Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is Vatican II in Danger? V Reform of the Reform

In 1996—eleven years before Summorum Pontificium, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, then rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, a church well noted for the high quality of its liturgical celebrations under his direction, wrote an article for America Magazine in which he analyzed five distinct liturgical movements in the Church in the United States.  One of these schools of thought called for the restoration of the preconciliar rites, a goal at least partially achieved by Summorum Pontificium.  A second school of thought, or liturgical movement, Mannion termed “Reforming the Reform.”  This group was profoundly unhappy with the post-conciliar developments of the liturgy claiming that they went far beyond the reforms explicitly mandated by, the council. (And, by the way, I believe he was right. That is in part what I implied in a previous post when I said that the only people who truly understand the New Rites are those who have objected to them on the basis of their discontinuity with the 1570 Rite.)   Mannion cited a book published by the late Monsignor Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, published in English in 1993 as providing the ammunition the “Reform of the Reform” advocates have used as a basis for their plan to restructure the post-conciliar liturgy.  Gamber admitted that the Council needed to address the issue of the Liturgy as the Roman Rite had become “ossified” and devolved into mere rubricism.  Nevertheless, he believed that the Missal of Paul VI, issued in 1969, had not only gone far beyond the changes mandated by the Council but represented some serious breaks with the Tradition of the Church.  Mannion, in his article, wrote that the Reform of the Reform movement put particular blame for the Novus Ordo of Paul VI on ICEL (The International Committee for English in the Liturgy) and faulted the bishops for abdicating their responsibilities to “specialists and scholars.”  The Reconstitution of ICEL in 2003 by mandate of the Holy See and the subsequent retranslation of the Roman Missal, the translation which will be effective in the United States in Advent of 2011, indicates the strength of the “Reform of the Reform” school even though the new missal does not reach all their objectives.  

The objective of the Restorationist  movement, at least as regards liturgy, is the restoration of the pre-conciliar liturgy as the only liturgy, or at least the preferred form, in the Western Church.  This goal has been partially achieved by Summorum Pontificium in giving a carte blanche to priests to celebrate Mass in the “Extraordinary Form” at their discretion regardless of the pastoral oversight of the bishop or even the preference of the congregation.  What are the objectives of the Reform of the Reform?  Father Brian Harrison, a spokesperson for the Reform of the Reform, suggested in bulletins of Adoremus, the leading American voice of the Reform of the Reform movement, called for the following changes in the liturgy:
1.      The abolition of all other Eucharistic Prayers other than Prayer I—the “canon” of the Mass in the Tridentine Liturgy
2.      The recitation of the Canon in Latin
3.      The restriction of communion to one species for all but the celebrating priest
4.      The priest and people facing the same direction in the liturgy
5.      The use of two scripture readings at Sunday Mass rather than three
6.      The exclusive use of men in liturgical ministries
Other changes often proposed—and often implemented in parishes by pastors sympathetic to the movement—by Reform of the Reform advocates are
1.      The elimination of the sign of peace
2.      The use of black or purple vestments for the funeral liturgy
3.      The restoration of kneeling for holy communion
4.      The administration of holy communion directly on the tongue
5.      The elimination of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist at the liturgy
6.      The elimination of concelebration of the Liturgy
7.      The use of “Roman” vestments –the “fiddleback” chasuable
8.      The revival of various customs that had been suppressed or fallen into disuse such as the use of the biretta, the maniple, “subdeacons,” etc.  

Slowly but with certainty various elements of the Reform of the Reform have been introduced in many parishes and dioceses.  It is not unusual, for example, to see purple or even black vestments used for a “Requiem” liturgy along with various other accoutrements of the old requiem mass—the candles around the catafalque or the use of the Requiem Aeternum and other chants.  The Swine Flu epidemic gave rationale for suspending the sign of peace and communion from the chalice, but these practices have not been restored in many places even though the crisis passed.  Bishop Slattery of Tulsa wrote a letter to his faithful informing them that henceforward he would—at least in his cathedral—be celebrating the Liturgy ad absidem—that is facing the back wall of the church.  He is not alone in this practice. According to the website of the New Liturgical Movement, one of the voices of what Mannion called The Reform of the Reform—though also an advocate of restoring the pre-conciliar liturgy—the following notice appeared in the bulletin of St. Benedict’s Church in Duluth MN. 
All the Masses at St. Benedict's parish (with the exception of the early Sunday morning Mass) are celebrated in the common posture turned towards the Lord (ad orientem) in the direction of the liturgical east.

We will continue this topic in our next blog, but a clarifying word about “ad orientem.” I hope in the next few weeks perhaps to do an expanded article on the historical issue of “ad orientem” which means “towards the east” and refers to the ancient (but not universal) custom of Christian worshippers—officiants and participants alike—to face eastwards for prayer.  The Sun, a symbol of the Resurrected Christ, rises in the East.  When a church building is “oriented”—that is laid out with the altar at the eastern end—one can say that worship is “ad orientem,” but this term is often used to simply to mean that the priest and congregation stand (or kneel) face the same direction, that is facing the altar and the wall beyond it.  Except in those situations where the church is actually laid out facing eastwards, the correct term is actually ad apsidem (toward the apse or rear wall).  When advocates of the ad apsidem posture use the term “the liturgical east” they create an artificial pole that actually mocks the theological significance of the eastwards position.   

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