The End of the ‘Reform of the Reform’: The Brief History of a Self-Referential Delusion

by Andrea Grillo

The combination of three little events, only tangentially connected, have in recent days marked out an important moment for the Catholic liturgy. These events are, in order: a statement issued by the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on June 29, a talk delivered at a conference by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship on July 5, and a statement from the Holy See Press Office on July 11. The sequence of these three events leads us to a conclusion that, while unexpected, is also completely fitting.

But let’s go in order.

The Three Events in Succession

In an SSPX communique, superior general Bishop Fellay marks a change of seasons, saying that he now awaits a successor of Pope Francis. Efforts at reconciliation, which had begun under John Paul II and received new impetus with Pope Benedict, seem to have reached a standstill. In reality, the SSPX’s demands were always too high and their recognitions of Vatican II ever more vague.

A few days later, at Cardinal Sarah’s conference talk in London, came a nod toward themes that have characterized the process of “opening” toward the Lefebvrists. The desire for deeper communion in the church – a highly desirable thing – merged with the call for a “reform of the reform.” It has been hoped by some that the rapprochement with Lefebvre might lead to “normalizing” the post-conciliar liturgy (and church). Cardinal Sarah’s imprudent words express the intention to reorient ad orientem all altars (and all priests), starting this coming Advent. Never, at the official level, has the effort to contradict the conciliar program been so clear.

Lastly, in the Press Office statement, three decisive principles are affirmed. First, the desire to safeguard the value of the Eucharist must proceed according to what was established by the Council and by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which foresees “altars detached from the wall.” Second, this must be the ordinary pastoral practice of the church, which cannot be considered replaced by the “extraordinary form.” And third, the statement further notes that “it is better to avoid using the expression ‘the reform of the reform,’ referring to the liturgy, given that this has sometimes been the source of misunderstanding.” These three assertions represent the final blow to the self-referential dream of a church that wished to immunize itself from the Second Vatican Council and that was living it out with unconcealed discomfort.

A Brief History with a Happy Ending

It is good to recall that this expression, “reform of the reform,” has identified one side of the ecclesial debate, which has been led by figures on the periphery but encouraged by some at the center, and whose aim has been openly to oppose the liturgical reform. Several official documents, without ever using the expression, offered support to the self-referential “reform of the reform” project. Liturgiam authenticam (2001), Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), and Summorum Pontificum (2007) are each links in a chain that sought to mitigate and sometimes to contradict the conciliar thrust toward “actuosa participatio.”

To be sure, none of these documents used the expression “reform of the reform,” but they essentially pretended to create a new “translation of the tradition,” to return to an approach to the Eucharist that gives pride of place to the abuse rather than the use, and to create a dangerous parallelism between the ordinary rite and extraordinary rite, with highly problematic ecclesial, pastoral, and formational consequences.

In each of these documents – it must be openly acknowledged – one sees evidence of the longa manus [“long hand” – ed.] of Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. And we must not forget that many of the articles and books that subsequently interpreted them in terms of a “reform of the reform” were accompanied, supported, blessed, or introduced by prefaces or reviews by Ratzinger himself. Suffice it to mention works by Aidan Nichols, Nicola Bux, Uwe Michael Lang, and Alcuin Reid.

With the July 11 statement, all of this has reached a conclusion. Finally we see a clear statement on the whole question. I would like to point out that the “symbol” of this final triumph can be found in a potent parallelism between two statements. While in 2004, Redemptionis Sacramentum, dedicated to squelching the liturgical abuses, insisted that “terms such as ‘celebrating community’ or ‘celebrating assembly’ … should not be used injudiciously” (42) – thus giving official support to a common assertion of the supporters of the reform of the reform – this week’s note warns against the use of the expression “reform of the reform.”

The circle closes. The conciliar journey can resume. The efforts at a “reform of the reform,” as an aggressive idealization of a self-referential church immunized from history and experience, has finally been censured at an official level.

The Ecclesial Consequences: Bishops and Curia

What will follow? I believe that the logic that established the “reform of the reform” project in the late 1990s has tried progressively to sidestep episcopal oversight, reaching its apex with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. That document effectively deprived the bishops of their power in liturgical matters.

The recovery of episcopal jurisdiction – which finds a central place in the pontificate of Pope Francis – must be made clearly normative, leaving behind the “exceptional” status introduced by Summorum Pontificum. This includes jurisdiction in translations, on the uses and abuses, and on the use of the extraordinary form.

With the restoration of the bishops’ power to govern even liturgical matters in their own their dioceses, it is inevitable that the Commission Ecclesia Dei will lose much of the power that was handed to it by Summorum Pontificum.

It can be said, then, that the decentralization of the curia is proceeding apace in the realm of liturgy.

A helpful observation on this point, with inevitable repercussions in the Roman Curia and its jurisdictions, came from the theologian and journalist Fr. Lorenzo Prezzi, who wrote aptly with regard to Bishop Fellay’s statement: “What Fellay and his associates fail to understand is that their concerns were, for a time, central, but they are now peripheral. Yesterday, their return might have impacted the church. Today and tomorrow it will affect only their own biographies.”

It would not be too risky to extend these assessments also to some members of the Roman Curia. They might find comfort in writing or signing some anti-modernist pamphlet.

Andrea Grillo teaches liturgy at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. This article is reprinted with permission from Munera. Rivista Europa di CulturaTranslated by Barry Hudock.



  1. Cardinal Sarah’s imprudent words express the intention to reorient ad orientem all altars (and all priests), starting this coming Advent. Never, at the official level, has the effort to contradict the conciliar program been so clear.

    Cardinal Sarah’s wise words were no contradiction of the conciliar program since Vatican II never mentioned, nor even hinted, at mandating Mass versus populum. Indeed, the Novus Ordo Missae, the official promulgation of the conciliar reform, includes rubrics that indicate the continuation of the traditional orientation at the altar. Those who would posit that the conciliar reform requires the versus populum orientation are going beyond the facts, substituting their own preferences for what the Church has actually promulgated. It is they, not those who wish to celebrate the Novus Ordo in a traditional manner according to the approved rubrics, that have rejected the Novus Ordo.

    1. @Fr. Anthony Forte:

      It is high time the term ‘Novus Ordo’ was retired from service. It has no official status and, when used by the Society of St Pius X (and others of like mind), has always had a pejorative connotation. What’s more, an Order of Mass that is now almost 50 years old and the only one most Catholics can remember, is no longer ‘new’ in the sense in which most people understand the word.

      Time to move on.

  2. I found some interesting observations, unfortunately clouded by generalization and sweeping statements . The link of the Lefebvrists with the so-called “reform of the reform” points more, I think, to the reason for the adamant opposition on the part of some than a link based in reality held by a majority of proponents of the ROTR movement.

    At the risk of sounding like one of the shrill voices one finds in some quarters of the blogsophere, I can’t help wondering: would episcopal authority, and decentralization be championed so strongly were a bishop to take a stance opposite to that perceived to be the “right” one? Would the determinations of a very traditional bishop be as welcome as the determinations of a less-traditional one? Would his right to be the liturgical regulator of his diocese upheld as forcefully?

