Pope Francis issues major document on liturgical formation

Pope Francis has given the Catholic Church a lengthy letter on liturgical formation titled Desiderio desideravi. Literally this is “I desired with desire,” which is a Latin idiom for emphasis. It is from Luke 22:15, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (NABRE), which is quoted at the beginning of the new document.

Two things above all characterize the letter: its fidelity to the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, and its urgent call for Catholics to understand more deeply the spiritual depth of the liturgy. The pope seems to be calling for something of a thoroughgoing spiritual renewal with respect to the liturgy.

On the first point, Francis follows his intention, announced shortly after his election, to implement the Second Vatican Council more fully, including in areas where the Council has not yet been implemented in full. Francis’s starting point is the reformed liturgy, which he simply assumes is in harmony with the Council’s deeply reformist statements. By my tally, Francis cites Ireneaus, Pius XII, and Paul VI each once; Leo the Great and Augustine twice; St. Francis, his own Evangelii Gaudium, and the great 20th century liturgical theologian Romano Guardini four times, and the reformed Roman Missal 13 times.

Francis does not cite Benedict XVI, though of course much of his spiritual reflections on the meaning of the liturgy would overlap with Benedict’s rich liturgical writing. At the same time, Francis reinforces his conviction that the future of liturgical renewal is to be found in engaging the trajectory of Paul VI and John Paul II, while backing away from Benedict’s idiosyncratic position that greater use of the pre-Vatican II liturgy is somehow consonant with the Second Vatican Council. And so Francis writes in article 31,

“I have felt it my duty to affirm [in Traditionis Custodes which limits the used of the pre-Vatican II liturgy] that ‘The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.’

He writes in the same article:

“I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council — though it amazes me that a Catholic might presume not to do so — and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium.”

A point worth further reflection would be what it means to “accept the liturgical reform.” Does this merely mean that one accepts that other people accept the reformed liturgy while one continues with the old liturgy? Or does it mean that one accepts the reformed liturgy as one’s own liturgy? The Pope seems to be pushing the Church toward the second view when he writes,

“We cannot go back to that ritual form which the Council fathers, cum Petro et sub Petro [with Peter and under Peter], felt the need to reform.” (61)

In urging that the entire church understand more deeply the beauty of the liturgy, the pope in effect is critiquing both those small numbers of traditionalist who resist the reformed liturgy, and the no doubt much larger numbers of Catholics who have not yet grasped the full spiritual depth of the reformed liturgy. He writes, also in article 31:

“The non-acceptance of the liturgical reform, as also a superficial understanding of it, distracts us from the obligation of finding responses to the question that I come back to repeating: how can we grow in our capacity to live in full the liturgical action? How do we continue to let ourselves be amazed at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes?” he said.

It would probably be accurate to see Desiderio desideravi as not so much a rejoinder to traditionalists, though there is certainly some of that in the document, but as an urgent call for the church as a whole to focus much more intently on the beauty and power of the reformed liturgy. That is certainly the overall thrust of the document. The pope seems to be concerned that too many liturgical celebrations are shallow, routine, unengaging, lacking in beauty, and not sufficiently formative of the imaginations of Catholics. “We are in need of a serious and dynamic liturgical formation” (31), he states.

The pope seems to see undue freedom in straying from the prescribed rites as unwarranted creativity. He writes in no. 23:

“Let us be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time, gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed. Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down.”

But the pope is not a rubricist. In the spirit of Romano Guardini he states,

“How can we become once again capable of symbols? How can we again know how to read them and be able to live them? … A symbolic ‘reading’ is not a mental knowledge, not the acquisition of concepts, but rather a living experience.” (45)

The pope has sharp, and much needed, words for priest celebrants:

“We could say that there are different ‘models’ of presiding. Here is a possible list of approaches, which even though opposed to each other, characterize a way of presiding that is certainly inadequate: rigid austerity or an exasperating creativity, a spiritualizing mysticism or a practical functionalism, a rushed briskness or an overemphasized slowness, a sloppy carelessness or an excessive finickiness, a superabundant friendliness or priestly impassibility. Granted the wide range of these examples, I think that the inadequacy of these models of presiding have a common root: a heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the center of attention. Often this becomes more evident when our celebrations are transmitted over the air or online, something not always opportune and that needs further reflection. (54)

Ouch! The pope goes on to say that these problems are not widespread, but they are nevertheless present in some instances.

What Pope Francis wants is “astonishment at the paschal mystery.” (25) May the church hear the pope’s call and respond generously!



83 thoughts on “Pope Francis issues major document on liturgical formation

  1. “Here is a possible list of approaches, which even though opposed to each other, characterize a way of presiding that is certainly inadequate: rigid austerity or an exasperating creativity, a spiritualizing mysticism or a practical functionalism, a rushed briskness or an overemphasized slowness, a sloppy carelessness or an excessive finickiness, a superabundant friendliness or priestly impassibility. Granted the wide range of these examples, I think that the inadequacy of these models of presiding have a common root: a heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the center of attention.”

    First, note this is just a “possible” list – it’s not exhaustive. It’s a good illustration of putting the needs of the liturgy and God’s people into the service of the false ego needs of the ministers (not just clergy). The famous observation of C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” comes to mind in this regard:

    “He [the Evil One] always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.”

    Another potentially helpful check on the false ego is to be mindful that the ministers are transient, and the people in the pews are the ones who have to clean up after them. Being mindful of this can help instill a fiduciary sensibility: “it’s not about me and what I want or need.” Jesus spent a great deal of effort preparing his disciples for his departure from the mode of presence the disciples were familiar with. How many leaders (prelates, priests, ministers) keep mindful of how temporary their ministry is in local terms?

