V2-50th Anniversary I: “The Liturgical Movement and Sacrosanctum Concilium: Unread Vision, Constant Hope”

Moderator’s note: Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, was promulgated on December 4, 1963. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of this revolutionary document, Pray Tell is running a series of daily posts this week.

by Katharine Harmon

In 1986, liturgical movement pioneer Therese Mueller had an opportunity to reflect on liturgical renewal in her lifetime. Her daughter, Gertrud Mueller Nelson, had just published a new book on living the liturgical life in the family—titled To Dance with God. Therese Mueller was delighted that the next generation was translating the vision of liturgical movement advocates into the edgily modern world of the 1980s.

Therese and her husband, Franz Mueller, had been devoted advocates of liturgical education, participation, and promotion of family life. Therese was a frequent speaker at national liturgical events and at the local parish level. Through the 1940s and 1950s, she was frequently called upon to explain how she and her family adopted practices and customs throughout the liturgical year to teach the meaning of the liturgy and to participate in it, not only in liturgical worship in the Church, but in the daily life of the home. However, even with her daughter’s new book, Therese felt a certain disjunct between the years of the liturgical movement—full of hope and vision—and the years following the Council:

And then came the Second Vatican Council—the Council, which fulfilled hopes beyond our wildest dreams, but which also brought changes that made many people uneasy and even perturbed. No one asked for any more talks.

No one asked for any more talks, presentations, discussions…about living the liturgical life. Why? A strange dichotomy exists between the vision of the liturgical movement and the reality of the Catholic world following the Council. Rather than all the world being restored to Christ (Instaurare Omnia in Christo, St. Pius X’s motto), the world seemed far less under the influence of Jesus, with tangible evidence including dramatic drops in church attendance, in lessening attention to feast days and daily mass, and in fewer trips to the confessional. A number of Catholics, as Therese Mueller suggests—were perturbed, or alienated, or disheartened. Some could not reconcile the utter destruction of rules (e.g., swallowing anything less than three hours before communion) which heretofore the transgression of which had meant immediate transport to the Devil’s Door. And, while some parents watched their children grow in love for the liturgy, other parents watched their children turn away from their faith and their families, and turn toward drug abuse or atheism.

If the liturgical movement was a social movement, a spiritual movement, that sought to realize Christian society, teaching all the faithful to better be that Mystical Body of Christ and to bring Christ’s love to all corners of the earth…then the liturgical movement failed. It remains, as liturgical historian Keith Pecklers, SJ, so aptly named it, “the unread vision,” borrowing a leaf from T.S. Eliot’s haunting poem, “Ash Wednesday.”

Yet, a distinction needs to be made between the hopes expressed by the liturgical movement—and how these hopes were realized in the Council and through the institution of the principles of liturgical reform. What did the liturgical movement hope to change? While the changed experience of liturgical worship was the most tangible difference experienced by the faithful following the Council, the external changes were secondary to the internal conversion for which the liturgy called. The liturgical movement began with a vision for a new social order: learning the content of the liturgy and actively, intelligently participating in it, would prepare the faithful to be Christ for the world, united with each other, advancing peace and justice throughout the world. Allowing changes in rubric or translation to consume attention distracted and still distracts the faithful from attending to the function of liturgy, or the res (reality) of liturgy: unity in Christ.

How is a vision for a new social order articulated in the Council? In a papal bull delivered on December 25th, 1961, Blessed John XXIII convoked the Council with hope, seeking to “give the Church the possibility to contribute more efficaciously to the solutions of the problems of the modern age.” The Council was a moment for the Church to “fortify its Faith” and to “contemplate itself in its own awe-inspiring unity,” promote the “sanctification of its members,” and to offer the “lost, confused, and anxious” a sign of peace. The first paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium begins by articulating this hope more specifically. The Council sought to: 1) renew the lives of the faithful; 2) adapt those elements which are subject to change to the needs of the times; 3) inspire an ecumenical hope to foster unity among all Christians; 4) and invite all to hear the message of Christ.

With regard to the liturgy, as this opening paragraph concludes, these pastoral and ecumenical goals would be achieved by “reforming” and “promoting” the liturgy. What did these strategies of “reform” and “promotion” mean?

