The Liturgy in Pope Benedict’s Address to the Clergy of the City of Rome.

Vatican Radio’s report (linked by Richard Malcolm in the comments of my last post — thanks Richard) on Pope Benedict’s address to the parish clergy of Rome, in which he reminisced on Vatican II and ruminated on its significance, contains a couple of interesting sets of remarks on the liturgy.

First, he speaks of each of the major constitutions and what they were trying to achieve. In speaking of the Liturgy Constitution he gives a pretty ringing endorsement of the pre-conciliar liturgical movement:

Referring to the reform of the liturgy, the Pope recalled that “after the First World War, a liturgical movement had grown in Western Central Europe,” as “the rediscovery of the richness and depth of the liturgy,” which hitherto was almost locked within the priest’s Roman Missal, while the people prayed with their prayer books “that were made according to the heart of the people”, so that “the task was to translate the high content, the language of the classical liturgy, into more moving words, that were closer to the heart of the people. But they were almost two parallel liturgies: the priest with the altar servers, who celebrated the Mass according to the Missal and the lay people who prayed the Mass with their prayer books”. ” Now – he continued – “The beauty, the depth, the Missal’s wealth of human and spiritual history ” was rediscovered as well as the need more than one representative of the people, a small altar boy, to respond “Et cum spiritu your” etc. , to allow for “a real dialogue between priest and people,” so that the liturgy of the altar and the liturgy of the people really were “one single liturgy, one active participation”: “and so it was that the liturgy was rediscovered, renewed.”

The Pope said he saw the fact that the Council started with the liturgy as a very positive sign, because in this way “the primacy of God” was self evident”. Some – he noted – criticized the Council because it spoke about many things, but not about God: instead, it spoke of God and its first act was to speak of God and open to the entire holy people the possibility of worshiping God, in the common celebration of the liturgy of the Body and Blood of Christ. In this sense – he observed – beyond the practical factors that advised against immediately starting with controversial issues, it was actually “an act of Providence” that the Council began with the liturgy, God, Adoration.

The Pope also points to difficulties that arose after the Council:

The Holy Father then recalled the essential ideas of the Council: especially the paschal mystery as a centre of Christian existence, and therefore of Christian life, as expressed in Easter and Sunday, which is always the day of the Resurrection, “over and over again we begin our time with the Resurrection, with an encounter with the Risen One. ” In this sense – he observed – it is unfortunate that today, Sunday has been transformed into the end of the week, while it is the first day, it is the beginning: “inwardly we must bear in mind this is the beginning, the beginning of Creation, the beginning of the re-creation of the Church, our encounter with the Creator and with the Risen Christ. ” The Pope stressed the importance of this dual content of Sunday: it is the first day, that is the feast of the Creation, as we believe in God the Creator, and encounter with the Risen One who renews Creation: “its real purpose is to create a world which is a response to God’s love. ”

The Council also pondered the principals of the intelligibility of the Liturgy – instead of being locked up in an unknown language, which was no longer spoken – and active participation. “Unfortunately – he said – these principles were also poorly understood.” In fact, intelligibility does not mean “banalizing” because the great texts of the liturgy – even in the spoken languages ​​ – are not easily intelligible, “they require an ongoing formation of the Christian, so that he may grow and enter deeper into the depths of the mystery, and thus comprehend”. And also concerning the Word of God – he asked – who can honestly say they understand the texts of Scripture, simply because they are in their own language? “Only a permanent formation of the heart and mind can actually create intelligibility and participation which is more than one external activity, which is an entering of the person, of his or her being into communion with the Church and thus in fellowship with Christ.”

It strikes me that his remarks amount to a strong affirmation of the official reform, as well as an understanding of actuosa participatio that involves something more than the attentive observing to which some people want to reduce it. At the same time, he is also expressing doubts about how some of those reforms got implemented more locally.

Toward the end he returns to the liturgy in the context of a contrast he draws between what the Council did and how it was portrayed in the media — which in turn sometimes influenced the local reception and  implementation of the reform:

There was the Council of the Fathers – the true Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediately efficiently Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers evolved within the faith, it was a Council of the faith that sought the intellectus, that sought to understand and try to understand the signs of God at that moment, that tried to meet the challenge of God in this time to find the words for today and tomorrow. So while the whole council – as I said – moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics. The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the “people of God”, the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all … popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help. This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: “Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world”. Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of ​​the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith.

This division between the Council of the Fathers and the Council of the media is interesting, but perhaps too simple. It might be taken to imply that all local developments that went beyond what the Council Fathers explicitly intended were simply a result of people drinking too deeply of the media’s distorted vision of the Council. Communion in the hand? The media’s overemphasis on the meal aspect of the Eucharist. Female altar servers? The media’s distorted emphasis on the egalitarianism of the Council. You get the idea.

All in all, the amount of time Benedict spends discussing the liturgy in this address testifies to the importance that the liturgy holds for him. It also indicates some of the complexity of his thinking, and maybe some places where his thought might need to be a bit more complex.

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74 comments

  1. Apart from some externals that people don’t like and which really are a matter of taste, culture, (like lace albs) etc, what has Pope Benedict really changed about the Liturgy, other than to celebrate it rather well? He uses options that are in the post-Vatican II Typical Edition Roman Missal, such as intinction, kneeling for Holy Communion and the manner in which he likes the altar to be decorated. Nothing new in any of these so-called returns to tradition. There is nothing that forbids ad orientem when he has celebrated the Mass in such a way. I get up very early every day and on Sunday’s on the Vatican website, I’ve seen the Holy Father celebrate Mass at normal Roman parishes as these parishes celebrate the Mass. Their music is mediocre to say the least. One parish had their contemporary choirs right next to the altar, guitars and all and the Holy Father was happy to be there, although I suspect he likes Gregorian Chant, Polyphony and the classical composers a bit better. Of course I’m a disciple of Ratzinger ever since I was in the seminary and one of his books was required reading. He’s on target on so many things and is a person of great common sense and knows the history of Vatican II as a participant, not as a Monday morning quarterback. He also knows first hand the deleterious effect the “media’ interpretation of Vatican II has had on the Church and her Catholic identity. It’s remarkable that a pope would be so honest with himself, his priests and the world. We can thank God for that.

      1. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:
        Geez – he read a book at seminary. Which one? Believe by 1978, he had only had published three books and one of those was his investigations which is the pre-1968 Ratzinger (you would not have liked the book).

      2. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #15:
        Okay, let’s get the title and subject correct (obviously, you no longer have the book?)

        Introduction to Christianity (German: Einführung in das Christentum) is a 1968 book written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Considered one of his most important and widely read books, Introduction to Christianity presents a “narrative Christology” that demonstrates the place for faith is in the Church. The book offers a “remarkable elucidation of the Apostle’s Creed” and gives an excellent, modern interpretation of the foundations of Christianity.

        Written before 1968 but published in that year. Per your comment in #1, you go on and on about liturgical stuff and then cite Ratzinger’s book in response to Deacon. Yet, this book that you reference from seminary had nothing to do with liturgy? It is an exposition of the Apostles Creed and written before the Ratzinger change in 1968-69. Your blog posts comments that actually wouldn’t reflect the spirit, attitude, or statements Ratziinger wrote in this book?

  2. Nothing too dramatic here, possibly B16’s “Swan song”? It is quite measured actually.

    As an aside, and possibly a future topic, what B16 states about Vatican II, careful to not divide the council into conservative vs liberal and adding fuel to the “liturgy wars” seems to be in keeping with what Fr. Tom Reese stated recently about the abdication of the last most recent abdication by Gregory XII, who left office in 1415 and Benedict’s abdication. Fr. Reese states “Gregory left at the request of the Council of Constance to help end the Great Western Schism. You wonder: Does Benedict see his resignation as an occasion for pulling together a very divided church?”

  3. There was the Council of the Fathers – the true Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media.

    Like all failed politicians, ecclesiastical or civil, B16 is now engaging in the blame the media game. After all the evidence of deception that has came from the sexual abuse scandal, the notion that somehow we should accept B16’s spin about Vatican II is absurd. I have simply come to the conclusion that Popes and Bishops make up things as they see fit to address their political objectives and are no more trustworthy than any other politicians.

