The Ambo at St. Peter’s and Pope Benedict’s Liturgical Agenda

Over at the New Liturgical Movement blog there is a post about the ambo that has, since the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, become what seems to be a permanent fixture at St. Peter’s basilica.

It’s just a piece of furniture, so why be interested in this? The poster at NLM draws some conclusions of his own about how Benedict XVI thinks churches should be renovated, the hermeneutic of continuity, etc.

All well and good, but I think it also shows Benedict’s commitment to the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. Certainly one of the elements of Sacrosanctum Concilium was a greater emphasis placed on the Word of God. The restoration of the ambo as the “place” of the Word, corresponding to the altar as the “place” of the Eucharistic sacrifice, was the architectural correlate to the addition of an Old Testament reading, the three-year lectionary and the transformation of the sermon into the scripture-based homily.

As many no doubt know, St. Peter’s has for the past four decades made do with portable reading stands instead of a proper ambo. If this new ambo is indeed a permanent fixture then I think this is an indication that in the mind of Pope Benedict the ultimate liturgical agenda is not, as some (both pro and con) have claimed, the restoration of what is now called the Extraordinary Form as the norm, but rather a deeper engagement of the post-conciliar reforms with the tradition of the Church.

68 comments

  1. I think your main point blends well with the idea of a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity.” Your last sentence could probably be taken as a good definition of this. The trouble is that a lot of people drop that word “reform,” and thus convince themselves that the ultimate goal is, like you said, the replacement of the OF with the EF. Nevermind his own assertions that he didn’t see the big issue with the release of Summorum Pontificum because he didn’t think it would affect all that many people.

  2. “As many no doubt know, St. Peter’s has for the past four decades made do with portable reading stands instead of a proper ambo. If this new ambo is indeed a permanent fixture then I think this is an indication that in the mind of Pope Benedict the ultimate liturgical agenda is not, as some (both pro and con) have claimed, the restoration of what is now called the Extraordinary Form as the norm, but rather a deeper engagement of the post-conciliar reforms with the tradition of the Church.”

    I have never understood why some people insisted on viewing Pope Benedict XVI’s actions in the field of sacred liturgy as being “restorationist”. He is clearly committed to the liturgical reform of Vatican II, although he interprets this (in his ars celebrandi) in a more “conservative” manner than most. Even his “restorations” (use of ‘Roman’ chasuble, more elaborate vestments, richer altar furnishings, kneeling for Communion, etc.) are all possible within the existing rubrics of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. In particular, the use of the Roman chasuble is not exactly unusual in Europe.

  3. “I think it also shows Benedict’s commitment to the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.”

    About which he has been so clear that surely no one could sensibly doubt his commitment.

    “in the mind of Pope Benedict the ultimate liturgical agenda is not, as some (both pro and con) have claimed, the restoration of what is now called the Extraordinary Form as the norm, but rather a deeper engagement of the post-conciliar reforms with the tradition of the Church.”

    And thus (as I have suggested in a number comments) that a primary goal of Summorum Pontificum is–in addition to preserving it as a treasure of the Church–to provide the EF as a model for the reform of the OF in continuity with tradition, so that it can accord with the liturgical objectives of Vatican II (as Pope Benedict sees it).

    In any event, I have never heard anyone–certainly no one whom I would regard as serious and informed–suggest that he intends the restoration of the EF as “the norm” in replacement of the OF. Whereas many who may be well-informed assume that a single organically developed form of the Roman rite is a historical inevitability at some point, whether or not this is presently anyone’s explicit intent or plan.

    1. In any event, I have never heard anyone–certainly no one whom I would regard as serious and informed–suggest that he intends the restoration of the EF as “the norm” in replacement of the OF
      ——————————————-
      Father Z and the NLM have many contributors who repeatedly take the opportunity to predict the EF will REPLACE the OF. I’ve always thought this was wishful thinking. A case of seeing what you want to see. Pope Benedict has never suggested replacing the NO in any of his writings as far as I’ve been able to tell.

