The Future of Vatican II Liturgical Renewal

This week Pray Tell is posting the talks and panels from the 2014 Collegeville Conference on Liturgy, Music, and the Arts. The following is a video of one of the talks given at the conference.


By Rita Ferrone

The past fifty years since the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium have been a tumultuous time in the world of liturgy-one which has included excitement, change, and hope, as well as disappointment, resistance, and critique. Not without cost, the liturgical renewal has also shared in a fundamental and irrevocable way the Council’s desire for deeper engagement with Sacred Scripture, ecumenism, evangelization, dialogue with other religions, and solidarity with all people. What is the state of Vatican II-inspired liturgical renewal today? What healthy developments might we look forward to in the future? What are the “idols” we must do battle with, in order to worship the one true God? What are the wellsprings of hope that give us courage for the journey?




  1. In the 80’s, and even into the early 90’s, I was convinced we had put the nonsense of the 70’s and 50’s behind us. But the latter returned with something of a vengeance.

    Instead of continuing to refine translations and a renewal of the sacramental life, we’ve endured the hermeneutic of complaint for the past two decades, enabled and encouraged by dissenters within the curia and outside of it.

    I feel somewhat more hopeful these days, especially that the activity of the Temple Police has faded somewhat and universal priorities seem more aligned to the serious matter of evangelization and dialogue.

    For complainers to be in retreat: this is good. I feel badly for their discouragement, but I think every believer is finding a challenge to go deeper than where they’ve been, be it the externals of reform, that zealous advocacy for an orthodoxy-of-the-moment, or a casual Catholicism that suggests an entitlement.

  2. This lecture, while in many ways very good, fills me with a great sense of discomfort. It trades in binary opposites and value judgments too casually. It gives the impression that the speaker once to say something like the following: “those who disagree with us are temple police, complainers and even idolaters, while these labels never apply to us and those we agree with. There is no possible way to criticize the reform without disowning it, you’re either with us or against us mentality. There is only one possible narrative given of the post-vatican ii reform. ” This is to say nothing of the caricatures that it repeats.
    One reason why Summorum Pontificum was a great gift to the church was that it made it impossible to take such narratives at face value by creating the conditions for a dialectical relationship between the old and new, instead of the new just looking at the old and basing in its own perceived superiority.

    1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #2:
      Stanislaus – your comments have become more and more disconnected, defensive, and ridiculous (and Mr. Johnston only reinforced this in the earlier post – #28 on second page, July 12th, 3:33PM).
      You state – #26 on second page, July 12th – “….i’m talking about the priest getting to make up options of his own when he sees fit. (e.g making up a eucharistic prayer, omitting the pentitential rite, omitting the chasuble having the lay people come up the altar to take the host themselves and dip it into the chalice)”
      In reply to Rita’s presentation, you now say – ” There is only one possible narrative given of the post-vatican ii reform. ” This is to say nothing of the caricatures that it repeats.”

      Really – your July 12th list is a caricature. (and Mr. Johnston – to reinforce this is *twaddle*) Haven’t heard anyone make up a EP since the early 1970s; chasuble – same thing except for concelebration and then my bias is against those priests who wear flimsy albs that are sheer and can be seen through (like clerical lingerie) and then with a stole that is so small you can barely see it); And when it gets down to it – missing chasuble will result in what? What about an alternate list that many of us lived through – bishops, monsignors, pastors that prevented the people of God from communion under both kinds for 20+ years (using nonsensical reasoning); wars over whether girls or women can enter the sanctuary; wars over whether folks who proclaim scripture are *readers* or *lectors*; and let’s not even get into the restriction of sacraments from the people of God – limiting baptism; restricting matrimony; weird ideas about who can be anointed; all kinds of rules around confirmation. Yep, the Temple Police are alive and well..
      As Rita said, VII/SC focused on baptism and eucharist. She highlighted VII goals – robust signs/symbols, ecumenism (what does SP have to do about this?); sacramental theology development.
      SP – you say – *a great gift* – *because it made it impossible to take such narratives at face value by creating a dialectical relationship* – really? (do you know the *full* meaning of a dialectic?) Could have sworn that VII was a dialogue and subsequent liturgical development (read the history) was driven by the overwhelming episcopal conferences requesting even more changes, enculturation, etc.
      Your version of history ignores 20 years of development; picks and chooses from the *retardation and turning back* of Benedict and JPII to a degree and the folks they named in the curia (you do realize that some of the CDW heads knew nothing about liturgy and yet made universal declarations?).
      Sorry – you are writing a *caricature*; revisionist history that has no foundation and hangs by the thread of a unilateral, papal motu proprio whose opinion is misguided, at best.