Liturgical movement pioneer and peritus at the Council, Msgr. Frederick McManus, provides some perspective regarding this two-fold principle of “reform” and “promotion” of the liturgy. In a commentary on Sacrosanctum Concilium, published in Worship in April 1964, McManus described “reform” as involving accommodation to present needs and circumstances, and as an acknowledgement of the “never-ending development of liturgical forms.” Meanwhile, “promotion” described the efforts of the liturgical movement:

“Promotion has reference to what is commonly called the liturgical movement or apostolate—the whole complex of endeavors to teach the meaning of the Eucharist and all the celebrations which depend upon it, to take full advantage of the didactic and formative influences of the liturgy, to develop the fullest active and sincere participation of all the people in the services of worship, to stir up the faith and the holiness of the people of God.”

McManus and many others had realized that, as the liturgical movement evolved through the decades of the twentieth century, promoting the liturgy and reforming or changing liturgical structure had become the same task.

In short, the themes of the liturgical movement are the themes of Sacrosanctum Concilium. They can be seen clearly in the sections describing General Principles (“I. The Nature of the Sacred Liturgy and its Importance in the Church’s Life”; “II. The Promotion of Liturgical Instruction and Active Participation,”) and within the General Norms (“III. The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy”). We’ll examine a selection of these themes below.

Baptismal Identity: The liturgical life in which the Church comes together begins with Christian Baptism (SC 6). By virtue of our baptism, Christians are called and commissioned to be as Christ would be. The importance of baptismal identity flowed from a retrieval of patristic ecclesiology. European scholars in the late nineteenth century began retrieving the notion of the Church as a living organism, the body of Christ, rather than a juridical institution alone. As Virgil Michel, OSB, would describe in a 1930 article titled “True Christian Spirit,” “Thus membership in the Church is not confined to the minimum discharging of a debt, but implies an active participation in the life of the Church. To be a member of the mystic body of Christ means always to be a living member, and to cooperate actively in the life of the whole.” Baptism, then, did not mean receiving a membership card which allowed one to exchange good confessions for eucharistic grace, but inscribed a dynamic way of being. Christian baptism demanded active participation in the Christ life.

Mystical Body of Christ/People of God: Christ is present in the gathered assembly, as well as the presider, the Word, and the Eucharist itself (SC 7). Complete worship is “performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.” (SC 7). Being a member of the Mystical Body implied a different way of being at Mass. This might mean abandoning the comforts of personal prayer for the prayer of the community. Grace Schutte, a lay person writing for Orate Fratres in 1933, described taking up this baptismal call: “One feels a stronger bond of union with other members of the Mystical Body of Christ, for when we join in the Church’s official prayers, we are raised above the sphere of the personal. We no longer pray for ourselves alone, but in the name of all those who are united to us in the mystical union of Christ and His Church.” In the General Norms drawn from the Hiearchic and Communal Nature of the Liturgy, one sees the stress on liturgical services as having to do with the whole body of the Church, and a preference for communal celebrations rather than private: “Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church which is ‘the sacrament of unity,’ namely, the holy people united and organized under their bishops.” (SC 26).

Role of Devotions: This change in what people might do during Mass reflects the tension amongst Catholics between “traditional” devotional customs (novenas, meditative prayer books) and “praying the Mass.” Praying the Mass meant attending to the ritual of the Mass in an intelligent way, usually with the aid of a missal, a tool which was becoming much more widely available for use by lay people. Such prayer did not necessarily mean anything but mental participation. But at least “following along” with the aid of a missal meant that the liturgy itself was transferred to the center of importance for the life of the faithful, and that the nature of the liturgy was embraced, not only as providing a space for prayer, but as an act of prayer. Liturgical movement advocates, such as Ellen Gates Starr, writing in 1929, saw the rich formation inherent in liturgical prayers of the Mass as a stark contrast to the “mediocrity and vagary in private devotions.” While Sacrosanctum Concilium highly recommends the “Christian people’s devotions,” such devotions are to harmonize with liturgical seasons, accord with the liturgy, be derived from it, and lead the people toward it, as “the liturgy by its very nature is far superior” to any string of rosaries or forty hours’ devotion (SC 13).

Liturgical Formation and Instruction: In preference to the variety of activities which might be taking place during a Mass, the collective body of the faithful praying together at Mass awakened new possibilities for formation. The rich food of the liturgy taught the mystery of salvation, with prayer and gospel tracing salvation history through the course of the liturgical year, while text and ritual described how the faithful became united to Christ and to their neighbors.

