When did the rupture first take place?

Some liturgical commentators who once called for pluralism and ‘reform of the reform’ have hardened their views. Where they once held that Summorum Pontificum established two legitimate and equal forms of the Roman Rite, and that mutual (two-way) enrichment of the two forms was possible, the most ardent ‘traditionalists’ – and they proudly own that label — now believe that the only effective ‘reform of the reform’ would be the abolition of what is now called the Ordinary Form, and its replacement by some version of the older Mass.

Fr Thomas Kocik set out this perspective in a 2014 New Liturgical Movement essay, in which he describes how his own thinking changed, to the point of believing that

the ‘reform of the reform’ is not realizable because the material discontinuity between the two forms of the Roman rite presently in use is much broader and much deeper than I had first imagined. …

To draw the older and newer forms of the liturgy closer to each other would require much more movement on the part of the latter form, so much so that it seems more honest to speak of a gradual reversal of the reform (to the point where it once again connects with the liturgical tradition received by the Council) rather than a reform of it.

Fr Kocik was careful to note, in a follow-up posting, that he was not questioning the legitimacy or orthodoxy or sacramental efficacy of the reformed rites. But others have come close to doing so, labeling the Mass of Paul VI as “diseased”, “deeply flawed”, the product of ignorant, arrogant “eggheads”, etc. The normative Mass may be “valid”, they say; it even may convey some spiritual benefit to those who participate; but there is virtually nothing about it that represents an improvement from ‘the traditional Latin Mass.’

But which traditional Latin Mass? To put it another way – and this is the focus of this posting – when did the irreformable ruptures actually take place? If a ‘traditionalist’ pope were to be elected, how far back would he have turn the liturgical clock to restore continuity? Fr Kocik, in a comment to his first posting, writes

Leaving aside the question whether the ‘Novus Ordo’ should be abolished or simply left to go its own way, the ‘reset point’ would be 1965. In abbeys such as Barroux and Fontgombault, experiments have been made in this direction.

Pray Tell readers, what year or what era, defined as narrowly as possible, do you see as the ‘reset point’?

Please weigh in, but please focus on this question alone.

Some believe that no rupture ever took place, and that the two forms of Mass remain as parallel, equally valuable expressions of the Church’s beliefs and tradition. Others – I am one of them — hold that a substantive change did take place, one that was necessary and good. Some ‘traditionalists’ assert that a deep change happened, but a bad one. Let’s leave all of that out of the discussion, focusing only on when, or over what period, the rupture, if there was a rupture, actually happened. Was it Pope Pius X’s liturgical reforms? Or those of Pope Pius XII – which, after all, were influenced by Annibale Bugnini? The Second Vatican Council itself? The Mass of 1965? Or the normative Mass as we know it today, promulgated a few years later? Or did the changes arrive in centuries before the 20th?

If you believe that a positive change did take place, how far back could the clock be turned without losing those benefits? If you believe that there was an irreformable rupture, what, to use Fr Kocik’s term, is the most recent ‘reset point’ that would restore the value of the Mass?

Disquisitions about the value of the reform, positive or negative, are off-topic and a distraction from this discussion; there are plenty of other places to hold them.


  1. The question on rupture (and there very clearly was one in the 1969-1970 Missal of Paul VI) is one of quality vs. quantity. Changes to the missal, even very large changes, can leave the underlying missal substantively unchanged. For example, the Divino Afflatu and 1955 rubrics changes were very great, but they didn’t leave the underlying missal substantively different (just accidentally). By contrast, the 1970 Pauline Missal was a qualitative shift in the Mass, most notably with the introduction of new Eucharistic Prayers, a whole new Lectionary, a whole new set of Offertory Prayers, and many other things. It was very much a Novus Ordo.

    With all that in mind, it makes sense to me that the Inter Oecumenici to Tres Abhinc Annos period in the middle 1960s was the last non-substantive change to the Traditional Mass. That isn’t to say that’s the best version (I am partial to the pre-1955 form of the mass), but it’s the last accidentally changed one.

    1. I tend to agree with Ryan – the 1970 Missal of Paul VI gave us the greatest qualitative changes after Vatican II.

  2. I appreciate Jonathan’s keen interest in keeping responses to his post narrowly focused, but it’s unlikely to be adhered to. His article pushes a hot button beneath which lies a host of issues. First, I am among those who was very much alive and alert and keenly interested in the “changes in the Mass” that related to SC and the followup papal commission for the envisioned reforms and implementation therof under the authority of the Primacy and with the active cooperation and input of the College of Bishops. I did not discern then nor do I now any substantive “rupture” or break with the Mass as celebrated through the ages according to the Roman Rite. But just limiting the comparison between the 1969 and the 1962 versions of the Roman Missal, both share in common the following structural elements:
    Introductory or opening rites (confession, Kyrie or asperges, Gloria, & collect)
    A liturgy of the word (Lesson[s], response, alleluia, gospel, sermon/homily)
    The Profession of faith
    Preparation of the gifts/Offertory
    Suscipiat, Prayer over the gifts
    The Eucharistic Prayer
    The communion rite (Lord’s prayer, Pax, reception and distribution of HC)
    Closing Rites (Prayer, Blessing, Dismissal)

    What accounts for the differences in externals and rubrics is the ecclesiological, Christological, sacramental, eschatological, scriptural, and liturgical presuppositions of each rite. The 1962 Missal does not know of an assembly of priestly people who in virtue of their baptism possess a right and obligation to full, conscious, and participation in the Mass. The 1969 Missal vividly reflects the updated insights of all the theological disciplines referred to above. The 1962 Missal reflects an understanding of priesthood which speaks of the Mass as pertaining to his priestly office. The Mass is something priests can do even by themselves. In fact, for many centuries the private Mass was normative. The norm for the 1969 Missal is Mass celebrated with an assembly of God’s people. I could go on but won’t.