    If one looks at the 2000 years of church history, it is evident that at least as much or even more reform came from Religious orders than from the Popes, Bishops and Councils. And for most of the first thousand years of the history of religious the vast majority of them including the men were not ordained, and for the last thousand years a majority of them (women) were not ordained. So it is the laity (especially in the form of religious) that have shaped the destiny of the Church as much or even more the clergy, and should continue to shape it in the future.

    The true meaning of the Council is what Christians (including non-Catholic Christians) have made and will in the future make of the Council. The Pope can criticize the media as much as he wants for reporting those meanings but it will not change the reality of what has happened, and is happening.

    Ultimately Christians need to judge the Pope and the Bishops in the light of Scripture and the Council not the other way around.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #4:
      It is preposterous beyond all decency and virtue for you to dismiss Benedict as a failed politician.
      Not only preposterous, but monstrously lacking in charity or comprehension of his wise teaching.

      1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #8:
        I said nothing about B16 as a teacher or even a scholar. I was not commenting upon either his encyclicals or his books.

        Popes, bishops, and pastors are also politicians (precisely they attempt to influence people) and they are also managers (precisely they control people). Having been a bureaucrat for much of my life, I was involved in politics and management most of the time,

        The Church, along with government and businesses, needs politicians and managers who serve the people much better than they are now being served

        I think B16 was in way over his head as both a politician and a manager. Those parts of the papacy need to be done well. JP2 was able to cover his poor management because he was a good politician. B16 has been neither a good politician nor a good manager.

        An address to the parish clergy of Rome, in which he reminisced on Vatican II and ruminated on its significance is pretty much a political and management activity in my opinion.

      2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #11:
        I’ll temper my comment with some appreciation of your clarification and point ot view. However, I disagree fundamentally with your assertion here (and previously) about the importance or primacy of the political dimensions of spiritual shepherds. I think that I remarked to you once before that Jesus was not a politician, nor a politically savvy person. Had he been, his life would likely have turned out differently. But, as he said: ‘my kingdom is not of this world’. Such spiritual acumen is what we should look for first and last in our holy men. It might even be a good thing were they required to be ascetic monks. To the extent that people expect political talent, a feel for what appeals, is the extent to which they will have your politician rather than a scholar-shepherd.

        As for the disgusting lack of responsiblility and appropriate grovelling in sorrowful contrition that marked the handling of the sexual scandals, I agree more than fully with you and others here. It is beyond contempt that quite a large number in and out of holy orders and prelacy were more upset and horrified at the scandal than at the loathesome sin that caused it. Not only that, many of them even yet disavow any culpability.

      3. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #29:

        However, I disagree fundamentally with your assertion here (and previously) about the importance or primacy of the political dimensions of spiritual shepherds.

        MJO, my basic position comes from Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness.

        Greenleaf had spent all his life working as the equivalent of a Vice President for AT&T, then the largest corporation in the world, as in the words of their then president, “our kept revolutionary.” Greenleaf was inspired in college by his sociology professor to do something about the problem of largeness of organizations in modern times and their inability to serve people well. Greenleaf retired at age 60 and wrote his book at age 70 in response to the crises in academia and the churches as a result of the Sixties.

        Greenleaf anchored his solution mainly in persons (i.e. servant leaders), and partially in structure (he despised ideology). However essential to the success of servant leaders in large organizations are people who will follow only servant leaders and refuse to follow those who are not servant leaders. Which is where my criticism of the poor political and managerial abilities of Pope, Bishops and Pastors comes into play. Without that criticism upon the part of many, many Catholics we will continue to be a poorly functioning large organization.

        You position is “romantic.” Like people of the Romantic Era you are idealizing a previous age, the Middle Ages, or even in your case Christ’s life, rather than facing the problems of modern life and big organizations like Catholicism. The reality is that the vast majority of the working days of Popes, Bishops, and Pastors are political and managerial not spiritual.

        When I was a member of a voluntary pastoral staff during the 1980s I pointed out to my fellow staff members just how much of the pastor’s life was like any CEO of a mental health organization, and that we did not need priests to do that. Several years later when I had bought a house and moved to another parish, one of my fellow staff members kept the parish together for six months while the bishop found a new pastor. She told me that I was absolutely right that the parish did not need a priest pastor.

        Big organizations are a product of the industrial era. Catholicism adopted a big organization structure during this time just like armies, governments, and businesses. We need to face the problems of big organization. We cannot do that by being “romantics.”

        P.S. One of the major problems of large organizations is the hierarchial CEO. Greenleaf advocated a “primus inter pares” solution to top management. From my experience as a member of senior management it only works when everyone including the CEO act as colleagues dividing the workload. Once members of the senior staff compete with each other for the CEO’s attention you get endless meetings rather than getting the job done through less meetings but more collaboration.

      4. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #8:

        JMO to JR:
        “It is preposterous beyond all decency and virtue for you to dismiss Benedict as a failed politician.
        Not only preposterous, but monstrously lacking in charity or comprehension of his wise teaching.”

        … or … simply his judgment, which is different than yours?
        awr

  4. Hello Fr. Bauerschmidt,

    Thank you for posting this for discussion.

    I’ve taken to calling this “Joseph Ratzinger Unplugged.” I am not sure that we have heard him speak so candidly on these subjects during his pontificate (whether one agrees with him or not).

    A few notes:

    It strikes me that his remarks amount to a strong affirmation of the official reform,

    I would qualify that statement. Clearly (and traditionalists have already noted this, despondently) he was, and still is, endorsing a major program of liturgical reform of the Roman Rite. It is plain that he doesnot find the 1962 Missal really adequate – certainly not as it was celebrated.

    But as for the “official reform?” If by this you mean Sacrosanctum Concilium, simply, I think he seems comfortable with most or all of it, however different his reading of it might be from some here. If by it you mean the Mass of Paul VI, the warning flags he sends up do seem to reaffirm his previously expressed skepticism about certain aspects of it. See for example comments in his Fontgombault lectures, the Spirit of the Liturgy, and his foreword to Msgr Gamber’s book, where he memorably called the final missal “a banal, on-the-spot” product.

    If I had a guess, I would say his ideal is somewhere between ’65 and ’67, with important qualifications (lectionary, etc.). I also think he has made a certain peace with it, though . . .

    as well as an understanding of actuoso participatio that involves something more than the attentive observing to which some people want to reduce it.

    I agree in full.

    At the same time, he is also expressing doubts about how some of those reforms got implemented more locally.

    My sense is that his critique is somewhat broader. But I noted that already.

    But however sympathetic he has been to traditionalists, he simply is not a “1962 man.” His critique of his experience of the traditional mass here is vivid, and I do not think he has changed that much from those days.

  5. One other point:

    This division between the Council of the Fathers and the Council of the media is interesting, but perhaps too simple.

    I wouldn’t read it that way, however. I do think, in the past…he has recognized that some of this agitation came from some of those at the Council, who readily used the media to help shape this reception of the Council (and perhaps shape its texts). And “media” need not mean only secular media, but Catholic media, too – the major weeklies, journals, diocesan papers, and so on. Many of these were also used or enlisted in shaping this reception of the Council. Joseph Ratzinger was far too aware of what happened at the time to have any naivete on this point – even if his off-the-cuff comments elide much of those distinctions.

    But critics here might see in that elision an unusual lack of candor in a blunt reflection – that he is trying a little too hard to locate the rupture hermeneutic as being very much “external” to the Council in how he actually talks about it here. For example, when he says “the whole council – as I said – moved within the faith,” is he really giving, say, fellow (more progressive) periti like Kung and Rahner and Schillebeeckx a total pass on these matters? It could be read that way.

    However differently he receives it from some, especially in the Bologna School, it strikes me that the Council retains a real sacredness and integrity for him that he is very reluctant to bring into public question, whatever his past comments as private theologian (such as his concerns about Gaudium et Spes, as noted in Vorgrimler’s Commentary) might have suggested.

  6. Never was a more apt distinction between realities made than that between the council of the media and that of the fathers.

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #9:
      Same tired media excuse he has used for years blaming the media for the sexual abuse scandal and the cover ups. Let’s at least try to stick with facts.