To some extent, education about the liturgy and education gleaned from the liturgy describe the central strategic principle of the liturgical movement. Everything about the liturgy in the twentieth century demanded a new way of seeing—and doing—things. Education was crucial, and people “studied” the Mass in many different ways—from Study Clubs organized amongst Catholic parishes or colleges, to preparing the texts of the Missal before attending, to talking about the readings with children (as Therese and Franz Mueller did with theirs), to reading Catholic journals and newspapers.

Such liturgical education needed to take place on both the “external” and “internal” levels. On the one hand, people needed to become familiar with the very structure of the Mass: the various ritual elements, the readings, the liturgical year. One might need various types of knowledge to accomplish this, including, at least at the beginning of the liturgical movement, a familiarity with liturgical Latin. However, the end of the liturgy was even more important. The heart of the liturgy, which all the rubrics, vestments, texts, and chants adorned, was nothing less than the reality of the Mystical Body of Christ. Education called for conversion: a changed way of being by being in liturgical worship.

One can see a suggestion of this “external”/ “internal” view of the liturgy in Sacrosanctum Concilium when it describes the need for pastors of souls to form the faithful in “external” and “internal” liturgical instruction. This suggests that not only should the faithful be cognizant of the meanings of external ritual forms (and this implies preference for participation in the rite itself, not in singular devotions), but be aware of internal formation—or perhaps sacramental formation—afforded by participation in the rite (SC 19).

Active, Intelligent Participation: Importantly, liturgical instruction is paired with active participation, and active participation was closely paired with ownership of liturgical language. At first, Catholics were encouraged to use Missals to aid in “assisting” at Mass by following along in the Latin, while resources such as Mary Perkins Ryan’s 1940 text, Learn Your Catholic Language, encouraged the faithful that they really could learn some Latin. Yet, new Latin-to-English missals soon became the best-selling editions (and thus prompted publishers to produce more versions). Furthermore, reliance on a Missal also seemed somewhat problematic—could one only participate in Mass if one had purchased a liturgical decoder ring? Increasingly, Catholics wondered if participation might not only mean reading along but speaking out loud (through the Dialogue Mass or Missa Recitata, in which portions of the prayers and Mass ordinary were recited by the congregation along with the priest and servers). And, still further, Catholics began to wonder if the surest way to active participation was to remove completely the barrier of language and pray the Mass in the vernacular. Liturgical pioneer Fr. Hans Anscar Reinhold, among many others, became convinced that use of the vernacular would become invaluable for effectively and immediately making the Mystical Body of Christ known in any context, and in the modern world.

Cultural Adaptation: This move to the vernacular, then, became the adopted strategy of the liturgical movement. The central statement on the vernacular in Sacrosanctum Concilium describes the “great advantage” that the use of the vernacular might have for the People of God (SC 36). However, the shift toward the vernacular was not only a move to improve educational potential and promote active participation, but was also a legitimization of cultural media in the modern world. Latin was no longer a common, public medium for conversation; Latin was elite, privatized, and academic. If liturgical worship took place in the communal, public assembly, how could its primary medium be divorced from the cultural context, qualities, and talents of its participants? Thus Sacrosanctum Concilium’s general norm for “Adapting the Liturgy to the Temperament and Traditions of Peoples” is, implicitly, attending to this thrust of the liturgical movement to attend to cultural particularity. The importance of using the vernacular would be felt even more deeply in “mission” territories.

Source and Summit: Finally, Sacrosanctum Concilium tells us that the liturgy was the “indispensable source from which the faithful” were to derive the “true Christian spirit” (SC 14). Liturgical movement pioneers had relied on this motto, drawn from Pius X’s motu propio (Tra le sollecitudini, 1903). Virgil Michel would take Pius X’s words a step further in a “syllogism,” a philosophical conclusion, which first appeared in 1935:

“Pius X tells us that the liturgy is the indispensable source of the true Christian spirit. Pius XI says that the true Christian spirit is indispensable for social regeneration. Hence the conclusion: The liturgy is the indispensable basis of Christian social regeneration.”

The liturgy is the source of Christian social regeneration. It is the summit to which the Lord “draws the faithful and sets them aflame,” in which grace is poured forth upon us “as from a fountain,” and inspires the faithful to “hold fast in their lives” that which they have grasped by faith (SC 10). More succinctly, the liturgy is “the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed” and “the source from which all its power flows” (SC 10).