      1. “Father Z and the NLM have many contributors who repeatedly take the opportunity to predict the EF will REPLACE the OF.”

        I would hardly look for “serious and informed” comments among the replies there … or here.

  4. As many no doubt know, St. Peter’s has for the past four decades made do with portable reading stands instead of a proper ambo.

    I didn’t know that, and it comes as quite a surprise to me. I’m thankful for this important addition to St. Peter’s!

      1. Exactly as I remember it when I read at the Papal Mass on the last Sunday of October, 1984. I could have wished for something a bit more sturdy to hold on to! The great marvel was the microphone. It looked so slender and fragile. But with the words “A Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy,” I knew that my voice could be clearly heard at the very end of the nave. The monsignor, one of the assistant MCs, was so very kind. “Bene, molto bene,” he whispered at the end.

        I even got to sing the “Verbum Domini,” coached just before Mass by Monsignor Magee and Monsignor Marini on how to avoid a common mistake on the ending note.

  5. Archbishop Piero Marini, in his essay
    “LITURGY AND BEAUTY:
    Experiences of renewal in certain Papal Liturgical Celebrations”
    says the following excerpts about the ambo in St. Peter’s Basilica (which coincidentally is not in St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran or St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, even the cathedra is missing in Mary Major and St. Peter’s)
    “For Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Office for Liturgical Celebrations studied a project for a solution in the 1980s. The project was to place the papal chair on the left facing the altar, opposite the statue of Saint Peter, and to set the lectern in front of the gates of the Confessio. The project was experimented with for one celebration, then discarded. The solution for the lectern was kept, although with the ambo inside rather than in front of the gates of the Confessio. The problem however persists, both with regard to the requirements of the celebration itself and the theological and pastoral significance of having a fixed location for the Pope’s chair near the statue of Saint Peter the Apostle.”
    “In Saint Peter’s Square it was easier to situate these three areas of celebration: a stable chair on the highest part of the steps near the entrance to the Basilica, the altar at the centre of the upper platform of the parvis; the lectern nearer to the assembly. This last change was made during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. More recently and at present, for various reasons, a mobile Chair placed in front of the altar has been used.”
    “A good solution was found a few years ago for the Redemptoris Mater Chapel: the chair is positioned near the main door, the lectern at the centre of the assembly, with the pews facing the lectern, and the altar close to the far wall. This chapel is an example of harmony between iconographic decoration and places of celebration.[5] It’s an excellent essay on Papal liturgy and the conciliar reforms. Msgr. Guido Marini should read it!

  6. “As young priest Ratzinger broadly supported the aims of the Liturgical Movement. However, it is clear from his writings that he believes the rush for innovation and novelty in the years following the Council betrayed the ideals of that movement”

    And now, I am convinced, as Pope Benedict XVI, he is stimulating an implementation of the Council that is faithful to the constructive ideals of that Liturgical Movement. It natural for some to focus on Summorum Pontificum, some on the new English translation of the Roman Missal, some on the revitalized papal liturgy, some on his encouragement of Latin and Gregorian chant, and so forth. But surely each of these is just one part of a single “big picture”–that of the Liturgical Movement re-started and continued after many detours and dead ends (however well-intentioned may have been their origins) during the past forty years.

  7. To me this is a welcome addition. I only wish it was a little taller, but that is just me talking. I think what it will do is offer a better focus as respects the Liturgy of the Word, than previously at St, Peter’s. I agree with John, and Henry, above, and there is no need to repeat thir comments.

    1. I only wish it was a little taller
      ———————————————
      Yes, elevated and in the middle of the nave with a massive
      ballustrade on either side of it. It would invite a great procession with the gospels down the center of the nave.
      Get rid of the seating and permit the people to stand around it or sit on the floor.