    Alas, I suspect not. Left or right, centralization and decentralization are peripheral issues. We support whatever supports us.

  3. I agree with many of Andrea Grillo’s points.

    And yet we have heard the end of history announced more than a few times already. Here is an especially gaseous eructation published right after the release of Summorum Pontificum. It also proclaims the end of history, but a different end:

    Triumphalism, so monotonously condemned by the Catholic agnostics, is the only logical response to the glory of the Resurrection. Tremble, all Modernists and you who presumptuously claim We Are Church – the spirit of Trent is abroad once more. Welcome to the Counter-Reformation.

    It also noted that

    Within the past month [this was July 2007] the Vatican has issued two other documents: one restoring the requirement for a two-thirds majority at Papal conclaves, which rules out the future election of an extreme radical; and a reassertion of the doctrine that the Protestant sects cannot be recognised as ‘churches’.

    Look how that first “ruling out” worked out.

    Similar “end of history” statements were made when Malcolm Ranjith and Raymond Burke were made cardinals.

    All this makes me doubt that we are at some new point of closure. History has a curious way of outlasting those who announce its demise.

  4. The reform of the reform has not ended. It will continue in those priests and laity inspired by Pope Benedict, if more cautiously until we have a new pope. Some parishes and some dioceses will celebrate ad orientem in the authentic Christian tradition. At first of course, more will not. But the image, the ethos, of a more God-centered celebration will gradually spread through the Catholic consciousness again. Unless the Lord should decide to come again soon, there are expanses of time, past our lifetimes, in which this can happen.

    1. @Susan Peterson:
      God centered? Didn’t St Paul teach that the church is the body of Christ. Pius XII also taught that in Mystici Corporis. So how is a liturgy more God centered if you turn your back on Christ and talk to a wall?

  5. Jonathan, I fully agree that it strains credulity a bit to suggest this brief intervention from the Press Office represents some kind of denouement.

  6. I enjoyed Grillo’s lucid summary. On a more philosophical note, I would also observe that there are several different lenses through which to view this moment, which I agree is a new moment and a significant one. These are: the history of ideas, the history of institutions, and sacred history.

    In terms of the history of ideas, little has changed. If the ideas that animated the reform of the reform persist in one way or another, it is because they have value and are persuasive on their merits. We have nothing to fear from this phenomenon. I think their merits are slim, but others think otherwise — fine, let the discussion continue.

    In terms of the history of institutions, however, it has always seemed to me that the reform of the reform had an unrealistic view of the consensus that underlies the new liturgy and what it takes to change it. They thought they could topple it by seizing strategic positions for rule (ICEL, the CDWDS, papal approval) in the (false) assumption that this would be “a liberation.” It has taken time, but now I think we are seeing proof that the institution is resilient. It rebounds against those who seek to change what has been a widespread institutional consensus, namely that the reform that we have is the Council’s reform and not some aberration. As the Council’s reform, it demands of us a kind of respect that its most vocal critics have denied it, with their persistent claims of its religious unworthiness, and the recycling of dark theories about its origins despite the fact that these have been debunked (“Bugnini the freemason” and the like).

    In terms of sacred history, which always unfolds within the realities of the history of ideas and institutional history, I think the issue continues to be: How does the Church’s message speak to the times in which we live. The modern world, the postmodern world, what have you — there’s a world that needs us. How are we, for their sake, responding? The Council did have a go at that question. It’s still the question.

  7. Cf. John Baldovin, “Does the Reform of the Reform have a Future?” in Serving Liturgical Renewal: Pastoral and Theological Questions, ed. by Liam M. Tracey and Thomas R. Whelan (Vertias: 2015), pp. 119-130

  8. Now if only the US Church can get rid of those horrible translations of the Lectionary and Sacramentary, as well as the coming ritual books and return to something that actually uses language people can understand.

  9. I’ve never been one to adopt the lingo of “reform of the reform” and all the potential baggage it carries, but even so, I felt rather insulted reading this author’s sweeping caricatures and (IMO naive) triumphalism.

    Sure, each of us in his or her own way hopes to see the final resolution of these conflicts in our lifetimes. But the very fact that Pope Francis brought about this “closure” speaks to the fact that the next pope (or the one after him, etc.) – for better or for worse – could easily restart the conversation.

    And I hope it’s an authentic, civil conversation. You’d think those of us on the middle ground never existed.

  10. In my limited experience, churches and chapels that enact elements of the Reform of the Reform draw a cohort of traditionally-minded Catholics away from neighboring parishes. Beyond this initial group of founding members, these churches do not continue to grow or to attract anyone but other like-minded traditionalists. If this movement is to sustain itself, they will have to find ways to draw significant numbers of people who are not dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists. Formal ritualistic worship has a certain appeal, so there is potential there. But I have not seen much emphasis on evangelization from these communities. Absent great and fruitful efforts at outreach, I predict these communities will remain small minority movements within the Church.

    1. @Scott Pluff:
      I would agree that full-on traditional and overt Reform of the Reform churches will remain a minority for the foreseeable future, but I also think one shouldn’t underestimate or ignore the pull these have had and will continue to have on the overall liturgical practice of the Church. I realize this varies from place to place and parish to parish, but I’ve noticed a small shift just over the last fifteen years or so in almost all of the local parishes in my neck of the woods. Churches that were known for overt liturgical silliness (dancing, flavored bagel bread hosts, etc) are now more like what would have been “average” a couple decades ago, while the average churches that were best characterized as being very no-frills and casual have become somewhat more traditional (a renewed emphasis on quality, stricter adherence to the Missal texts and rubrics, more use of incense, the priest chanting some prayers and dialogues in English on major feasts, etc). Fifteen years ago the church that was known for being overtly traditional did so by having all-male altar servers and by allowing people to kneel for communion – but it was otherwise indistinguishable from the other churches (vs. populum, all English). Now the most traditional Mass one can attend locally is the EF. There has also been a shift in how church design and decoration is handled, with an emphasis on “churchy” looking new buildings, and restoration rather than wreckovation in older churches.

      I don’t want to exaggerate, and I’m not saying this is a *huge* night and day shift, but it is a shift. And if it’s true that the minority of traditionalist and ROTR churches tend to produce a larger-than-average number of vocations, and if it is true that younger clergy in general are not unfairly biased against traditional liturgy, then it will likely continue. I would compare it to the effect of the Oxford movement on Anglican liturgy – most didn’t go all out Anglo-Catholic, but many did adopt High Church elements that would have been unheard of before.

  11. …many of the articles and books that subsequently interpreted them in terms of a “reform of the reform” were accompanied, supported, blessed, or introduced by prefaces or reviews by Ratzinger himself.

    Interestingly enough, in a new book-length interview to be published in September — and there goes, officially, his solemn declaration to remain hidden from the world! — Benedict 16 reportedly rejected this notion that he was some sort of a “restorer” or someone who tried to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Would be curious to know what he himself had to say about “the good work” he did in the liturgy.