      Sorry – found your summary and criticism of Rita’s talk to miss almost everything she focused on (she spent 15 minutes on water, baptism, etc.) and your conclusion – she is *too binary*. Your criticism is a caricature that comes from your own biased ideology and has nothing to do with any attempt at dialogue – just cheap judgment.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #6:

        I find your reading comprehension skills to be very lacking to say the least. When did I say that there is one post-vatican ii narrative possible? If you actually bothered to read my post you would see that I said that Rita’s lecture gives the impression that there is only one narrative possible.
        You say that I have a caricatured revisionist version of history. Where do I present it?
        You say that I provide a bad summary of Rita’s talk, can you show me where I wrote a summary of her talk?

        I don’t understand why you’re critiquing a comment I made on another post here, but all of those things I have listed, I have seen occur many many times, by priests who were proud of doing them. If you think i’m lying then there’s nothing for us to talk about. Also, where do I deny that other kinds of abuses didn’t happen or didn’t matter? My list of abuses was only meant to be an example of priests taking themselves to have an authority in the arena of liturgy that they do not have.

        When I say that Rita’s talk is too binary, I simply mean that it understands the issues that she discuses in terms of strong opposites:
        1, you have the good reformers carrying on the work of Vatican II.
        2. you have people who are trying to make the reform optional, reverse it, or minimise it.
        In her speech, the labels “temple police” “complainer” “idolaters” apply to the latter group but not the former.

        Finally, by saying that SP allows for a dialectical understanding of history I mean that it allows people today to look at the pre-reformed rite and the reformed rite side by side and compare the too and ascertain for themselves what the reform did right and what it did wrong. Without such a comparison people are simple stuck with being told how the old rite was and how the new rite fixed it, by looking at both rites people can decide for themselves whether or not this description is accurate.

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #6:
        Really? I heard a Priest make up the words of Institution at Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown within the last 6 months. Literally – MADE THEM UP.

      3. @Sean Whelan – comment #13:

        My point was a response to deHaas who was dismissing the whole concept of people making up their own Eucharistic Prayer. It was direct and to the point.

      4. @Todd Orbitz – comment #19:
        Did he make up the Eucharistic prayer really though or did he use an approved version that you’re not aware of such as the Euch prayers for reconciliation etc etc? I’ve heard ill informed ‘traditionalists’ moaning the same kind of thing in exactly these circumstances. I’ve also known some who just fabricated stories to prove an argument of undermine V2 – not that you would do such a thing, of course!

        Also many of those scandalous liturgical abuse videos are actually from protestant or other churches rather than catholic – not that it stops them being circulated.

      5. @Andrew rex – comment #20:
        I have no idea on the overall Eucharistic Prayer as to whether he made it up. It was the Words of Institution that he fabricated.

        “Take this, take it in your hands, honor and abide in His love, for this is His body which was given up for us.”

        The second consecration was just as wacky and lacked the proper form.

        I am not making it up. This occurred in Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown.

      6. @Sean Whelan – comment #40:
        Again, my comments have nothing to do with the old rite. I actually do attend it sometimes because its easier to manage my children at that rite. Quite frankly, I have no personal preference, and the daily Mass I attend is at the Cathedral in Washington, DC. It’s the regular rite / not the tridentine one.