  8. Sometimes a piece of liturgical furniture is just a piece of liturgical furniture.

    This one does not seem so massive that it could not be moved or that it was designed for centuries of use.

    Maybe someone just forgot to put it away?

    “Hey, Joe. That new thing you forgot to put away. They are making a big deal about it in the blogs.”

    1. The wisest comment I’ve read all day.

      I’m between two minds trying to decide whether Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing or Love’s Labour’s Lost comes more quickly to mind.

    2. Jack,

      Would you think the same if St. Peter’s purchased an expensive set of chalices for communion under both species?

      I admit it might mean absolutely nothing. But I still think it is not too far-fetched to see some significance in St. Peter’s investing in a piece of furniture so firmly associated with the reformed liturgy.

  9. Who said they invested in it? Most likely it was donated; just like the Pope recently got a tiara donated. Of course, he didn’t dare to put it on (in public). But he did get his photo taken with its donors. I suspect this is sitting there for the admiration of a particularly wealthy donor.

    When the Vatican invests; it takes on more substantial boondoggles like

    Bertone Has a Fever, He Wants the San Raffaele

    And he’s putting 200 million euros on the table. But the purchase of the hospital of Fr. Verzé is threatening to turn into a boomerang for the cardinal secretary of state. His attempt to win control of the Catholic University is also failing.

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1348686?eng=y

  10. Chris Grady :

    How come you Prophets of Doom are so unhappy with the “innovations” of those “who envisaged a liturgical revolution” but happy to welcome the innovation of two forms of the same rite existing side-by-side – an innovation which Blessed John Paul II died never having heard of!

    I don’t understand why you are so hung up on this and return to it over and over again. The innovation of “two forms” is simply an act of repair between the Church and her own heritage, bringing out the old alongside the new; declaring the latter did not negate the former but should study at its feet. This innovation in tradition’s service (as well as orthodoxy’s) was necessitated by the countless iconoclastic innovations taken after the Council.

    I suppose Benedict sees innovation in this case as “a spear which yet might cure the wound that it itself had dealt.”

    It’s not a particularly difficult thing to comprehend. It is not a justification for yet more unbridled creativity and novelty, rather a permission for a creative restoration of the spirit of the liturgy in light of the Church’s practice as it stood within living memory.

    1. Not an act of repair at all.

      An act of division.

      Repair does not propose an entire substitute, especially not an older model which the owners have found in need of improvement.

      SP says to go back to the model before the one you bought, even though that old has been shown to be defective. Some people just like it better, so we are going to give up on repairs and give them the old piece of damaged goods instead of helping them learn to use the improved version more capably. All the features they say they want are there in the new model, they just prefer to avoid learning how to use it and want to stay with the un-repaired old model. Before SP, use of the old model by those wanting to stay with the model they learned before they were approaching senility seemed a considerate thing. Now, new generations say we should be cranking out more copies of the old model because it has some nice design features, even though it does not meet modern specs. Preserving the old model is in no way a repair.

      Now we have to make more room for the old model and divert more attention and funds to it instead of to actual repairs and further development of the current model.

      Not at all a repair, just another diversion unless it is an about-face, which some above stoutly deny.

      It is not a necessity, but a tactic.

      Here we go again with the loose charge of iconoclasm. Very subjectively judgmental.

      Creative restorations belong in museums.
      It is a major flaw to treat liturgy as a museum piece.

      Study the old missal, all the old missals, and offer the fruit of that study toward the real repair and improvement of the MR, but do not try to use them, from any century, as an alternative rite or form for this time.

      1. Perhaps the old model isn’t considered defective at all by those who prefer it – perhaps it works just fine for some people in a way the new model doesn’t. New isn’t always an improvement, and may not meet the needs of all for whom it is intended. Maybe the old model was discarded too hastily because so many people didn’t know how to use it properly and they felt the only way to fix that was to create a new model rather than to improve the use of the prior one. There are also many features found in the old model that are not found in the new (inherent structural differences that can’t be fixed by simply dressing the new model up to look and sound just like the old one – which makes one wonder why the old one can’t simply be used instead anyway). Maybe the people who prefer the old model don’t want to spend all their time fixing the new model just so it can work almost as well as the old one since that isn’t the point of using the product to begin with.