    1. If you’re going to be that 30,000 feet, you might as well say there’s no difference in any form of apostolic Christian liturgy. But of course, there is.

      Even in your list, you have big changes:

      Intro Rites: the PATFOTA vs the Penitential Rite and its many options
      Liturgy of the Word: two nearly completely different Lectionaries
      Profession of faith: basically unchanged
      Offertory: totally changed–Offertory antiphons different/not in missal, priest prayers different
      Suscipiat/prayer over the gifts–latter totally changed
      Eucharistic prayer–a half dozen new options
      Communion rite–not changed in text much, but radically changed in practice
      Closing rites–very different with loss of Last Gospel

      1. “Communion rite–not changed in text much, but radically changed in practice.”

        I believe it’s worth some attention that it was radically changed as a formal matter: the rite of communion by the faithful became an intrinsic part of the Mass, not the insertion of an extrinsic ritual (at least as I see it regularly denoted in solemn asides in traditionalist discussions) – something that I see as the culmination of an impulse started by a wave trigger from the Council of Trent concerning frequent reception of Holy Communion by the faithful that had to await Pius X to be amplified and begun to be implemented (another illustration of how it can take centuries to digest and implement a council…).

    2. I just comment on Fr. Jack Feehily’s remark that “for many centuries the private Mass was normative”. A look at Thomas Rausch’s article “Is the Private Mass Traditional?”, Worship 64 (1990): 237–42, will demonstrate how strongly it was resisted in church legislation over many centuries. At greater length to the same conclusion is the thesis by Fr Marian Szablewski, Mass without a Congregation: A Sign of Unity or Division? (Cracow: Unum, 2004). The solitary Mass, i.e., without even a server to answer the prayers, was long forbidden except for a “grave cause” or in the case of an indult (e.g., for missionaries). Charles de Foucauld, for example, had to petition for an indult to allow him to celebrate Mass alone in a region where he was the only Christian. Only in quite recent times (the 1983 Code allows it for a “good and reasonable cause”) has the centuries-old resistance softened. That the traditional disapproval was and is often ignored, sometimes merely for the priest’s convenience, does not undermine the profound theological reasons that should discourage the practice.

  3. I would say the rupture/shift (I’d prefer the latter term) probably came in 1967, with the issuing of Tres Abhinc Annos. This brought in a significant simplification of ritual actions and, most importantly, the audible canon in the vernacular. It seems to me that once you have the Eucharistic Prayer as something that the assembly is supposed to listen to and understand, rather than something the priest does more or less on his own (albeit in the name of the assembly), then you’ve got a significantly different liturgical ethos. Something similar could be said about the movement of the priest’s communion to after the Ecce Agnus Dei. I suspect most people today, transported back to 1967, would feel pretty at home in the liturgy.

    I’d be quite happy with the Mass as celebrated according to Tres Abhinc Annos. In some ways, I’d prefer it to the 1969 Missal.

    1. I’d love to see a video of a mid-1960s Mass (1965 Rite?) done for educational, comparison purposes. Otherwise I think we have to rely on missals of the time and the memories of those of us who were kids back then. My memory of the days of the little brown St. Joseph Sunday Missal and Hymnal is fading…

  4. Once new Eucharistic prayers were introduced is when I think a rupture happened, since older materials I have encountered tend to see the Roman Canon as being the heart and defining feature of the Roman Rite prior to that point.

    If I had to choose a reset point, I would choose 1965 or so – when a small amount of simplification and vernacular was introduced. Most traditionalists I know who lived through the era tend to say they didn’t have that much of a problem with the initial changes. Vernacular is one of the few things I sometimes miss about the OF (which I still attend maybe two or three times a year), so I wouldn’t mind that as a starting point personally.

    1. In the Roman Missal of 2100, the Anglican Ordinariate translation will be permitted as an option in the Extraordinary Form where the underlying Latin matches. Book it!

  5. I would agree with Jack Feehily that there was no rupture, only a considerable shift of emphasis. The underlying structure of the rite was unchanged. Only the details within the main lines were altered. That has been the case right the way through the Church’s history, as Keith Pecklers’ splendid book The Genius of the Roman Rite clearly demonstrates. The same basic structure is apparent in the rites of many other traditions, too, which vary considerably in their detailed content but are still recognizably related to each other.

  6. Without wanting to derail Jonathan’s thread in any way, it is my belief that the 1969 Missal of Paul VI was only the first stage in the reforms. It was intended as a springboard for further changes, adjustments and developments in the rite. These further developments were, unfortunately, derailed by a small minority of vocal opponents who are still with us today — still vocal, and still a small minority.

    The powers-that-be were not prepared for this reaction and found themselves on the back foot. Instead of having the courage of their convictions, they put further developments on hold. The result of this is that not only have any significant further changes, adjustments, tweaks, etc not taken place as part of a process of organic development envisaged by those responsible for the reforms, but in fact we are now considerably worse off than we were before, with the confusion introduced by Benedict XVI’s authorization of two parallel rites, neither of which of their nature and ecclesiology have really managed to influence each other to any great extent, and by the attempts of some translating bodies to put the clock back, effectively providing a rite which now appears superficially as neither fish nor fowl.