    1. We should be careful not to look Desiderio desideravi primarily through the lens of the conflict between the old and new Masses. Most of it is simply good instruction on the liturgy than transcends any particular rite. Indeed, the statements about the old Mass are almost an aside to the whole letter which could have been written before the council. Its instruction is just as applicable to the old rite as to the new, to the Roman rite as to non-Roman rites. Its criticisms can also be applied equally to the new rite as to the old.

      We should also ask what is “non-acceptance of the liturgical reform?” The liturgical reform is what is to be found in the missals promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. In as much as those legitimate options that would produce a very traditional form of the new Mass have been suppressed there is as much non-acceptance of the liturgical reform as with the most die-hard traditionalist who rejects the new Mass in toto. Gregorian chant, Latin, ad orientem, etc. are not contrary to the liturgical reform; they are an integral part of it and of the new rite. It has been the non-acceptance of this as a legitimate option that has driven many to seek the old Mass as a way to remain connected to tradition. It need not be this way.

  2. I don’t agree with most of what Francis has said about the Liturgy so far and am more aligned to Benedict’s view on the matter. I also think Traditionis Custodes was too harsh and a mistake. It seems to me that there’s no real effort to understand why so many people are dissatisfied with the reformed liturgy and go after the pre-VII one. But I must say that I’m also positively surprised with this document. There wouldn’t be such a demand por the pre-VII liturgy if the spirit and attitudes outlined in it were more common.

    1. It’s important to remember that many Catholics are dissatisfied with the reformed liturgy because it didn’t engage reform enough. To be sure, some disappointments might be considered fairly far out. But others: lay preaching, inclusive language, a wider selection of Eucharistic Prayers, a wider role for women, to name a few, are hardly the stuff of heresy, or even disloyalty to tradition.

      What if we just concede that the current Roman Missal is already a compromise, and that the TLM is one extreme expression that has no real counterweight to enhance and develop the modern Roman Rite.

    2. 1. Where is this great demand for the Tridentine Mass that some people talk about? What is the evidence for that assertion?
      2. All the fussy stuff that has come into the reformed Mass since SP like the lace and the bells and extended genuflection after the words of institution have reclericalized the liturgy. I find refreshing Francis’s insistence that the reformed Mass grew out of the Spirit’s work at the Council.

      1. But how are lace, bells, and genuflections “reclericalizing” the Mass? I honestly don’t see the connection.

      2. Well, the demand seems to be big enough to be a cause of concern, even for Rome, right? And frankly, your comment only proves my point that there’s no real effort to understand. Lack of charity, in my view.

  3. I and many other TLM fans I know would be happy with the new liturgy, and might even prefer it in some ways, if it could be celebrated without the funny business. Take away the lay readers and Extraordinary Ministers and bring back ad orientem, the altar rail, Latin and Gregorian chant and only the most dedicated trads would still hold out.

    Archbishop Roche said recently that there is too much of a subjective response in people’s attitude to the liturgy, with people focussing too much on their own subjective preferences. The trouble though is that the things which trouble trads about the new liturgy are themselves subjective choices made by the dominant clerics: all the things we criticise are options, not essential parts of the liturgy that we need to submit to.

    1. It is likely that regular Catholics might say the same when some young firebrand is appointed as a new pastor. If only he would mute his funny business: sending their daughters to the altar server sidelines, firing the staff he didn’t like, the sermons on politics, spending the parish liturgy budget on new threads for himself and the boys, changing the hymnals, etc..

      There’s a lot in the way the old school priests operate that are subjective choices. Even in liturgy. I think the problem is more an unwillingness to commit to a parish, to listen to others rather than one’s internet friends, and work to achieve the deeper values one holds dear. To allow oneself to be formed by the liturgy, rather than informed by its critics.

      1. I think there’s a lot in what you say. The trouble though is that because the new liturgy is so different in different places it’s hard to allow yourself to be formed by it, because what “it” is changes so much depending on what church you’re at, who the priest is etc. I’m tempted to think the church would be wise to lay down the law more (whatever the specific decisions would be) rather than allowing so much variation so as to free us from this problem.

      2. If only your advice had been followed by the firebrands fifty years ago and even today by the advocates of rupture. It is time for a correction. The de facto Mass that is celebrated in most dioceses today is not the Mass of Paul VI/John Paul II in as much as legitimate options for a traditional form of that Mass have been suppressed. Agreed that leaving the individual priests is not ideal. That is why the bishops themselves need to step up, acknowledge the legitimacy of a traditional form of the new rite, and work for its integration in the diocese. If we proclaim that all are welcomed, then all should be welcomed, including who seek a reform in continuity with tradition. The hyper-reformist firebrands should no longe hold a veto over the implementation of the reform.

      3. Fifty years ago, I was a pre-teen neophyte and my pastor went carefully but firmly with Vatican II. He was a good preacher as I recall. He supported the efforts of one “folk Mass,” one choir, and 3 other Masses with organ and cantor–even psalmists who proclaimed from the ambo. It wasn’t until the 80s that I knew there were priests less skilled at implementing Vatican II, though I did hear of guys who resisted.

        All that said, nobody on this site disagrees that Catholic priests and liturgists are imperfect and that implementing liturgical reform wasn’t smooth and pastoral everywhere. But the 1570/1962 Missal is coming to a sunset. It has passed the baton to a continuation of the Roman Rite. That is our reality, as much as a subpar 2010 Missal and translation is for the rest of us.

      4. Your first paragraph sounds like my parish in McFarland, WI. New threads for him and the boys, no girl altar servers, his political sermons. Girls are reserved for other roles, like laying out his vestments. He has said if you don’t like what he has to say, you can leave. Many longtime members have taken him up on his offer.