        Maybe having more than one model available to fit the differing needs of different people is a good thing – it seems like a very contemporary idea to me. Only allowing one new model and totally forbidding all old models (regardless of how well they still work) seems like a very dated mid-20th Century idea.

      2. I agree with Jack. If both are in need of repairs, then repairing the old to bring it up to spec…seems just as valid an option as repairing the new. If there was a problem with people not knowing how to capably use the old, then giving the education needed to make it “useable” seems just as valid as education being needed to make the new “useable.” There is a double-standard again: the problems with the new are just the result of people “not doing it right” apparently, but the problems with the old are just assumed to be structural to the rite itself for some reason. That’s absurd.

      3. Then maybe the old missal needs to be repaired rather than replaced with a new model so as to fulfill the desires of the ecumenical council.

      4. I agree with a lot of these points. I especially like the
        point about the “museum piece” liturgy.

        Why can’t there be a loose framework or skeleton with
        options drawn from different liturgical traditions (eastern and western) and the diocesan bishop making the choices for his diocese? Whether it is from a choice of eucharistic
        prayers, scripture lessons, litanies, chant or hymns,
        altar appointments, etc. I concede the need for oversight from Rome with respect to the establishment of more uniform standards for the anaphora, but the excessive liturgical micromanagement from the CDW is really quite absurd.

        Isn’t the one- size- fits all thinking of so many ultra-
        trads (particularly the 1962 mass rite) out of date
        for a Church looking beyond a purely European setting?
        Something the Vatican II fathers seem to have
        concluded.

      5. Tom, you can’t seriously believe that an ecumenical council can “teach” that a missal is in need of repair as if that is some sort of dogma or inspired by the Holy Ghost, can you? That would be a vast overstatement of the powers of an ecumenical council. They can suggest, in their pastoral capacity, that something should be done, but on prudential/disciplinary questions like this, they could be totally wrong. Furthermore, what may have seemed good for the Church at THAT moment in history almost 50 years ago now…may, in the passage of time, be revealed to have been not of lasting necessity, or no longer good for our time today.

        Dunstan, I don’t think all devotees of traditional liturgy would be against more local rites or usages, in fact the idea is very medieval. The model you suggest for implementing it is totally untraditional, such variation would have to evolve organically, but I’m all for de-centralizing Roman control of the rites and going back to more local diversity. But we’d just have to be careful that people weren’t innovating just to innovate.

      6. “That would be a vast overstatement of the powers of an ecumenical council. ” M.K.

        An elementary introductory course in ecclesiology and systematic theology will tell you that a general ecumenical council, in communion with the bishop of Rome, is the supreme authority of the RCC equal to that of the bishop of Rome alone.

      7. It is. Meaning A) that the Pope could (certainly 50 years later) overturn or alter a Council’s liturgical recommendations, and B) that they still can’t say something needs repair. They can say “we’re going to repair it.” That doesn’t mean it “needed” it. That’s a prudential judgment that is simply not within their authority to say. They can establish discipline, yes, they cannot insist (as if it is a dogma) that the discipline they establish is prudent or that the changes they make were “necessary” or that things will be better afterward than before. One can certainly disagree with the prudence of various such pastoral and/or disciplinary decisions, even if one cannot disobey them as long as they remain in force.

  11. Upon second viewing, this looks to me like it is just a large and unwieldy lectern.

    There is no platform, no elevation to make it easier to speak over a crowd instead of into the bodies of the first row.

    It does not have its own place, with its own weight. It is just plunked down, sort of out of the way. It would even have been better to have it closer to the column behind it to make the reader be set off better by the color contrast and mass of the pillar.