    But yeah, the conciliar journey will continue, as it always has, but the circle will, likewise, never close.

    Just yesterday, for example, Edward Pentin of NCR(egister) tweeted that after the Vatican statement, Cardinal Sarah, in a move that IMO speaks volumes about his arrogance, has “strengthened” parts of his speech on this issue before publishing it.

    1. @Elisabeth Ahn:
      I noted your mention of Edward Pentin. I saw a tweet on Rocco Palma’s website Whispers in the Loggia late on this yesterday but this morning it was gone. I believe it was Palma’s statement about “hardening” not Pentin’s. I did not read Pentinn ‘s article just Sarah’s speech attached to this tweet but there was nothing highlighted as to what words are implied as to have been changed that is the “hardening”. Maybe this is a rumor?? It seems to me it would not be a smart idea for the Cardinal to dig In his heels as it is going to make him look more foolish.

      1. @Reyanna Rice #13:

        No, it wasn’t Rocco’s words but Pentin’s. He deleted his original tweet, which Rocco simply retweeted, which is why it disappeared when the original tweet got deleted.

        Pentin has now put his words inside a quote box, and this is what’s on his tweeter:

        Not sure if he’s trying to be subtle, or just being passive- aggressive, but, as is said often, whatever.

        I do agree with what Rocco said of this whole Sarah incident though: “A case study of Curia chiefs acting as if their authority were their own, instead of delegated by the Pope.”

        @Chip Stalter #16:

        That sounds annoying.

        Have you tried talking to your priest about this? How you think what he does, how he behaves during the liturgy is rather inappropriate, that is?

        ETA: Not sure if making him turn away from the people, er sorry, I meant, face the same direction as the people, will make his problems go away though. Which is why I don’t really buy this “clown mass” vs. “Reform of the Reform” continuum argument.

  12. The question of liturgical orientation aside, if priests actually listened to what Cardinal Nichols suggested, that “Mass [is] not the time for priests to ‘exercise personal preference or taste,'” and followed the GIRM more faithfully–faithfully, not robotically–a great many of the more moderate devotees of RotR would be largely placated.

    My experience of RotR among young American clergy is that it is a reaction against loose, overly casual, or “stand-up comedian” liturgy. A real rejection of “personal preference or taste” WOULD BE a revolution in itself and would diffuse a lot of the resentment that pushes people to the further edge of RotR or to the EF.

    1. @Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC:
      I have been going to Mass for years in parishes that you would probably describe as “very Vatican II” and I have yet to see a “stand up comedian liturgy”. The most might be a funny quip during a homily but that is not stand up comedy except for the fact that, well, the priest was standing up to preach the homily at the time he said it. I think the whole “stand up comedian liturgy”, like “clown Masses” is more than a bit of an over exaggeration.

  13. What Bishop Fellay and his followers think or want should be of little concern. Calling it like it is, they are schismatic so who chose to break from a Church which in Council practically unanimously voted for the Documents of Vat. II. All this is just another example of people, left or right, claiming to know more than the Pope, a Council or. Synod. A solution for those hell-bent on ad- Orientem can be found in changing rites to one of the Eastern Rites which celebrates the way they desire. That is the beauty of the many Rites of our ONE Church– we worship the same God in the Same Eucharist in different ways. As St. John Paul II said, the Church breathes with two lungs.

  14. @Reyanna

    I attend Mass at a Parish where the pastor opens every Mass with a joke – often related to bodily functions not suitable for the occasion, and has referenced “boogers” and flatulence in homilies. I would agree with Fr. Waugh wholeheartedly.

  15. Reyanna Rice : @Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC: I have been going to Mass for years in parishes that you would probably describe as “very Vatican II” and I have yet to see a “stand up comedian liturgy”. The most might be a funny quip during a homily but that is not stand up comedy except for the fact that, well, the priest was standing up to preach the homily at the time he said it. I think the whole “stand up comedian liturgy”, like “clown Masses” is more than a bit of an over exaggeration.

    I used to think the same thing until I visited my mom’s parish, where an associate pastor did a standup “homily” mainly about golf and a couple of books he liked, and then in the middle of the Nicene Creed, he stopped the whole thing to give us another thought he had about something in his homily. Astounding.

  16. You know, I wonder if this is a case of inappropriate tools for the problem that is at hand. I once worked for an organization that had problems of implementation. One of the directors, whenever he saw a lousy flyer that some local person made up, would change the procedure for making flyers and do it in the main office instead of buttonholing the person who did the job wrong. It was avoidance of conflict, and avoidance of the problem-person, that made for an overly centralized system.

    The question occurs to me with priestly liturgical weirdness. The means of reforming the clergy is to reform the clerical training and oversight system, not to change around the liturgy, no?

    I too have a problem with jokster priests. But my question is: Who ordained them? Why do these guys not answer to the bishop for being idiots?

  17. The reformation of the Roman liturgical books will never fully suppress Tridentine (or, better yet, “tridentinized”) currents in post-conciliar Roman liturgy. Tridentine influences may occupy a subaltern role at the moment from a sociological view. Still, worship according the 1962 books or a tridentinized celebration of the Ordinary Form will never disappear even if advocacy for these liturgies is currently excluded for the most part from liturgical decision-making at the Vatican.

    A false unity through the relegation of Summorum pontificum to the whims of the episcopate will create, per Rene Girard, an undifferentated forced observance of the reformed rites with a tight lid kept over Tridentine worship. This will not work, per Girard, because false unification eventually becomes violence. Indult Catholics were bitter and vicious people. SP may be disliked by many hierarchs, but at least its presence offers the hope of harmony in disunity.

    The history of the Church of England is a handy illustration of how subaltern liturgical traditions can resurface to radically change status quo liturgical practices. Until the 19th century, the Church of England was not only Reformed in theology but also in liturgy. Holy Communion was infrequent; many churches were equipped with three-tier pulpits (auditory churches) where the “minister” and his “clerks” read Morning Prayer. It was not until Keble, Newman, etc. reintroduced catholic liturgical elements to the C of E that there was a re-discovery of both pre-Reformation English and Roman liturgy. Nowadays, the C of E is often catholic in liturgy and a catholic-reformed compromise in belief and text. Gone are monster auditory pulpits which dwarfed communion tables which were designed as particularly iconoclastic and not focal.

    The reform may not come undone in our days. History demonstrates a real possibility of this happening sometime in the future.

  18. “Never, at the official level, has the effort to contradict the conciliar program been so clear.”

    It’s always amusing how folks like Grillo indulge in reverse-engineering their particular programs into Vatican II. Traditionalists don’t do that; they either agree with what Sacrosanctum Concilium says (e.g., about the primacy of Gregorian chant), or they critique it for being an inadequate expression of traditional Catholic doctrine. But they don’t pretend it says what it never said, or meant what it never meant. Unless, of course, we are talking about the “event” and “spirit” of the Council… that miasma from which the longa manus attempted to deliver us.