      Here is another from Massimo Faggioli:

      http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/exit-signs-1

      Money quote:
      “Benedict’s resignation sets an important precedent, but it also raises difficult questions. He plans to retire to a convent in the Vatican. How will the new pope handle having the previous pope as a neighbor? Will the next pope embrace Benedict’s interpretation of Vatican II as “discontinuity within continuity”? Will he continue Benedict’s efforts to stem the decline of European Catholicism? Will he share Benedict’s fondness for the pre–Vatican II liturgy? Finally, will the next pope close or continue negotiations with the Society of St. Pius X—a matter very close to Benedict’s heart? To a large extent, the next pope’s actions will serve as a comment on Benedict’s legacy. No one remembers the last time a pope had the chance to render judgment on his predecessor’s legacy while the man was still alive. But how Benedict’s successor discharges his office will tell us whether or not he considers the teachings of Vatican II negotiable.”

      OR

      From the earlier post:

      More from Massimo Faggioli on B16′s radio address:

      “The relaxation of Benedict XVI speaks of the Second Vatican Council to the priests of the diocese of Rome, of which he is a bishop, is typical of a person who has taken a huge weight off. A pope visibly relieved – and apparently in good health, speaking for 50 minutes at arm and with admirable clarity – the Roman priests held a passionate and at times touching lesson on the Second Vatican Council. In his speech, Joseph Ratzinger has presented not only his vision of the Second Vatican Council, but also personal anecdotes, such as his relationship with John XXIII and Cardinal Frings during the Council, and references to the question of the responsibility of the church and of Christians in Holocaust .

      But the center of the discussion is the contrast between “the council of the fathers of the council, that of faith” and “the council of the media.” The paradox is that this lesson on the rift between the two interpretations of Vatican II is transmitted just by the media – from the Vatican Television Center, but then picked up by many other networks and newspapers. This contrast between theological council (of bishops, theologians, believers) and sociological council (the media and the “world” in its metaphysical sense) relates Ash Wednesday homily, in which the pope had put the resigning ‘index against Christians who want to please “the public” and not the Lord, who seek the applause and not the truth: also referred to the Roman Curia, as he did in his homily pre-conclave of 2005 that brought him to the papacy .
      Here we are at the core of Ratzinger’s thought: basically pessimistic Augustinian anthropology, a Weltanschauung which sees the world and the church as two forces in opposition and irreconcilable at the cost of the elimination of the “Christian character” of the church. The Second Vatican Council is a council of Ratzinger still valid in its theology, especially that relating to the interpretation of the Word of God in Scripture, theology of the Constitution Dei Verbum. But the council was unfortunately misguided interpretation interested interpreted by the media and – on this yesterday, Benedict XVI was merciful – from those theologians and Catholics believe that the council had finally reconciled to the Church and the World.

      This split echoes that of the most famous speech of Benedict XVI on the interpretation of the Council, that of Dec. 22, 2005, in which the pope made a distinction between the “hermeneutic of continuity and reform” and “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”. That speech was soon bent by the spin doctors of traditional Catholicism in a clear split between “continuity and discontinuity” (see this Interpreting Vatican II. History of a debate, EDB, 160 pages, just arrived in the library). Ratzinger’s thought is more refined than this, but among the errors of the papacy there is also that of not being able to moderate the reactionary instincts of many Ratzingerians much less refined Ratzinger.

      The Pope will not take part in the conclave, but this speech and those of the next two weeks will give important signals for the positioning of many cardinals who are preparing for the conclave. Just read the keynote of Cardinal Scola at the conference on the Roman council, held in October 2012: in that speech (best magazine published by The Kingdom of Bologna), Scola was Ratzinger’s reading of the council, but offered significant deviations from the official Vulgate the ratzingerismo blogs reactionaries. The Cardinals running must walk a fine line, the one between the interpretation of Vatican II by Benedict XVI and their own vision of the Council: on the ability to play between the already and the not yet Benedict XVI of his successor will be decided much of the conclave of 2013 and the future of the Catholic Church.”

      Underline reference to some of the give and take on PTB (take note Allan):

      “….pope made a distinction between the “hermeneutic of continuity and reform” and “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”. That speech was soon bent by the spin doctors of traditional Catholicism in a clear split between “continuity and discontinuity” (see this Interpreting Vatican II. History of a debate, EDB, 160 pages, just arrived in the library). Ratzinger’s thought is more refined than this, but among the errors of the papacy there is also that of not being able to moderate the reactionary instincts of many Ratzingerians much less refined Ratzinger.”

    2. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #9:
      JMO writes:
      “Never was a more apt distinction between realities made than that between the council of the media and that of the fathers.”

      Really??

      I’m sure the media sensationalized, and their perspective, of course, was driven more toward a hot story than careful theological analysis. But for all that, they pretty much got it right. They pretty much conveyed that a conservative minority, including much of the Curia, wanted drafts that changed little, but the majority of the Fathers felt otherwise and roundly voted this down. Is the problem really the media? Or is the problem that one doesn’t like what happened at Vatican II and is blaming the messenger?

      I think of the famous Xavier Rynne in the very secular New Yorker. He’s a priest and no theological slouch, he was there, he reported what happened. How is this inaccurate??

      I think the Pope’s reinterpretation is “the smoking gun that wasn’t.” If the media really invented this totally false Council, how come 2,500 bishops didn’t rise up in protest at the time? Is it really conceivable that the media pulled off this unbelievable falsification, right under everyone’s nose, and it only got named and discovered some decades later by Joseph Ratzinger?

      It seems more likely to me that Ratzinger/Pope Benedict is now representing a view not very strong among Council fathers, and now pushing a re-interpretation of what really happened to suit his bias.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #18:
        With a generous alotment of due respect to most of your thoughts on this matter, I must disagree insofar as to assert that the liturgical outcome (one very dear to me and others) was not even dreamed of by the fathers of the council, except, probably, by a relative few. The American liturgical culture that erupted after the council was almost wholly the work of the media, print (as in profit seeking publishers of trite music) and otherwise. Ditto the popularisation of the Ed Sullivan show style of liturgy and priestly decorum. I knew numerous priests and a few bishops at the time following the council who lamented to me that all this secular-styled music was grossly inappropriate at mass but that they were powerless (!?) to stop it. Of course, a media-driven culture created several generations of priests and people who were clueless as to the impropriety of liturgical praxis that they somehow thought of as “Vatican II’. It seems to me that to suggest that the council fathers would have countenanced the thought of rock band and pop-music masses must surely be the product of Robespierrean dilerium.

        The above notwithstanding, I am amongst those who are ever so glad that Vatican II happened. And those who seem to act as though it never did make me extremely uncomfortable.

  7. Richard Malcolm : But as for the “official reform?” If by this you mean Sacrosanctum Concilium, simply, I think he seems comfortable with most or all of it, however different his reading of it might be from some here. If by it you mean the Mass of Paul VI, the warning flags he sends up do seem to reaffirm his previously expressed skepticism about certain aspects of it. See for example comments in his Fontgombault lectures, the Spirit of the Liturgy, and his foreword to Msgr Gamber’s book, where he memorably called the final missal “a banal, on-the-spot” product.

    I have argued elsewhere and at some length that the reference to “a banal, on-the-spot” product is not a reference to the actual Missal of Paul VI, but to various “creative” liturgical experiments in the 60s and 70s. I really do not think the text supports the former interpretation.

    I haven’t read the Fontgombault lectures, but the criticisms of the Missal of Paul VI in The Spirit of the Liturgy seem to me pretty minor. He wishes they had kept both silent prayers before communion. More significantly, he wishes a modified form of the silent canon would be allowed (well, even Popes have bad ideas). Still, I see no serious critique of the Mass itself, though I will admit that it has been a few years since I read it.

    P.S.
    In my diocese it’s “Dcn. Bauerschmidt,” not “Fr.”

    1. I’m not sure I agree with Fritz (“Dcn Fritz” ?) that Pope Benedict is critiquing celebrations but not Paul VI, but I want to study it more and re-check the sources. I have the impression that Pope Benedict’s wide-ranging critique of the reform does in fact implicate Paul VI and the papally-approved work of Bugnini, though he doesn’t name the pope directly as I recall. His critique is sharp, and it’s not only about how people celebrate the liturgy, but much more about liturgical books and rites and structures and how they have evolved and should evolve. It’s hard not to see that as a critique of Paul VI and Bugnini.