    Rather than discussing where an imaginary point of rupture occurred, we would be better employed discussing what future developments we ought to have seen by now, and what further developments should follow. The Church should not be compelled to stand still by the hand-wringing of those for whom any change at all was and is anathema.

    1. In cleaning out my mother’s home after her recent death, I came across a well worn paper-bound missal of the 1965 revision of the Mass in Latin, Polish, and English published by the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, MI (for use in Polsih parishes). It was a revision, or reform if you’d rather, but not a rupture.

  7. The rupture occurred in 2007 with Summorum Pontificum and its imaginary two forms which interrupted the natural and proper course of reform, sending people off in search of ways to square the circle and invent counter-factual outcomes such as “mutual enrichment.” It does not surprise me at all that this has proven to be a dead end for at least some who welcomed it. It’s a phantom. The reform is what it is. You cannot undo it by resucitating it’s predecessor. That’s not the way reforms work.

    1. But there is room in the East for the liturgies of Sts. Basil and Chrysostom. The Vetus Ordo never fell entirely out of use, so SP was not a resurrection per se, just an expansion.

      1. I’ve said this many times and will say it again: the liturgical diversity in the East has little or nothing in common with the diversity brought in by Summorum Pontificum. In the east there is geographical diversity, with families of rites growing up in various places over the centuries. Summorum brought in a different beast: two forms of the same rite, one from an earlier period which the church had previously done away with and reformed out of existence. For this there is absolutely no precedent.

        The bishops of Vatican II were clear that the one and only Roman rite was to be reformed, meaning that the only form of the Roman rite they intended to exist would be the reformed rite. There is not a shred of support in Vatican II for the existence of two forms of the Roman rite.

        The old rite was permitted only very rarely and with special permission after V2, making it clear to everyone that its continued long-term existence was not foreseen. When Paul VI was asked whether he would concede to Archbishop Lefebvre the use of the 1962 missal he said this: “Never. This Mass … becomes the symbol of the condemnation of the council. I will not accept, under any circumstances, the condemnation of the council through a symbol. Should this exception to the liturgy of Vatican II have its way, the entire council would be shaken. And, as a consequence, the apostolic authority of the council would be shaken.”


      2. And yet, you had the Dominican rite which:

        1. Diocesan priests who belonged to the third order of St. Dominic were allowed to use it privately (with faithful present) and celebrate it at Dominican churches, these priests celebrated the Roman rite otherwise.

        2. Was used in territorial parishes staffed by Dominicans with Roman rite ordinaries.

        3. The scholarly consensus is that it is a version of the Roman rite older than that promulgated after Trent.

        4. Pope Paul VI permitted the Dominicans to use their free judgment in its use after Vatican II.

        NB: Paul VI was against the use of the 1962 missal if it was used as an ideological banner, not because it had been discarded as hopelessly defective. Not using it as an ideological banner has been held up by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and even Francis, none of whom refuse it on principle.

      3. Alex, and Pray Tell readers,

        We’ve covered this before. Orders have their own liturgies. The old Dominican liturgy was done not because it was a previous form of the Roman rite for those who didn’t like the current version. It was done because it was the rite of the Dominican order (and those they served) – related, for various historical reasons, to the evolving Roman rite.

        Your last paragraph is simply false. One can find a less polemical word than “defective,” I suppose, but clearly Vatican II the current rite inadequate. There is nothing in Vatican II to support the idea that this inadequate rite can be used if it’s not used as an ideological( banner. I don’t see how it could help but be an ideological banner, though, given the judgment on it made by the Church at Vatican II.

        Enough. The post is on when the rupture happened. Please, let’s not hear the same old same old, over and over, debating the merits of the liturgical reform.


      4. The quote from Pope Paul VI seems to show a surprising ignorance of human nature. The best way to make something a symbol is to seriously limit it and marginalize its proponents.

      5. Father Anthony,

        I won’t engage you further in debate on this, though I obviously do not agree with your response. I just want to make sure that I understand where you’re coming from. The way that I read your response, you do not deny the following:

        In the past, two versions of the Roman-rite from different time periods (dominican use and tridentine use, the former being exempt from the reforms of the latter) have coexisted in the same territory under the same ordinary ( i.e. faithful living in territorial parishes staffed by Dominicans, as well as diocesan priests and lay faithful attached to dominican spirituality and enrolled in the third order of st. dominic were under the same ordinary as those who made use of the tridentine rite). (These are all historical facts)

        So Summorum Pontificum is not unprecedented in the sense of allowing two versions of the same roman rite to coexist. Summorum Pontificum is unprecedented because it allows faithful to have access to an older missal because they have found a newer one inadequate in some sense.

        I’m not arguing, I just want to make sure that I understand you correctly.

      6. We’ve covered this before and I’m repeating myself, but here it is again:
        The principle throughout history is that every priest does the rite of his ordinary. The Dominican used the Dominican rite that all his Dominican brother priests used, the rite of their superior and their order. And again, they used a missal that said “Dominican rite,” not an earlier missal of the Roman rite. The missal used by Dominicans did not say “Roman rite” with an earlier date. Note that a Dominican priest did not use the current Roman rite, nor did a Roman rite priest use the Dominican rite. This shows that the case you cite is no precedent for Summorum, which allows the same priest to use either 1962 or the most recent Roman missal.

        BTW, I see that Wikipedia says this of the Dominican rite: “It has been classified differently by different sources – some consider it a usage of the Roman Rite, others a variant of the Gallican Rite, and still others a form of the Roman Rite into which Gallican elements were inserted.” The point is that it is canonically used as a Dominican rite, whatever its history and whatever similarity is has to various forms of the Roman rite. Its existence does nothing to disturb the principle I’ve stated, that there is no historical precedent for two historical versions of the Roman rite being in simultaneous use.


