Since 1867, The Wanderer has been published in St. Paul, MN, just down the road from the abbey, by the Matt family. It is perhaps the leading paper for conservative and ultraconservative US Catholics. Der Wanderer was a weekly staple for some of my ancestors. This was back when it was a general newsweekly helping to preserve the German identity of its readership. The German edition ended in 1957, and an English edition had begun already in 1931. The Wanderer’s mission changed with the Second Vatican Council. One Matt brother rejected the Council, left The Wanderer, and founded The Remnannt. Another Matt brother transformed the paper into a voice for extremely conservative Catholic views. (See the critique of the paper from a neoconservative perspective in George Weigel’s Catholicism and the Renewal of American Democracy.) Interesting anecdote: the paper almost went under during the Great Depression. They were bailed out by … Saint John’s Abbey. To this day the paper avoids attacking Saint John’s, and even wrote a very positive article once on The Saint John’s Bible (which uses the Catholic NRSV translation). Since there is almost no one else in ‘Amchurch’ The Wanderer avoid attacking, we monks are most grateful for their long memory.
This week’s issue of The Wanderer has an interview with Msgr. James Moroney, former head of the US national liturgy office, now consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, Executive Secretary of Vox Clara, and reputed string-puller for the 10,000+ changes to the upcoming missal. I know Jim well from my days on the drafting committee for the USCCB document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. He is delightfully optimistic, highly skilled in the complexities of church politics, and unfailingly charitable to everyone. I wonder how many people have heard from Jim that they’re the most importance person around for liturgical renewal?! Like many churchmen, he does seem to be tacking rightward as he moves upward. This week he “wanders” – i.e., he allows himself to be interviewed by the hard right Wanderer. It is striking how polemical the questions from Paul Likoudis are, and how well Jim lowers the temperature with his irenic responses. The full interview is here (subscription required, but you can sign up for three free weeks), excerpts below. – awr
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Q. … How is the renewal going in the English- speaking world, and, from your perspective, in the United States?
A. The great good news for the postconciliar reform is the advent of a “ new and improved” translation of the most important of all the liturgical books, the Missale Romanum. By authentically translating the venerable liturgical texts of the Roman Rite the new Roman Missal will significantly deepen the catechetical, doctrinal, and worship life of the Church. …
As I recently said in another context “…how blest we are to be witnesses to a second springtime of the vision of the council fathers lived out in our own day, as we prepare to proclaim, in some instances for the first time, the ancient collects which define who we are called to be, as we seek to move from ideology to worship, and from novelty to mystery, as we seek to desire not so much to change the liturgy, as to be utterly transformed by it.”
Q. You travel a lot. How would you assess the state of Catholic worship in the U.S.?
A. Perhaps a … [story] would help to put flesh on my optimism. I was recently in Cincinnati. …[There is] extraordinary openness and enthusiasm for the new translations articulated by practically all of the Cincinnati clergy. This year alone I have spoken to more than a half-dozen presbyterates, and the response is always the same: good priests trying earnestly to understand what the Church is proposing in her liturgy and trying with all their might to celebrate it authentically and with their whole heart and mind.
Q. From your perspective, do you see the Internet as a driving force for a return to a more authentic liturgy in accord with tradition?
A. …There are some dangers inherent in this age of instant communication. Misinformation can be spread just as quickly as authentic information. The copyrights of proprietary materials can be violated, and persons of all persuasions who are obsessed with particular ideologies can generate a lot more heat than light. We would be wise to follow the counsel of one popular blogger who recommends that his readers pray before surfing the Internet that God might direct our hands and eyes only to what is pleasing to Him.
Q. Most Wanderer readers have a memory of living through a liturgical revolution. How long do you think it will be before a new liturgical movement circa 1940 is in full swing?
A. I would suggest that a new liturgical movement circa 1940 has been in full swing since 1940! But revolution is hardly the word to describe the aggiornamento to which Pope John XXIII called the Church. … Sadly, abuses of the liturgy and other self- indulgent nonsense have always been with us, even before the Second Vatican Council. Recall Pope Paul VI’s lament that “ anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense” ( August 22, 1973).
Q. As a seminary instructor, what is your view of the upcoming crop of priests? Are they more in tune with the Benedictine reforms than the older priests?
A. I would describe the seminarians whom I have been privileged to teach as characterized by two qualities: They are men of deep faith and men of deep intellectual curiosity. Their desire is not just to understand what they are supposed to do at Mass, but why they do it. The Celebration of the Liturgy is, for them, inextricably bound up with their spirituality.
Q. Finally, what advice can you offer lay Catholics who want a more traditional liturgy but cannot get past the parish liturgical gatekeepers or the pastor’s inertia?
A. First: “If I have not love, I am nothing.” The first obligation of anyone who has been baptized into the dying and rising of Jesus is to love. That means to love those who are the hardest to love (or even to understand), to forgive those whom we perceive as having wronged us, and to act with patience, kindness, and humility in everything we do, including the promotion of the Sacred Liturgy. …