      7. @Todd Orbitz – comment #23:
        At my daughter’s first communion in Belgium, a little over a decade ago, the plan was to have Christ’s words over the bread be “this is I” (“dit ben ik”), since whatever committee planned the event thought “this is my body” would be confusing or even scary to the children (there was a similar “translation” of the words over the cup). I intervened at the eleventh hour (more like eleven hours and fifty-nine minutes — I spoke to the priest in the sacristy just as the procession was about to start) and got the traditional words added.

        So while the horror stories are not the norm, they do happen.

      8. @Todd Orbitz – comment #12:
        Todd, you’ve received a lot of responses to your experience already, but let me say for the record that this is a red herring. I am sorry you had that experience, and even sorrier if there is a priest out there who thinks this is appropriate. But it’s hardly a phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation.

        The question is, what do we do about incidents of this kind. There is no answer that fits every case, but I think the thing we DON’T want to do — which was the favored response of the hyper-centralized mindset in Redemptionis Sacramentum — is to send these criticisms straight to Rome. Pope Francis, very rightly I think, is looking to reduce the role of the Vatican as complaint bureau.

        Subsidiarity. Bring your concern to the campus minister at Dahlgren.

        We do need to practice attention to celebrating the rites correctly as they are, with style and grace but not as an improv opportunity. Making it up as we go along is not what I mean about being able to relax a bit and enjoy our rites again.

        But maybe you didn’t listen to the talk? You were responding the Bill, I think, who is correct in his general impression that liturgy today is celebrated with much more sobriety and responsible attention to rubrics than it was right after the Council when many people felt it was timely to “experiment.”

        A lot depends on whether you see the priest at the Dahlgren Chapel as an outlier or the mainstream. I would say this is an extremely unusual story.

      9. @Rita Ferrone – comment #37:
        With respect to Redemtionis Sacramentum, it did not suggest sending complaints straight to Rome. It first suggested sending them to the Bishop. Section 183/184 are the relevant sections:

        6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

        [183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

        [184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.[290] It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.:

    2. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #2:
      Stanislaus, thanks for engaging. I do not agree that what you call “binary opposites” in my talk are either casual or represent sloppy thinking. Occasionally a jargon word appears, but that is in the nature of oral presentation, and not inappropriate.

      Idolatry is an ever-present danger in religious terms, and my goal in using that term was to draw attention to what I see as truly pernicious ways of thinking which are attractive, but false, paths. I think I gave context to it with the quote from Jon Sobrino.

      I do not think anything I said here suggests that it is not possible to criticize the reform without disowning it. What I think some people want to do is to criticize it in order to disown it substantially while paying lip service to it superficially. That is what I reject. I thought I made it clear that there is a central agenda in the reform, in terms of central symbols and the four aims of the council and that to talk about the future of the reform and not its repeal one has to respect that agenda.

      You criticize my talk for giving one possible narrative only. You have mistaken the goal and theme of the talk. My task was not to give multiple narratives. The existence of competing narratives is well known, and it was not my theme to address them. What I was doing is talking about the future of Vatican II reform from within the narrative that I believe to be the most substantially correct and well-founded.

      It is also the case that what I presented, in the main, represents the majority opinion of most scholars concerning the narrative of the reform. Summorum Pontificum has not changed that fact in the slightest. Again, it was not my task to debate whether the reform should have happened or not. The question is, where do we go from here.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #34:

        Thank you so much for your response, I really appreciate it.
        Tthe part that throws me off the most is that you label Summorum Pontificum as a reaction against the council, whereas the document itself operates from within a specific approach to interpreting the council. (I.e. The document does not see a contradiction in the two forms of the mass being celebrated side by side not because it rejects the council but because of how it understands the council. ) In light of this, I find it strange that you would call it a reaction against the council full stop. It is difficult for me to see that as anything other than an implicit criticism of this other narrative.
        Also, While it is true that the majority of scholars share your narrative that doesn’t mean that other narratives of the council lack influence or are on their way out. (E.g. Pope Francis himself has expressed agreement with Benedict’s approach to interpreting the council on numerous occasions and as recently as a month ago), as a result it seems strange that you would talk about the future of the liturgical renewal in terms of getting “back on track” and in terms of Francis’ papacy without mentioning these other narratives. it still seems like a glaring oversight.
        It is because of elements such as those just mentioned that made me take your talk as suggesting implicitly that anyone who disagrees with your narrative is reacting against the council.
        I do admit that it has been over a week since I watched your talk, and if you believe that the comments just made involve misinterpretations then I will gladly rewatch it.