      As I say, I hope to study this more. I’m up for a sabbatical in another year – maybe a comparative study of the views of two popes on liturgy??

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #16:
        Agree, Fr. Ruff. A significant point that JFR repeatedly makes is that B16 mistreated the achievements and legacy of Paul VI in a manner that indicated disrespect for both the man and his office. Numerous examples but his promulgation of Summorum Pontificum was (per JFR) a slap in the face.
        Find it interesting that we are already beginning to write the history but, to be fair, when B16 says/writes (example – his interpretation of Vatican II and liturgical developments) – it is autobiography from a man who has been in power for 30 years (doubt historians will just accept his narrative as objective truth). Truism of historians is that victors write history – is that now beginning?
        Whether B16 intends this or not, his wide-ranging critique of VII reforms is subjective and, as Faggioli says, has been misread and mis-stated by ROTR folks to support their own ideology.

    2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #10:

      Dcn Bauerschmidt:

      My apologies for inadvertently promoting you!

      Ratzinger’s Foreword to Gamber’s Reform of the Roman Liturgy was written in French; the key passage is here, in the original:

      Ce qui s’est passé après le Concile signifie tout autre chose: à la place de la liturgie fruit d’un développement continu, on a mis une liturgie fabriquée. On est sorti du processus vivant de croissance et de devenir pour entrer dans la fabrication. On n’a plus voulu continuer le devenir et la maturation organiques du vivant à travers les siècles, et on les a remplacés — à la manière de la production technique — par une fabrication, produit banal de l’instant. Gamber, avec la vigilance d’un authentique voyant et avec l’intrépidité d’un vrai témoin, s’est opposé à cette falsification et nous a enseigné inlassablement la vivante plénitude d’une liturgie véritable, grâce à sa connaissance incroyablement riche des sources.

      I suppose the question is who the “they” is that Ratzinger has in mind. On its face, it’s the “liturgists.” Which ones? All he speaks of is what has happened “since the Council.” There is enough ambiguity here to suggest that perhaps he is more concerned with what you have in mind (liturgical experiments attempting inculturate, etc.); but I don’t think it can entirely exclude concerns about some of the Consilium’s work. Especially given the substance of Gamber’s book, about which Ratzinger seemed so enthusiastic.

      In any event, however, I would agree with this much: traditionalists can take only so much comfort from his words, since (I think, with some regret) they can’t be stretched to be an endorsement of the 1962 Missal as normative.

  8. The question that can’t be answered now, is that the media reported what others told them. So who did they interview during and after the council, especially after the Council in its immediate aftermath as things began to escalate in terms of dramatic, iconoclastic change. I suspect the media was reporting what the iconoclasts told them, whether that person was a bishop, religious, priest or theologian and usually those who were not at the Council. And thus the Council of the Media is not something the media made up but what they reported from biased radicals in the Church following the council. Look at how the media reports today on the Church and who they seek out normally for answers to questions of faith. To hear some who are being interviewed about the next pope, you’d think we will be Episcopalians in no time once the right person get the papacy. Nothing has really changed.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #19:
      “What the iconoclasts told them” – really? Do you even pause and think before typing? So, anyone who doesn’t agree with B16’s take (or yours) are iconoclasts?

      “Who did they interview during, after the council” – really? All you have to do is check most published media articles, etc. Most provide , if not quote, from actual participants, periti, participants and document this.

      “Biased radicals in the church” – really? So, anyone interviewed from 1963 onwards were just biased radicals? Please provide documentation on this allegation?

      Appears that the *ultimate reform of the reform* – resignation has pushed your reactionary buttons – are the hobbyhorses wobbling?

    2. Fr. Alan,

      But to go with your analogy, do the media really get it as wrong as you claim, then or now? Are the media now claiming that we’ll be Episcopalians soon (roughly speaking)? No, at least not that I’ve seen. They pretty much get it right, that the current cardinals were all appointed by JP2 and B16 and not likely to change much. Most every analysis I’ve seen this week gets that right. I do see a wide range of opinions on the editorial page, including some radical (or angry) lone figures (oftentimes columnists) who want the church to go in a radical direction. But I don’t see mainstream media analysis predicting that will happen.

      So as I say, the media more or less get it right, then and now. Lots of details wrong, some bias, certain misunderstandings, but they can’t really get away with getting the whole thing wrong, then or now.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #23:
        I think the way the Holy Father uses the “Council of the Media” is metaphorical and can’t be applied to honest reporting by the media. Certainly the media goes to people in the know, but they also give a forum to those who have their own agenda and then that agenda in an egalitarian way is placed on the same level with those who do know, thus this dicotomy that the Holy Father illustrates in a pejorative way.

        Another illustration of this is from the Huffington Post and an brief article posted yesterday by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB who the post calls a “Catholic visionary.” She confirms unwittingly what the Holy Father says, when he says: “The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the “people of God”, the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all … popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help. This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane.”

        And these are Sr. Joan’s written words: “Issues of collegiality are simmering everywhere, the voice of the laity is clear, the integrity of the church itself is suspect. Its total disregard for the contribution of women to it, either as an institution or as a spiritual system, has rent the cloth right down the middle. It is a man’s church — organizationally, theologically and spiritually. But at the same time, secular society rather than the church has taken the lead in promoting the equality and role of and role of women and a lay church which recognizes the spiritual role of women is growing up outside of it.
        The attitude of the church toward gays has done as much to distance their families from the church as it has the LGBT community itself.”

        While she has some valid things to say from a pastoral point of view, her solution which is the metaphorical solution of the “Council of the Media.” However, the “Council of the Media” as she would form that council in her own way, is actually now the “Council of the Church of Secularism.” It is a purely human work, where God is shifted to the periphery for political expediency. Sister Joan’s ideology and embrace of secularist religion is like Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement with the dark forces of his era. It solves nothing but rather escalates everything.
        The pope’s dichotomy of the two councils, even if pejorative or metaphorical is right on and needed to be said.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #36:
        Sad as you state again:

        “…..the “Council of the Media” as she would form that council in her own way, is actually now the “Council of the Church of Secularism.” It is a purely human work, where God is shifted to the periphery for political expediency. Sister Joan’s ideology and embrace of secularist religion is like Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement with the dark forces of his era. It solves nothing but rather escalates everything.”

        How Manichean and ignoring the council fathers efforts to engage the world.

        Will repeat (from above #14) by Faggioli:

        “Here we are at the core of Ratzinger’s thought: basically pessimistic Augustinian anthropology, a Weltanschauung which sees the world and the church as two forces in opposition and irreconcilable at the cost of the elimination of the “Christian character” of the church.
        This split echoes that of the most famous speech of Benedict XVI on the interpretation of the Council, that of Dec. 22, 2005, in which the pope made a distinction between the “hermeneutic of continuity and reform” and “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”. That speech was soon bent by the spin doctors of traditional Catholicism in a clear split between “continuity and discontinuity” (see this Interpreting Vatican II. History of a debate, EDB, 160 pages, just arrived in the library). Ratzinger’s thought is more refined than this, but among the errors of the papacy there is also that of not being able to moderate the reactionary instincts of many Ratzingerians much less refined Ratzinger.”

        Guess some folks always need to see an *enemy” or *conspiracy* – e.g. secularism, relavitism, etc. Sorry, grace builds on nature and it is more than just Sister’s pastoral point of view (again with the mantra that dismisses concerns by the imaginary distinction between pastoral and dogmatic)

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #36:
        If his use is *metaphorical*, inquiring minds want to know how Sr. Joan’s published article is any different from your *media* dribble e.g.

        “POPE JOAN AND THE “COUNCIL OF THE MEDIA”
        One of the most insidious de-constructors of religious life, Benedictine Sister, Joan Chittister (Pope Joan) just wrote the following “honoring” in the most snarky way, the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI. This is the type of person that formed the “Council of the Media.” Oddly enough, she writes this “blog” on the “Huffington Post” which in and of itself is what Pope Benedict describes as the “Council of the Media!”

        Really, your rant, as usual, is marked with innuendo, detraction, and straw man (woman) arguments.