The liturgical movement sought to enliven and realize a restored social order led by the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Sacrosanctum Concilium articulates this desire by describing the liturgy as the context in which the Church—the People of God—become sign for all the world, pointing to Christ. Pointing is not passive participation. Active, intelligent participation in the liturgy prompts us to active, passionate care and concern in the world through social justice and outreach. Liturgical pioneers, such as Fr. Reynold Hillenbrand, saw this fundamental ground of the liturgy as the location for formation of the Mystical Body of Christ acting in the world. At the 1943 National Liturgical Week, Hillenbrand claimed, “The mystical body provides the compelling reason, the driving force to set things right. The Body is one, a living Whole. What one group suffers, all suffer. We must see Christ in all His members. We must have a deep, intimate, living conviction of it. And we will acquire that conviction at Mass, where we are one at Sacrifice!”

Just as Therese Mueller saw continuity and rupture between the liturgical movement and the experience of the Church immediately following the Council, divided perception of liturgical renewal continues in the present. Forty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium was issued, Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS, observed the coalescence of opposing “sides” which each lamented the status of the liturgy. One “side” bemoaned the “loss of transcendence,” while another “side” waited impatiently for “true social activism.” Fifty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, both sides continue to be disappointed. The liturgical movement, however, had bigger plans than promoting either beautiful liturgy or social activism; its eschatological hope could see no separation between the two. Liturgical movement pioneers expressed their hope through action, and saw their hope realized in key thematic principles and norms in Sacrosanctum Concilium itself. Perhaps we in the present should not be disappointed, but borrow a leaf from their vision by heeding our baptismal call, actively participating in the Christ-life, and being that sign of Christ’s love in the world. We can continue to hope…that the liturgy may bring us beyond ourselves to that true transcendence which brings us to communio with God and neighbor.

Katharine E. Harmon, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Theology at Marian University in Indianapolis. She is author of the 2013 Liturgical Press book There Were Also Many Women There: Lay Women in the Liturgical Movement in the United States, 1926-1959.



  1. Since we may well have another of those 60’s and Vatican II discussions, let me introduce some new information from a recently published book Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations . I got the book because it has evidence based on a longitudinal study that (despite all the contrary ideas out there) religious transmission of affiliation, intensity, participation, Biblical beliefs, and civic religiosity by families did not decline between 1970 and 2005!

    However the book contained an additional bonus: interviews with people in the following generations about their beliefs in regard to religion and spirituality.

    World War I (1909-1915)
    Depression Era 1916- 1931
    Silent Generation 1932- 1945
    Early Baby Boomers 1946-1954
    Later Baby Boomers 1955-1964
    Generation X 1965-1979
    Millennial 1980-1988

    I am late Silent Generation but since I began college two years late because of my Jesuit Novitiate, I have tended to think of myself as an Early Baby Boomer. Well this book allowed me to discover my Silent Generation self in regard to religion and spirituality! Perhaps there are other members of the Silent Generation who may make the same discovery.

    This study found it was the Silent Generation that discovered religion and spirituality. Before the Silent Generation there are only vague ideas of spirituality. However we of the Silent Generation found that God existed not only in Church and in Heaven but also existed in ourselves, and all around us in daily life. The Silent Generation accepted all this as an integrated whole; later generations would develop their own ideas about how religion and spiritualty would be defined and related to one another.

    I discovered the Divine Office on my own when I was 14. Discovered Thomas Merton Seeds of Contemplation through a teacher friend when I was 16. Discovered Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement when I was 21. All of these were locations of religion and spirituality outside the traditional parochial ones, and all predated in my life the effects of Vatican II.

    Now all these “other forms of spirituality” have a long history in the Church going back thousands of years. However they were largely locked up and controlled among the clergy and religious. What happened to the Silent Generation(in my opinion) was access to all of these through education. Much of it self –education although there were some lay professors who were already familiar with all this in my experience (e.g. a math professor and an English profesor).

    So the big culprit in changes of religion and spirituality as also with the rise of “feminism” is really education. Give people access to education (and now the internet) and they and the world will no longer be the same.

    Scholars of liturgy and Vatican II may well want to take a look at this book and its generational findings as they think out what happened immediately before and after Vatican II. It is very readable with a lot of interview data. Also I have only given the Silent Generation portion of the study; the other Generations are equally interesting.

