Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Death of the Reform of the Reform, 5: 1965?

The Psalm Judica: crossed out in 1965
In my last post I discussed the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin. This is an example of the 'Reform of the Reform' whose value is now being questioned by a number of people, prompting a return to first principles. So let us accompany them to these first principles.

One reason why many good-hearted people wanted a 'Reform of the Reform' is that some kind of reform was called for by the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium ('SC'). Now that some of them have given up on the project of tinkering with the Novus Ordo, an alternative would seem to be going back to the 1962 Missal and using the Council's criteria to make the reform again. To undertake the Reform We Should Have Had. Fr Somerville-Knapmann suggests it might look like the transitional Missal of 1965. Fr Mark Kirby says very much the same thing with more detail.

The first thing to note is that this wasn't a new edition of the Missal, but just a set of provisional revisions made by the Instruction Inter Oecumenici. There was another lot in 1967, and then the new Missa Normativa came out in 1969. Inter Oecumenici says about itself that it

authorizes or mandates that those measures that are practicable before revision of the liturgical books go into effect immediately.


Until reform of the entire Ordo Missae, the points that follow are to be observed: ...

The most striking of these 'points' are that the vernacular is allowed for most of Mass (the rest followed two years later), a number of silent prayers are said aloud, the Psalm Judica in the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, and the Last Gospel (and Leonine Prayers), have gone, and Mass is encouraged facing the people. It is interesting to note that, apart from the 'wider use of the Vernacular', none of these changes find direct support from the Council.

Rubrics erased in 1967

On these changes, what can one say? The animus against silence in the liturgy has undergone a complete reversal since 1965. Pope Benedict pointed out in one of his World Communication Day messages that

It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place...

In the Spirit of the Liturgy he says, of the silent prayers of the Mass,

The number of these priestly prayers has been greatly reduced in the liturgical reform, but, thank God, they do exist.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of 1965. (And see the FIUV Position Paper.)

Mass versus populum is, perhaps the aspect of on the reform which has come under the most sustained attack by those otherwise committed to the 1970 Missal. Cardinal Ratzinger's critique in The Spirit of the Liturgy is simply blistering. The FIUV Position Paper refers to a remarkable sermon of Cardinal Schönborn, preached to Pope John Paul II, all about the importance of worship 'obviam sponso', facing East: and Schönborn is no trad. Fr Michael Lang's book on the subject, with a foreword by Cardinal Ratzinger, reveals the seriously deficient historical scholarship which was used to support the versus populum position.

The Psalm Judica and the Last Gospel are now back in the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariate. The consensus of the 1950s and early 1960s that these were useless accretions to the operative Eucharistic liturgy has collapsed, even in the Congregation for Divine Worship.

On each of these issues the old consensus was based on a functionalist approach to the liturgy. You identify what the liturgy does, and clear out the bits which don't do it. The same era gave us functionalism in other areas of life too: functionalist buildings which eschewed decoration or even elegance, because these things aren't necessary for a building's function of keeping you warm and dry. It wouldn't be such a stupid idea if the theorists didn't have such a narrow view of functions. (Is that really all that buildings do?) But it's old hat now, in any case: it belongs in the history books. Are we really going to live by the discarded theories of the 1960s? Can't we benefit from all the scholarship which has been done since then?

Fr Kirby suggests that at the time the 1965 changes were understood as 'the reform', complete, but this is contradicted by the very text of the document implementing it, and by the fact that no new edition of the Missal was printed. He quotes the then Cardinal Secretary of State Cicognani as saying that: “The singular characteristic and primary importance of this new edition is that it [the revisions of 1965] reflects completely the intent of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.” Unless he was being deliberately misleading, or had been misled, Cicognani must surely have meant 'as far as it goes.'

Last Gospel: crossed out in 1965
Indeed, the poor mugs in the pews were deliberately misled by Cardinal Heenan (as he later admitted) to stop them rioting. But in those days ordinary Catholics did not have easy access to the official documents.

Again I have to disagree with Fr Kirby and Fr Somerville-Knapman about 1965's connection with the norms of the Council. As already noted it goes beyond them in some ways; in others it doesn't fulfil them. For example it hadn't caught up with the multi-year lectionary which SC explicitly mentions. Again, changes later justified by reference to the Council's talk of 'noble simplicity' and texts 'not difficult to understand', and the rejection of 'useless repetition', have not been applied in 1965; some came in 1967.

But it is no mystery why. 1965 represents not a purer level of the reform, before the bad people took over. It represents exactly what it says it represents: those changes which were easiest to implement, from a purely practical point of view. It didn't require the printing of a new Missal, the approval of new texts, or the construction of a complicated multi-year lectionary. It just needed few minutes annotating the old Altar Missal with a felt-tip pen. When Inter Oecumenici was issued work on the 'entire Ordo Missae' was already in progress. For example, the principles of the new lectionary were decided at a meeting of the Concilium in April 1964. Fathers! Get out your copies of Bugnini's Reform of the Liturgy and see for yourselves. It is recorded on p410.


As I noted at the start of this post, a major motivation for seeking solace in 1965, as with the whole Reform of the Reform movement, is the idea that, because the Council called for liturgical reform, we are obliged to show our loyalty to the Council by having a reform of some kind, even if it not the kind which actually happened. The loyalty to Mother Church here is noble, and I don't want to criticise that. But we must keep in mind two things.

First, the Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium is a compromise between what quite radical reformers wanted, and what the Fathers of the Council would accept. (The radicals were already practicing versus populum, handshakes at the kiss of peace, wide use of the vernacular and so on.) This means that we are never going to establish to everyone's satisfaction what the clear meaning of the document is.

Second, any proposal for reform is necessarily a matter of prudential judgement. The Council Fathers were not stupid, and their advisers were not evil. They were nevertheless subject to all the difficulties involved in hugely complex prudential judgements, where the ultimate consequences of different proposals are impossible to predict. The type of reform envisaged was something, remember, that the Church had never before attempted.

A massacre of signs of the cross in 1967,
and changes to the Words of Consecration
in 1969

In sum, we are not obliged under pain of sin to undertake a reform of the 1962 books because it was called for by the Council. If that were the case, Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum would have been impossible. He not only allows us to continue to enjoy the ancient liturgy, but, in the letter accompanying it, he actually places an obligation upon us:

It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. 

This post concludes the series. No doubt the debate will continue.

You can get all the posts of the series (annoyingly, in reverse order) under this label.

Photos: a mutilated Altar Missal. The owner tried to keep up with Inter Oecumenici in 1965, and Tres annos abhinc in 1967, and even the changes to the Roman Canon in 1969. The 1967 changes eliminated almost all the genuflections, signs of the cross, and the kissings of the Altar.


  1. Hello Dr. Shaw,

    This has been a superb series – arguably the most thought provoking set of essays on liturgy I have read in years. I hope that it gets wide dissemination.

    The obvious rejoinder to the notion that 1965 encapsulated the Councils’ desired reform is the lectionary. Sacrosanctum Concilium is in certain respects a conservative document (and can be read that way), but there is also no denying that even on a conservative reading, it called for the most significant set of reforms to the Roman Rite in…its history, at least going back to the early Middle Ages. And that is especially true of the lectionary, which the Council Fathers clearly wanted (35.1, 51) expanded to some very significant degree. They did not call expressly for a multi-year lectionary (and I tend to doubt that such a thing would have gotten express majority approval if put to a vote in 1963), but you can’t say that one is really inconsistent with the text, either. But 1965 did not address the lectionary. Anyone with even a cursory familiarity with the document realized that there *had* to be more to come.

    And the lectionary, while perhaps most often lauded as one of the genuine successes of the reform even by conservatives, is also seen by many of us concerned with tradition as being one of the most problematic. But even if 1965 is preferable to 1969 in this respect (as in many others), you are right to point out just how many important and beloved components of the Mass were lopped off, as with an axe.

    No, better to back to the beginning (1962, or 1945), and start afresh. Even what the Council called for on liturgical reform was prescriptive. And on prescriptive matters, Councils can sometimes get it wrong (as I think they did on the lectionary). Or simply overtaken by events.

    1. You need to look at a later section of Sacrosanctum Concilum:

      51. 'The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.'

      The reference to a 'prescribed number of years' is explicit, though the details are left open.

    2. Yes, while I think there is more than one way to read the last phrase, the less strained way to do so is in the context of a multi-year lectionary.

      Which really is a revolutionary development. Revolutionary because it is utterly unprecedented. But I think this shows the degree to which the mindset that the Mass is a didactic exercise, and as such must instruct (as you say so well in these essays) in verbal, simple communication, had spread throughout so much of the pre-conciliar Church, or at least those parts that mattered (Northern Europe and North America, for example). It almost makes one wonder why they did not opt for a six year lectionary, so that they could pack in every last scrap of Scripture (save for a few regrettable pericopes, perhaps). Yes, Sacrosanctum Concilium really is, even on a conservative reading, a relatively far-reaching program of liturgical reform.

      And in this regard, I have come to the opinion (quite the opposite of what it used to be), that, with all due respect, the Council Fathers erred on this prescription, though I am sure the intentions (i.e., to increase scriptural literacy among Catholics) of most were good. When the time for a real liturgical reform comes, I hope that we do not feel bound by SC 51.

    3. "the mindset that the Mass is a didactic exercise'

      I have always thought that the "money quotation" in regard to this is from article #33: "Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful." Thus, the principle purpose of worship is stated, but then didactic aims quickly take over.

  2. So what is wrong with the methodology of taking say the 1920MR and evaluating the changes of the fifty years that preceded it and the fifty years that followed? Arguing about two editions of the MR eight years apart and both 'modern' editions seems to me a case of ever decreasing circles. After all one of the founders of the LMS, Evelyn Waugh, urged at return to liturgical books of 'good Pope Pius IX' - his point being of course about stability and immemorial (and centennial) custom.

    1. I'm all for the long view. Though I'm not well-informed about what happened before 1920!

    2. The advantage of choosing either 1970 or 1962 as the "point of departure" for any putative future replacement for 1970, is that these are liturgies that people are actually living in the Church today. Start from 1965, or 1945, or 1884, or 1570, and you're in the position of trying to simultaneously revive and reform a liturgy which currently exists only on paper. It can be done - cf. Toledo - but I'd like to see someone go to Rome and persuade the CDW to replace the Novus Ordo with something based on the Missal of "good Pope Pius IX". I think I'd hear the laughter in Orkney.
      The main obstacles I can see to a future reform based on modifying 1962 are twofold: the liturgical "establishment", which still has its grip on diocesan liturgical offices, national music committees, &c., is made up of people who are invested, not in some vague commitment to the reform principles outlined in SC, but very specifically in the new liturgy and in *what makes it different from 1962*. Such people might grudgingly accept a fourth editio typica of the Pauline Missal which is slightly tweaked in the direction of tradition, but when you see how angry some of them are about simply having to use an accurate translation of the third edition, I'm not even sure about that. Present them with anything based on 1962 and watch the toys fly out of the pram.
      The other problem with 1962 as an ur-text is that it already bears the scars of some deplorable reforms: Urban VIII's mangling of the Hymnale; the Pius X redistribution of the Psalter; the 1951/55 Holy Week; the suppression of many vigils & octaves; the petty tinkering with the rubrics in 1960; the arbitrary moving of ancient feasts like Ss Philip & James.
      When I'm Pope, I will of course revive the local pre-Tridentine Uses. Feel free to mention my name to any voting-age Cardinals you may come across.

    3. Ben,

      The good news, however, is that the differences between 1962 and its predecessor editio typicas are quite minor (if mostly regrettable), relatively speaking. More to the point, some of the superseded aspects (second confiteor, the pre-1955 Holy Week, etc.) are in fact still celebrated in some traditional communities - and remain in the living memory of many others (albeit diminishing rapidly). So there is some living tradition of these things, even if it is on the fringe of the fringe.

      Of course, whatever is done to a *reformed* liturgy, I think we all hope that the TLM is kept intact as the extraordinary form (and hopefully more generously provided), for the foreseeable future. If so, it would be helpful if Rome were to permit at least the *option* of celebrating some of these older features licitly.

      Let's be honest: the Church is not in the position right now for a real liturgical reform. And this is so for the good reasons you give. But also more thought by tradition-minded leaders must go into what a proper reformed Roman Rite, one with what Fr. Hunwicke calls true auctoritas, should look like. Consider how much good scholarship has come out in the last decade. There is much work yet to be done. Which is just as well, since we are likely a couple generations away from being in a position to really do a creditable job of it.

    4. Agreed, on every point.

    5. Popes were always moving or suppressing venerable feasts. There's been a seemingly never-ending struggle in the balance between the Temporal and Sanctoral cycles. It's an issue that Bonniwell identified with his analysis of the Dominican Rite and the composition of their Missal in the 13th century as well as noting the accretion that followed later. St. Pius V suppressed a number of ancient feats and his successors incrementally restored... similarly, the 1960 rubrical reform was very badly needed on the ranking of Feasts if nothing else, from the rather simple 3/4 tier system of St. Pius V adding to the mess it became well before Divino Afflatu (which had the most regrettable effect of discarding a truly ancient Psalter arrangement on the basis of Papal authority, instead of far more simply easing the obligations on the clergy to recite all of it). Way too many popes, unimpeachable on orthodoxy, nevertheless felt the urge to add rankings of feasts and arbitrarily change ranks to their preferences instead of passing on what they received. What to do when new feasts are introduced remains an interesting question since we will always want to honor new saints and there are only so many days and the dies natalis are not likely to conveniently line up and at the same time, there is a desire to keep at least a certain number of Ferials. The answer in the past was the first unimpeded day... or commemorations, which deserve another look for sure. Though few will want to return to 1910 when there could be 5 or 6, at the very least allowing at least 2 or 3 in High Mass deserves consideration.

      Similarly there was undeniable accretion on the number of octaves. Certainly any Feast of Our Lord (aka I Class aka Solemnity) should have an octave. Other than ancientry, it's less easy to justify why St. Lawrence (for example) would have an Octave, but certain Apostles would not is interesting if nothing else . 7-8 octaves for the universal calendar seems about right. The old custom of the patron of the parish elevated with it's own octave should certainly be restored. Adds 2-3 more.

      The ancient Holy Week should be restored, with the 1955 allowed as an option.

      All of this is, of course, much too complicated to simply return to the Missal of any specific year.

  3. This has been a very interesting series. However, I would not agree with the premise that the "Reform of the reform" is dead yet.

    In the real world of Holy Mother Church as it is now (as opposed to how it would be if we had our d'ruthers), 99% of Mass-goers only have the OF available to them, 99% of Mass-goers are addicted to the vernacular, 99% of Mass-goers will soon have known nothing else but the OF, and the OF is the liturgy celebrated exclusively by the Pope and 99% of the bishops in communion with him.

    If some sense of sacrality is to be restored to the liturgy of the vast majority of Mass-going Catholics in the world, then that will involve some sort of reform of the NO, because, unfortunately, winged porcines do not exist however much we might want them to.

    1. Dear Deacon Augustine, you persist with the assumption which I was at points to counter in the early part of the series: that, starting from where we are, that RotR is easier to implement than starting new celebrations of the EF. It isn't: it is harder.

      If we ever see large numbers of parishes celebrating the NO ad orientem, with Latin and Gregorian Chant, then this change will not only have been carried out by flying pigs, but those pigs will be dancing on the head of a needle.

      Unless, I suppose, this happens under the influence of a very widespread use of the EF.

    2. My experience would be the opposite. Our parish has introduced the novelty of some Latin and Gregorian Chant for the ordinary of the Mass, but our old-fashioned Parish Priest will never consent to saying the EF.

      I admit that younger, more open-minded and progressive priests may find it easier to simply introduce the EF in addition to the OF. But we still don't have enough of those to make a significant impact - yet.

  4. Just as the "reforms" were never something asked by the Laity (and in many cases were horrifyingly received), so to any reform of the reform would have be pushed from the top, down. A bishop in his diocese could well legislate a return to ad orientem and restoring rails wherever they've been removed. Once one did, others would follow.

    Similarly, the abrogation of Eucharistic Prayers 2 through 4 could only really come from Rome itself. That would all need to be in a new edition of the Roman Missal, just as with the new translation. Either obey or face ecclesiastical sanction. Nearly all would come to heel. That's what Catholics do (and what got us into this).

    The ROTR still has merit but should be done carefully and with deliberation and care towards the faithful. The reforms themselves were done so rapidly and with such disregard for the laity, they wounded so many souls and should not be emulated in fixing the mess they left us with. For whatever reason, many faithful Catholics who don't know what they don't know are happy with the Mass they have, much as the faithful in the early 1960's were. A wholesale imposition would endanger many souls and push more than a few towards either schism or heresy.

    If we acknowledge the new Mass as valid but lacking in reverence and perhaps theologically... deficient, those should be address to the degree possible. The biggest fix in the new Missal is curtailing ambiguity ("some suitable" place/prayer, etc). Be clear and mandate that the Roman Canon will be used on a Solemnity, EP2 on a Feria, etc. Mandate the sermon to be from the ambo, for example. Abolish any musical instrument but the organ. Order the replacement of tabernacles to the main altar. Replace the bows with genuflections by all. Require bishops to institute lectors and acolytes and the GIRM as it is handles most of the rest of the issues of laics.