Don’t Miss It: Faggioli on Liturgy Reform and the Rest of Vatican II

Don’t miss it – the featured post over to the right is a very strong piece by Massimo Faggioli: The Liturgical Reform and the ‘Political’ Message of Vatican II in the Age of a Privatized and Libertarian Culture. (Reprinted from Worship magazine.)

I take the main point to be that the liturgical reform is part and parcel of the larger reform and renewal of all aspects of the church called for by the Second Vatican Council. It’s all a package deal.

I think Faggioli is connecting the dots rightly. As he points out, for Marcel Lefebvre the issue was not just that he liked the unreformed Tridentine liturgy. His rejection of the liturgical reform was part of a larger (and internally consistent and coherent) rejection of ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, a recalibrated relationship between the church and Jews, and one should especially emphasize, religious liberty. They all go together.

Perhaps this test case, which comes from me and not Faggioli, helps make the point: Should women be admitted into the sanctuary and be allowed to exercise liturgical ministry? There was a prohibition of this before Vatican II. But now women are acolytes, lectors, commentators, cantors, lay Eucharistic ministers, and so forth.

Let this change be emblematic of the many changed relationships brought about by the council. The move, broadly speaking, is from authoritarian subordination to (at least increased) collaboration and dialogue. The unreformed liturgical practice that overemphasizes clergy over laity, and lay men over lay women (only boys can be servers) made perfect sense in the larger context of authoritarian subordination in other aspects of the church’s life. The church then related to the modern world and secular states in a stance of privileged superiority (or sought to). Same with Catholic truth and other positions – error has no rights and religious liberty is rejected. Ecumenism? Heretics and schismatics are called back to the one true church, which already possesses within itself all the unity intended by the Lord Jesus. True equality between men and women, between husband and wife? No, not really.

If you believe in subordinating secular states to religious authority, and erring consciences to Catholic truth, it also makes sense to subordinate lay women to lay men and clergy and keep them out of the sanctuary. It’s your authoritarian model of relationship in so many other areas, it might as well be the model in the liturgy too.

The ban on women in the sanctuary in the Tridentine liturgy, then, was not a superficial or peripheral thing. It was integral to the whole world view, to the basic assumptions about how Catholics and Christians and humans are meant to relate to one another.

The question, not just in liturgy but in everything, is this: do we accept the changed relationships brought about by Vatican II renewal, or not?

Anyway, I hope my test case doesn’t distract from the article itself. Do go read it. Comments are closed here – let’s do all our discussion in one place, over at Faggioli’s article.