  3. Todd, judging from the few casual visits I now make to this blog, I don’t think the hermeneutic of complaint shows any sign of going away. It’s been replaced by a different group that is louder and focusses all its efforts on what should be non issues.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #3:
      Thanks for responding, Jack.

      I’m not sure that evangelization, mission, and dialogue are non-issues. They weren’t even non-issues during the decades of retrenchment (1992-2013). I hope we can clear away some of the clutter of the past twenty years and get to work–in faith communities. Not necessarily the internet.

  4. Stanley, how can tension be avoided when it is clear that the 1962 missal is the very one reformed by the Council fathers, two popes, and the bishops of the world. We can certainly have conversations about the Rites that emerged from these reforms, but it is well known from history that when new MR is issued it replaces the former one. This doesn’t require us to dismiss the 1962 form out of hand, but it clearly needs to be reformed. You certainly want the NO reformed to reflect what you believe are the true wishes of the council fathers, do you not. I have little problem with such proposals as part of the dialogue for ongoing development of the Roman Rite. But to insist that the old rite be left untouched and to maintain its superiority is not going to advance the ball. When I read in these pages how you and others would welcome appropriate reforms of the 1962 Missal, I will be very willing to field proposals about the NO.

  5. Todd – evangelization, mission, and dialogue are obviously not what I referred to when talking about the non issues that seem to be discussed above all others here.

    The hermeneutic of complaint is alive and well with all these discussions about how the liturgical renewal is in danger, SP is dividing the Church, etc. There is very little here about why the liturgical renewal is good unto itself and what should be done to make it better apart from contrasting it with the rite celebrated by the small minority I belong to. Those who believe in the reform have more power, money, and numbers than the EF and Reform2 folks have ever had. We aren’t the ones standing in the way no matter how much some may try.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #10:
      “There is very little here about why the liturgical renewal is good unto itself and what should be done to make it better..”


      I think my talk was very much about why the reform was good in itself, and how it can be made better (although my second talk, on Pope Francis, is the one that leaned more into the practical). I simply do not think that the way to make it better is to try to make it more like what it replaced.

      If there is little talk in the thread about the reform being good in itself, it’s not because of the post.

  6. Alan- Yes, the hermeneutic of complaint is just a fancy term for moaning. Mostly online moaning. Some people actually think that people with traditional leanings are the only ones who complain, and that this complaining is a problem so serious it actually justifies cracking down on real traditional Mass communities.You know, because getting to know real people is harder than reading a couple blogs.

    Truth be told, I’m not even serious when using the term.

    Oh, and I support dropping the terms “Temple Police” and clown Mass, though the latter isn’t much used here.

  7. Andrew rex : @Todd Orbitz – comment #19:I’ve also known some who just fabricated stories to prove an argument of undermine V2

    Also known as the urban legend that persists today of the ever dreaded “clown mass.”

    The whole ROTF is based on one thing — force the NO mass to become the tridentine mass. It’s a one way street because no effort to reform the tridentine mass will be brooked. For so called “traditionalist” its “reform your mass but keep your hands off mine.”

  8. I do not understand some of the mean spirited reactions to what Rita has said in this talk. There is no winning or losing in worship and I really feel that when liturgy becomes a combat zone over styles we lose contact with the central mystery of what we are about as a believing people.

    Liturgy is an act of approaching God with open hearts so that we can experience him in a radical new way. How we worship matters, it either has the power to transform us or it leaves us stuck where we are.

    Many if not most liturgies I have participated in are far from what they could or should be. Sometimes it was my fault for not bringing the proper disposition to the liturgy, but often it is because everything is just thrown together with little planning.

    As priests are forced to “say” more masses, I can’t help but believe that the quality of those masses will suffer, but it goes beyond this.