    We can still say, therefore, of Grillo’s entire paradigm: Libera nos, Domine Deus virtutum!

  19. Brilliant, from Dom Alcuin Reid:

    “It is clear, though, that his [Cardinal Sarah’s] Address has touched a very raw nerve amongst those who have turned certain modern liturgical practices– such as celebrating Mass facing the people – or indeed the whole of the modern liturgy, into an idol. And it is well known that Curial officials have abhorred any use of the term “reform of the reform” for many years lest their idol be in some way impugned. Cardinal Sarah has dared to challenge such prejudices and, seemingly, those who murmur in the shadows have been busy whipping up a storm so as to distract from what the Cardinal in fact said. They have not responded to his arguments or his proposals with counter arguments. Rather, they have set up straw men and screamed hysterically at the sight of the creations of their own minds.”

    1. @Peter Kwasniewski:
      So those who support Vatican II and the papally-approved reformed liturgy resulting from it are engaging in idalotry. But those who fight the whole thing are not – they’re just Catholic.
      Good to know. Glad there’s no idalotry among the small group on the right fighting against the entire rest of the Catholic Church, in their quest to resurrect what the Church as a whole has moved beyond.

    2. @Peter Kwasniewski #24:

      “… those who have turned certain modern liturgical practices– such as celebrating Mass facing the people – or indeed the whole of the modern liturgy, into an idol…”

      This is not brilliant but hilarious, because Pot, Kettle, Black.

  20. Fr Anthony, read it again, he didn’t say that. Regardless, you shouldn’t get upset over such a criticism when you are totally cool with calling those who criticise the post VII reform, or who want to exercise legitimate options in it, “delusional.”

    1. @Jack Wayne:
      Uh, Jack, I didn’t call them ‘delusional.’ Grillo did. I don’t agree with everything I allow to be posted here -whether from him or from you. 🙂

  21. Anthony Ruff, OSB : So those who support Vatican II and the papally-approved reformed liturgy resulting from it are engaging in idalotry.

    But who is it that supports the papally-approved reformed liturgy. That liturgy allows ad orientem worship, Latin, Gregorian Chant, incense, properly installed ministers, altar rails, etc., etc., etc. Additionally, the older form of the Mass is also papally-approved. It would truly be revolutionary if these papally-approved liturgies were supported by everyone.

  22. Jack, I have read it again – not just the passage that Peter quoted but the whole interview. And again, seeking some insight. But, especially in the passage cited, I found no brilliance at all – nothing but polemical, ad personam idiocy.

    There are all sorts of ways in which one could engage with Cardinal Sarah’s critics: philologically, historically, in terms of canon law, thinking of the authority of a bishop in his diocese, etc. Reid takes none of these paths. He claims a privileged insight into the critics’ minds (“touched a raw nerve”). He brands them idolaters, prejudiced, perhaps even diabolical (“those who murmur in the shadows”). They are builders of straw men, hysterical screamers.

    His polemical stance kills off any hope for further rational discussion.

  23. @Jack Wayne:

    I think this fairly describes what I, too, have observed, and is inclusive of the goals and attitudes of the young clergy I know. There are some people who see the reformed liturgy as a “failure” based upon the undeniable collapse of church attendance. But while most want to know how to celebrate the EF, it is more akin to their desire to be able to celebrate Mass also in Spanish–to be able to do it if the need arises–than out of a desire to “go back to it.” However, most also report that learning how to celebrate the EF, or even just learning more about it, better grounds their celebration of the OF. That has also been my experience.

    @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

    re: “what the church as a whole has moved beyond”

    They’ve moved beyond it, alright, moved beyond it right out of the church. How long can we ignore the great contradiction that just as we tried to move to greater “active participation” the greater part of the faithful stopped even attending? There were and are so many MASSIVE cultural shifts occurring that I do not at all lay the blame for that at the feet of the reformed liturgy, but at the very least we can say that it doesn’t seem to have been the right medicine for the ills of the age. Over the last 15-20 years a lot of parishes have been adjusting the formula, and right now it seems like a higher proportion of traditional practices is working better–though not everywhere, of course.

    I like what you said at Notre Dame about making use of the treasury of tradition (in reference to music) while also incorporating the best contemporary work. Or, as I immediately thought of, “Bringing out from the storehouse the new and the old.”

  24. I share this as a lay person who grew up and was spiritually nourished in a very liturgically creative Catholic environment, but then later came to have a critical attitude towards it.

    If the following things happened, all of which were explicitly called for within Sacrosanctum Concilium, none of this “reform of the reform” business would even be happening. (In fact most of the “reform of the reform” people I know are literally only interested in the following anyway):

    -Para 22: “[N]o other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

    -Para 54: Notwithstanding use of the vernacular – which is a wonderful thing! – “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

    -Para. 116: Gregorian chant, which is “specially suited to the Roman liturgy…should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”

    My humble view: liturgical liberals and liturgical traditionalists are basically cut from the same cloth, but hate to admit it. They want it “their way.” Why not try it the Holy Spirit’s way? Perhaps Sacrosanctum Concilium is a bit like Christ insisting that the apostles drop their nets in one more time after fishing all night and catching nothing. Just trust him and see what happens. That requires humility – from all of us.

    Especially the music! Especially, especially the music! Fix that and you’ll be shocked how quickly these disputes resolve themselves.

  25. Reformed is such a charged word. It acts like a hand grenade in the minds of certain Catholics.
    When I go to Mass, I don’t go to the “reformed” version, be it the lively Sunday family-friendly one, or the much quieter weekday celebration. I just go to Mass. And I don’t go as some sort of protest about the way other Catholics worship, either. It doesn’t occur to me. I am doing as the church does. That is more than enough for me.
    Oh, I am old enough to have served Mass in the days when maniples, the last gospel and muttering the Gloria at speed while the choir sang it were de rigeur, and to have been a cantor at vespers when we had to whisper the opening phrase of the antiphon to the priest who then repeated it out loud, thereby preserving the pretence that he could read neither text nor neums.
    Can’t say I miss any of it.

    1. @Alan Johnson:
      We have to distinguish what we are talking about somehow. To some “Novus Ordo” is pejorative, to some “Extraordinary” is, etc etc. Your poor experience of the older form of the liturgy are no better an argument against its value than my poor experiences of the Ordinary Form are arguments against its value. They are both merely arguments for good liturgy. The question of what constitutes good liturgy, I think, is the reason we are all here!

  26. I remember a professor at the Jesuit School of Theology remarking that arguing over liturgical practices is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Change is the only thing which doesn’t change.

  27. I went back to read the full version of Cardinal Sarah’s speech — I’m not sure whether all of this was actually delivered, but it’s in a PDF available here.

    Here’s an interesting excerpt that, as far as I can see, hasn’t had coverage on the trad liturgy blogs, especially the ones given to presenting “liturigcal eye candy”:

    I have also seen priests, and bishops, vested to celebrate Holy Mass, take out telephones and cameras and use them in the Sacred Liturgy. … To do this is a sacrilege. No bishop, priest or deacon vested for liturgical ministry or present in the sanctuary should be taking photographs, even at large-scale concelebrated Masses. …. It is equally a scandal and profanation for the lay faithful to take photographs during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. They should participate through prayer and not by spending their time taking photos!