      7. Wait, so by your reasoning, if we decide to call the 1962 missal the “Schroman rite” and call the people who use it “Schromans” then it ceases to be the roman rite as it was celebrated in 1962? If only Lefebvre had thought of it, it would have saved him so much trouble.

        BTW, For a scholarly review of the question of the source of the Dominican rite I recommend Bonniwell’s ‘A History of the Dominican Liturgy’, which is held in high regard by Augustine Thompson. He makes a strong case that the Dominican rite comes from the 13th century Roman rite.

      8. Alex, the old Dominican rite was never the subject of an ecumenical council deciding it was in need of reform and should not remain in use as is. The 1962 missal was. So this game-playing would not have worked.

    2. The only problem with SP is that it came about forty years too late. The toxic way in which the old rite was suppressed and the new one was promulgated had far too much time to create bitterness and division. A drastic reform pretty much requires some sort of traditional option so you don’t end up actively pitting the reform against the received tradition.

      IMO, it’s very telling that pretty much every other church that reformed their liturgy made ample allowances for traditional expressions (divisions still occurred, but seem to be centered more on things like female clergy and homosexuality). One can easily find Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopal churches with some type of “traditional” service – usually in the early morning – with a handful of churches still using the traditional forms exclusively, but doing them well. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but they seemingly learned from us what *not* to do.

    3. I think I agree with Rita Ferrone.

      What I find disconcerting about the promotion of the 1962 Mass in all these conversations is that there seems to be a line of argumentation that the intelligence and brains behind the 1965, 1969 and tweaks in the 70’s Masses were all uninformed and misguided. The name calling still exists (now on both sides) and the 2007 Summorum Pontificum simply added (and adds) credence to those sentiments. And Cardinal Levada’s letter for it’s implementation said it would be “promoting reconciliation at the bosom of the Church” implies that someone was harmed by the OF. Who was harmed and how were they harmed. In 2007 there were much deeper displays of harm in the Church…one does not see efforts of this scale to reconcile the substantive harm for those people.

      Who? It may have been a very powerful group of people who were hurt by the loss of the 1962 Mass and its language and wording, and the ability to pray in the same direction as the faithful. It may have harmed even some that were not even born yet in 1962.

      1. I’ve met a lot of people who were harmed by the changes and the long-term suppression of traditional liturgy – one need only lend a sympathetic ear to older traditionalists once in a while. Many of them have legitimately bad experiences.

        That another group was harmed in other ways doesn’t mean we should ignore traditionalists or continue to treat them poorly. Perhaps it means we should reach out to those other harmed people too.

    4. Thanks for the cogent remarks, Rita. As I predicted at the time, SP has proven to be divisive. That, and LA, have exacerbated the rupture.

      1. There is little objective evidence to support the idea that SP was particularly divisive just because people could more freely celebrate the EF. SP being divisive strikes me as a self fulfilling prophesy. People who didn’t like it declared it would be divisive, put no effort into keeping it from being divisive, put undue focus on the few instances of division that have happened, and many worked very hard to make it divisive. People supporting SP reacted accordingly.

  8. I’m a few years too young to have a memory of the earlier changes from Latin to vernacular. The biggest experiential rupture I recall was musical rather than textual. What year did mimeographed FEL song collections start appearing in pews, with kids from the parish school playing guitar (there could easily be five or six guitarists, all strumming the same strum patterns) accompanying the music? That was the year of the rupture, in my opinion.

    Around the same time, a cantor started leading songs from the lectern (there was no cantor stand at first). That was a big change because music came from the choir loft up until that point – either an organist by her/himself, or with a choir.

    1. This is an interesting post, because it demonstrates clearly that changes occurred in different times in different places. For example, guitars in church did not appear until 1970 or later in many places, and indeed have never appeared in others. In France, the ministry of the cantor was already underway in the 1950s. Vernacular hymns at Mass had been in use in Germany for many decades before the French started using them in 1947 and the English-speaking world followed suit in the 1960s.

      And so it goes on. Our perceptions of change (and rupture) are conditioned by our own personal experiences. There is a temptation to think that it must have been the same everywhere else. In fact it wasn’t.

  9. I’m struck that many of the changes that pointed to the assembly as full and active participants in the liturgy seem to have come about well before the promulgation of the 1969 Mass, or the 1965, or even Vatican II. I can recall Masses in 1963 in which the priest faced the people, and in which everyone said the responses, in Latin.

    Peoples’ missals from back then were already providing translations, or even omitting the Latin for some of the prayers. One of them, the St Andrew, I think, enthusiastically endorsed the Dialogue Mass, which of course precedes SC and Vatican II.

    Literary evidence also points to changes that precede the Council. Evelyn Waugh’s articles, letters and diary entries collected in A Bitter Trial start with an article published in The Spectator in 1962. Much of his upset stemmed from the 1955 changes in Holy Week. Equally, he despised moves that sought to involve the laity in the liturgy. Here’s a diary entry from 1964:

    When I first came into the Church I was drawn, not by splendid ceremonies but by the spectacle of the priest as a craftsman. He had an important job to do which none but he was qualified for. He and his apprentice stumped up to the altar with their tools and set to work without a glance to those behind them, still less with any intention to make a personal impression on them.
    “Participate” – the cant word – does not mean to make a row as the Germans suppose. One participates in a work of art when one studies it with reverence and understanding.