    When we enter liturgy we should encounter the sacred, but in many reformed liturgical settings, the emphasis has been on the participation of the people to the exclusion of the sacred. This needs to change.

  9. Todd Orbitz, Forgive me, but do you realize that there are real people in the real world who endure real suffering. Please stop the fussing.

  10. During the middle ages when most of the village clergy were semi-literate, I wonder how often the due and accurate form of the words was missed. Hopefully God supplied …….

    1. @Alan Johnson – comment #26:
      I wasn’t addressing the old rite, or semi-literate Priests. I was addressing an issue where a Ph.D. Priest in Semitics intentionally did not use the words of Institution.

  11. Rita (et al.).: thank you so much for your talk. There were two things I very strongly agreed with you about.

    1) That people should be careful about becoming “obsessed” (to use a Francis-can term) with the issue of our liturgy. I agree strongly that it is often the case that people who are obsessed about the liturgy to a legalistic degree (or any other variety of issues, for that matter) are distracting themselves from serious issues in their souls. We always have to keep our eyes on the prize. The second we lose charity, we lose Christ.

    That the liturgy isn’t a pizza that you order and decide on your toppings… “I’ll have a 2-hour liturgy with… Gregorian chant, guitar, liturgical dancers, conservative male priests/homilist, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and…. Actually, can I make this pontifical?” Lex orandi lex credendi. This is a central issue, and I think the Concilium knew this well when they reformed our liturgy.

    Having said that, I completely disagree with most of what you (Rita) said, especially hat that where the liturgy is now (and certainly where the liturgy was in the 1970s and 80s) is an improvement from the pre-conciliar. To talk about this, we can go in two different paths. We can talk about liturgy, in which we will shout out at eachother quotes from the Didache, Parsch, Boyer, Guardini, Jungmann until we are sufficiently disgusted; or, we can talk about the philosphical background behind the council (and many of these liturgists), and try to find some points of agreement from which we can actually have a meaningful conversation, rather than shouting arguments that never intersect (Ecumenism! Chastity! Feminism! Celibacy!) I believe the second path is much more useful, and anything beyond that is more-or-less a waste of time.

  12. (A third path, though, can be argued as thus: The millennial generation’s defining characteristic, I believe, is that we desire the authentic. We seek it out everywhere. Millennial don’t want to just listen to Simon and Garfunkle. They want to purchase those whatchamacallit-giant-CDs (LPs) and listen to Simon and Garfunkle as they were listened to by their parents in the 1960s and 70s. My opinion, formed by this Millenial-generation hegemony, is this: the authentic beauty of the pre-conciliar liturgy has been replaced by the contrived false-art of the post-conciliar liturgy, and as a result it has lost its former ability to woo. The post-conciliar Liturgy was not the imagination of the council fathers or St. John XXIII or even Paul VI. It was the imagination of some of the members of the Concilium (read, as I’m sure you have, Annibelle Bugnini’s Reform of the Liturgy). Nothing about the new liturgy was organic, and as a result it has become irrelevant to my generation. (This explains why many of my friends are looking into eastern spiritualities– they hunger for real, authentic spirituality.)

    Again, though, this begs the question: what is beauty? What is authentic? Why does it even matter? It seems to me that before we can really talk about the liturgy we need to talk epistemology, ecumenism, ontology, biblical criticism, the whole shabang. Otherwise, we are two different camps that are going to be shouting at each other and not really get at the core of what we’re discussing.

    At any rate, despite my strong disagreement with most of what you said, thank you for your passion. That is the passion of one with a sincere desire to bring people to Christ. )

    1. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #30:
      Brendan Ruelas, thank you for your thoughtful comments and for the note of charity which you brought to your overall disagreement with my assessment of the reform.

      You say that “Nothing about the new liturgy was organic, and as a result it has become irrelevant to my generation.” This sweeping generalization is one I would disagree with most emphatically. Of course it depends on what you mean by organic, and what your assumptions are about reform.