    It might be better yet to put the lectern against the column across from the statue of St. Peter, at the front of the main aisle [nave], similar to the old Jesuit location of a preaching pulpit closer to the assembly.

  12. Jack, as to your comment at # 16.

    One thing that strikes me as odd is that I am always hearing how that, before the Vatican II reforms, the majority of people didn’t understand what was happening in the liturgy, essentially. They were just doing their rosary beads and going along with what they were told, being bored. Now, after the reforms are being (in some measure) questioned, we are accused of being anti-populist, undoing the will of the people, ect.

    But if “the people” never understood the role of the liturgy to begin with, to what extend did they have a role in its new shape? To what extent should they have had, was it true that they were so alienated from its true purpose?

      1. So “popular” really means “what the elite academic liturgists SAY is populist according to their novel theories” not, in fact, what the people contribute (the reforms were as “top down” as ever)? Like some sort of Marxist “vanguard party” you mean?

  13. The changes recommended by the thousands of bishops in SC and implemented while the same bishops were still in their sees, were very popular, even though based on more than a century of scholarship and implemented centrally.

    People liked and continue to like prayers being in their own language, being able to see what is going on, having more variety of Scripture [especially those at Mass daily]. They like the hymns at which so many high cultural folks and traditionalists sneer. They like the idea of communal prayer building community and community building in support of communal prayer. They even like the less convoluted English texts which make up in clarity what they lack in elaborations of praise and doctrine.

    1. A lot of people liked and continue to like the old form too, even though many people would sneer at their preference.

      I fully agree with you that people liked all the changes you listed (you forgot communion from the chalice – lots of people like that too), but aside for a larger variety of scripture, none of the popular changes you listed required a dramatically different missal. Polls from the mid-late 60’s suggest that people really liked the old model in English with some more options and looser rubrics.

      1. You need to do something about this persecution complex. “sneer”

        It is not a radically different missal. It is an evolution after 400 years of stasis.

      2. My “sneer” comment was mirroring a comment you made. You most certainly do seem to sneer at folks like me.

  14. Mr Edwards makes an excellent point. How long of an interval is necessary before the mandates of an Ecumenical Council become an artifact of a particular historical period, and no longer serve as a warrant for implementing or defending changes to the disciplines or worship of the Church? When does Vatican II become Lateran IV?

      1. But that’s just the point; development is not proceeding in the same direction any longer. You would be the first to admit this, as you argue against the “about face” on a regular basis. This is why that some suggest that the historical era of Vatican II has lapsed. Whether this will lead to a revival of previous patterns, or some sort of pluralism, or even something not yet even imagined, is an open question.

      2. “Whether this will lead to a revival of previous patterns, or some sort of pluralism, or even something not yet even imagined, is an open question.”

        A very good point! But what cannot be doubted is that the immediate post-Vatican II period is coming to an end, and another is beginning. I doubt anyone can yet say how the new era will be defined, but I believe that in the history of the Church periods of disintegration have typically been followed by periods of reintegration. If so, after a virtually biblical forty-year period of liturgical chaos, one would therefore expect a period of stability to emerge . (Could one go so far as to conjecture that from the instability of “two forms” will come the stability of a single form again?)

  15. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jack Wayne :

    Then maybe the old missal needs to be repaired rather than replaced with a new model so as to fulfill the desires of the ecumenical council.

    It is sad that you cannot see what developed as the repaired missal instead of insisting that it is a new model.

    Why do you insist on discontinuity instead of continuity?

    1. You seem to be sad an awful lot.

      Why do you insist on division rather than unity? I’m not the one who has a problem with there being an OF and EF.

      1. Of course not. You revel in this hermeneutic of discontinuity and, like its author, call it the opposite of what it is, because, despite its wrongness, it suits your purposes and his.

        More eveidence that you are the Prophets of Doom.

