Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The "New Translation" of the Mass III--More on the "Reform of the Reform"

A medieval illustration from the
Bibliothèque nationale de France
depicting a Requiem Mass being
celebrated ad apsidem (facing
the rear wall of the Church
I mentioned in the last post the “Reform of the Reform” school of liturgical renewal that feels that Paul VI went far too far in the Reform of the Roman Rite in the 1970 Missal and who have been advocating “correcting” the excesses of the Novus Ordo.  I also mentioned Father Joseph Fessio who as founder and president of Adoremus has been the chief American voice for the movement.  He is not the only advocate of the program, nor is his position on revising the current Rite even the most extreme.  Father Fessio may be a conservative and suffer from an exaggerated sense of his own importance, but he is both intelligent and highly educated.  Not all voices have such credibility.  I had mentioned Father Jerry Pokorsky from the Arlington Diocese.   He founded an organization called CREDO which has long agitated for revisions in the Novus Ordo including a more literal translation of the Latin texts.  Father Pokorsky holds an undergraduate degree in business and a seminary degree in theology.  A liturgical experience in his parish, Saint Michael’s in Annandale is, well to avoid the word eccentric, unique.  There is much razzle-dazzle, one could even say sacred glitter, but little substance in the way of sound liturgical spirituality.   One of  his partners in CREDO, Father Cornelius O’Brien often made pretense to a doctorate which in fact he had never completed.  Sermons by some of the CREDO priests in the diocese of Arlington are often otherworldly—not as in Divine or ethereal, but in the sense of “what planet is this priest from.”  Tales of spurious miracles and implausible hagiographic stories replace the scriptures in “thrill ‘em and chill ‘em” pulpit pyrotechnics.   Father Brian Harrison, an Australian priest who is a convert to Catholicism, received a doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross but his tapes on biblical exegesis that contradicted the Pontifical Biblical Commission and attacked biblical scholarship since Pius XII’s encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu have undermined, indeed destroyed, what little academic credibility he might otherwise have enjoyed.  All in all this is the problem with the Reform of the Reform—From Msgr. Gamber down to “Doctor” O’Brien, there is a lack of intellectual bottom to the movement.   Of course that is not to say that any of the other “schools” of liturgical renewal are any better.  Frankly, I wonder where the scholarship of the Jungmann’s and Dix’s and Deiss’s is today.  Where are the successors of  Odo Casel and Ildefons Herwegen and Lambert Beauduin? Frankly, there is grave need for ongoing renewal of the Roman Liturgy but it cannot be undertaken until a new generation of serious scholars, scholars that have credibility beyond the narrow and intellectually thin world of contemporary Catholic “Theology.” 
     Looking through the publications of various “Reform of the Reform” advocates we can see the movement’s agenda.  This is not to say that each and every voice of the movement subscribes to each and every point, but it does give us an overall view of what this particular group would like to see the Catholic Liturgy adopt.  
      What is the Reform of the Reform all about? 
1.    The priest and people facing the same direction in the liturgy
2.    The restriction of communion to one species for all but the celebrating priest
3.    The elimination of the sign of peace
4.    The restoration of kneeling for holy communion
5.    The administration of holy communion directly on the tongue
6.    The recitation of the Canon in Latin
7.    The translation of “pro multis” to be restrictive (for many) rather than inclusive (for all)
8.    The abolition of all other Eucharistic Prayers other than Prayer I—the “canon” of the Mass in the Tridentine Liturgy
9.    The use of two scripture readings at Sunday Mass rather than three
10.The elimination of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist at the liturgy
11.The exclusive use of men in liturgical ministries
12.The use of black or purple vestments for the funeral liturgy
13.The elimination of concelebration of the Liturgy
14.The use of “Roman” vestments –the “fiddleback” chasuable
15.The revival of suppressed or archaic customs such as the use of the maniple, the biretta, and, for prelates, the cappa magna.
     The 2000 Third Edition of the Roman Missal addressed none of these issues.  The new translation—at the insistence of Pope Benedict—does translate the “pro multis” as “for many,” but other than that doesn’t  address the “Reform of the Reform” agenda.  I don’t mean to say that the “new” missal isn’t problematic, even a step backwards, but it isn’t a threat to the substantial revisions made in the Liturgy after the Second Vatican Council.  What is a threat is what happens in many parishes where priests on their own authority begin to turn back the clock, withdrawing the chalice from the laity, eliminating the sign of peace, closing liturgical ministries to girls and women.     

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