  28. Jonathan, I agree that he used needlessly rude language, but still stand by my comment. The remarks are not geared towards those who, as Fr Anthony said, support Vatican II and its subsequent liturgical reform. Reid targets those for whom the reform is untouchable and above all criticism, as well as those who mislead others to believe that legitimate options in the OF somehow go against VII and its ecclesiology – even options which VII’s documents laud and encourage.

    Also, I very much stand by the second part of my comment. One cannot call for charity but only want it for those he agrees with.

    1. @Jack Wayne:
      Jack, I agree that we need charity toward those we disagree with.

      My point about Reid’s language was not that it was needlessly rude, but that it was unanswerable on any reasonable basis. “Mind reading” and similar attributions simply shut down the conversation:

      “You say that because you’re terrified of encountering true mystery in worship”

      “She only asserts that because she is in the grip of demonic forces”

      “He argues the way he does because he has an unresolved Oedipal complex”

      “I am sure that you have noticed how smug and humorless liberals are. That’s because they perceive themselves as morally superior to us mere mortals.”

      This is not a matter of being polite or rude, liberal or conservative, but of finding a way to discuss these liturgical matters rationally.

      As to critics of Cardinal Sarah accusing him of lying — an accusation I would not make — or critics refusing to allow him to recommend legitimate options such as the priest facing the apse because they are “untouchable”: I haven’t seen that. But maybe those claims are out there, or even here at PTB.

  29. I agree that reform-of-the-reform is in abeyance until a future pope decides to promote it again. I don’t think this is a victory of ideas as much as a papal succession.

    I also think that it’s somewhat confusing to juxtapose Bishop Fellay with the reform of the reform. The two programs are not the same. The reform-the-reform movement has always said that it is intended to be a corrective to post-Vatican-II excesses rather than a restoration of pre-Vatican II liturgy. It would seem to be courteous to accept that claim at face value.

    FWIW, it has always seemed to me that what provoked the real passion in reform-the-reformers is not the post-Conciliar liturgy per se but rather the extensions, improvisations, etc. from what are in the books. I don’t find that surprising. There has been experimentation going on pretty much throughout my lifetime, such as priests improvising Eucharistic prayers, laypersons preaching, non-scriptural readings being proclaimed during the liturgy of the word, and on and on and on. If the grass-roots reform-the-reform movement, amplified by traditional and social media, led to appropriate regulating of some of that experimentation, maybe that’s not all bad, although I’d much prefer a more peaceful and less divisive way to go about it.

  30. Number 3 of Tony Alonso’s obstacles to full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy: denying our biases and so becoming entrapped by them. For example, biases in favor of–in alphabetical order–ad orientem; chant; communion on the tongue; communion rail; hymns like “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”; Latin; songs like Marty Haugen’s “All Are Welcome”; versus populum. Examination of conscience, anyone?

  31. Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC : @Alan Johnson: We have to distinguish what we are talking about somehow. To some “Novus Ordo” is pejorative, to some “Extraordinary” is, etc etc. Your poor experience of the older form of the liturgy are no better an argument against its value than my poor experiences of the Ordinary Form are arguments against its value. They are both merely arguments for good liturgy. The question of what constitutes good liturgy, I think, is the reason we are all here!

    Maybe my point is that when the chips are down its all about using whatever comes to hand to justify what are personal preferences. Maybe acknowledging that could take some of the heat out of the discussion.

  32. @Jonathan Day. Great catch, sir. Whether the offense and interference of photography is upon the consciences of bishops and priests IN CHOIR at a papal Mass in the USA, or the deliberate use of same and video recording of formal EF’s and/or Samba Masses in Brazil, the Mass suffers defilement.
    @Vic Romero. Your point is well-spoken. However, to take it requires that Mr. Alonzo’s thesis be accepted as reality. I’m not prepared to endorse that due to both its simplicity and complexity.

  33. @Jonathan Day:
    ” “Mind reading” and similar attributions simply shut down the conversation”

    exactly right. it’s also prideful, or worse, to presume to know anyone else’s internal experience.

  34. If the Church you attend is more concerned with the way a priest faces while celebrating or presiding over Mass (I stand corrected by not saying the priest “said” Mass) and has not mentioned the violence in this country (other than a prayer of the faithful) then we are no longer rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic but on the Edmund Fitzgerald. The analogies are not the same.

    I seek a liturgy where the priest will face me as a person of Christ and pray with me as such.

    1. @Ed Nash:
      Why can’t some of us have a liturgy where the priest prays with us as people of Christ, just as I pray with those beside me and around me in the pews?

      Also, why is it so popular for those opposed to traditionalism and the Reform of the Reform to compare it to rearranging deck chairs on a doomed ship? It seems to me that perhaps the only ones who could rightly make that comparison are the die hard traditionalists who feel no liturgical reform should have occurred in the first place, as the post-VII reform fits the definition of “rearranging deck chairs” just as well as the ROTR does.

      1. @Jack Wayne:

        Jack, I agree that most people do not want to see their personal perspectives challenged. Everyone has some reason for her attachment to a particular liturgy. I don’t think it’s wise to question individual motives.

        I hope that most can agree that two developments have fundamentally changed Roman Catholic liturgical perspectives today. Versus populum is not a fundamental change. In the peri-institutional Church, posture was less important than geography. The inclusion of laywomen in ministries specifically and moreover the general growth of liturgical roles for laymen and laywomen in our day are, in my experience, much more significant. These latter developments also highlight possible arguments traditionalists would, in my experience, rather avoid.

        Many traditionalists (of which I am still one) have yet to confront the sacramental and theological ramifications of a staunch insistence on the Tridentine tradition’s ontological and practical division of the sexes. Yet, at some time, this question must be answered. Have only half of the faithful died in Christ? Is the royal priesthood for men (vir) only? If neither is true, then women have a rightful and equal role in the assembly and in ritual roles such as lector. I have yet to read a traditionalist’s studied view of these questions. Perhaps one will never come.

        [These are the two fundamental questions which are leading me out of traditionalism. Perhaps these questions are not in the right context.]

    2. @Ed Nash:
      The sentiment you express is understandable, if not admirable. However, the issue of violence (perpetrated upon innocents) here and internationally indeed needing prayer, is theologically not the raison d’etre of a both/and understanding of the Eucharistic and sacrificial characters of the Divine Liturgy. Your presumption of an either/or local church is also quite faulty, as I understand hierarchy. Again, reality offers a both/and modem in the Church, I might ask, out of curiosity, why is a homiletic reference to current events more valid than an intercession in the “Universal Prayer?”

  35. Ed Nash : If the Church you attend is more concerned with the way a priest faces while celebrating or presiding over Mass (I stand corrected by not saying the priest “said” Mass) and has not mentioned the violence in this country (other than a prayer of the faithful) then we are no longer rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic but on the Edmund Fitzgerald. The analogies are not the same. I seek a liturgy where the priest will face me as a person of Christ and pray with me as such.