    I think there are similar examples from David Lodge’s novels, of changes that predate the Council.

    So my sense is that the “rupture” took place, or at least took root, much much earlier than 1969, or 1965, or even 1955.

    1. This wrongly presupposes that active participation is somehow contrary to the EF to the extent that it can be seen as a rupture. This strikes me as an unsupportable position, especially considering the importance the pre-Vatican II liturgical movement still holds in traditionalist circles today.

      1. Jack, I will note that we disagree on this — the key word in your reply is “wrongly” — but I won’t further address it here, simply because that will take us into discussions about the meaning of active participation, the best translation of various Latin terms, etc. There are other places for that conversation.

    2. “So my sense is that the “rupture” took place, or at least took root, much much earlier than 1969, or 1965, or even 1955”

      Yes. The term “rupture” seems to imply that the thing ruptured, formerly was preserved behind safety glass or suspended in amber. But it seems the mass was not that; there was preconciliar development taking place.

      Neither is the mass today preserved in amber. Even apart from liturgical changes that are intentionally engineered by various advocacy groups (such as the translation principles that were used for the current missal in English), the world continues to change, and the dialogue between church and world drives changes in worship. “Vernacular” arguably means something different today to many American parishes than it would have in 1970, as the movement of peoples has brought new languages into local communities. And music and preaching in the US cannot but be influenced by what our Evangelical brothers and sisters are up to.

  10. Reminder, everyone:
    The topic of the post is when the rupture occurred. Let’s not renegotiate whether the reform was legitimate, whether the Council was wise or correct in discontinuing the old rite, etc.

  11. The rupture dates to Jan 1964, when Sr Luc-gabrielle performed Dominique on the Ed Sullivan show. (The Beatles appeared a month later…)

  12. May I add something (or throw a spanner in the works)?

    The idea that the Pope can command a liturgical reform which could produce something very different from what went before is what underlies the post Vatican II liturgical renewal/reforms.

    The 1911 Breviary reforms produced a ‘new’ product. The 1911 Psalter was a departure from tradition.

    So may I suggest 1911 as the ‘year of rupture?’


    1. one can made an argument that Divino Afflatu was a breviary rupture. i would more precisely say it was a psalter rupture, leaving the rest of the breviary intact.

      i really don’t see how it’s a missal rupture.

      1. My opening para. explains what I was trying to say. It is about the principle of liturgy reform that includes, but is not limited to, the Missal.


  13. I’m not comfortable at all with the word “rupture.”
    Using it seems to give veracity to those who would turn back the clock.
    Its a loaded word.

    1. there’s no such thing as turning back the clock. it’s a question of using the various liturgical treasures the Church has to offer. younger people don’t view it as then vs now, because we never had then.

      and it’s fair to ask if a liturgical development went off the rails, and when. in the case of the missal, there was clearly a qualitative change made in 1969 in several core chunks of the missal: the lectionary, the offertory prayers, the canons, the orations, and the antiphons. you can’t make THAT many changes and not invite speculation that’s it’s a brand new missal and not merely a development.

  14. I’ve been mulling over Jonathan’s excellent question to readers for a couple of days, because while the question is narrowly targeted (a good thing), there are still a number of perspectives one can take to frame how to answer it. I think it’s important not to give rupture a *necessarily* positive or negative value (it can have both characteristics – for example, metanoia is a form of rupture that is fundamental to Christian discipleship, as Todd Flowerday has well argued over many years). To me, in this context, rupture can be likened to an inflection point.

    Using a different metaphor or analogy, the image that has come to mind considering the direct and indirect/implied answers I’ve seen to this question here and elsewhere is of a large, provisioned ship that was long stuck on a shoal or rock formation during the cyclone of the Thirty Years War and the Scientific Revolution (along with the “Enlightenment) that followed and then weathered another cyclone there in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, only to face a less centrally organized storm in the form of the Industrial Revolution. During this time, the staff on the ship and a significant number of its passengers got used to being on the shoal, and over time regarded it as normal. (Cautionary note: this is *not* a metaphor that moving => “progress”; this is not a linear or a Hegelian synthesis process. Moving here is pilgrimage/journeying on and in The Way.) I refer to these “secular” events not only in a material way, but also for the affect they had on faith lives, for good and ill.

    The sacramental revolution and liturgical reforms of Pius X loosened the grip of the hull the ship from the shoal so that the ship could begin to move again – the first significant rupture which could be felt if you paid attention, but not as easily visible. Then came huge cyclones in the form of World War I, the collapse of ancient authorities in its wake and their displacement in the interwar period, and then World War II and the cold international war that followed. The fact that the ship had the ability to move saved it, though the staff was so long normed to not moving that it was timid about moving, though it experimented after World War II to see how it could work. The Council was the decisive decision *to move*. That was the next rupture. And then the rupture was given specific direction (where) and form (what) after the Council.

    1. what about when a brand new boat was slapped together in 1969 and the old boat was put in drydock until 2007? that’s the rupture–a new boat.

      1. And?

        Of course, in my metaphor, there are people, and they and their journey and purpose-destination are what is important – not the ship for its own sake.

    2. +1 to the nomination of Pius X’s liturgical reforms as the biggest rupture in the Catholic Church in the 20th century.

      It is no accident that after centuries of first communion coming only after confirmation, after a process of intellectual training, sharing communion with younger children changed how those children viewed the Church. Some of those children first touched by the reform became, 60 years later, the bishops present at Vatican II.