        And why is your blog or EWTN or Fr. Z not also part of this *council of the Media*? Or your posting recently of an interview of Fessio? As you say, isn’t this *embracing these cultural fads and trends, to acquiesce to them, to become them.*

        If secularism is so evil – why do you blog; why do you have your own blog, etc.?

        And then you say: “What Pope Joan writes is in fact the crisis the Church is facing. The question is how to resolve it. Her method which one could metaphorically say is the method of the “Council of the Media” is to embrace these cultural fads and trends, to acquiesce to them, to become them. The Episcopal Church has done such. Does Pope Joan hold them up as a model of virtue, a beacon of light and the fastest growing Church in the world? Of course not, she’s strident in her ideologies but she’s not stupid!

        But what is occurring and what Pope Joan disingenuously and intentionally fails to point out is that the trends she correctly sees in society and the Church are in fact sins brought upon us by a grotesque secularization of morality and the false egalitarianism of the age. She is a part of this infection and thus not the antibiotic for it.”

        Geez – what double speak; and talk about *disingenuous*!!

  9. “how come 2,500 bishops didn’t rise up in protest at the time?”

    Now, that is an interesting question! Not so much about why they DIDN’T rise up, but as to why they DID vote as they did. It’s worth pondering how large groups behave at a given moment in history.

    I don’t propose to answer the question, really, but I will say this: It is rare, indeed, at any given moment that a majority of the winning side–or for that matter, the losing side–really understands what it is voting for. Generally, both sides have a few disinterested voters who are free enough of known and unknown personal flaws and which few have a truly clear understanding of what’s at stake to vote with a complete disregard for personal cost. The rest have various levels of understanding, or lack thereof, and other more imperious motives, given the fallen nature of man, which decide how they will vote. (Said motives are too numerous to mention here; just read the Greek myths or our childhood fairy tales or Shakespeare or Tolkein.)

    One thing I feel I know for sure: The cataclysm of the Second World War had only ended in 1945. That deluge hadn’t subsided in 1962. Equanimity was all but impossible, especially amongst the educated class. Add to that the more petty tribal–whether of blood or ideology–loyalties and rivalries. What a mess! What a wrong time to take the pulse and propose the cure.

    In short, the fact that 2,500 bishops voted in a particular way in no way shows that they really understood what they were voting for, especially at that particular moment in history, or that they fully understood the path they were choosing.

    1. Christopher,

      There is much truth in what you say, but it’s about a side issue (as you yourself suggest)

      That side issue is: did the bishops at Vatican II fully understand what they were doing? I’m sure they didn’t. I hold, with Augustine, that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and I believe that we humans virtually never know, exhuastively, why we do what we do. Aidan Kavanagh once wrote that the US bishops more or less voted for the whole thing because they thought it’s what the front office wanted, and that was enough for most of them. Perhaps overstated to make a point, but it has some validity.

      But what is the import of this point of yours, that bishops didn’t all fully understand what they voted in? Not that much, really. For whatever reason, they DID vote as they did, by large majorities. However much you or I may agree or disagree with the overwhelmingly lopsided votes, that is how the votes came out. However much one may think it was or wasn’t a good time to hold a council, it is the time it was held.

      So: Vatican II really happened, the bishops really voted as they did, by lopsided majorities. The so-called “conservatives” (an imprecise term but a handy label) really did get routed. The majority of bishops really did vote to take control of the Council and go in another direction.

      And (to return to the main question of the thread, after your interesting and valid side-question), the media more or less reported the story accurately to the public.

      And to back off a bit from my predominant agreement with you: I think that many or most of the bishops had good awareness, at least in broad strokes, of what they were doing. They’re not that dense! They knew they were voting in more decentralization, for example – how could they not? They had at least 9 full months between each session, and I can’t imagine that they weren’t thinking about all this a lot, reading up, much talking to each other and theologians. The stories are many about bishops undertaking intense “crash courses” in theology. But again: however much they did or didn’t understand what they were doing: they really did it – and the media really told everyone that they did it.

      awr

  10. To add to Fr. Ruff’s statement and to respond to whether bishops knew what they voted for.

    Any number of bishop participants kept notes and wrote about the fact that groups were formed and attended classes; often led by periti – experts on certain subjects especially as they considered and voted on topics. Many bishops described the *reality* that the sessions of Vatican II became a chance for continuing education (many stated that they had had little time to do theology reading; to engage with peers on theological, ecclesiological, and scriptural questions. In a sense, for many it was like returning to their graduate seminary days.
    You also appear to skip over the timelines – every VII document began with preparatory schema which were sent ahead for review and comments – some 9 or months ahead of time. Then, there were daily sessions in which participants made presentations (periti were not allowed to speak from the floor) – these were then compiled, printed, and delivered for more study. Almost every bishop had brought their own periti to advise them.
    Given all of this, it is hard to reach your conclusions.

    Side note – compare to Trent in which theologians led the discussions, wrote the documents, and organized the votes, notes, etc. Does this fact invalidate Trent? Who took the documents of Trent, translated, printed, and disseminated? (did that process also call Trent into doubt?) It really does become ridiculous.

  11. Adding yet more to #25 and #26, it is a human flaw: wishful thinking. Looking forward into the future, we consider it a virtue. It is called hope.

    Looking back into the past, it is at least as bad as self-deception. When passed on to others, it might well be a grave sin to suggest people were duped, the interpretation was faulty. It is like gossip, if one gets this sense from others. It is like a lie, if one has the intent to pass on to others a false sense of Vatican II.

  12. I find most reception histories of Vatican II, liturgical reform, national/local implementation, especially those promoted by the RotR, to be grossly oversimplified and unsubstantiated, including this current one proffered by the soon to be Bishop of Rome Emeritus.

    Typically, anecdotal personal perception is the anchor of critique rather than well researched evidence. One can actually know what the gathered bishops thought regarding the liturgy by researching the Council’s acta, photographs, visual and audio recordings, etc. One can actually know how the reform was implemented through diocesan and parochial archives. One would like to know how the precursor to the USCCB dealt with these matters but those archives are closed to researchers – well, to anyone due to the timidity of politics. One could likely research how the media reported on the council – it seems questionable that media reports caused the shuttering of seminaries and the banality of liturgy. I doubt the Bishop of Rome Emeritus carried out such an interesting study to come to such clear and calamitous a conclusion.

    Fun things we can know:
    There was a motorcycle mass in which a monsignor drove his bike into the church to the altar – reported by the NYT.
    The FDLC contacted Bugnini and asked for the consilium’s revision of the Rite of Reconciliation to experiment with and adapt before its promulgation. Bugnini politely declined. – FDLC archives.

    Can we have real research for verifiable conclusions rather than personal globalized opinion masquerading and proffered as fact? It’s one of the worst characteristics of post-modernity and the church should shun it. If in fact, it is so concerned with the truth of things.

    It’s kinda like blaming the media for reporting on the church’s sexual abuse as the ’cause’ of the church further loosing its moral credibility.

  13. One translation:

    “What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication started. There was no further wish to continue the organic evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced — as if in a technical production — by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true visionary and with the fearlessness of a true witness, opposed this falsification and tirelessly taught us the living fullness of a true liturgy, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge of the sources.”

    A little more in this vein from Ratzinger, from around the same time.

    “The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.” J. Ratzinger, Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104

  14. And…I apologize if I seem to be clogging up the thread, some similar comments along these lines from one of Ratzinger’s two lectures at Fontgombault in 2001:

    “A sizable party of catholic liturgists seems to have practically arrived at the conclusion that Luther, rather than Trent, was substantially right in the sixteenth century debate; one can detect much the same position in the post conciliar discussions on the Priesthood. The great historian of the Council of Trent, Hubert Jedin, pointed this out in 1975, in the preface to the last volume of his history of the Council of Trent: “The attentive reader … in reading this will not be less dismayed than the author, when he realizes that many of the things – in fact almost everything – that disturbed the men of the past is being put forward anew today.” It is only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent, that the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, after the liturgical reform, can be understood. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the strongest, and thus (for them) the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its value.