    2. I totally agree and I can tell you that I actually prefer the Novus Ordo when celebrated in a more traditional fashion, as in Opus Dei oratories, for example. I don’t even consider ad orientem, latin and altar rails to be essential. But in some parts of my country (Brazil) it can be pretty hard to find liturgies without so much of the “funny business”, which makes the TLM seem like the best choice, for at least it is unequivocally catholic. Roche’s commentary about subjective preferences sounds unfair and ironic to me, since most people I know who go to TLM are not going after subjective preferences at all, they’re actually running away from it.

  4. I began reading this document this morning. As a teacher of of liturgy, I will begin including this letter in my students’ required reading. Here’s just one important moment from Pope Francis’ conclusion:

    “Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Let us safeguard our communion. Let us continue to be astonished at the beauty of the Liturgy. The Paschal Mystery has been given to us. Let us allow ourselves to be embraced by the desire that the Lord continues to have to eat His Passover with us. All this under the gaze of Mary, Mother of the Church.”

    1. Katharine, I am formatting the document in English and Spanish for my students this coming fall. It is beautifully written.

    2. Katherine, I am also planning to share some excerpts of this document with staff and children through my Religious Education lessons.

  5. This is kind of an honest question – a major stumbling block for me is when people describe the beauty, depth, richness, and power of the reformed rites. What, exactly, does that relate to and what does it look like? Like an actual example I can watch? To me, the TLM has *incredible* depth and richness that the reformed rites can only touch upon when they imitate the TLM in some way. Yet, virtually all instances where the new Mass imitates the old are held up as “impoverishments” by those who want me to abandon the old Mass. Reading this blog for years has mostly only told me what the “pro-reformed” crowd thinks liturgy should not be – no communion kneeling, no old vestments, no sung liturgy, no meaningful amount of Latin, no rectangular churches, no ad orientem, absolutely no lace, no bells, etc… unless those things are in a Protestant or Eastern Orthodox context, but what does good liturgy in conformity with the council that shows the depth of the new rite look like? What am I supposed to be conforming myself to?

    1. Bingo. People have suppressed most of the practices that gave the traditional Mass its tone and character, but there isn’t anything better to replace them with. If you stop the sanctuary from being a fenced-off sacred space by letting lay people in normal clothes into it, you’ve simply lost the sanctuary. If you stop having a priest chant the readings in Latin and instead have a lay person read them out from the ambo in English, you’ve lost a major element of the ritual. If you remove altar rails and kneeling for communion, you’re left without any proper communion ritual at all. Stop mandating Gregorian chant and you’re left with the preferences of whoever chooses the hymns in that parish. The result is just a sort of beige void.

      I suspect that for some people in the 1960s the idea was that by removing the distinction between sacred and profane, the profane would be in some way sacralised. Instead we have simply eliminated the sacred.

      When the new Mass is at its best it can come across as something like a TLM dialogue Mass, with vernacular readings, simplified ceremonial, and of course a different cycle of readings, Collects etc. I would happily go to that sort of Mass every day and twice on Sundays, and it’s perfectly legitimate within the current rules. For a long time I worked near a church where they had the TLM early each morning and the new Mass in that kind of style each lunchtime, and I often found I got at least as much out of the new Mass. But as Fr Forte says, without a concerted effort from the hierarchy to make that kind of liturgy widely available the reformed rites will continue to leave many of us yearning for something more meaningful.

      1. I should note that for me, my standards are “lower” than some traditionalists. Altar girls and lay readers don’t bother me. English doesn’t bother me. “Modern” vestments, providing they are of quality, don’t bother me. On the other hand, sung liturgy is very important to me – I mean real sung liturgy, where the dialogues, credo, and at least the readings sometimes, are sung. It was perhaps the biggest “revelation” to me in discovering the TLM and the thing that truly hooked me. I find communion at the rail (regardless of in the hand or on the tongue) to be intensely communal yet personal at the same time. It was another “whoah, this is amazing” moment for me to really be gathered at the altar for communion with others. What is the incredible richness of communion standing in a quick-moving line that I need to understand and accept?

        I think I’m a very sensory sort of person. Music, incense, bells, sights, sounds, draw me deeper into participation and prayer more than spoken words and sitting in a semicircle do, but those latter things seem to be the ideal example of the incredible beauty of the reformed liturgy.

    2. Jack,
      I think for me the place I have found the richness of the reformed rites best expressed has been in the liturgies of the Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem. You can get a sense of the sights and sounds of their liturgy from this video, or from the 2013 funeral of their founder, Pierre-Marie Delfieux (the singing of the EP is a bit rough, but I give the Archbishop points for trying). The “style” (if you will) is something pretty unthinkable apart from the reforms, but seems to me at least as spiritually rich as anything prior to the Council.

      I think I would probably want a bit more traditional chant, but this certainly has the vibe that I think the reformed liturgy should go for.

  6. The problem with the non-acceptance of Vatican II,, all of it, does not reside only with a tiny, vocal, young faction of laity and clergy who love the older liturgies, but in about 80 to 85% of Catholics who are completely disengaged from the modern Liturgy and the Church and perhaps even God Himself. To exert such energy to subjugate into submission a small minority of Catholics who take their Catholic Faith seriously but within the context of the older liturgy seems to be using the nuclear option to kill a fly. But I am happy that the Holy Father recognizes that the 15% to 25% of Catholics who do attend the post-Vatican II Reformed Mass seem to be subjected to liturgical abuses of all kinds of “clericalism of antics” of both the clergy and laity that distracts them from the astonishment (I prefer wonder and awe) of what the proper celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should highlight and make majestically clear: the Paschal Mystery.

