principles need to be hamonized. I take exception with your saying that organic development is only mentioned once and therefore not wholly important. It is in a constitution of an ecumenical council; it’s important. To the extent that “post-conciliar liturgists would not have given it much weight,” the end-product of those liturgists was compromised, regardless of what national episcopal conferences later said.

      Finally, is the memorial acclamation organic? No. Are ad hoc and variable general intercessions organic? No. Are the “Blessed are you” prayers organic? No. Is the making optional of biblical texts as introits, offertories, and communions organic? No. Are the new eucharistic prayers organic? No. The fourth is beautiful and a wonderful text to meditate on, but it’s not organic. S.C. desired additional prefaces, not additional canons.

      The place to find the reform of the reform is in Sacrosanctum Concilium, not in the mid-60’s when Vatican bodies were engaged in turf battles, such as that between the Congregation of Rites and Bugnini’s consilium. I don’t think that everyone will always been in agreement on what counts as organic every time or what “good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires,” but what we have now is somewhat defective.

      1. Ioannes, I appreciate the reply. You bring a lot of new issues to the discussion, and while I don’t want to either dismiss them or agree, I’m going to focus the bulk of my reply on the issue of documents.

        I suppose I can say I followed your example of treating SC, both in my studies as a graduate student and on my blog, as a whole. As a person with academic training, I was taught to attend to footnotes, which in the case of Vatican II documents, involve looking at Trent and other documents, as well as Scripture.

        There are a lot of good principles to be found in SC, many of which are ignored by reformers or traditionalists. It’s certainly possible for the 1962 Missal to retain its artistic and spiritual integrity by addressing the explicit concerns of the council bishops. One might ask why traditionalist scholars aren’t making these suggestions. We’re all aware of why the 1962 Missal likely won’t be reformed.

        As for your inorganic list, I would simply assert that much of what you have cited was developed or created out of genuine liturgical and pastoral need. Prayers for suicides, or infant deaths, or for catechumens, or certainly for Christians seeking full communion were also not “organic” in the sense you describe. But they all filled what was lacking in the Roman Missal and its accompanying rites.

        To zero in on the use of multiple canons, I suspect that the use of experimental prayers drove this, in part. Also the deficiencies in the Roman Canon. And lastly, probably a movement to better harmonize the canon to the Scriptures preached. True, the prefaces accomplish this well. But the texts of the canons also allude to aspects of the Scriptures and liturgical year in a way the Roman Canon probably fails.

        A harmonization between Word and Eucharist may not be explicitly organic, but it is traditional, especially if one reads the mystagogical theologians, especially John Chrysostom.

  27. As frequently happens with blog comments, I find myself disheartened by reading may posted here. One commentator finds the NLM blog “astoundingly arrogant.”

    Here is what I find astoundingly arrogant: The absolutely incredible number of people who have made no attempt to understand those who support this movement and yet reject them outright. The older liturgical tradition is difficult; it requires years (literally) of effort to begin to understand it. I went to the Extraordinary Form on a regular basis for two years (although not every Sunday) before I was truly able to immerse myself in it without a jarring effort. But why did I take that time? Because I saw something I didn’t understand, something that seemed entirely alien to me, and my inquisitive brain just couldn’t let be this obviously intricate and complex thing that had shaped what it meant to be Catholic for almost all of the Church’s 2000 years.

    And yet people around the world take one look at tall miters and fiddleback chasubles and reject the NLM’s supporters as reactionaries and historical reenactors. It is truly arrogant to think this is anything other than intellectually lazy to make no attempt at understanding this. This is not to say that Fathers Ruff and Baldovin fall into this camp, but they ought to realize that — evidenced by many comments here — blogs are often defined as much by their commentors as their contributors.

    Equally intellectually lazy is clinging to a notion that the Fathers of Vatican II had foreseen the creation of an entirely new rite. This just doesn’t fit with the historical reality of how the Missal of 1970 came to be. It is my admittedly anecdotal experience that almost all who hate the Extraordinary Form have no idea how the Ordinary Form came to be. Again, to not know this history is intellectually lazy.

    Okay, now one technical comment. Arguing that versus populum celebration is okay because it is really “towards the altar” is to entirely skirt around the issue, because the priest will always be facing the altar, whether he approaches it from a side, an end, the top, or the bottom. The question is, from which position is the priest best able to help the people to focus on the most liturgically appropriate point? The simple fact is, given modern man’s desire to always look people in the eye, so long as the priest is facing the people, they will always be focused on him, and more specifically on his face. Ad orientem celebration makes it much easier for the priest to concentrate on his proper role and the people on theirs.