    And, a bit further on:

    “One thing should be clear: the liturgy must not be a terrain for experimenting with theological hypotheses. Too rapidly, in these last decades, the ideas of experts have entered into liturgical practice, often also by-passing ecclesiastical authority, through the channel of commissions which have been able to diffuse at an international level their “consensus of the moment,” and practically turn it into laws for liturgical activity. The liturgy derives its greatness from what it is, not from what we make of it.”

    Link to full text: http://www.piercedhearts.org/benedict_xvi/Cardinal%20Ratzinger/theology_liturgy.htm

  15. Can someone explain in some detail what a fabricated liturgy is? Is this a substantive criticism or a profound bias? I’d really like to know.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #34:
      A fabricated liturgy is one that displays a generous portion of elements that are not part and parcel of the ritual text., These extra-ritual elements may take the form of priestly chatter inserted into the ritual text, they may take the form of peppering the ritual text with a variety of instructions to the idiot laity regarding when they should sit, stand, turn to a page and sing, or do some other thing that they would know to do if they were given service leaflets and expected to use them, A fabricated liturgy, in short, is one in which there is a condoned non-ritual verbiage which runs along side the ritual text and effectually detracts from any spiritual identification or benevolence whitch would otherwise be the reward of the True Sacred Text, i.e., The Liturgy, The fabricated liturgy is the fabrication of those who believe the laity to be daft, train them to be daft, and are comfortable having them daft, and are craftily resistant to anything that would alter this state of affairs. If only the ritual text could be observed, we would be faced with a situation of utter holiness conveyed to us by the sacred ritual text which which neither priest nor people seem to wish to confront.

  16. I fail to see how the ipssima verba of the 1970 Missale Romanum meets the definition of fabricated liturgy offered by Mr. Osburn. How does it train the so-called laity to be daft? On the contrary does it not try to avoid the ‘blessed mutter of the mass’ mentality and give them their rightful share in the liturgy? According to Mr. Osborn’s definition I suspect that even the Trent Missal with its preference for low mass in a language not understanded of the people could inculcate ‘daftness’ in the so-called laity.

  17. Jack Feehily : Can someone explain in some detail what a fabricated liturgy is? Is this a substantive criticism or a profound bias? I’d really like to know.

    I’ve always thought of this in terms of what I experienced while living in Belgium ten years ago — what I came to think of as the dreaded three-ring-binder-liturgy, containing prayers composed and complied by the local liturgy committee, including a Eucharistic prayer for children that omitted the words “this is my body” and “this is my blood” because they would be too hard for the kids to understand.

    My charitable way of reading Benedict’s remarks about “fabricated liturgy” is via the distinction between “planning” liturgy and “preparing for” liturgy (one that, at least for me, derives from Eugene Walsh — so it’s hardly a “conservative” thing). The former implies that the liturgy is something that we labor to create, while the latter implies that it is something that we ready ourselves to receive from the Church and her tradition. While this is a distinction that cannot be pushed too far, since liturgical preparation is always going to involve some creative planning, I think it captures something of the difference in attitude Benedict was trying to get at.

  18. I think I’m agreeing with SJH at #37 but not sure:

    Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote the Foreword to Alcuin Reid’s “Organic Development of the Liturgy” and put his support behind this thesis. It is noteworthy that Reid’s book is about official reforms, eg Pius X’s massive change to psalm distrubtion of Roman Office. Reid is highly critical of Pius X and suggests he want beyond what a Pope should do in allowing the liturgy to develop organically.

    Reid’s analysis stops before Vatican II, but the conclusion that would follow is obvious to anyone who has tracked the argument of his whole book: a fortiori,, what happened after Vatican II under Paul VI is a violation of organic development.

    This is among the reasons why I believe that Pope Benedict is critical of Paul VI in matter liturgical. Benedict’s liturgical vision should be understood as a critique of his predecessor.

    awr

    1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #44:

      Reid is highly critical of Pius X and suggests he want beyond what a Pope should do in allowing the liturgy to develop organically.

      That was one of the most remarkable things I found in his book – an uncomfortable point, I think, for traditionalist admirers of St. Pius X.

      Reid’s analysis stops before Vatican II, but the conclusion that would follow is obvious to anyone who has tracked the argument of his whole book: a fortiori,, what happened after Vatican II under Paul VI is a violation of organic development.

      Dr. Reid has actually said so explicitly, in subsequent comments:

      Could one say that “traditionalist” Catholics agree with the thesis of a rupture?

      “I am not a “traditionalist”. I am a Catholic. I am also a liturgical historian. As the latter I can say that there is evidence that those responsible for the reform intended rupture – ritual and also theological. They did not want what was handed on in tradition. They did not want to develop that. They wanted something new, something that would reflect ‘modern man’ in the 1960’s and what they thought he needed.

      “This is an historical reality, not an ecclesio-political position. Liturgists from ‘both sides’ agree that the reform was radical and a rupture. As a Catholic I regard this as a significant problem, because it is unprecedented in liturgical history and it is not what the Council, out of respect for liturgical tradition, called for.”

      http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2011/10/interview-with-dr-alcuin-reid-in.html

      Benedict’s liturgical vision should be understood as a critique of his predecessor.

      That’s pretty much my assessment as well.

      In other ways, of course, he admires Paul VI (particularly his social teachings, which often seem more congruent with his own in tone than, say, those of John Paul II).

  19. Samuel J. Howard : @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #35: That’s not the way traditionalists and people like Gamber usually use the term “fabricated liturgy,” which rather has to do with the official text itself being “created.”

    I always took it to refer to how the official text was created too. The OF is often criticised as being a “liturgy by a committee.”

  20. In typical use, “fabricated liturgy” means “liturgy I don’t like”. There may be more nuanced presentations of the concept, but they are hard to find.

    Like “continuity” and “organic”, “fabricated” is so vague that even traditionalists never agree what it means. One blogger hopes that Pope Benedict will celebrate a big public Mass in the rite of 1962, before he retires. No, says another, 1962 was not in continuity, you have to go back to 1955. No, says another, the problem started with Pius X. And on it goes.

    A priest present at the Council described the liturgy of the opening day:

    The liturgical ceremonies of the opening day lacked that community quality which makes everyone feel he is included. … Is it really proper for 2,500 bishops, to say nothing of the many other members of the faithful, to be condemned to be mute spectators of a liturgy in which, apart from official liturgists, only the Sistine Choir has any voice? The active participation of those present was deemed unnecessary, a symptom, don’t you think, of a state of affairs that neeed to be put right? …

    One could clearly recognise in this the dangerous archaism which imprisoned the Liturgy of the Mass since the Council of Trent, so that one could scarcely any longer perceive the real meaning of its individual parts … It must have instinctively occurred to the observer that a symptom of the success of the Council would be the degree by which the closing ceremonies differed from those of the opening day.

    From this point of view may not one regard it as a gratifying sign that, on the initiative of the bishops, on 8 December at the conclusion of the First Session, the responses and the Ordinary of the Mass were sung in union by the bishops and all those present?

    That was Joseph Ratzinger, writing in The Furrow (May, 1963), “The Second Vatican Council: The FIrst Session”. Was he reporting (with clear approval) on a “fabrication”?

    To pile one shibboleth on another: the “hermeneutic of continuity” often enough leads straight into the “dictatorship of relativism”.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #47:

      Jonathan: In typical use, “fabricated liturgy” means “liturgy I don’t like”. There may be more nuanced presentations of the concept, but they are hard to find.

      Indubitably, certain parts of the OF have been fabricated. For more than a millennium, the Roman rite only had one anaphora. The multiple eucharistic prayers that have proliferated over the past fifty years are fabricated in the sense that they are modern compositions modeled on diverse aspects of eucharistic prayers from other traditions (or, in the case of the Eucharistic Prayers for Children, de novo EPs written in Basic English).

      I accept the new eucharistic prayers because I am an orthodox Catholic. I still wonder why the Roman rite had to invent more eucharistic prayers when it already had a profoundly ancient and beautiful anaphora which is also an exemplar of late Latin prose, but so be it. Yes, I am prejudiced. Still, there is some objectivity in my prejudice.

      A person who poses a blanket condemnation of the entire Ordinary Form as fabricated stands on much weaker ice. The Ordinary Form preserved many of the propers of the Extraordinary Form. Also, the reformed liturgy contains a much broader range of prayers from ancient sacramentaries. Certainly, these ancient propers are not compositions of the past fifty years.