  7. The notion that the Roman Missal is celebrated most places rife with abuses is fake news. For many clergy, liturgy is not their #1 priority, nor is it a particular expertise. They make mistakes, have an occasional lapse of judgment, or cling to an example they saw in seminary or their home parish long ago. “Liturgical abuse” is a vastly overused term that no longer has any real meaning.

    For other priests, pragmatism is the primary philosophy. They largely get the Mass right, even if they don’t sink six figures into a pipe organ for their new suburban church, or hire a full-time person for liturgy or music, or work on their own preaching chops.

    There is one worse thing than basing one’s opinion of Catholic liturgy on a few bad personal experiences: reading some internet person’s story of abuse from clowns, inclusive language, or a girl with a lavabo cruet and assuming every other parish is puppet-crazy.

    Yes indeed: the Church needs liturgical formation. We sure won’t find it on the TLM webpages.

    1. I do not think there is a very much “liturgical abuse,” and I don’t find the term helpful.

      That said, I attended an Episcopal church before I was Catholic–a small, working-class church in a poor neighborhood, with 100 people attending on a good Sunday. And (coming from a non-liturgical (Plain) background), the liturgy was formative. We didn’t just have female servers–the priest was a woman. And the doctrinal commitments–weren’t. But the liturgy was beautiful, and revelatory to me.

      And then I started attending a Catholic church. It’s like having a storeroom full of good dishes and a kitchen full of good food, and eating boxed mac and cheese off paper plates. The hymns are poorly chosen, poorly sung, and treated as fillers rather than as real parts of the liturgy. There’s no pulpit to highlight the Gospel. The translation of Scripture is deeply unmemorable except where it’s memorably bizarre (“holocausts” for “burnt offerings”). The rest of the Mass is just clumsy-sounding relative to the BCP (2014 is better to my ears, but still not good). Rather than kneeling for Communion we stand, and there’s no space to pause without holding up the line. It’s not abuse, but there’s so much good we could be getting that we aren’t.

  8. Yes indeed: the Church needs liturgical formation. We sure won’t find it on the TLM webpages.

    I must say that I find your statement very judgmental. The increased interest in the Traditional Latin Mass goes hand-in-hand with an increasing desire for good liturgy. This is not a monopoly for those interested in a more modern form of the Mass.

    1. “I must say that I find your statement very judgmental.”

      Thank you. I don’t shirk from it. I’ve found the increasing desire for good liturgy to have begun after Vatican II. Most likely, it predated the Council with the Liturgical Movement. While TLM advocates all have their own opinions of what makes liturgy “good,” not every internet advocate is herself or himself well-formed in liturgy. Desire for an objective good is laudable. But desire isn’t congruent with competence in liturgy.

      1. You will then excuse me if I and many other good, and well-informed, Catholics disagree with you in what makes a good liturgy.

  9. The English version is quite fluent, leading me to think the original might have been written in English. Can anyone guess who the writer might be? Does Archbishop Roche write this beautifully?

    I read other modern languages but am not fluent enough in them to detect style. Can anyone guess in what language the original might be?

    1. For what it’s worth, I can attest that the Spanish version is pretty fluent too. Quite a few passages are so clearly and obviously written by Francis, and so is the selection of the Prayer of St Francis at the end of DD.

  10. The refusal of this document to acknowledge the teachings from Rome concerning the preconciliar liturgy from approximately 1984 to 2021 is deeply problematic. Francis’ refusal to acknowledge that he is contradicting the explicit teachings of his immediate predecessors (JPII and Benedict), is tantamount to him sawing off the branch that he is sitting on. I don’t care where you fall on in the spectrum of positions concerning this situation, pretending that the past never happened is not a healthy way forward, and one could say (rightfully I think) that this is psychological abuse.

    1. This alas has been part of Francis’s approach to much of his papacy, seeking to contradict the legacies of JPII and Benedict. It’s not a very edifying spectacle.

      Francis is not a young man, and he will not be Pope for that much longer. It seems entirely possible that his successor will have different views about this matter, which I think is why a lot of bishops have been quite reluctant to act upon Traditiones Custodes: if the next Pope goes back to Benedict’s approach then they will have stifled lots of people’s hopes to no purpose.

      It’s worth noting that even under Francis the FSSP have been told they can carry on doing their thing. A new FSSP priest was ordained for the UK the other day and I myself was a sponsor at a traditional rite confirmation locally just the other day. I think many people will sit tight until the direction of the next papacy has become clear.

      1. I think that you’re right. I also think that the Francis-Roche strategy of outright ignoring past magisterial statements on this issue is doomed to failure. When you refuse to provide arguments and rely merely on bald assertion and brute force then you’ve provided a tacit admission of failure. One may wish JPII and BXVI away, but one can’t change the fact that they happened. Also, the fact that Francis continues to allow the FSSP to carry on suggests that even he can’t commit entirely to the path of Traditionis Custodes.

    2. He is painfully aware of the recent history of the EF and in particular how it has been used by some as a banner for those who reject Vat 2.
      Even the most cursory reading of his documents will demonstrate that.

      1. One should not confuse a rejection of the post-conciliar liturgical movement with a rejection of Vatican II itself. The former was quite modest in the reforms that it wanted. Few traditionally minded Catholics would have objected to the reform had it limited itself to the program outlined in Sacrosanctum Concilium. The latter, however, went beyond this and has attempted to falsely cover itself with the authority of the council. Indeed, the post-conciliar liturgical movement itself does not accept the reform as promulgated in the missal of Paul VI/John Paul II, suppressing legitimate options for a traditional form of that Mass. This is what traditionalists object to.

      2. But doesn’t limiting it make it even more of a banner for those who actually reject Vatican II?

        I recall Fr Anthony saying he has no real objection to ad orientem, for example, but refuses to do it because he thinks the practice is too much associated with people who “reject” Vatican II. However, it is precisely people like him who *should* do it if he were to actually want those associations to change. That a certain segment of the church won’t touch traditional practices or the TLM with a ten foot pole, and even actively work to suppress them, contributes more to those practices being a banner than anything traditionalists do.

        Imagine how much things would be shaken up if someone like Fr Pfleger or Fr Martin celebrated the TLM a handful of times a year – and did it nicely according to the rubrics without controversy from their fans. It would take a lot of the wind out of the sails of some people, that’s for sure, and take away the idea that the EF is a special corner in the Church only reserved for a self-selected group of “True” Catholics. Or what if Pope Francis did it? Even once on a large scale and publicly – something Benedict wouldn’t even do. I doubt anyone would interpret it to mean Francis had changed in any way, but it might communicate that “this isn’t yours to take.”

  11. My contribution to the debate so far would run along the lines that many view liturgy from a rubricist’s point of view and fail to see the broad lines.

    Joseph Gelineau used to liken the liturgy to a house. He would say that you need four walls, and a roof, but within those parameters you can decorate the interior in any way you like, arrange (and re-arrange) the furniture as you wish, and even have living rooms upstairs and sleeping accommodation downstairs if you so desire. As long as you don’t do anything stupid like putting the fridge behind the front door so that no one can get in, and as long as everyone knows where the bathroom is, all will be well.

    It’s about understanding variability. Some essential elements, like the walls and roof, need to be there and cannot be changed; others are of secondary importance and can certainly be changed, and even should be changed. The trick is to be able to discern which are the essential pillars of the edifice and which aren’t. Among the essentials, one would include the use of scripture, the proclamation of the Word and the primary symbolic response to the Word (at Mass, the transformation and consumption of bread and wine, at a baptism, the pouring of water, and so on).

    The basic structure of the Mass is one of gathering and preparation, celebrating the Word, responding to it in the Liturgy of the Eucharist and Communion, and being sent forth to take Christ into the world. Within those broad lines, there is room for a large amount of latitude in exactly how you put flesh on those bones.

    GIRM 21 tells us “This Instruction aims both to offer general lines for a suitable ordering of the celebration of the Eucharist and to explain the rules by which individual forms of celebration may be arranged.” In other words, it’s a blueprint for celebration, while allowing and indeed encouraging different options to be “chosen and arranged” (GIRM 20) for the pastoral benefit of the people.

    I can’t help feeling that if those who favour the TLM understood liturgy in these terms, rather than demanding every jot and tittle of the former rite, they would be so much happier and much acrimonious disagreement could be avoided.

    1. The house analogy strikes me as a rather strong endorsement of allowing wide use of the old rites as well as of a robust “reform of the reform” movement, provided others may decorate their house in a non-traditional way. If liturgy is like a house, then why can’t some live in an well-kept old house or a new house decorated with lace curtains?

      I find a lot of traditionalist anger is a reaction to a sort of double standard from those pushing for more variety and reform since it tends to exclude even the mildest “traditional” practices. The more one believes the reform didn’t go far enough, the more one needs to support the broad allowance and promotion of traditional practices in order to maintain credibility, IMO.

    2. What you say about a house is true for a house in general. It is not true if one is talking about a Tudor house, or Georgian Colonial house, etc., which have their own proper characteristics. Equally, your observation is true about liturgy in general but we are not discussing liturgy in general, but the Roman Rite. The Roman Rite indeed has some specific characteristics that go beyond those of a mere liturgy. Vatican II was cognizant of this when it proclaimed that “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” This is where the post-conciliar reform movement went off-base; they thought that Vatican II gave them a carte blanche in creating a completely new rite without any respect to it being the continuation of the historical Roman Rite.

      1. Correct, the way the liturgy was reformed was a total misread of Vatican II. I am glad we can agree here.

      2. Could we once and for all cease the canard that the Mass of Paul VI is not what SC envisioned? Were that true would there not have been a far more wide spread call for returning to the days of old. To this day the number of practicing Catholics preferring the TLM over the NO is minuscule by any count. Nor, I contend, is the number of priests who celebrate the NO poorly less egregious than those celebrating the TLM in a manner that rejects the true reform set in motion at Vatican II.
        Let’s stop the liturgy wars and pray the liturgy in a way that transforms and builds up the Body of Christ. In a way that makes it possible for outsiders to look at worshipping Catholics and observe how much they love one another.

  12. I don’t seem to be able to reply directly to Jack’s comment above, but I wanted to say that what he suggests sounds like a fine thing. I find it notable that in Anglicanism you can find very traditional liturgy celebrated by people who are fairly liberal in their theology, whereas that hardly ever seems to happen in the Catholic Church. A reasonable chunk of the poor old laity then end up being told they can’t have the kind of liturgy they would like because it’s too much of a sore point in church politics, which does not seem right.

    1. By that standard, it hasn’t been right for decades, and for various groups of people–folks who would like reform in their parishes, advocates for inclusive language, other musical styles, etc.. One problem is that many TLM advocates see the Church through their own narrow lens, a kind of anti-catholicism. The Ecclesia Dei commission never went to Rome and said, “Let us reform the 1962 Missal by the principles of Sacrosanctum Concilium.” If they really thought the implementation of post-conciliar liturgy was so wrong, give them ten or fifteen years to do it right. And did they? Not hardly. And wait, they had 15 years to make a difference, and what were the fruits of it?