    A classic false dichotomy of the type frequently seen in church-related discussion boards like this.

  36. Jordan,

    I too wonder if such questions will be grappled with in traditionalism, though I don’t see it happening anytime soon. These sorts of issues are why I shy away from really calling myself a traditionalist, and I’ve made it known that female servers and lectors are simply not the hill I wish to die on.

    Perhaps these questions will be delt with in the distant future. Most EF groups are too busy establishing themselves and maintaining what they have. I know the Latin Mass people at my own parish are aware that we are more guests than permanent residents, because no matter how much time, talent, or treasure any of us invests for the good of the whole parish, it will only take the next priest not personally liking the EF to justify kicking us out (it happened once before). Be it progressive or traditional liturgy, I’ve been realizing more and more that the hallmark of the post VII reform is that the Mass truly only belongs to the priest.

  37. I’m curious how a Vatican press statement carries more water than an officially promulgated Magisterial document (not Cardinal Sarah’s speech, but the documents cited). All the Press Office said, anyways, is that the phrase is misguided, not that the sentiment is wrong that things went off the rails, however much or little, after the Council.

    We all know better than to assume evil intentions in those we disagree with. I do it myself, though, either here or in politics, etc. it seems to be getting worse by the day now. Is it a cycle, or something that is broken in our society. We all see ourselves getting angrier by the moment, but we are doing absolutely nothing effective to fix it.

  38. It is to be hoped that as Andrea Grillo has stated in his text that the 11th July statement has indeed put a brake on the so called reform of the reform. As the extract below from an article in the November 2015 edition of the Portal Magazine of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham indicates, Cardinal Sarah has some other ideas on turning back the clock on the liturgical reforms which followed Vatican II. The text below is an extract. If this is in fact the case there is even more to be concerned about. The last two items mentioned are quite clearly contrary to the decree on the liturgy.

    Future revision of the Roman Missal

    Cardinal Robert Sarah, the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after the approval of the Divine Worship Missal, has suggested that a future revision of the Roman Missal might include, as options, three features of the rite which are found in the pre-conciliar Missal but not in the current Roman Missal.

    One of these is what, for fun, we referred to earlier as ‘the nodding donkeys’ (Bowing low during confession rite.)

    The second is the traditional Offertory section, in which the extended prayers over the oblations – ancient in origin – were replaced in the Missal of Pope Paul VI by Jewish table blessings. The Divine Worship Missal includes as alternatives both forms – the traditional Offertory section (which is said secretly) and the Jewish table blessings.

    The third is the Last Gospel.

    1. @Louie Macari:

      I would contend that a return to the Tridentine offertory as an option is possible with more solid research. I distinctly remember reading John Baldovin’s argument that the 1st person singular perspective of some of the Tridentine offertory prayers are accretions since the verbs of the anaphorae are 1st person plural. He is certainly right about this inconsistency. The priest’s private prayers during the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom are 1st person plural. Even so, I am not entirely convinced that the 1st singular sacerdotal prayer in the older Roman rite is incongruent with apostolic tradition. Peculiarities are not necessarily liturgical deviations or even heterodoxies. Put another way: must the assembly be involved in every prayer, or is the priest permitted the innovation of private devotion at discrete points during Mass?

      Ressourcement theory often tries to create fully closed liturgical perpetual motion machines. Granted, the reformed liturgy is but fifty years old; liturgical reformation theory itself is in its infancy. Even so, perhaps the syntactical inconsistency of the medieval and Tridentine liturgies add to their well seasoned organicity. Verbal inconsistency is not a bug but a feature honed over time. The Tridentine offertory prayer suscipe sancte trinitas may appear discordant with eucharistic prayer, but who can deny this prayer’s linguistic and theological beauty?

  39. As a young altar boy I knelt along-side the priest rushing to finish the Confeteor before the kid on the other side did. We both mumbled our way through the Suscipiat. This this give glory to God?

    Our kindly old pastor is supposed to have celebrated a weekday Mass in 7 minutes. Remember: No reading the scriptures in English. Readings were short. There was no homily or prayer of the faithful. But 7 minutes. Did this give glory to God?

    I was ordained 52 years ago, in Latin, and celebrated Mass totally in Latin. I read but could not proclaim the Gospel in Latin.

    Today, when I travel, i do my best to attend daily Mass, thanks to I have never experienced the ridiculous extremes some seem to be referring to. I do experience what who i call “tabernacle priests” and many who don”t offer the chalice to the congregation. Maybe they should change words such as “will become for us ” and “our spiritual drink “to “for me” and “my spiritual drink”
    whether in English or Latin.

    I have at times wondered whether some celebrants really believe what they are saying, praying and doing.

    Do I take some liberties? Yes. Among them I pray the prayer before communion in the plural and out-loud and urge the people to “Look”
    rather than “Behold”. Do I engage the people? I attempt to, hope that I do and seem to succeed.

    Unfortunately many seem unable to thin outside the box. Some can’t accept a liturgy that is alive and engaging.

    “Of Sacraments and Sacraments” by Clifford Howell, S.J. great moved me.
    He taught “We talk to God: I confess…, Glory to God and Let us pray….
    Then God talks to us: the scripture readings. Then we offer ourselves to God through the symbolic gifts of bread and wine, symbols of our lives which are accepted by God and given back to us as Christ’s Body and Blood.

    What is important is that we celebrate these mysteries of faith prayerfully and meaningfully. I for one believe this is best done in a language that the priest and people understand…

    1. @Fr Dave Riley #63:

      With all respect, Father, you — and by this I mean the presiding priest — “taking some liberties” and “thinking outside the box” to, basically, change things on a whim during a liturgy is not what makes the liturgy alive and engaging.

      Also, I don’t believe people in the pews are so dumb as to not understand what “behold” means.

  40. @Fr. Anthony Forte:

    Father, have you ever studied the dynamics of fundamentalism and NRMs (New Religious Movements, many of which were formerly known by the term “cult”)? In religious communities that are loosely bound together according to flexible social norms, there is relatively little herd consensus on behavior. In fundamentalist traditionalism, there is a very strong pull towards norms such as informal dress codes, large families (even if one cannot support a large family responsibly), and an insistence on homeschooling even if a parent is not able to either teach a subject well or pay a tutor a just wage.

    So what if people drop out, or come and go, from Mass and other observances? It’s better than keeping up appearances in a self-enforced suffocating polity.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo:
      So before Vatican II the Catholic Church was just a fundamentalist cult and people merely came to Mass to keep up appearances? Tell that to all the saints who have been greatly inspired by old Mass over the centuries. Tell that to the many Catholics who have a deep love of God and value the what were the norms for Catholic worship for nearly two thousand years and are still approved by the Church today. How can you denigrate the faith of these your fellow Catholics?

      Over the years I have heard many fine talks about “inclusion”, “tolerance”, and “diversity.” Why is it so hard for those who preach this to practice it?