  28. Vincent, I’m sensitive to the issue of inclusion. If the issue for NLM is openness on the part of others to their ideas, they have a strange way of conducting their web site. I was a contributor there from its very first week, but eventually there was a fatigue with the insults and perceived insults in the give-and-take there. When I attempted to limit my own end of that with a policy of once-on-a-thread-and-no-more, I was criticized for that seemingly anti-“troll” behavior.

    As for your technical comment, the “turning around” of the priest probably had little to do with looking him in the eye, as it were. I would presume it was about the visibility of the elements on the altar.

    And if the laity need to focus away from the priest and on Christ, it would seem that the TLM would benefit from him wearing a simple alb, or at least the “noble beauty” prescribed in SC 124.

  29. Sorry, I’m probably talking more about the NLM as an actual movement than the blog that bears that name. I don’t know how Mr. Tribe intends the blog to be exactly. You’re almost certainly right that the intent simply can’t be to reach out to those who do not agree with the movement. One could look at this as a “fire up the troops” approach, or, I think more charitably, as putting the resources in the hands of those who will actually be the ones to bring the movement to others.

    I’ve always been confused by the visibility concerns. Do people really not know what’s on the altar? Why do they need to see everything? Not trying to poke fun here, but genuinely curious. Why the need for visibility? The Easterners don’t seem to find this necessary.

    Fair enough about lace, but constant conjunction is not causation (and I’ve been to far more TLMs with absolutely no lace in sight than heavily-laced Masses — part of this depends on which order/society is involved). I don’t really see why “noble beauty” need not include lace. I guess I see that just as chant — quite shocking at first, but after a while it just becomes part of what one is accustomed to. Sort of like when a young girl asked me not long ago why priests and seminarians wear black dresses — took me a second to realize she was talking about the cassock, but when I was growing up (though I’m only 22) that’s just what priests (that is, my parish priests, the only priests I knew) wore. In the end, though, I’m definitely not going to make lace a sticking point. Like I said, most priests who I know who celebrate the old rite wear simple albs, diocesan and FSSP priests. To this end, keep in mind that the pictures on the NLM are rarely every day parish liturgies.

    1. “I’ve always been confused by the visibility concerns. Do people really not know what’s on the altar? Why do they need to see everything?”

      I was raised with the traditional Latin Mass. We never felt a need to see everything at the altar. We knew. Of course our missals also showed us in diagrams and we were well instructed by the good sisters. I do recall thinking, however, that it was too bad my non-Catholic friends couldn’t see the action because the priest was in the way and nobody seemed to be saying anything. Wouldn’t they be impressed if they could see the miracle taking place!

      I recently showed my sister and cousin around Italy. We participated in Mass in San Marco in Venice and the Pantheon in Rome. Both were according to the new order of Mass but with the priest and people facing the same direction. The Mass was in Italian but with much Latin chant. My sister, who has ten years more exposure to the old rite than me, was upset that she couldn’t see the consecration and that, in San Marco, there was a screen –the basilica’s templon– in the way; also that the altar was “too far” away (the high altar under the ciborium). We talked about mystery, comparison with the Jerusalem Temple, veiling or hiding, etc. She seemed to ponder what I had to say but I could see she remained unconvinced. She yearned for her parish Mass back home where she could see and understand everything.

      The gorgeous mosaics in San Marco as well as the beautiful interiors of all the churches we visited also troubled her. It contradicted her image of what the upper room must have looked and felt like. I, of course tried to explain all that as well. Still, while standing under Michelangelo’s dome she remarked how she had always felt emotional about St. Peter’s but that now that she could see it and all the decorative art she was disappointed. “It shouldn’t be this way. It’s all so the opposite of the simple Jesus.”

  30. Ceile De :
    So, no, I am not an out and out traddy, but I cannot attend the Novus Ordo anymore (at least not in Los Angeles) without getting too stressed about the deliberate liturgical abuses promoted from above – even if there isn’t such abuse, I brace, waiting for it to happen – usually it takes the form of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion being called to distribute Holy Communion where it is obvious to a 4 year old that there are sufficient priests present to make their services unnecessary.

    I think your experience with the Novus Ordo is specific to the particular parish you attend. I regularly attend a prayerful, worshipful, “read the black, do the red” Novus Ordo Mass.

    I have also attended a Latin Novus Ordo with the Franciscans of the Immaculate which I prefer to the extraordinary form.

    Don’t lose hope. Try and affect change at your home parish by making suggestions and leading by example.

    1. Thanks for your advice – we do like an orthodox OF – such as one sees at the Vatican – but now that we have been attending the EF regularly, we would almost always prefer it – you just don’t need to worry about when the abuses will start – then again, we do live in Los Angeles where no less a person than His Eminence has stated that there is “no” evidence of liturgical abuse (or is that NO evidence of liturgical abuse)!
      Again, I don’t see what’s so hard about ‘say the black, do the red’ – perhaps OF afficionados could help me out here as to why the OF and “creative self expression” seem too often to go hand in hand. Again, there are many Protestant churches that cater better (in this respect) to this segment of the spiritual market.

  31. Todd Flowerday :
    Regarding a “hermeneutic of continuity,” one must be able to discern a distinction with a “hermeneutic of obstruction,” which, while not mentioned by the pope, has certainly been an inescapable fact after every church council, dogmatic or otherwise. It was,m in fact, the modus operandi in many dioceses and parishes in the years after the council.

    Todd, you are 100% correct in this case. But I believe “obstruction” of “innovations” that either detract from the celebration of the Mass, or even present an opposite theological reality than Christ intended should be obstructed with every fibre of our being.

    Validly promulgated organic liturgical changes should be willingly, if not gratefully, accepted.

  32. Ron Ciavolino
    Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I must admit that they would have to drag me kicking and screaming back to the Latin Rite. I’m old enough (73) to remember it well and to have lived through its worst features. I remember one priest (very nice man and devout too) who celibrated weekday Mass in eleven minutes – what with the mumbling and all, it resembled a silent movie. He claimed that he could do it even faster if the altar boys would only cooperate! Of course there was never a homily in the old days. Now was he deficient in faith? Lax? So worn-down by routine that he was totally unaware of what he was doing – well no. Actually he was very devout and quite charming; he did it for reasons that seem never to be discussed and, I fear, are returning – he did it because the only thing that mattered was the Consecration: reciting the other words slowly and clearly, scripture, preaching – these were totally unnecessary. All one needed was the magic words, which, by the way, was repeated several times. As you can imagine therefore, I looked forward to the reforms inspired by Vatican II with great anticipation, relief and hope; and what did I get? Well I got black leotards, clown suits, “Where have all the flowers gone?”, sanctuaries denuded to such an extent that they resembled conventicles in Edinburgh (of course without the art of preaching and knowledge of scripture that are usually associated with them), and a pack of clergy who dressed like rag pickers and were never home. Actually what went on for forty years would have raised eyebrows even in Edinburgh. What could you all at Collegeville and “Worship” possibly have been thinking of? Don’t tell me you were not aware of all this? The only thing you appear to have accomplished, after all that scribbling and all those conventions, is the deliberate creation of a disgruntled constituency that now dreams of past ages that never existed. Fr. Benedict Groeschel is quit right: this movement back to the Latin rite has nothing to do with a love of Latin on the part of a majority of the laity; it represents a vote of no confidence delivered against what you all dished out to them. And you know, now that the fun and games are coming to an ignominious end, and retribution has raised its ugly head, like Frankenstein disrupting the frolic of the milkmaids, you are aghast. Forgive me, I appreciate what you were all trying to do; but it will serve you right if you all end up with your faces once again plastered up against the tabernacle muttering “Te igitur.” And I sincerely hope that while you’re up there, dressed in the “eat at Joe’s billboards,” muttering away and listening to the sound of the rosary beads rattling against the pews, you all reflect on your shocking lack of responsibility while you had the time, in the glorious summer of your 40-year triumph, and on what you might have achieved after such a long struggle if you had only possessed an ounce of kindness, class, poetry and concern for your fellow Christians who could not follow you there. My only regret is that you’re going to drag me along with you back to the past. I sincerely hope I don’t live long enough to witness all this; indeed I’m thinking of taking up smoking (unfiltered Camels) just to hasten the process along.

  33. Ioannes

    Many of the songs of Farrell and Haugen et al are indeed direct quotes from scripture. Both of these composers, for example often use the Grail transaltion.

    What could be a more direct quote than ‘If we have died with him, then we shall live with him; if we hold firm we shall reign with him’ (Farrell) ?

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