      If organic means change is a slow and invisible process, then you’ve ruled out reform altogether. Yet there have been reforms in history, and that has not deprived other eras from regarding the resulting liturgy as an organic product. Every reform of the liturgy in history has introduced discontinuities as well as preserved elements that came before. It has been argued that knowing what we know about the history of the liturgy and the ancient sources, the synthesis that was reached after the Council is actually far more traditional than that which emerged after Trent. (That was the position of my mentor, Aidan Kavanagh.)

      I’m also not so sure the reformed liturgy is irrelevant to your generation. To get beyond the surface we’d have to look more closely at actual data, which I believe paint a complex picture. One of the strong themes of the rejection of religion in the “nones” generation, for instance, is the politicization of religion. Another is the perceived rejection of gays and lesbians. I am not at all sure that the supposedly “inauthentic” reformed shape of the liturgy is all that important if these are the decisive factors, listed the most often and most prominently among young people.

      That said, there is plenty of phoniness going around in general, not limited to the reform of the liturgy, so I don’t want to suggest that we have no concerns here about authenticity. Especially in moral questions we have a long way to go in honesty and fairness in our dealings with one another.

  13. Rita,

    Thanks for your response.

    1) My definition of “organic” is “authentic” and keeping in the spirit of continuity. My assumption of the reform is that it was led by “modernists” (which I mean not in the pejorative sense– I sincerely mean, those who embrace modernist philosophies and ideologies, i.e., Descartes, nominalism, Marx, etc.).

    2) I understand that the Church has made changes in the past, but surely you see that the post-Vatican II reforms was a much more dramatic change than the Tridentine reforms. For instance, allowing pop-styled music into the Liturgy (which, interestingly enough, every pre-conciliar document prohibited, but suddenly it’s OK after Vatican II, which says nothing of it). Even if we take for granted the assumption that early Christian liturgical practices are the ideal, there’s no historical evidence that something equivalent to what we call pop music was used in the early Church, yet suddenly we were having Kyries sung in the style of Broadway tunes. Another example–versus populum worship. Ad orientem worship is not only one of the most ancient practices in the Church, but one of the most universal practices among the different rites of the Church. Yet we change this as well (for the sake of, really, an ideology). These two aspects alone represent major changes in the liturgy that we have not seen in the Church, at least in the last 1000 years.

    3) But again, all of this comes down to philosophy. While I would agree about your point about the church attendance data painting a complex picture with various factors involved (such as politicization of religion, issues related to homosexuality, contraception, etc.), I do believe Liturgy plays a central part. All of this points to a much deeper struggle between two different camps. Essentially, we’re arguing between team Enlightenment and team Aristotle/Aquinas. We can go on arguing about which aspects of the liturgy are right or wrong, but until we resolve these deeper issues, we’re not going to get anywhere.

    1. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #39:
      Brendan, thanks again for these further clarifying comments.

      As you know, one of the goals of the Second Vatican Council was updating to the times, so that the presentation of the faith would be better able to speak to modern people. I think it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to square the circle and say you can update to the times without involving modern philosophy at all.

      The question comes down to this: do you employ any philosophical system of any age uncritically? Unless you want to argue that Aristotelian thought comes directly from the hand of God, and I’m sure you don’t, one also has to take this philosophical set of ideas provisionally and subject to critique, just as one takes modern or postmodern philosophy. The Council did not accept modern philosophies uncritically. The views it expressed of divine revelation, for instance, have little in common with systematic doubt, and much more in common with the presentation of the faith in Sacred Scripture.

      We won’t solve this question here this morning, but I am grateful to you for raising it. I am perhaps more optimistic about the liturgy as an exercise of the faithful that endures and adapts through changing modes of thought as the community called by God lives in history. There is certainly a lot of evidence that it did so in the past, from its birth in a Jewish milieu, through its adoption by pagans in antiquity, on to the response to invading societies at the end of late antiquity and into the middle ages, and beyond.

      Peace. If I have time later, I’ll respond to your other points as well. Busy day here.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #41:

        Thanks for taking the time to respond. I, too, have a busy day, so respond at your leisure. But I think we’re entering into the crux of the matter.