    2. Tom, a Novus Ordo Mass said using any of the “Eucharistic Prayers” except the Roman Canon…will have WHAT similarity to the Old Rite? A basic structural outline (common, in a broad sense, to all liturgies, East and West) and, more specifically (common to most Western Rites) the chants of the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Paternoster, Agnus Dei, Ita Missa Est). The minor propers will usually be different than the would have been (if they are used at all), the collects will have been bizarrely re-written, the lections will be according to a different cycle, the Offertory and Prayers for communion will be different, the prayers at the foot of the altar will be gone, the conclusion will be very different, and the day will be determined according to a radically altered sanctoral calendar.

      I suppose it a semantic question about how loosely we are defining “new model” vs repair of an old model.

      If it is a repair of the old model, they basically stripped it down to the most basic of skeletons (amounting to, basically, a vague structural outline and the Ordinary chants) but with almost all of the “meat” hung on that skeleton (ie, all the proper texts, plus the later Gallican “priest’s prayers”) changed entirely.

      The fact that additional anaphoras were introduced is perhaps most disturbing of all when it comes to the “essence” of what constitutes a unique continuous Rite.

      1. The more we have a sense for what is essential, the more we see the continuity between the pre-Vatican II Mass and the reformed liturgy as called for by the Council. The more we’re stuck on unimportant and marginal details, the more difference we see. Surprise, surprise: I see fundamental unity between the old, unreformed Roman rite and the Vatican II rite.

        Prayers at the Foot of the Altar? Hello?!?

        awr

      2. The funny thing is, if they’re as similar as you say, “your” side of this debate wouldn’t have such strong feelings in terms of insisting on the New. If they aren’t as different as night and day (and they are) then you’re pretty silly/petty seeming for caring so much. If there is a fundamental unity, if the differences are no big deal…then why make such a big deal out of them?

      3. Yes and No. Or, “Distinguo,” as Thomas Aquinas was wont to say.

        Structurally, the similarities are clear. It’s a familial similarity. Introduction, Word, Sacrament, Communion, Dismissal – it’s all there.

        The very nature of the celebration has changed in very important (and salutary) ways – primarily that it is an act of the entire congregation, not predominantly of clergy in a foreign language being watched (or not) by the people who devoutly and attentively (or not) follow what the clergy and ministers are doing “up there, on the other side of the divide of the altar rail.”

        The genius of Vatican II was to see that the great treasury, the great oulines of the rite, is there in good shape, but the entire attitude about who celebrates needs turning upside down. For the sake of this, the structure remains in its essentials but can shed all sorts of later accretions. The true heritage and tradition of the Church is thereby uncovered.

        Stay the course, I say. If a few people here and there don’t have the mind of the Church, we should be generous in giving indults and exceptions for the unreformed Mass, because it’s not the people’s fault that they grew up with a deformed rite and haven’t had good experiences with the improved rite. But make it clear that this is exceptional, outside of the future direction of the church, offered out of generosity despite its many problems.

        awr

      4. It is the act of the entire congregation how, exactly? Because they make the responses and sing the Ordinary? That could be (and was) done in the Old Rite too after a certain point.

        Once again, I can only see a huge double-standard: problems with the New Rite are attributed as merely the result of bad performance, but similar problems in the Old Rite were apparently the fault of the rite itself.

        Of course, there is no particular reason why totally re-working all the Collects or the cycle of Minor Propers or adding newly written anaphoras, or getting rid of the Judica Me, or totally discarding the Offertory…really have anything to do with the ars celebrandi. These are textual changes.

        You want it “made clear” that this is exceptional and not in the future direction of the Church…but that strikes me as rather frightened on your part. If it’s not in the future direction of the Church, why must that be “made clear”?? I’d tend to think it would just become clear in time.

        On the other hand, if our party DOES have success in MAKING it a part of the future-direction of the Church, then it WILL be part of the future-direction of the Church. What will happen will happen; let the market decide. A desire to have victory for your side institutionally declared right now, for the agenda to be “set” in stone right now…bespeaks just as much of an “ideological” agenda as the trads are accused of having.