      The less strident voices have suggested we split the difference between 1962 and 1970, but what great numbers would worship in such a hybrid? Maybe such a thing would have been possible in the 19th century, a stepping stone to portions of the Roman liturgy in the vernacular, a wider use of the Bible, and such.

      I might have no taste for the 1962 Missal, but I’d never suggest to a colleague at St John Cantius (for example) they should program contemporary gospel or buy a piano or use a Gather or Breaking Bread resource. And yet I saw this morning on a traditional-leaning site a popular thread, “Whose fault is it that we use bad music and what can we do about it?” citing a “nearby parish.” It’s wasn’t “we” at all; it was “them.” A “them” none of the commentariat knew. Who cares what the neighbors are doing? Nobody is forced to worship there. It’s all ridiculous hearsay and gossip. If not detraction.

      One comment: “I think the old adage all that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to be silent can be adapted here.”

      It seems a Matthew 7:5 moment is missed, and missed often.

      I’m not sure about the “bad music” judgment, but I know that I have a lot of issues about my own music making and that of my singers and instrumentalists. For any of us, it’s about the basics: tuning, rehearsal, intonation, breathing, posture, preparation, prayer. I have more than enough to keep me busy as a musician and liturgist to bother to care about what the neighbors are doing. It’s one thing for one colleague to approach another and ask for help with a problem. It’s another thing entirely for TLM folks to want to unconvert Catholicism from Vatican II before they even get their own house in order. Bad fruits of the whole movement, and no wonder a significant number of Catholics want nothing to do with the 1962 effort.

      1. Todd, you said:
        “And yet I saw this morning on a traditional-leaning site a popular thread, ‘Whose fault is it that we use bad music and what can we do about it?’ citing a ‘nearby parish.’ It’s wasn’t ‘we’ at all; it was ‘them.’ A ‘them’ none of the commentariat knew. Who cares what the neighbors are doing? Nobody is forced to worship there. It’s all ridiculous hearsay and gossip. If not detraction.”

        How can you say this when it is you yourself who wants to prevent parishes which you will never visit from celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass?

      2. On one level, I do not care what TLM parishes do. Frankly, their internet presence suggesting what I or others “should” be doing is little more than an annoyance. On the other hand, I’ve come to see the movement as a danger to Catholicism, spreading lies, promoting disturbance, and getting tangled up in some very ugly secular politics. If the pope and bishops want to end it, I’m not going to protest it. If a future pope allows it, I wouldn’t waste time protesting that either.

        I do think the TLM has serious theological flaws. I certainly don’t see any purpose whatsoever for a Low Mass.

      3. Frankly, their internet presence suggesting what I or others “should” be doing is little more than an annoyance.

        Is this not what the post-conciliar reform movement has been saying for the past 50 years? Perhaps now you can understand our annoyance a little bit more.

      4. There’s a lot here! As for Ecclesia Dei, I don’t think that was the job they were given: their job was to establish the traditional institutes and bring back on board the traditional religious houses, to establish the place of the TLM and its adherents in the Church. Trying to fiddle with the TLM wouldn’t have helped with that, to put it mildly.

        You ask whether many people would want to attend a Mass that “split the difference” between the missals. I suspect that here we get onto something that we normally politely shy away from, which is that sometimes the Church does say “this is good, you must do it” (or the opposite) and this would be one of those times. People might need to have it explained to them why Father now faces east for much of Mass or what have you but if the Church made the decision that such a change was for the good of souls then the effort would be worthwhile. I suspect this is where we are headed in the medium term, but I agree that it may cause groaning from all sides!

        I also think we need to avoid making a false equivalence. Liturgical Latin, Gregorian chant and all the other trappings of the traditional Roman Rite are not really just one option among an array of equally valid ones: they are the cultural heritage of Western Catholics and their role in the liturgy was acknowledged as being especially fitting by Vatican II itself. It is a scandal that the hierarchy have deprived us of them in recent decades. I think it would be disingenuous to say that e.g. Taize stuff or folk music have as much right to be in the liturgy as Gregorian chant, because they are clearly not intimately bound up with our religious heritage in the same way. I think that goes some way towards explaining why trad types can say the kind of thing you refer to.

        I’d like to say though that I hope (hope!) I’ve grown out of being the kind of traddy convert know-it-all who can be so annoying.

      5. It is some years since I attended a TLM, missa cantata but firmly told no congregational responses. I never want to go back to that. I think I would be content with 1965 rubrics, dialogue Mass and congregation singing the Latin Ordinary, preferably with the an expanded cycle of readings, and vernacular readings and orations..
        If I remember correctly, Abp. Lefebvre welcomed the 1965 changes. He will have been aware that when SC says “[the liturgy] contains rich instruction for the faithful.” it references the Council of Trent sess. 22 cap. 8 .
        I trace our woes to the 1984 indult requiring rigid adherence to 1962, instead of extending the indults of Paul VI for the missal antecedent to 1969. (1962 1965 1967)

      6. Anthony Hawkins,

        I believe the reform that you outlined is exactly what the Council had in mind. How much conflict could we have avoided if this had been allowed to remain. Even now I think that this would be the way forward and the way to bring peace and unity back to the Church. Where I do disagree with you, however, is that I trace the our woes to the Missal of 1969 that went beyond the program that you have outlined. Can the changes (other than an expanded lectionary) made in the new Mass that go beyond the reform of 1965 really be called required?

      7. Coming at this from a different angle, approaching the conciliar reforms merely on their own terms: what criteria and evidence do or can we have to demonstrate in quantitative and qualitative terms (locally, regionally, globally) that can’t be readily cherry-picked or reverse-engineered to our desired conclusions that the reforms are fulfilling or well on their way to fulfilling the goals to which they were and are ordered? What if there are aspects of the reforms that have no necessary proximate causal relationship to their erstwhile purposes?