    Book could be a good book for pastoral staff too. Lots of good information about family transmission, what works and what does not. Also the generational data may be interesting.

  2. I’m thinking this was just an overeager typo: >>Moderator’s note: Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, was promulgated on December 4, 2013.<<

    Surely the moderator meant Dec. 4, 1963….

  3. Actual, intelligent participation in the Mass and transcendence and reverence (in the traditional sense) need not be mutually exclusive in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. In Rome last Sunday the outdoor papal Mass saw Pope Francis speaking all of his parts including Eucharistic Prayer III in Italian (although laity and clergy were international) and all the parts of the congregation in singable Latin, including the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons. Pope Francis liturgical demeanor and the actual participation of the 70,000 there as well as the pope’s “ad orientem sort of way” of praying the Mass coupled with the altar’s pre-Vatican II decoration had all of what seems missing in most local parishes (not all certainly).
    Also we know Pope Francis is actively supporting the recovery of popular devotions amongst all of us. Even in the Liturgy we have seen him “drag in” some popular devotions, such as in Brazil when he took the statue of Our Lady at the final blessing of the Mass and blessed the congregation. He also touches the statue of Our Lady at the beginning of Mass or the end. And he had a lengthy prayer of consecration of the world to Our Lady at an outdoor papal Mass with well over 100,000 in attendance. As well at the closing Mass of the Year of Faith, the bones of St. Peter were present and the brought to the Holy Father so he could embrace them as the Credo was chanted (kind of like holding Rosary Beads during Mass, no?)So popular devotions and the actual participation at Mass don’t have to be mutually exclusive but can have some integration.
    At the papal Masses there are lay lectors and those who offer the Universal Prayer. Interestingly though, the custom begun again under Pope Benedict at the outdoor Masses only of having the Gospel proclaimed at a separate lectern on one side and the other Scriptures and the Universal Prayer on the other side has been maintained as a kind of Epistle side and Gospel side of the sanctuary.

  4. The genuine popular devotions of Latin America which Francis is fostering, and which we see in the USA in the culture of people from Latin America, the Philippines, Vietnam has very little to do with 1950s USA nostalgia promoted by those who want to restore a pay, pray and obey culture.

    Francis concept of popular piety is very dynamic, the very antithesis of nostagia: cf THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL 122-126

    122. In the same way, we can see that the different peoples among whom the Gospel has been inculturated are active collective subjects or agents of evangelization. This is because each people is the creator of their own culture and the protagonist of their own history. Culture is a dynamic reality which a people constantly recreates; each generation passes on a whole series of ways of approaching different existential situations to the next generation, which must in turn reformulate it as it confronts its own challenges. Being human means “being at the same time son and father of the culture to which one belongs”.[97] Once the Gospel has been inculturated in a people, in their process of transmitting their culture they also transmit the faith in ever new forms; hence the importance of understanding evangelization as inculturation. Each portion of the people of God, by translating the gift of God into its own life and in accordance with its own genius, bears witness to the faith it has received and enriches it with new and eloquent expressions. One can say that “a people continuously evangelizes itself”.[98] Herein lies the importance of popular piety, a true expression of the spontaneous missionary activity of the people of God. This is an ongoing and developing process, of which the Holy Spirit is the principal agent.[99]

    If one reads the understandings of religion and spirituality in the Families and Faith study one comes closer to understanding the psychological and sociological underpinnings of what Francis is talking about in #122.

    Many of us in the Silent Generation along with previous generations had a very good integration of religion and spirituality. The problem was that priests, e.g. those who ran the Catholic colleges were not willing to turn over spiritual leadership of the colleges to us. They preferred to hire people who were more compliant or even had little or not faith but secular competence. That ultimately led to the secularization of Catholic colleges and universities.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #4:
      In the two formerly Jesuit parishes in my diocese, the one I currently pastor and another now closed in Augusta , up until the early 60’s every Sunday night there was a novena of some kind and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the two churches were full! The Holy Father certainly brings his South American sensibilities to the recovery of Popular devotions but more importantly his Jesuit sensibilities. He respects the devotional sensibilities of Europe, in particular Italy and has encouraged those forms. I am sure he would in no way disparage the popular piety of the laity in the 1950’s USA especially those promoted by the Jeduits and all the Ones of European immigrants as though these are second class compared to South and Cental America. Pope Francis is not going to be enthnocentric in this regard!