      Accusations of “fabrication” are often multifaceted and sometimes folded within concessions that the reformed liturgy is also “organic”.

  21. A good post Jordan, and spot on. Elements of the Mass of Paul VI are simply fabricated. Even playing “mix-and-match” and “cut and paste” with ancient liturgies in order to make a new contemporary one is rife with problems from the point of view of organicity, in my opinion. We see the liturgical left stirred up to ire when one does this with retired traditions only a few decades old, never mind hundreds of years retired. The reasons and the supposed benefits of these “fabrications” are worth discussing. I have my problems with this (as you know), but it’s certainly not sufficient to condemn the new Mass. As you rightly point out, it still remains much of ancient worth in both text and form.

  22. It is simply a myth that Abp Bugnini and Consilium started with the Mass of 1962 and then took out the scissors and paste. Many of the “inorganic” changes that come in for “discontinuity” criticism started long before the Council.

    But there is a more fundamental point to be made. I question the sharp distinction that Pope Benedict draws between the “hermeneutic of politics” (the evil ‘media’) and “moving within the faith” (the Council fathers).

    As I understand Mormon beliefs, the Book of Mormon was engraved on golden plates and given to Joseph Smith. No problems of sources or authenticity here.

    But is not how Catholicism works. We believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through human voices, that God self-reveals through the messy, human doings of the Church, starting with the apostles and continuing to the present day. As Bill points out above, grace doesn’t destroy nature, but perfects it. The noisy process, including “the media” is how grace operates in the Church. Newman was far more eloquent on this than I can be.

    Suppose that the Council fathers (in which group Benedict oddly seems to include himself) lived exclusively on the pure milk of faith, with no politics involved. That contradicts the best historical evidence, as recorded by all sorts of people who were present there – Benedict XVI’s office doesn’t make him an infallible historian, or even an unusually good one. But stipulate that he is right.

    Where, in that case, did we get the reputation that the Council has – like Trent before it, by the way, and Vatican I – for sharp disagreements, political manoeuvring, factional groups? Did Rynne and O’Malley get all their insights from “the media”? From reading Time? Did Melissa Wilde rely on the archives or “the media”? Did the bishops and periti at the council rely on “the media” when they reported their experiences there? Did the Holy Spirit abandon the Church from the 1960s until a couple of years ago?

    There is much to admire in Pope Benedict’s telling of the story. But it stumbles at the end.

  23. It seems to me that there has indeed been messiness and no one would deny that it is through the messiness and sinfulness of people that God’s grace is more powerful. We are in a season of great change, brought on by the messiness of things, including the “reform in continuity” of Pope Benedict which itself evolved from the messiness he experienced and is creating its own messiness. But clarity is coming through it all and I much prefer today’s Church than 1980 or ten years ago.
    But in terms of the Mass, I don’t know what it means to say that it was fabricated. I think there were some things done that could have been left alone, such as starting the Mass with a brief Penitential act at the Foot of the Altar or the Chair for that matter, but keeping the 1962 Order of Mass starting with the stand alone Kyrie, Gloria, Greeting and Collect. Everything else in the modern missal seems kosher to me.
    Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998 told a traditionalist audience that most laity would not be able to tell much difference between the OF Mass celebrated in Latin with its propers ad orientem and an EF Mass. Sounds like in that statement he sees a great deal of continuity and little fabrication.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #51:

      Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998 told a traditionalist audience that most laity would not be able to tell much difference between the OF Mass celebrated in Latin with its propers ad orientem and an EF Mass. Sounds like in that statement he sees a great deal of continuity and little fabrication.

      I’ve heard that story. And most likely, he’s right about how most laity would react.

      But that doesn’t mean there’s as much continuity as that statement might imply. What it really says is that most laity aren’t very attentive to liturgical detail (especially when it is in Latin!).

      To be frank, even with as much as he has written on the liturgy, it is hard for me to say just how much of the actual Missal of Paul VI (as opposed to other experimentations and ad libs, or vernacular translations) the Pope actually thinks could fit the definition of “fabricated.” Some parts, I suspect (it would have been hard for him to so warmly endorse Gamber’s book otherwise); but there is clearly a good deal that he approves of.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #60:
        I would tend to agree with Deacon Fritz’s evaluation of what Pope Benedict means by fabrication. In the same talk Cardinal Ratzinger gave to traditionalist in 1998, he reiterated the following: The Second Vatican Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy “itself does not say a word about celebrating Mass facing the altar or facing the people. And on the subject of language, it says Latin ought to be preserved while giving greater space to the vernacular…As for the participation of lay people, the Council insists first in general that the Liturgy concerns the entire Body of Christ, head and members, and that for this reason, it belongs to the entire Body of the Church and consequently the liturgy is to be celebrated in community with the active participation of the faithful.” And the text specifies: “In the liturgical celebrations, each person, whether as a minister or as one of the faithful, should perform his role by doing solely and totally what the nature of things and liturgical norms require of him. By way of promoting active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamation, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures and bodily attitudes. And at the proper time all should observe a reverent silence.”

        Then in terms of “fabrication” this is what he told them: “An average Christian without specialist liturgical formation would find it difficult to distinguish between a Mass sung in Latin according to the old Missal and a sung Latin Mass according to the new Missal. However, the difference between a liturgy celebrated faithfully according to the Missal of Paul VI and the reality of a vernacular liturgy celebrated with all the freedom and creativity that are possible – that difference can be enormous!”

        His entire 1998 talk can be found here:
        http://unavoce.org/resources/card-ratzingers-1998-address-at-anniv/

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #63:
        It’s a talk – geez, and so we handle this as if it is carved in stone; has the authority of an encyclical or even a motu proprio?

        Keep in mind the truism – * there is nothing deader than a dead pope* or, today, *there is nothing deader than a resigned pope*. When liturgy is dependent upon the whims of any given pope and his subjective thoughts, we are in trouble.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #66:
        You most especially. There are historical studies, etc.; accepted by researchers, historians, and peer reviewed that would dispute your allegation that all interpretations are subjective. Now that is real relativism.

  24. I have hesitated before weighing in on this thread. But I need to say that I have heard from a lot of people who have been greatly offended by Benedict’s remark about the “trivializing” (another report translated it as “banalizing”) of the liturgy. They are telling me that they have given their entire lives to the service of God’s people in the liturgy and its music, and to have their efforts rubbished by a man who is in his dotage and who does not have a sense of how things are at the coal face is more than they are willing to tolerate.

    It is quite clear that he does not realize, or is unwilling to admit, how many of the ecclesial evils he enumerates (falling attendances, closing of seminaries and convents) can be attributed to the after-effects of his predecessor’s issuing of Humanae Vitae and not to the liturgical reform at all, since the latter had scarcely begun when people, priests and nuns started to leave the Church in droves.

    I make no statement myself, merely pass on what others have been saying to me.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #52:

      It is quite clear that he does not realize, or is unwilling to admit, how many of the ecclesial evils he enumerates (falling attendances, closing of seminaries and convents) can be attributed to the after-effects of his predecessor’s issuing of Humanae Vitae and not to the liturgical reform at all, since the latter had scarcely begun when people, priests and nuns started to leave the Church in droves.

      With all due respect, I just don’t see how the data we have will allow us to blame most or all of what the Holy Father is talking about on Humanae Vitae.

      Never mind that vocations were already in steep decline (1966: 166,00; 1968: 147,000, with an even steeper drop of 40% in France, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Belgium and Canada)- and dispensation requests skyrocketing (1964: 640; 1968: 2,263) – well before 1968. The same is true for Mass attendance rates (which, admittedly, had begun sliding as early as 1958). I can’t help but suggest that you’re picking a too convenient target to fit a progressive narrative.

      Were some laity disappointed? No doubt. But many were already out the door.

      Is it too hard to believe that the dizzying pace of change in 1963-1970 was disorienting, and that new theologies reduced spiritual practice for many, however much they may have excited others?

      Allow me to suggest something else, however. Given what was unfolding in wider, secular society in the West, the Church would have taken a hit across the board in most places even had there been no Vatican II or no Humanae Vitae. As much as I’d like, I can’t blame what’s happened (at least not all of it) on the liturgical reforms.