      5. Fr Ruff -not to sound too rude, but your description of how the indult should be handled and why people would desire it is very very condescending.

        Not everyone who attends the EF does so because “they grew up with a deformed rite and haven’t had good experiences with the improved rite.” Yikes! Do you honestly think that? That doesn’t describe me at all, or even half of the EF-attendees I know. How on earth did you come to that conclusion? Do you honestly think it sounds good to tell people they celebrate a rite that is deformed, riddled with problems, not of the mind of the Church, and not in the Church’s future? As positive as you try to make the indult sound, it seems to me like a recipe for terrible division – a system in which people attracted to the old rite are made to feel inferior and are ultimately alienated from the Church.

  16. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Mark Kendall :

    Dunstan, I don’t think all devotees of traditional liturgy would be against more local rites or usages, in fact the idea is very medieval. The model you suggest for implementing it is totally untraditional, such variation would have to evolve organically, but I’m all for de-centralizing Roman control of the rites and going back to more local diversity. But we’d just have to be careful that people weren’t innovating just to innovate.

    Oh, you mean as the Anglican Use liturgy in the “Book of Divine Worship” has evolved “organically”?

    I would hope there would be in place sufficient checks and balances nationally or at the diocesan level to decide what is an “innovation” and what isn’t without having to rely upon centralized bureaucrats pushing paper and red tape. Largely an outgrowth of Trent.

    Virtually all ancient liturgies developed locally or regionally without details ever needing Rome’s approval. Synods and provincial councils usually encouraged reform/change and the changes were implemented at that level. I can’t see any reason why that couldn’t be the case today.

    1. Right, I agree. I tend to think the principle should be more one of pruning by authority rather than authority positively creating. Let parishes (or, at least, bishops) experiment with stuff, and then STOP them from the top-down if it’s bad, but otherwise live and let live. In other words, let authority’s role in organic growth be “subtractive” rather than “additive.”

      You’d also need priests (or, at least, bishops) trained in the traditional ethos of liturgy, though. People inserting a bunch of prayers of a purely private-devotional character into the Mass or Office (though there was already some of that in the past) would not be good, they’d have to understand which structural elements or building-blocks were traditional and which weren’t.

  17. Anthony Ruff, OSB :

    For the sake of this, the structure remains in its essentials but can shed all sorts of later accretions. The true heritage and tradition of the Church is thereby uncovered.

    What a surprise that the “true heritage and tradition of the Church” happens to be almost identical to late twentieth century mainline liturgical Protestantism!

    1. You mean the stuff that today’s Protestants learned from the mainly RC Liturgical Movement and found worthy and a useful critique to what they had been doing and then adopted?

      You are not under the mistaken impression that the late twentieth century changes in liturgy began with Protestants and were taken up buy the RCC when it was actually the other way around?

      Of course, the RCC did pick up the ideas going back to before the Reformation that liturgy belonged in the vernacular, but I think that got a good long test, serious debate in the RCC academy, and its much delayed approval by the pope and bishops in council.

      Is Protestant such a dirty word for you that you can not consider the intrinsic worth of an idea if someone has associated it with Protestantism?

      1. JDJ might be hinting at — and he can correct me if I’m wrong — the adoption of the RC liturgical reforms by certain Protestant communities, as opposed to the adoption of older RC liturgical forms. In other words, what is it about the 1969 liturgy which is so much more appealing to Protestants than the 1962/1965?

        That question has many, many different answers. It’s not as simple (as some people might argue) that Protestants can welcome some reformed element X because it is “not as Catholic” as the unreformed element Y. [The shameful misquoting of Abp. Bugnini — “we must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block” — is fuel for that particular fire.]