      1. And once you’ve decided that the faithful are to be integrated sacramentally in the great sacrifice of praise of the Mass, and not incidentally, does the form of the ritual that matured and was then amberized in ages long after such had ceased to be the case (forgotten and therefore elided ruptures) invite fresh consideration?

  15. Some polarization on important matters like the Eucharistic liturgy seems rooted in significantly different historical and ecclesiology all perspectives. On the one side are those who believe that at Trent “the Church” had full authority to entrust to Pope Pius V the publishing of a new missal whose use was to be required by everyone and everywhere. Because there were so many variations on the Roman Rite it took about 200 years before the decree of Pius V was complied with. I would hope that all who know history would agree that biblical, ecclesiological, sacramental, and liturgical scholarship of the 16th century underwent considerable development beginning with the closing decades of the 19th century. Those developments came to fruition before, during, and after Vatican II and inevitably shaped the thinking of the periti, the council Fathers, and the Popes. Employing the full authority of an ecumenical council and of the full and immediate jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome, a revised missal was set in place in 1969 which was to replace the one which went before it. Like the missal of Pius V, it has met with resistance and opposition from a relatively tiny percentage of Catholics. If we conceded that there are as many as a million Catholics who cling to the TLM, that would be about 1%. With Francis saying there is no going back and to stop talking about the RTR, isn’t it time to move on?

  16. Ryan, you have unwittingly grasped the point!

    But there’s still no rupture, because it’s still a boat — a new and improved boat, but still a boat. In other words, a continuance within the broad frame of the tradition, with some different content — some of it new, some of it older content and now reinstated, all of it better suited to today’s world.

    A rupture, on the other hand, would have been, say, a bicycle instead of a boat. That’s the point that Jack Feehily and I have been making. The Missal of Paul VI was not a bicycle; it was merely a newer boat than the one before. That’s why I maintain that no rupture as such actually took place. Changes, yes. Rupture, no. The main lines of the rite remained the same as before.

    I remember Joseph Gelineau likening the liturgy to a house. You need four walls and a roof, and a front door. Once you have those, you can decorate and arrange the interior of the house in any way or colour you like, even having your bedrooms downstairs and your living quarter upstairs. And as long as everyone knows where the bathroom is, and you don’t do something silly like putting the fridge behind the front door so that no one can get in, you’re fine.

    The trick is knowing which elements of the rite are the four walls and the roof, etc (which are unchangeable) and which are the interior furnishings and decor (which can be altered at will). People who talk about rupture have failed to distinguish the two. For them, any significant change is a rupture. But in fact only dispensing with a wall or the roof would be to cause not just a rupture but a collapse of the entire structure. What Vatican II did was akin to a thorough cleaning, plus installing central heating and double glazing. The house itself remained intact.

    1. “there’s still no rupture, because it’s still a boat — a new and improved boat, but still a boat. ”

      I’m brought back to my first philosophy class, in which the professor tried to distinguish between substance and accident by emphasizing the essential “shoe-ness” of a shoe. It seems now we are being asked to think about the “boat-ness” of a boat and the “house-ness” of a house :-).

      To run with the proposed metaphor: if I disembark from one boat and board another, that is different than having repairs or remodeling done to a boat on which I am traveling. The former sounds like a “rupture” in the mode of transportation, while the latter doesn’t. FWIW, I consider the liturgical renewal to be more like the latter than the former.

      But – to stick with the nautical metaphor just a moment longer – the so-called “Jesus boat” archeological find at the See of Galilee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Galilee_Boat) showed signs of being built from wood that had previously been used on still older craft. How many components on a boat may one change out before it ceases to be the original boat and becomes a different boat?

      (Or musically speaking: when Michael McDonald replaced Tom Johnston, did the essence of the Doobie Brothers change?)

      1. “How many components on a boat may one change out before it ceases to be the original boat and becomes a different boat?”

        It’s in the nature of a wooden ship for its parts to be gradually replaced over years in refittings and repairs (well, if you’re thrifty: large sailing wooden warships were among most complex and expensive things engineered by human hands until the Industrial Age). The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) is the oldest ship in active commission afloat at 221 years of age, and most (estimated 85-90%) of it has been replaced over time (and in recent generations parts that are removed become privileged mementos).

  17. Rupture is nearly always a subjective impression. A person who does not follow sport sees no difference between teams or even levels of ability. A fan may go into a crisis when their championship-winning team replaces its coach or star player and drops deep in the standings to “rebuild.” For the diehard supporter, rupture is real. It may look like the same game to the uninitiated, but their sports-crazed friend is in crisis.

    From my perspective, a rupture of sorts took place with Liturgicae Instaurationes, the beginning of pessimism and drawing back from liturgical reform. 1998 was another.

    As I’ve said on this site and on my own many times, rupture is not a bad thing at all. The life of faith beckons a person to move from seeker, to believer, to disciple. Those stages involve significant rupture: contrition for sin, movement into a particular vocation, ending old practices, and engaging new things. Sometimes we look back. We fall into old habits. Even the apostles went back to fish one last time (John 21). A provincial fisherman becomes the rock of the Church: how does that happen in a lifetime without significant rupture?

    That said, we can recognize that some things we wouldn’t consider a rupture are, to the experience of others, truly so. My own sense would have been whenever local Mass began to be celebrated in the vernacular. That’s the biggest one. Number 2 would have been the first significant redecoration–removal of altar rail and moving the altar. Third may have been the introduction of new sacred music genres. For those concerned with rupture, it was a local event, not a universal one.