      1. @Fr. Anthony Forte:

        Fr. Anthony: So before Vatican II the Catholic Church was just a fundamentalist cult and people merely came to Mass to keep up appearances?

        Absolutely not. In the Tridentine era, what we now call the Extraordinary Form was the only and normative Roman liturgy. In our day, the Ordinary Form is the “new norm”. All sorts of people attend Mass in churches where the normative form is celebrated. When the EF was normative, the same variety also existed.

        The EF has receded into a niche liturgy today. The circle of opinions and lay-imposed licit behaviors is much smaller, given that many who attend the EF have relatively limited interaction with Catholics who attend the normative liturgy. The social insularity of many EF communities demonstrates a tendency towards fundamentalist opinions and behaviors.

        If a statistician were to do a longitudinal study of your “average” neighborhood Catholic parish today, she would probably find a diversity of political and social opinions. At the EF, there is a very strong politico-social homogenization. Often conservative Catholic commentators will praise the “modest dress” of women EF adherents, large traditionalist families (implying strict adherence to Humanae vitae, a logical fallacy), the frequent traditionalist disdain for public or even Catholic education, and many traditionalists’ highly conservative politics. All these commendations infact hide grave social dysfunctions.

        EF culture is particularly misogynist. Women are ueber-Marthas, expected to feed, clothe, homeschool, and taxi their many children. In church, women are peer-pressured to veil and to never wear slacks or pants. Women, then are not persons of equal and individual dignity and volition, but merely extensions of the family and husband in particular. This highly disturbing dynamic is why I have let traditionalism and have returned to the normative church.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Interesting observations. I wonder if its inevitable that liturgical conservatives are also social conservatives. And I wonder how that plays out in terms of “social action” when comparing EF parishes with those who use the Roman Missal….. thinking SVP, feeding the hungry etc.

      3. @Alan Johnson:

        Ah, I learned long ago never to assume a strong correlation between someone’s preferred liturgical praxis and their political worldview. Hard lesson learned, never forgotten, as I am repeatedly reminded of how false the assumption is.

        Also, while there are liturgical traditionalists who have issues with an emphasis onmaterial/corporal works of mercy eliding spiritual works of mercy, it may seem strange to some but that dynamic can happen elsewhere along the spectrum, too. And we should not forget the massive infrastructure of institutions and apostolates to support corporal works of mercy constructed by Catholics before Vatican II – as a progressive, I’ve always felt *extreme* unease when fellow progressives write-off traditionalism as tending to lack or actually lacking in the Social Gospel department, as it were – that’s a self-serving myth and it’s unworthy, period.

      4. Alan Johnson #69, also Karl Liam Saur #70.

        Both of you are quite correct. I can’t read the minds of traditionalists and assign each of them to a particular political ideology. I do, however, stand by my observations about traditionalist life. I simply cannot abide by many of the expectations found in a good number of traditionalist communities. For this reason I must leave.

        I love the Tridentine liturgy, and sometimes wonder if it has been taken hostage by traditionalism. I wonder if many attend the EF just to effect a certain appearance or allegiance, and not to learn Latin or appreciate the linguistic and compositional excellence of medieval prayer. And yet, many people need the false and deceptive “security” of Something That Never Changes (even if the Mass is always changing). My heart aches to leave the EF, but I must survive emotionally and ethically.

      5. @Jordan Zarembo:
        So modest dress, large families, criticism of schools, and conservative politics are grave social dysfunctions. In your rush to characterize traditionally minded Catholics as adhering to a fundamentalist cult you fail to address the question as to why they have left the typical parish. In many cases they were driven out by the very distain that you express above. You complain about the peer-pressure to veil and never were slack but have you also recognized the pressure not to veil or the distain for habitually wearing dresses or having large families that exists in many typical parishes?

        I would also take issue with your characterization these women as “not persons of equal and individual dignity and volition, but merely extensions of the family and husband in particular.” In my experience the women in large traditional families are quite strong willed and have freely chosen their lifestyle. In many cases indeed it is the wives and not the husbands that are the driving force for these decisions.

        If you are going to complain about the social insularity of EF communities then I have to ask you what is your parish doing to make those who desire a more traditional form of worship welcomed? What is it doing to address why there are some Catholics who feel the need to form separate communities?

      6. @Fr. Anthony Forte:
        Dear Fr. Forte,

        This conversation is getting derailed into the tired issue of EF vs. OF and whether Vatican II was a mistake, and I want to end this thread. Our readers have clearly told us that they’re not interested in hearing this same-old yet again.

        Perhaps it helps if I clarify the mission and purpose of Pray Tell. We are not a “common ground” for all comers, any more than Virgil Michel’s Orate Fratres (now Worship) was. We are a movement within the Catholic Church advocating for our vision of renewal. We presuppose acceptance of and obedience to the Second Vatican Council, broadly understand, which includes the ongoing trajectory of where the spirit of the Second Vatican Council continues to take the Church today. We are interested in how to receive and implement the Council – which provides a wide range of practices (Latin chant, world music, Protestant hymnody, ad orientem or versus populum, and so forth) but all based on the Missal of Paul VI. It is that range within which we wish our conversations to take place.

        Please note, then, that Pray Tell is not the place for debating the legitimacy of Vatican II or the reformed liturgy.

        Thank you for your understanding.


      7. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        Dear Fr. Ruff,

        I think that you are misunderstanding my position. Have I ever expressed rejection of Vatican II? When I speak of a more traditional form of worship I am speaking not of the EF but of a more traditional form of the OF. One of my great frustrations is the disconnect between what the new Missal allows and what is actually allowed in practice. If the reformed Mass had been allowed to be regularly celebrated in a more traditional manner with the options already present in the Missal (such as ad orientem) then we could have saved ourselves much of the strife that we have experienced over the last 40 years. I dare say that there would not have been much of a push to bring back the old Mass.

        I accept the right of the Church to legislate changes in the Mass. All I ask is that those of us who desire a more traditional form of worship, within the new Mass, be given the same respect and freedom as those who have pushed a more modern form. If this could be done I believe that peace could return to the Church.

      8. @Fr. Anthony Forte:
        I don’t believe accommodation of one group/sensibility will bring peace at all. I notice the strife, especially online, the past decade or two, much of it fomented by people who have been given significant concessions since the mid-1980’s. My recollection is that many fringe and schismatic groups adopted the pre-conciliar liturgy as a badge of identification or even revolt in the generation after Vatican II. Fair or not, the traditional liturgy was branded as disloyal. Today, I notice a continuing dissatisfaction on many sites and from many individuals. Not to mention a sort of ideological cannibalism that suggests a Galatian situation is with us in today’s Catholicism.

        Other groups within the Church, many with significantly deeper loyalties, were denied the respect and freedoms which you are seeking. Does everybody deserve “special” treatment? Or just the ones with the loudest voices?