  5. The old ethnicities have largely died out because they intermarried both among Catholics and later among non-Catholics. You can’t bring back those ethnicities or those generations. My German Catholic maternal grandmother very much opposed the marriage of my mother to my Polish Catholic father. So the German and Polish Catholic traditions died out in my parent’s generation as they did for most ethnics. What was left in me was a generic Catholicism looking for both American and Catholic roots which I found in abundance.

    I am an American Catholic, and Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day are my popular religiosity and spirituality as they were for many of the members of the Depression Era and Silent Generations. Merton and Day are the two American Catholics who have had the largest influence upon Americans both within and outside the Church. They are models for evangelization, and of course Merton and Day were very much for the poor and for peace amd social justice, the two issues central to Francis program of evangelization:


    176. To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world. Yet “any partial or fragmentary definition which attempts to render the reality of evangelization in all its richness, complexity and dynamism does so only at the risk of impoverishing it and even of distorting it”.[140] I would now like to share my concerns about the social dimension of evangelization, precisely because if this dimension is not properly brought out, there is a constant risk of distorting the authentic and integral meaning of the mission of evangelization.

    185. In what follows I intend to concentrate on two great issues which strike me as fundamental at this time in history. I will treat them more fully because I believe that they will shape the future of humanity. These issues are first, the inclusion of the poor in society, and second, peace and social dialogue

    In the history of American Catholic spiritualiy Day and Merton have been categorized as “radical Catholics” rather than as liberals or conservatives because they went to the heart of the Gospel and the heart of the problem of America which is our wealth and power used for violence.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #6:
      Interesting, Jack and appreciate your cultural pieties analysis. Unfortunately, Allan just repeats his usual mantra and, of course, completely missed the points of Ms. Harmon’s excellent article and history.
      To wit:
      – “While Sacrosanctum Concilium highly recommends the “Christian people’s devotions,” such devotions are to harmonize with liturgical seasons, accord with the liturgy, be derived from it, and lead the people toward it, as “the liturgy by its very nature is far superior” to any string of rosaries or forty hours’ devotion
      – “If the liturgical movement was a social movement, a spiritual movement, that sought to realize Christian society, teaching all the faithful to better be that Mystical Body of Christ and to bring Christ’s love to all corners of the earth…then the liturgical movement failed. It remains, as liturgical historian Keith Pecklers, SJ, so aptly named it, “the unread vision,” borrowing a leaf from T.S. Eliot’s haunting poem, “Ash Wednesday.”

      And the lame attempt to connect Francis to the Jesuit legacy in two parishes in Georgia – well, what can one say?

  6. It seems unreasonable to me that those in the liturgical movement believed that changes in the liturgy would lead to a total reconstruction of society. When complete renewal inevitably failed to materialize, things were bound to get ugly.

    1. @Sean Peters – comment #10:
      It IS utterly unreasonable that liturgical movement pioneers believed society could change–and yet, that’s the same story for Christians throughout history, isn’t it? What is so fascinating about this time is that, in a modern world full of world wars, telgraphs and radios, and painful social divisions, Christians were looking to the liturgy as a starting ground for finding change.

      Complete renewal was never about the liturgy alone–it really was about hope for a world restored to Christ. The liturgy MADE us better be the body of Christ in the world. It’s a “taking serious” of the liturgy that we might hope to have in the present.

  7. I guess one of the key questions for me is, has the revised Mass become the source and summit that SC thought that it would be? I guess that’s the other side of the coin to the Liturgical Movement’s hope that a revised Mass would renew society.

  8. More than once the author writes “Catholics wondered…” or “Catholics…began to wonder” when it would be more accurate to say that a small number of influential Catholics began to push their ideas about what kind of liturgical change would best realize their vision of social reform. Speaking of “Catholics” without qualification implies some sort of grass-roots mass movement, which was not the case.

    1. @Fr Thomas Buffer – comment #13:
      You’re distorting the history. I’ve studied the liturgical movement extensively in many countries and multiple languages, and your version of history doesn’t match the facts. To be sure, it was led by pastors and scholars, not lay people, so in that sense it wasn’t grass-roots. But those scholars and pastors were deeply in touch with lay people and, where they disseminated their ideas, they found resonance among lay people. I would also add that the liturgical movement was a bit less influential in the US compared to Europe – I add this in case you’re speaking only of the US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *