Sunday, August 5, 2012

Scholarly Antidotes to the "Reform of the Reform"

Yesterday I mentioned the work of Josef Jungmann and of Dom Gregory Dix as sounder histories of the Liturgy than Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s skewed work, Die Reform der römischen Liturgie, (in English: The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, Una Voce Press, 1993).   Josef Jungmann was an Austrian scholar of the Liturgy whose monumental work The Mass of the Roman Rite has served as the classic work on the history of the Roman Liturgy.  Jungmann was born in Austria in 1889 and entered the seminary for the Diocese of Brixen.  His pastoral work in the Austrian Tyrol alarmed him in as that he found that so many of the people among whom he ministered were driven to their religious practices by fear of God’s Anger rather than by a joyfilled confidence in the mercy that God has offered us in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. (And this insight was long before Vatican II!  For many people today religion is still a a relationship of trying to appease God rather than thankful celebration of confidence in his Mercy.)  This revelation of the spiritual and psychological sickness from which so many people suffered in the name of religion made Jungmann’s first passion not liturgy but catechetics or the teaching of sound Christian orthodoxy.  
Jungmann entered the Jesuits four years after his ordination as a priest and his work in catechetics led to his being appointed to the famous theological faculty at Innsbruck Austria where he was several times to serve as rector of the Jesuit community in addition to his teaching responsibilities.
Jungmann had the insight to realize that the strongest and most effective tool that the Church has with which to catechize the faithful is the liturgy itself.  The old axiom Lex orandi lex credendi shows us that you shape people’s faith by shaping the way they worship.  This led to his study of the historical development of the Roman Catholic Liturgy.  During World War II Jungmann and the other Jesuits at Innsbruck were kept under house arrest by the Nazis and prevented from teaching.  Jungmann used this opportunity of a forced sabbatical to research the history of the Mass and he produced his monumental work, The Mass of the Roman Rite, in this period.  His liturgical studies had a massive impact in the post-war years.  Combined with the liturgical research, writing, and experimental work done by Odo Casel and the monks of Maria Laach abbey in Germany under Abbot Ildefons Herwegen in the first part of the twentieth century, Jungmann’s work contributed to the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy for Holy Week under Pius XII and then to the 1970 Missal of Paul VI which abolished the Missal of Pius V (1570, also known as the Tridentine Mass or Liturgy) in favor of the current rites. 
Jungmann’s reputation for scholarship and his extensive influence in liturgical reform led to his being invited to the Second Vatican Council where he served as a peritus  (theological expert) and played a significant role in the writing of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council’s Decree on the Liturgy. 
Parallel to Jungmann is Dom Gregory Dix, an Anglican Benedictine Monk, born in 1901, and like Jungmann ordained a secular priest who only afterwards entered religious life.  Dix’s choice of religious life—the Anglican Abbey of Nashdom—clearly marks his bias as an “Anglican Papalist” or an Anglican who believes that the Anglican Communion should return to union with the Papal See.  He believed in corporate reunion, however, and not individuals jumping Canterbury’s ship to “swim the Tiber.”  Before entering Nashdom Dix had had a brief career at Oxford, lecturing at Keble College.  His affiliation with Keble, like his joining Nashdom, is a clear indication of his Churchmanship which was (to some alarmingly) “High.”  In 1945 he published his magnum opus, The Shape of the Liturgy.   Like Jungmann he had done a brilliant study of the Fathers and other ancient texts and his study set off a panic among the “Low Church” or evangelical faction in England as his emphasis on the “offertory” rites as a constituent element of the Eucharistic Celebration challenged their Calvinist theory and praxis.  (I cannot but wonder what he might think of the Missal of Paul VI where you have the “preparation of the gifts” as opposed to the “offertory” of the Tridentine and Medieval liturgies.)  In any event, Dix has not had the same degree of recognition for his scholarship as Jungmann but I believe the importance of Dix, though not formally a Catholic, is that his scholarship confirms Jungmann’s work as there is a harmony between the two scholars on the historical development of the Liturgy of the Western Church.  Reading the two books one gets a very integrated understanding of development of the Mass from apostolic times until the 16th century and sees the biases of Klaus Gamber and the flaws in his work on the Roman Liturgy that reflect those biases.     
For those interested in serious study of the liturgy, let me recommend –in addition to Dix and Jungmann—The Study of the Liturgy by Cheslyn Jones, Edward Yarnold SJ, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Paul Bradshaw (Oxford University Press, 1992).  This book contains a series of articles that is of superb scholarship and confirms the 1970 reforms.

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