Friday, July 21, 2017

My reply to Cardinal Sarah on 'liturigical reconciliation'

It seems that the most trad-friendly Prelates of the Church actually want the Traditional Mass to disappear. Thus, Cardinal Burke said in 2011:

It seems to me that is what he [Pope Benedict] has in mind is that this mutual enrichment would seem to naturally produce a new form of the Roman rite – the 'reform of the reform,' if we may – all of which I would welcome and look forward to its advent.

Cardinal Sarah has now said the same thing.

It is a priority that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can examine through prayer and study, how to return to a common reformed rite always with this goal of a reconciliation inside the Church,

Cardinal Sarah's concrete suggestions point to an intermediate state, in which the two 'Forms' have converged somewhat. I have addressed these suggestions in a post on the Catholic Herald blog (no longer available there, but reposted here). Notably, the Novus Ordo Lectionary cannot be simply be inserted into the Vetus Ordo Missal, because it reflects a liturgical vision which is completely different from that of the ancient Mass: which is why all the other changes were made at the same time. A compromise between these two two understandings of what the liturgy is for and how it should work will not produce a perfect synthesis, but a muddle.

I've made the argument about the Lectionary at length here, and about the 'Reform of the Reform' falling between two stools here.

Leaving open the question of how Cardinal Burke's thinking may have developed since 2011, why would he or Cardinals Sarah want to get rid of the ancient Mass?

One justification appears to be the idea that the existence of two Forms of the Roman Rite is, regardless of the merits or demerits of the forms themselves, itself a problem. I suppose this idea is related to a certain conservative yen for centralisation and uniformity, but I doubt either Cardinal would want to apply it to the Eastern Rites, even in the West, and I suspect they would not really want to stop the Dominicans, Norbertines, or Carthusians - or the former Anglicans - from celebrating their own rites and usages. So although talk of 'disunity' has a superficial force I don't think this is really driving their thinking here. They don't really want to contradict Vatican II's praise of liturgical diversity. (I have written about liturgical pluralism here.)

I think the more powerful consideration is that they are unhappy with the Ordinary Form. Cardinal Sarah, in particular, has taken up points hammered by Cardinal Ratzinger in The Spirit of the Liturgy, notably about how celebration 'facing the people' was a mistake, and how the reformed Mass should have more silence in it. This is the argument of the 'Reform of the Reform', and it is an argument which has no direct connection with the Extraordinary Form. But Sarah and others seem to think that the existence of the Extraordinary Form creates an extra reason to undertake the Reform of the Reform. 'Look!' he seems to be saying: 'Here are a whole lot of Catholics who refuse to go to the Novus Ordo because it lacks silence, and the priest usually faces the people. Let's make those changes and draw these people back in.'

In other words, his sympathy for some of the arguments about the merits of the Traditional Mass made by its adherents has given Cardinal Sarah the idea of making a purely tactical use of the movement to leverage his position on the future development of the Ordinary Form.

Perhaps things would be different if the EF looked about to take over the whole Church, but if that is going to happen, it would seem it would take at least a century.

I can't say I'm too worried by these proposals. They revive discussions on liturgical matters, which is positive, but opposition by progressive and - let's be honest - middle-of-the-road Novus Ordo priests and faithful to the Reform of the Reform makes the implementation of Cardinal Sarah's programme by fiat from Rome unimaginable, even if he were to become Pope tomorrow.

It should, all the same, stimulate supporters of the Church's ancient liturgical traditions to explain ever more forcefully the point of the ancient Lectionary, and any other threatened features of the Mass they love.

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  1. The idea of the new lectionary is worthy: to increase the variety of the scriptural diet. In practice wave after wave of barely comprehensible OT passages wash over the faithful, not to be heard again for three years. I doubt much penetrates.The whole problem with the OF is that it was invented by a committee of western educated intellectuals to their taste, which is not that of ordinary mortals!

    1. Is that what removing the 'nasty' bits of scripture from the lectionary is called?

    2. I see that this may be a seen as an attack on the original commentator. My intention was to attack what was done by the reformers.

  2. Thank you Dr Shaw for this article. I attended the Sacra Liturgia conference in Milan this year and Cardinal Sarah never once mentioned the Old Rite. He seems very dedicated to the introduction of silence and receiving communion on the tongue which is to be lauded but in my opinion is not a great friend of the Old Rite -- probably the case with many African prelates his age. As far as I know he has never celebrated it publicly. Many of the liturgical conservative prelates are the guardians of Sacrosanctum Concilium and would probably never touch it as popes.

    Let's march on towards a time where the pre 1955 Holy Week and other perennial ceremonies of the Roman Rite are once again restored and where the Mass of Ages is the only Mass of the Roman Rite.

  3. I see that, according to the Tablet article to which you link, Cardinal Sarah wishes the new rite to adopt these features of the old:

    More use of Latin
    Certain prayers in silence (presumably, principally, the Canon)
    Communion to be received kneeling and on the tongue
    Prayers at the foot of the altar
    Joined canonical fingers

    Of these, I think only the prayers at the foot of the altar and saying certain prayers in a low voice (I think only Canon and Secret) would be a change of any kind to the new rite.

  4. I think there are certainly ways in which the EF lectionary could be expanded in ways consonant with Sacrosanctum Concilium - for example, a series of weekday readings for Advent and Easter as well as in Lent, the addition of an Old Testament reading on Sundays in proper seasons. But all of this would have to start from the Roman lectionary tradition as it existed before Vatican II. It would not be at all desirable to just take any discrete part of the OF lectionary and plonk it into the EF, because one of the main issues as far as I see things is the manner in which the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms were done.

    As Lauren Pristas has shown with her analysis of the collects of proper seasons in the OF and EF, the tone of each corpus of prayers is quite different. There is nothing wrong in itself with the idea of expanding the EF Advent collects so that each weekday has its own. But I'm not sure whether you could just take the OF weekday Advent collects and graft them onto the EF - at least, certainly not without a detailed analysis of each individual prayer (what is its source? how has it been edited, if it has been? etc.) and of all the prayers as a theological unit. In other words, a critique of how group 18 of the Consilium carried out their mandate is required before we can think about any sort of "liturgical reconciliation" of the two forms.

    It is the same with the readings. A critique of how group 11 of the Consilium carried out the reform of the lectionary, and an examination of why the OF lectionary is so discontinuous with any of the preceding liturgical tradition is absolutely required before consideration can be given to what (if anything) the OF can enrich the EF with.

    It's a minority position, but ultimately I would rather see a re-reform of the liturgy, carried out by those who are truly formed in the spirit of the liturgy as opposed to archaeologists formed in the spirit of revolution, rather than a "reform of the reform".

    (I think it's also an open question as to whether the practical provisions in SC should, over 50 years later, still be taken as normative for any kind of reform, but that's a different question!)

    1. 'But all of this would have to start from the Roman lectionary tradition as it existed before Vatican II.'
      Perhaps you mean, before 1570, when there were ferial cyles in the Roman Missal. These are discussed in the Position Paper.

      'It's a minority position, but ultimately I would rather see a re-reform of the liturgy, carried out by those who are truly formed in the spirit of the liturgy as opposed to archaeologists formed in the spirit of revolution, rather than a "reform of the reform".'
      It's a nice idea, but it's not going to happen, is it? The sensitivity to the tradition simply does not exist in the Curia.

    2. Yes, my intention was to include the pre-1570 ferial cycles in the phrase "Roman lectionary tradition as it existed before Vatican II". Sorry if that wasn't too clear!

      And I appreciate that a re-reform doesn't look very likely at all (putting it charitably), but my mother did always tell me as a child to "aim high". ;-) In any case, there's still an awful lot of work to be done before any sort of rapprochement of the two forms can be achieved. It's not anywhere as simple as Fr Raymond de Souza seems to think it is in his Catholic Herald article this week!

  5. If the consensus that the Third Secret of Fatima contains a warning of a bad council & a bad Mass is true, then why not just return implicitly to the Tridentine Mass which was celebrated in Latin throughout the world, in keeping with the Unity of the CC? The mistaken human interpretations of a bad council driven by false ecumenism & a desire for implementing a godless one-fits-all NWO religion must be promptly & for all time eradicated. No reform of the reform will work as that is not what is called for. God's wishes for His Church must be strictly adhered to, otherwise mankind itself is in grave danger. We have Our Lady's assurance that the Pope(?) will consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, but that it will be late. Can we not just as a body insist that the arguing stop & our prelates obediently carry out the wishes of the Mother of God as that is what He desires. These Apostates must either repent & conform or be removed from office through the calling of an imperfect council which would declare PF & his supporters should not be followed.

  6. How does the lectionary of the Novus Ordo reflect a "completely different" liturgical vision from that of the Vetus Ordo? Isn't it all Scripture? How you choose what to read cannot be that significant. No doubt all lectionaries are unsatisfactory and inadequate in some way. The aim of the Common Lectionary used in the NO is to enable Scripture to speak for itself in a systematic and reasonably complete way, where the VO has a random haphazard selection and largely ignores the Old Testament, the Scripture of Christ himself. I find that traditionalists are constantly in this way exaggerating and distorting the differences between the new rite and the old. Is that because they know the res of the Church has moved on in these matters and want to justify their personal preference?

    1. Two selections of texts from the same book can, obviously, create contrasting impressions. This isn't a difficult point to grasp.

    2. No it isn't, but that hardly constitutes a "completely different liturgical vision" - the usual febrile exaggeration.

    3. Ah, discovered the Hermeneutic of Continuity have we? Good luck with combining that with your other views.

  7. We need the TLM to be a witness to a broken world with its beauty. The problem with most of us who have fought to worship Jesus in the TLM, is that we don't trust sadly that our hierarchy have our best interests at heart when they propose these changes, but rather like we saw at Blackfen parish just another cunning way of smashing Tradition. As much as I love Cardinal Sarah and see he is a godly man, he doesn't seem to understand why Traditionalists will rightly oppose these changes.