        While I believe wholeheartedly the Church should be reasonably open to modern philosophies, I believe modern philosophy is inherently flawed. The assumption that modern philosophy has taken has been that Aristotle and Aquinas were wrong, Descartes and Kant were right. But (to make a long story short) this sort of ideology has led the secular world to adopt strong postmodernist/relativist beliefs. This has influenced the post-conciliar reform in a lot of areas. For example: ecumenism. While ecumenism in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, how have we been practicing ecumenism? Is the Catholic faith simply equal to all other faiths? Obviously, we cannot not believe this as Catholics. So why do we host, for example, inter-religious prayer gatherings in our churches?

        Here’s a question that we will be able to relate to philosophy: Why do you believe versus populum worship to be, presently, better in our liturgy than ad orientem?

      2. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #45:
        Why wouldn’t one argue that all human-made philosophy is flawed in the sense that it is imperfect, and often founded on incorrect information. That would be the skepticism many would bring to Aristotle. He was just wrong on so many things. Does his misinterpretation of the physical universe mean that perhaps the underpinnings of some of his philosophy are untenable?

        You didn’t ask me, but I would observe that so-called versus populum is an extension of the Catholic desire to see and believe. Why would a priest hide the elements and the rituals of the “most important” moments of the Mass? Is ad orientem a sort of stealth Gnosticism?

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #47:
        I think it’s kind of lazy to just say that because Aristotle was wrong on some things means that he’s wrong on all things and we shouldn’t even bother with him. To those critical of him I would ask: why don’t you read him yourself and find out? Why don’t you read Aquinas and find out? Sadly, nobody in the modern world bothers to read either because they are putting all their trust in modern philosophy.

        Why did the ancient Hebrews “hide” the holy of holies?

    2. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #39:
      A reminder that not every Catholic embraces the notion of continuity as a religious or spiritual virtue. I would argue to the contrary, that quite often in times of grace, God calls people and communities to experiences of substantial change, reform, and renewal.

      Continuity is an important characteristic for believers more than seekers and non-Catholics. So what is the Church and its liturgy for? Do we exist to calm ourselves? Or are we here for a mission looking outside of ourselves, to persons who have no experience of the “continuity” of the “in crowd”?

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #43:
        Not every Catholic may embrace it, but the Church certainly has! Read every pre-Vatican II document on the liturgy. Then read some post-conciliar documents. SC is perhaps not as strong as these, but our faith is more than just Vatican II.

      2. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #48:
        I find more inspiration for this in the lives of the saints, and in the Bible than pre-conciliar reflections on the liturgy. Saint Paul did not continue as a Pharisee persecuting Christians after his conversion to Christ. He made a total break from the past.

        Our faith is indeed much more than Vatican II or Trent. The sacramental life is another source of reflection on the invitation to discontinuity and renewal. These are the tragic errors of many Catholic traditionalists: to ignore the witness of men and women who not only embraced personal upheaval, but sought it out in faith, and found great grace in doing so.

        And to be clear, I’m not advocating an all-out dismissal of Aristotle. I’m with Rita’s suggestion that we look at him and others critically. While I am not fluent in Greek, I have read some of Aristotle–and I accept that science (my undergraduate specialty) today treats him with disdain. And I am certainly familiar with Aquinas. I would not assume that people who bring critique to scholasticism are unfamiliar with A&A. Personally, I don’t find much enlightening in the Enlightenment either.

        But yes, I could be labelled as anti-continuity. I just don’t see the attraction.

  14. Brendon Ruelas : Rita, Even if we take for granted the assumption that early Christian liturgical practices are the ideal, there’s no historical evidence that something equivalent to what we call pop music was used in the early Church, yet suddenly we were having Kyries sung in the style of Broadway tunes.

    Perhaps not in the early Church, but there is plenty of precedent for use of “pop” styles in the tradition as a whole. We forget that opera was once a “pop” style. My own view is that some of the pop styles in the tradition are sublime and suitable for liturgical use; others, not so much. But simply labeling something “pop” does not, historically speaking, rule it out of bounds.