    And let’s concede the obvious: rupture may be a good thing done poorly. It adds to the pain to see cherished foundations taken away, but done in a clumsy way. Example: people show up for Mass Sunday morning and the altar rail is gone.

    Or, change can just be stupid. Case in point: a new pastor is appointed and fires the music director. Another: a new music director is hired and the parish repertoire is overhauled overnight.

    1. The different forms of Mass might also mean different things to people who come from different generations. I discovered the EF and most traditional devotions and music as an adult. I simply didn’t grow up with any exposure to, or knowledge of, these things. These “new” traditional experiences invigorated my faith and totally shifted my perception of the importance of participating in the Mass (from it being generally unimportant to being something I couldn’t live without). This discovery was for me personally a “rupture” of sorts, and if I were to “look back” or “fall into old habits” it would be to return to sporadic attendance at the OF.

      1. Thanks for the comment. It confirms my sense that “rupture” is more a subjective experience than a theological one. That doesn’t negate the stress that people experience with rupture. Subjective experience also isn’t at all a bad thing: it can be a means by which God leads people to concrete experiences which urge movement forward on particular fronts.

        In sum, rupture is a spiritual and human reality. The person of faith looks for opportunity, and doesn’t dwell exclusively on the lament. The Psalms give apt illustration of this. Laments are frequent, and the feelings deep and true. But every lament includes a strain of hope at the end. People who have dwelt on the lament have forsaken their Judeo-Christian heritage.

      2. Jack,

        Your experience is not unlike my own, where I first encountered the “Tridentine Mass” (still in the “indult” days before Summorum Pontificum) and chant and polyphony as a college student. Ultimately, my faith was deepened, as was my understanding of and participation in the (OF) Mass.

        That said, at the very beginning, I felt the “rupture” in feelings of anger and of having been betrayed that were directed toward the Church (and specifically toward Vatican II) — that my “rightful inheritance” had been taken from me and thrown away long before I had any chance to have a say in it. I would guess the feeling was not all that different than those who lived through the liturgical reform and perceived it as more “bitter trial” than liberating opportunity.

        It was only upon learning about the fact that the “indult” existed (circa 2004), then occasionally attending the Masses that I understood that we still possessed that “inheritance”. It was only upon entering seminary that I began to learn how to integrate experiences of prayer in both forms of the Roman Rite and to draw spiritual fruits both from the form I found and came to love, as well as the form in which I was raised (and also came to love, especially in celebrating Mass as a priest).

        Slowly, this integration has drawn out the poison of that bitterness and anger resulting from that “rupture” — yet those insights and that integration only came because of the magnanimous generosity of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI toward the faithful who begged to have legitimate access to the Usus Antiquior because it was the form of prayer most fruitful for them. I am grateful that Pope Francis has chosen to continue that tradition of generosity, even though it seems he does not personally find the EF to be spiritually fruitful.

        Indeed, if anything, “falling back into old habits” would be falling back into the feelings of anger and betrayal of my college years, or the spiritual apathy of my high school years.

  18. Benedict XVI, in his Christmas address to the cardinals in 2005, spoke of 2 different hermeneutics used to interpert Vatican II. The hermeneutic of reform sees rupture within continuity with the past. A hermeneutic of discontinuity otoh sees only the discontinuity. Benedict clearly favored the hermeneutic of reform.

    If we see the bicycle or the new boat as a complete abandonment of the old boat, we are using a hermeneutic of discontinuity. If the wood from the old boat is built into the new, or even if the bicycle enables the passengers to continue the journey, it is a hermeneutic of reform.

  19. This question is difficult to answer because ‘Ordinary Form’ can mean many different things. It can mean Latin, facing East and traditional polyphony, as most famously in the Brompton Oratory, and in this case it looks so much like the ‘Extraordinary Form’ that some of the faithful mistake it for that (although I find it more stilted and less easily flowing than the ‘EF’, which I would prefer). However, if we have facing the people, vernacular, contemporary music and a ‘presider’ with a chatty style, it would be very hard not to feel a rupture.

    Another way of looking at the question would be comparing the texts of the Missal, and especially at the rubrics. There, a new and somewhat awkward tone (e.g. with ‘Solemnis actio liturgica postmeridiana’ instead of ‘Missa Praesanctificatorum’) seems to come in in the 1950s.

  20. I have just had a memory of my youth at a Catholic school between 1961 and 1964.
    We had regular masses in the school hall.
    Celebrant facing us at a table on the front of the stage, and all joining in the responses. And singing English hymns (remember having the symbolism of Christ as a pelican being explained.)
    Meanwhile on Sundays in church Mass was facing the altar, deacon and subdeacon, choir doing the singing, ministers saying the responses and congregatiion silent – the full Tridentine nine yards. Now THAT was a contrast with school Masses.
    It wasn’t uniform before Vat 2, and not everyone was surprised at the novelty of versus populum. Not so much of a rupture for some.

  21. As far as the Mass is concerned, there is no doubt that the rupture occurred under Pius XII, with the ill-advised reforms (really, reinventions) of Holy Week. The future traditional Pope will take as a default the missal as it stood ca. 1948, before the Liturgical Movement had gained enough strength to start the long process of derailment (derangement?) that has led to our present malaise.

  22. While there were major changes before, I would have to say that the rupture occurred in 1969 with the new Mass. Prior to this, all of the reformed Masses could have been said with a previous Missal with the appropriate changes noted. Also, there could have been a natural movement back and forth as adjustments and reevaluations of specific changes were made. With the Missal of Paul VI, however, all this became impossible. Additionally, with the 1969 Missal, the Roman Canon all but disappeared. So I would have to say 1969.