        I have no particular interest in the preconciliar liturgy. I also don’t have a particular interest in treating it (and, more particularly, most of the people who find spiritual nourishment in its praxis currently) as inimical to the current Roman Rite or the People of God. I am more interested in self-criticism by those of us who champion the conciliar reforms that doesn’t favor our own hobby-horses and that doesn’t help us to rationalize in a self-serving way.

  13. Cultures in general display secret knowledge in their rites of initiation. In the Pauline tradition we hear of mysteries hidden over the ages and made manifest in Jesus. In those epistles we see the effort to declare our own awareness of the driving force of everything as superior to other attempts from human invention. And how is that contribution different from the others? Revealed by God, as we say? How do we know that? From all that Christ said and did, especially from his death and resurrection which complete and confirm that life – as we affirm every time we pray together. Fine enough.

    The pope said it very well. I would have asked him to say more about the uniting power of liturgy than he did from time to time in his letter. In the second Eucharistic Prayer, we ask that “partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.” Yes, church emerged from his pierced side, a wonderful image that achieves what it signifies. And yet, post-covid, we wave at each other before communion because it is expected of us, but are we any more united than we were when we entered? We have inspiring examples of women and men who reach out to the poor and marginalized by living among them, as Jesus did; we are all called to this, but there is too little attention to mission in his letter.

    And if we observe any visual assemblies during papal masses in Rome or on the road, what is manifested there but a celebration of privilege unchanged for centuries? Who alone vests seasonal colors and communicates first in our liturgies? The pope can act as well as speak – Jesus’ actions had greater impact on his contemporaries than his sayings, so we are told – and, in my view, actions are also needed today to target and show ourselves and the world in whom we believe.

    1. I find it odd that people do a hermeneutic of rupture between what the Council wanted and what happened afterwards. The same pope who presided over 3/4ths of Vatican II and signed its constitutions also supervised the subsequent work of the Consilium, and he bishops who participated in Vatican II made up the national conferences charged with the liturgical reform in their regions. It was all a seamless process.
      And I am thankful that Francis has called to once again attempt to integrate the conciliar teachings not only in our practice but within our spirituality. I would submit that the most essential of those teachings was the principle that liturgical reform was to be guided by the “full, conscious, and active” participation of the laity. As I read through this succession of personal preferences, I can only remark that I do not seem to see that core principle at work very often.

  14. “… what criteria and evidence do or can we have … that the reforms are fulfilling or well on their way to fulfilling the goals to which they were and are ordered?”

    Obviously a far more useful query and fruitful for the topic of liturgical formation.

    I think one challenge is to sort out the Christian (not just Catholic) crisis in evangelization that has been with us since the 19th century. The reforms presume a Christian (or Catholic) milieu that has eroded away thanks to fruitless European wars, a failure of Christian witness against dictators, and the aristocracies of politics and economics. Documents like Rerum Novarum and the USCCB Economics pastoral seem like whispers against much yelling and mouth-foaming.

    I suppose we could look at the Notre Dame studies of the 1980s–it might give us a snapshot of 6%-ish of the Church.

    I suspect there is little consensus anywhere in Catholicism about the liturgical goals of Vatican II. What would we list first? Faithfulness to original sources? Participation? Bible? Sacramental reform? Holiness? I suspect places doing liturgy well are experiencing fruits. I’d likely include traditional-leaning places too. Intentionality and commitment and sacrifice are of God. Lukewarmness and a sense of entitlement, not so much.

    1. Most of us here are pointy-headed intellectuals, many of the people in pews in the 1950s were pious peasants (to be even handedly pejorative). What I experienced as a liberation of liturgy in the 1960s was seen by many as an unnecessary and unwelcome disruption to their spirituality. As Heenan said “our people love the Mass, but it is Low Mass to which they are chiefly attached”.
      A simpler example than liturgy is Friday Abstinence. It was a sociological mistake to change the simple rule, cultural rituals need explaining to be spiritually effective, not replacement by something more difficult to understand.
      That is water under the bridge now, but we need to be ever conscious of the variety of people constituting the People of God.

  15. And here we have the nub of the issue:

    Fr Anthony Forte says “This is where the post-conciliar reform movement went off-base; they thought that Vatican II gave them a carte blanche in creating a completely new rite without any respect to it being the continuation of the historical Roman Rite.”

    That statement is, alas, totally untrue in many particulars.

    (1) The postconciliar reform movement was an organic continuation of the preconciliar reform movement. If Fr Forte and his colleagues were not aware of this movement, and did not see the reforms coming as many others did, that is really their problem and not the wider Church’s problem.

    The last thing that John Carmel Heenan, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, is reputed to have said as he boarded the train to go to Rome for the Council, was “Don’t worry, they won’t touch our liturgy!” What was the first thing the Council looked at? Heenan was simply uninformed about the liturgical reform movement that had been building in Europe for many years.

    (2) The Vatican II reformers in no way produced a completely new rite, nor did they think that they had carte blanche. Not new, and certainly not completely new. To maintain otherwise is not tenable from any scholarly point of view.

    (3) The postconciliar revisions were most certainly in continuity with the preconciliar Roman Rite. The problem arises because of a misperception of what the preconciliar Roman Rite actually was. And this misperception frequently arises from thinking that the “Roman Rite” was immutable and a liturgical unity, neither of which is historically true.

    A knowledge of liturgical history will set people free from these common misperceptions. The preconciliar rite had not existed unchanged for 1500 years as is often maintained. Chapter 2 of Keith Pecklers’ The Genius of the Roman Rite, an excellent summary of those 1500 years, should be required reading for everyone.