    As for lack of precedent for versus populum worship, there are plenty of ancient churches in Rome where it is physically impossible for the celebrant to face the apse. I suspect that they didn’t have the same motivation as modern reformers in adopting this position, but the position itself is hardly without precedent.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #42:
      Music with an operatic style was (rightfully) banned by Pius X’s document Tra Le Sollecitudini.

      (On a side note: as an opera fan, I believe opera continues to be something like a “pop” style, just not in the modern sense of the term (perhaps more comparable to modern Broadway music.))

      I’ll concede that I went overboard in saying there was no precedent for versus populum worship, but as you pointed out, the motivation was very different. This again points to philosophical undertones.

      1. @Brendon Ruelas – comment #46:

        The funny thing is that for weddings in Washington, DC, they pretty much still have the black list, so one will have problems having certain versions of the Ave Maria — but if you want Be Not Afraid, or They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love — no problem whatsoever.

  15. Brendon Ruelas : @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #42: Music with an operatic style was (rightfully) banned by Pius X’s document Tra Le Sollecitudini.

    True, but we were talking about precedent, not legislation. There has been all sorts of liturgical legislation over the years, much of it ignored, but that’s something different from the organic development of the liturgy, right?

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #49:
      Actually, most of the musical legislation we have has been since 1903.

      True, but organic development doesn’t exclude some sort of legislation– I’m not arguing that. But legislation must be done with a sense of continuity in order to preserve the spirit and authenticity of the Liturgy. In terms of opera-styled music (which I believe existed far too long), Pius was concerned about the music being so disconnected from chant that the liturgy resembled more of a concert rather than a Mass.

      The Concilium, I believe, failed reform the Liturgy in the authentic, organic spirit of continuity, and so ended up with a new Liturgy altogether, which was representative of their ideology.

  16. Rita Ferrone : @Todd Orbitz – comment #12: Todd, you’ve received a lot of responses to your experience already, but let me say for the record that this is a red herring.


    You may think this is an outlier experience, and I will be the first to admit that it happens less regularly today than it did in the 80’s or the 90’s.

    However, this type of thing is not uncommon.

    Yes, we could all self-segregate into our little ghettos – the traditionalists in their tridentine ghetto, the conservatives in the ROTR ghetto, the progressives in their liturgical ghetto. But NONE of this is Catholic. A Catholic should be able to go to any Church, and within the legitimate alternatives offered in the liturgy, experience basically the same thing.

    One thing that DOES NOT CHANGE is matter and form. That is a necessary prerequisite.

    It is not a red herring, and asserting it is one is a great way to dismiss a person.

    Yes, I was NOT responding to you, but another poster.

    1. @Todd Orbitz – comment #53:
      Ir’s a red herring because (A) it is extremely uncommon. and (B) you are derailing the thread to talk about something that is off-topic.

      Enough. Please get back on topic or find a thread that wants to talk about matter and form and make your comments there.

      1. Rita Ferrone :Ir’s a red herring because (A) it is extremely uncommon. and (B) you are derailing the thread to talk about something that is off-topic.

        Enough. Please get back on topic or find a thread that wants to talk about matter and form and make your comments there.

        Nice. Fine. I ill address your questions directly then.

        What are the “idols” we must do battle with, in order to worship the one true God? What are the wellsprings of hope that give us courage for the journey?

        The “idols” that I find are particularly troubling are those where the Presiders/Presbyters feel compelled to make the liturgy “their on” by changing its matter and form. For instance, I saw that occur in Dahlgren Chapel recently. Whether e should engage in battle here is debateable. And a good topic for this thread.

        Some think this is “extremely uncommon”. I think it is not.

        The wellspring of hope that I find is therein contained in Redemptionis Sacramentum as it genuinely takes into consideration the little ones ho have been scandalized.

        Perhaps we should consider those uneducated people and come down from our academic thrones? I know it might be a humbling event for us, but one that we might consider engaging in.

      2. @Sean Whelan – comment #59:
        Funny thing is I wrote to the Jesuits on campus, tracked mail with receipt. I have heard nothing back. I figured I would do this BEFORE I informed the Bishop.

        It’s a mistake when they don’t even reply.

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