        I will say that many clergy and musicians are spectacularly unschooled in how to lead Catholic worship. I have to note that nearly all of the efforts to heal this in the generation following Vatican II were done by reformers/progressives/conciliar advocates. Where is the gratitude? Documents like MCW and EACW are villified, post-conciliar hymnals and their contributors criticized, and many educators and leaders were persona non grata in the years leading up to 2013. If many modern traditionalists have so little sense of recent history, why trust them with the deeper past?

      9. @Todd Flowerday:
        The freedom to celebrate the Mass according to the Roman Missal without restrictions should not be considered a concession or “special” treatment but as justice. You and I may disagree on prudence of particular provisions of the current Missal but this is what is currently enforce. Those provisions that allow a traditional form of worship are just as valid, and faithful to Vatican II, as those provisions that allow for the introduction of new practices.

      10. @Fr. Anthony Forte:
        Clergy and people already have near-absolute freedom to celebrate the Roman Rite. By the Missal of 2002, under the auspices of the 2000 GIRM. That includes in Latin, with plainchant, vestments, architecture, art, and other stylings from pre-conciliar eras.

        I often chuckle to myself when I read of others promoting a “mutual enrichment,” given the resistance to minor changes in Good Friday’s liturgy in contrast to the historical architecture in which many if not most Masses are celebrated today. As for pre-conciliar art, please spare me the plaster and plastic reproductions of milquetoast saints and angels. That kind of enrichment we definitely do not need.

      11. @Todd Flowerday:
        While I enjoy a number of your posts and usually think you are fair, I think in this instant you are off base. As Fr Anthony Forte has also said, chant, Latin, old-style vestments, etc were more or less forbidden in the 70s-90s. I’ve seen old newspaper articles about priests celebrating the OF in Latin where they were characterized as renegades breaking the rules and have encountered older folks for whom it was the Latin OF, and not the EF, that was the special “indult” Mass that was almost impossible to get permission for. One need only ask around – and not just in traditionalist circles – to quickly realize that there was no choice to have “stylings from pre-conciliar eras.” None of it was available when I was growing up. To characterize traditionalists as essentially spoiled brats who were given everything but who still whine for more is wrong and inaccurate.

        Also, a good number of excellently designed churches were ruined after Vatican II. True, some might have had “plaster and plastic reproductions of milquetoast saints and angels,” but many more were decent examples with good craftsmanship. Even in the cases where “cheap” sanctuaries were destroyed, I’m curious as to how the results are an improvement.

      12. @Jack Wayne:
        “Forbidden” is a relative experience. Certainly many valid aspirations on all sides were denied by pastoral leaders for poor reasons. We all have stories of “Vatican II implemented in a Vatican I way” as a friend once put it.

        In the area of music, I think you are much mistaken about the 80s and 90s. Mainstream composers from the Big Three have all embraced chant influences as well as Latin, even 60’s icon Ray Repp. The popularity of Taize, not to mention a core repertoire of Latin hymns and antiphons remain with us. Why not more? Maybe most traditional music was just inferior to the alternatives, at least in its execution.

        Did church musicians of the 80s and 90s offer a 100% 3P* repertoire? Hardly. But very few Catholics ever experienced congregational singing of such a treasury.

        Don’t get me started on church architecture, which was in decline in the US by the late 40’s at the latest.

        My point: this is a far more complex situation than is suggested by a meme of pre-1962 good, post-1962 bad. My admittedly subjective experience of reform2 folk I know online: they refuse to recognize how indebted conciliar reform is to what has gone before. My friends and parishioners in real life are far more nuanced.

        I frequently cite the stance of the St Louis Jesuits (among others) away from devotional hymnody and into antiphon+Scripture structures of the Mass propers. Many young turks arrived on the scene with the last papacy ready to reform a reform. I saw arrogance and ignorance in equal measure: the work of three decades in the trenches summarily dismissed by some folks with big chips on their liturgical shoulders. I wouldn’t say they were deluded. Just imprudent and disrespectful.


      13. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Wow, I’m surprised by your comments, Jordan. I’m a frequent lurker here at PTB, but I rarely comment myself. In many families, not even just those where the husband is the primary breadwinner, the wife is expected to feed and clothe the children, and to drive them to any activities. Is that so arduous? Would you honestly say that those families are suffering from “grave social dysfunctions?”

        My family is involved in a particularly conservative parish that celebrates exclusively the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Many families at our parish have women who veil, many families homeschool, and many families dress in their “Sunday best” to come to Mass. Is this really something to criticize?

        Since you brought it up, is it so hard to swallow that these families might honestly believe that the best way for their children to achieve sanctity and to live holy lives of virtue is to homeschool them? There are stories in the news each and every day of malfeasance going on in our schools, both public and private. I definitely got involved in things I ought not to have while I attended public school from 1st grade through high school graduation. You might not agree that your children need to be homeschooled, but I don’t think it’s fair to cast aspersions on those who do believe that it is what is best for their children.

  41. Todd Flowerday : Clergy and people already have near-absolute freedom to celebrate the Roman Rite. By the Missal of 2002, under the auspices of the 2000 GIRM. That includes in Latin, with plainchant, vestments, architecture, art, and other stylings from pre-conciliar eras.

    While true on paper we both know that the reality is quite different. How many seminarians have been expelled because they have been deemed too conservative or too “pre-Vatican II?” Even after ordination those priests who would have wished to exercise these options have faced hostility from pastors and bishops alike. Just see the recent reaction to the suggestion of Cardinal Sarah over ad orientem, something that has on paper been allowed all along. The black-listing of priests who would push too far is the rule rather than the exception.

  42. Todd,
    I think it is sad that some people are dismissive of the positive work done after the council, and I personally think there were some positive gains after the reform. Perhaps were we can never come together is in regards to how positive those gains were in light of the losses that also occurred. I think for some of us, for whom some changes do not hold the same positive emotional impact they might hold for you and others, that those very much overshadow the gains. To you, the suppression of many traditional practices in the OF is rather trivial compared to the gains made in music, but to others it is something that completely overshadows, and maybe even negates that work. It was an environment that created the imprudent, disrespectful, folk with chips on their shoulders.

    1. @Jack Wayne:
      I think it can be hard to pin down some of those lamented losses. Some are more attributable, at least in the US, to the dissolution of ethnic Catholicism into the suburban melting pot. Some point to the so-called Sexual Revolution, and certainly there might be merit in a bit of that. The rise of an integrated affluence in American society cannot be overlooked: cars, television, re-visioning leisure, the rise of consumerism, not to mention the upheaval of race relations, war, and the arms race.

      For the most part, people make choices about their personal attitudes toward others. I have found that in real life, many traditional-leaning Catholics are still involved in their mainstream parishes. Some are off to worship enclaves of their choosing. Either way, it would improve matters if more ways were found to stop the blame game and devise strategies for common laments and losses: the death of a public singing culture in the US, and a need to recover a deeper sense of baptismal discipleship, to mention two matters I suspect are dear to most all committed liturgy-inclined believers. That can be difficult when people persist in biting and tearing at one another. It might be the main problem with neo-reformers: defining themselves in the negative and by virulent criticism of things with which they disagree.

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