  23. I am grateful for the many and thoughtful comments on this post, which have helped me clarify my own thinking about the timing of the ‘rupture’.

    I have come to the view that the seeds of change were planted very early in the 20th century, and that developments reached a watershed not with the Second Vatican Council, or Sacrosanctum Concilium or the promulgation of the normative Mass, but earlier, with Pope Pius XII. I see his Mediator Dei as a document in tension between past and future, but ultimately laying a foundation on which Sacrosanctum Concilium would be built.

    So: to reverse the changes we have seen – changes that, as I said in the post itself, were good and necessary – the clock would need to go back at least to 1948, as Peter said; but, more likely back to around 1900, before Pius X became pope.

    I hope that we can someday run a series here in Pray Tell with a close, inquiring reading of Mediator Dei.

  24. Just in terms of the point of rupture, a perhaps pedantic point.

    Bi-ritual priests have been a thing since well before the Council of Trent, though not always a thing in favour. Accordingly it can’t really be said SP was a rupture point on the basis it allowed priests to celebrate a rite other than that belonging to his ordinary.

    That particular horse bolted centuries ago.

    1. If a priest is bi-ritual, I would take it to mean that liturgically he has two ordinaries since his pastoral care is divided between two communities of different rites. The odd thing about SP is that it creates a bi-ritual rite with the ordinary really having little or no jurisdiction about their use.

      1. In the past diocesan priests could enroll in the third order of st. Dominic and use the Dominican rite in private, while still remaining under their own Roman rite bishop, that is without changing their ordinary.

        Also, in Milan the governor at one point in late 16th century was allowed to use the Roman rite whenever he pleased, something that his ordinary (Charles Borromeo) was not too happy about. (Milan had the ambrosian rite)

      2. It’s interesting that it had to be in private – I believe Paul VI decreed exactly the same for elderly or blind priests who would have difficulty adjusting to the 1970 missal – they could use the old one but not in public.


      3. These diocesan priests were also allowed to use it publicly in Dominican churches, in addition to using it in private whenever they wanted (they of course followed the standard Roman rite in all other situations unlike the priests who received the Paul VI indult.)

      4. The canonical commentaries seem to indicate bi-ritual facilities don’t mean one acquires a new shared ordinary or indeed canonical rite*.

        It is just an indult which means, for example, a Latin rite priest with a Latin rite Bishop can celebrate a specific other rite as pastorally required. Which is, with universal application, essentially what SP does as well.

        * (One states, for instance, that bi-ritual privileges “does not mean that its bearer has become a member of two rites simultaneously, nor does it mean that he becomes the subject of two systems of particular law or two different hierarchies”.)

  25. A reminder from the original post:

    Disquisitions about the value of the reform, positive or negative, are off-topic and a distraction from this discussion; there are plenty of other places to hold them.

  26. Then, let me say this: the point of departure was the issuing of SP which gave priests permission to use the 1962 Missal as if it had never been abrogated.

    1. If one wanted proof that it was never abrogated, one need not trust Benedict XVI. One could simply read Archbishop Bugnini’s liturgy memoirs. He requested abrogation c. 1974. The request was denied. He was well aware that from a legal point of view, abrogation had not taken place.

      1. Yes, the former rite was definitively abrogated. Once again, I cite Pierre Jounel:

        Questioner: What would you say to those people who don’t want to know the Missal of Paul VI, and to those who, while respecting it, regret that it was imposed to the exclusion of the Tridentine Missal?

        “I would say to them that they use computers, that they live with the instruments of the culture of their time, and that they have no reason to get stuck on the 1570 date when the Missal of Pius V was promulgated. Why should the liturgy be frozen then, when it had been periodically renewed up to that date? These people lack historical knowledge. Msgr Lefebvre was absolutely convinced that the ancient formula for Confirmation goes back to the time of the apostles, when in fact it only dates back to the 13th century.”

        Jounel then goes on to demonstrate how Paul VI followed exactly the same procedure with his Missal as Pius V had with the Missal and Breviary in 1570, Clement VIII in 1595 with the Roman Pontifical, Pius X with the psalter of the Breviary in 1911, and Pius XII with the Holy Week rites in 1955. In all these cases, the previous usage was abrogated and replaced by the new. This is the Church’s constant practice, he said.

  27. As of the First Sunday in Advent 1969, the revised Roman Missal replaced the 1962 version. There can only be one Roman Rite. The conviction that there can be two Roman Rites has led only to division. I pray that should Francis outlive his predecessor he will have the courage to significantly modify SP, the source of rupture.

  28. There is only one Roman Rite. It has two forms. If Paul VI had the authority to create a new Missal, Benedict had the authority to permit wide use of the old Missal.

    1. Not according to Vatican II – it authorized a reform of the liturgy but did not authorize the continued use of the unreformed liturgy.
      But yes, according to papal power – popes have the authority to go against an ecumenical council.

      1. In the context of the issue of “rupture”, I think it’s a relevant question to ask how inviolate, and for how long, are the prescriptions of a council.

        Vatican II speaks more than once of “hodiernum tempus”…”today’s times.” How long does the “hodiernum tempus” of a council last? Until the next one? Until the last Father has gone to his reward?

        Benedict…a peritus of the council in question…clearly sees no contradiction between the council’s prescriptions and his liturgical decrees.

        I personally would put the “rupture” in c. 1955-1956. If, that is, “rupture” is the word one wants to use (I’m not sure it is).

      2. The council fathers did explicitly state that “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.”

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