      But to cherry pick Humanae Vitae – really, the sole “traditional victory” in an otherwise stunningly revolutionary period in Church history – as the blame victim in the face of overwhelming evidence of rapid declines in numbers in the years before the encyclical really is not sustainable.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #58:
        An American study at the University of Chicago in 1974 found that if it had not been for the “dizzying” change of 1964-1970, we would have taken a bigger “hit.”

        If we count HV as a victory, surely it was a pyrrhic one. And if conservatives or liberals see it solely in terms of wins and losses, then clearly, the message was missed, wouldn’t you say? Given the unpreparedness of the hierarchy for the opposition, HV, even if conceded as “good” theology, was most woefully implemented. Sort of like trying to build a house with garden tools instead of power tools.

        Clergy vocations, by the way, were in decline since 1947.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #62:
        Mr. Malcolm and Todd – two other studies have also posited:
        – celibacy; given the VII changes and expected changes, researchers indicate that, when Paul VI, did not address celibacy; many began to make up their own minds on this subject
        – HV – hard to concede that this was *good* theology given the historical research, actual publication on committee notes, Ford’s notes and meetings with Paul VI and Ottaviani, etc. The historical judgment on HV is that the decision had nothing to do with the *merits of the question or issue* – Paul VI vacillated and listened to the arguments that permission would have weakened papal authority (overturned Castii Connubi), weakened infallibility; and would have confused folks because it would have supported what Protestants had done.
        Ultimately, HV was another nail in the coffin of *collegiality* – rejected the committee (lay and clerical and theologians) and, like other issues, ignored episcopal conferences and their feedback. It impacted what some thought had been clarified about conscience in VII, etc.

        The decline in the clergy – as many of us have posted frequently on PTB, the huge clerical increase in the 40-50s was an anomly in church history. A more long range study over 150 years indicates that and puts the notion that vocations suddenly tanked in a different light.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #62:

        An American study at the University of Chicago in 1974 found that if it had not been for the “dizzying” change of 1964-1970, we would have taken a bigger “hit.”

        Do you have a cite for that?

        I’m not questioning its existence. I’d really like to read it.

        If we count HV as a victory, surely it was a pyrrhic one.

        In the short term, it was a victory for preserving the Church’s consistency and legitimacy in its teaching authority.

        Some people in the Church, of course, worked very hard to ensure that it would be . . . pyrrhic. Which brings me to:

        And if conservatives or liberals see it solely in terms of wins and losses, then clearly, the message was missed, wouldn’t you say?

        The message is bound to be missed if some clergy are working hard to ensure that it’s not delivered. One thinks of Cardinal Stafford’s recent testimony about how priests in Baltimore mobilized against Humanae Vitae in 1968 worked to persecute the minority of priests who tried to uphold the teaching.

        But that’s how a trahison des clercs usually works.

        Given the unpreparedness of the hierarchy for the opposition, HV, even if conceded as “good” theology, was most woefully implemented.

        I wouldn’t dispute that for second, given the foregoing.

  25. It appears that the construct of fabricated liturgies is put forward by those who apparently believe that the language,elements, order, and texts of the TLM fell right out of heaven beginning in the fourth century or so. More heavenly refinements manifested themselves in certain centuries after that culminating of course with the promulgation of the post-Tridentine Missale Romanum by Pius V. To me this thinking represents a kind of liturgical fundamentalism or liturgicalism. The Missal of Paul VI was promulgated with the full authority of both the Pope and the College of Bishops, so many of whom played an active role in its publication. Was it of a lesser authority than those responsible for the former missals? The Novus Ordo Missae is the legitimate successor to the 1962 Missal. To regard it as something lesser is an expression of personal taste and preference. The NOM may be celebrated with various degrees of solemnity either entirely in Latin, entirely in the vernacular, some of each, facing towards or away from the people. Our Mass for the First Sunday in Lent begins with the Kyrie, a gospel acclamation in Latin, a response to the intercessory prayers in Spanish, English, and Vietnamese, Taize and Latin chants, and the Agnus Dei. All of this by assemblies who have mastered the singing of numerous compositions of the ordinary……and……all this while loving a number of songs by Haugen and Haas.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #53:
      It appears that the construct of fabricated liturgies is put forward by those who apparently believe that the language,elements, order, and texts of the TLM fell right out of heaven beginning in the fourth century or so.

      That’s basically exactly the opposite of their point. Go read Klaus Gamber’s book and Alcuin Reid’s book on the development of the liturgy and you’ll see that. The very point is the development of the liturgy by gradual development.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #55:

        Hello Samuel,

        Go read Klaus Gamber’s book and Alcuin Reid’s book on the development of the liturgy and you’ll see that. The very point is the development of the liturgy by gradual development.

        Exactly so.

  26. What in the liturgy was not fabricated? What is the difference between fabrication in 4th century Rome and 21st century Sydney?

  27. Given then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s track record of critical comments about post-conciliar liturgy, as summarized in a number of comments here, I thought it quite possible, when he was elevated to the Chair of Peter, that he would direct a more aggressive implementation of a liturgical hermeneutic of reform. I expected more attention to liturgy than was the case with John Paul II, whose wide-ranging writings sometimes seemed to touch on every possible topic except liturgy.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are many so-called traditionalists who had similar thoughts (and hopes) and are now disappointed in looking back on Benedict’s legacy of relatively minor liturgical accomplishments. Changing “one in being with” to “consubstantial” is an interesting topic to discuss on a blog, but in the grand scheme of things, it hardly causes the tectonic plates of Catholic worship to shift.

    Of the post-conciliar popes so far, it is clear (to me, at least) that there is one giant of liturgical renewal: Montini. The three who have followed him have mostly seemed content to nudge the rudder a bit.

  28. ”Liturgy by committee”

    Any time there is to be a Book for the liturgy, any time that “say the black do the red” is to have any meaning at all, then there has to be a committee. Truly “organic” liturgy would be passed from community to community, evolving slowly and gently over time. But since 1570, the Church has had an order that a single Missal is to be used, a certified copy of a specific original. Some group needs to put that Missal together, or to advise the pope who promulgates it. Today “the black and the red” are tightly controlled, even kept under copyright. There are formal and informal mechanisms for enforcing compliance with the set text. Of necessity, we have “liturgy by committee”.

    By the way, what was the much-maligned “committee” that we blame for the modern liturgy? It cannot have been Consilium, which was not even formed until 1964; by then most of the neuralgic and “inorganic” changes (concelebration, vernacular, celebration facing the people, etc.) had already been introduced in some form. So what was it? When did it first meet?

    Una Voce, the federation of traditionalist societies, has just released a new “position paper” on the 1955 Holy Week reform – the reform that, among other things, moved the Easter Vigil back to the evening of Holy Saturday. Before that, for many years, it had been “anticipated” and celebrated in the morning. Una Voce don’t approve of the 1955 reforms. I cite this simply as one example of a difference in what is “organic” and what is not.

    I readily grant that the 20th century saw much faster change in the Missal than the preceding 300 years. Does that make it “inorganic”? I continue to think that this concept, like “liturgy by committee”, is far too loose to be in any way useful.

    What might replace these vague concepts? Would it not be better to have a set of criteria by which any proposed change could be evaluated? Criteria where there could at least be some intersubjective agreement?

  29. Maybe fabrication refers to the production process, ie the printing press fabricates new missals.

    Perhaps we should go back to the old ways, and hand copy the missals. That could be part of a priest’s training, copying out a missal for him to use.

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #70:

      As was inferred before, it’s just another red herring thrown out by fans of the old Mass trying to delegitimize the Mass of Paul VI. It’s really sad, but they’ll keep doing it as long as there is the ability to use the old Mass.

  30. Dale Rodrigue : …and the ability to use the old Mass may begin to wane under the new pontiff.

    Which would be a shame – the Church has more pressing matters than to suppress a perfectly fine Missal used by a minority of Catholics that, despite the constant complaining of an even smaller minority of Catholics, has yet to be proven to have any sort of negative effect.

    Honestly, those who think the old Mass should be abolished in this day and age make no sense to me whatsoever. I’ve read this blog for years and a good reason to oppose the EF has yet to show itself. Perhaps I’m just too liberal or something.

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