        It may be, instead, that some Protestants (as well as Catholics) could not see the forest for the trees in the older form of the Mass, and that the newer form of the Mass enables that better. But it can still leave some people wondering just how much of the 1962 “trees” really needed to be cut down or moved or replaced with newer “trees”. Thus, some people argue that the 1965 Missal was a fine implementation of Sac. Conc.

        This feeling, I think, is due to the fact that content of many of the proper prayers were changed. Fr. Z often looks at the differences between the 1962 and 1969 collects. None of the proper prayers of the reformed Mass for All Souls actually prays for the souls of the deceased (although the readings mention souls, and the antiphons can as well). People can also compare the Eucharistic Prayers (although I think their core Eucharistic sacrificial substance is the same) or options to do things other than as the 1962 liturgy (e.g. not the Confiteor).

        That’s enough for now.

  18. “…mainline liturgical Protestantism!”

    What kind of Protestantism is liturgical Protestantism?

  19. Mark Kendall :
    It is the act of the entire congregation how, exactly? …
    Once again, I can only see a huge double-standard: …
    Of course, there is no particular reason why totally re-working all … These are textual changes.

    1st graph shows that you have not grasped the teaching of SC that the entire Mass is the prayer of the congregation, not of the priest. Please re-read SC with docile humility and an eagerness to learn instead of however else you may have read it in the past. This is fundamental to understanding RC liturgical theology instead of merely understanding past RC practices.

    2nd graph correctly states that you have serious vision disabilities if you can only see such a narrow view.

    3rd graph seems to indicate that you oppose all textual changes after 400 years of stasis in the MR. This seems quite prejudicial of you, showing an unwillingness to actually study the content and effectiveness of the MR. Liturgical expression needs to be appropriate to the linguistic style and culture of when and where it is used. Again, please see the supporting arguments for this in SC. No matter how felicitous and insightful the Latin compositions of the MR when each was composed and inserted into the liturgy, they had a purpose in their own cultural matrix which is gone.

  20. Mark Kendall :
    You want it “made clear” …that strikes me as rather frightened on your part. …
    On the other hand, if our party … let the market decide.

    5th graph in calling for the market to decide conveniently ignores that the market has decided already and has bought the reformed RCC liturgy in the vernacular, in the midst of the assembly, with communion shared more like a meal among peers, and many other changes bought as improvements. It seems that your approach is like asking for a subsidy for a product which cannot compete on the open market either in public acceptance or in academic argument. Cut you losses on this out dated and inefficient product and invest time and energy and creativity in working with getting the popular liturgy done better according to your performance standards.
    Bringing up partisanship so directly is very revealing. What does it have to do with actually providing better liturgy in parishes? That is quite a different matter from attaining victory for some side. This sounds like an effort to inflict defeat more than to serve the church, more interest in winning than ministering to the needs of fellow Christians.

  21. Of course, no one ever particularly determined that any of the texts changed were not “appropriate to the linguistic style and culture of when and where it is used” except academics and bureaucrats who decided that it was true based on their theories of constitutes populism in this regard. I don’t think any widespread polling was done whereby “the people” were asked to study (vernacular versions of) the old cycle of Collects compared to the new ones cobbled together for the Novus Ordo, and decided that for some reason the old were alienating and inappropriate but the new were loved by dint of their very content and style. The same can be said for the Offertory or old Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. I don’t think these were changed because people all complained about them during the period in the mid-Sixties when they were in the vernacular.

    The truth is, most of “the people,” even who are inclined in their uneducated state to prefer the “simplicity” of the Novus Ordo…usually, when given the choice, jump eagerly at the most “triumphalist,” medievalesque, “Tridentine” styles of prayers when it comes to their private devotions. Even the uneducated are not unaware of when poetry is simply superior.

    There’s a reason people still read and appreciate Shakespeare…

  22. Since the comments have wandered far from the topic of the original post and, in some cases, seem to be following well-worn tracks that are entirely predictable, I am exercising my despotic right as author of the original post and closing the comments. Thanks to all who made a positive contribution to the discussion.

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