    1. This is all helpful, especially the perspective of a scholar like Keith Pecklers.

      That said, there’s no denying that the reform of the Roman Rite was a moment of rupture for many. Most Catholics embraced that rupture and even places where reform was performed badly, there were fruits to be found in the experience of liturgy, the encouragement for participation, and the encounter with the Lord.

      I must point out yet again that rupture in the spiritual life is often a positive thing. At least there is the potential for encounter there too. Addicts in recovery set aside a substance of choice. A medical diagnosis might mean a rupture from junk food and a physically inactive life. Even when we are prepared for it, a death of a loved one means rupture of family dynamics, activities, and daily customs.

      Even when change confronts us gradually, eventually engagement leads to a married household, seminary to ministry, school to the working world, postulancy to final vows. We might try to remain unmarried, uncommitted students who live in the same one-bedroom apartment, but eventually our lives will rupture. The ones who embrace it and find God in it strike me as more capable pilgrims on faith’s journey.

      Not to make light of the many negative experiences of people who long for a certain celebration of liturgy and have lost it or cannot reach it or find it. It’s an experience of loss wider than just traditional liturgy. Some people would willingly share their experiences too.

    2. Rupture as such has no particular ritual value (metanoia is not the same thing as rupture), given that ritual is inherently/definitionally repetitive, and in the ritual context can become the snake that eats its own tail. It certainly could be invoked easily as a rhetorical parlour trick to reverse course on the conciliar reforms.

      Perhaps another way of allowing ourselves to be broken open spiritually in the liturgical context (something adjacent to rupture but more like metanoia) is to honestly inventory our desires and consider how worthy they are or are not of the sacred encounter in the Divine Liturgy. I would not expect my own individual epiphany of brokenness to be given *ritual* form within the sacred encounter of the Divine Liturgy, but more as a percolative fruit of it.

      1. What many people identify as rupture is perhaps the opportunity for metanoia. It takes discernment. But it is sometimes treated with resistance

      2. True, but rupture can also characterize the Prodigal Son taking his inheritance early and going off on his bender, as it were, and those disciples who left Jesus after his I AM revelation in John 6, and Judas deciding what Jesus’ mission should become. Some kinds of rupture should be resisted. Metanoia may be overlap rupture, but rupture as such is not congruent with metanoia. And that’s relevant to the tenability idea of rupture qua rupture as a ritual value.

      3. In any situation, there must be discernment. The difference between the young son and Vatican II was the invocation of the Holy Spirit and, presumably, a certain openness among the council bishops.

        In marriage, rupture is not only a break from the single life: the commitment to living together, to having a child, and an exclusive intimacy in sex. Rupture also happens when one spouse is forced to work far from home–hardly an objective good in terms of the family relationship, but sometimes an economic necessity as discerned by the spouses–a delayed gratification for a future good. Rupture also happens when one partner is unfaithful–an objective evil in all situations.

        My persistent point about rupture isn’t that it is always a virtue, but that it isn’t something to be feared in the context of faith. It was organic development touted once in SC (23), not non-rupture. Participation is a virtue frequently lauded not only in SC, but in non-liturgical decrees such as Ad Gentes, and in subsequent liturgical documents all the way to the present day.

      4. “My persistent point about rupture isn’t that it is always a virtue, but that it isn’t something to be feared in the context of faith.”

        That’s a very helpful and necessary clarification to lead with introducing the idea in this context.

    3. Father Anthony Forte’s comments cohere very well with that of Pope Paul VI who on October 24, 1964 said the following in an address to the Consilium:

      “The liturgy, in fact, displays a similarity to a hardy tree, the beauty of which shows a continual renewal of leaves, but whose fruitfulness of life bears witness to the long existence of the trunk, which acts through its deep and stable roots. In liturgical matters, therefore, no real opposition should occur between the present age and previous ages; but all should be done so that, whatever be the innovation, it be made to cohere and to concord with the sound tradition that precedes it, and so that from existing forms new forms grow, as through spontaneously blossoming from it.”

      1. This is the same Paul VI who actually signed off on the reforms that the Consilium produced. He clearly thought there was no opposition between the new and the old, and many liturgists agree with him.

        Reading the testimonies of people like Jounel and Gelineau, it is clear that they wanted the reforms to be more radical than Paul VI was willing to agree to. They tempered their proposals to what they thought he would accept — further evidence that Fr Forte’s comment about the reformers thinking they had carte blanche is completely inaccurate.

        Todd Flowerday characterizes what took place as a rupture. I also believe this is not the case. The impression of rupture is caused by the previous 400 years of comparative stasis. Setting that stasis aside, it is easier to see that there was in fact no discontinuity with what had gone before, merely a change of emphasis caused by a shift in ecclesiology.

      2. It’s a matter of record that the relationship between Paul VI and the Consilium was complicated. (e.g., Louis Bouyer’s Memoirs).

        I don’t see how Paul VI’s quote fits your metaphor of stasis. It sounds like, on your view, Paul VI should have said the following:

        “The liturgy is like an old tree that has stopped growing. I want you to think of yourselves as blasting that tree with a magic growth ray so that it ages 300 years over the span of 5 years.”

    4. Paul Inwood’s comment highlights a major problem with the post-conciliar reform. I do not take issue with the premise that the post-conciliar reform movement was an organic continuation of the pre-conciliar movement. But this is not the issue. The Liturgical Movement was a private initiative and its goals were not shared by all in the Church, as is shown by the quote from Cardinal Heenan. Nor did all within the movement share the same opinions and goals. Where Mr. Inwood and many others err is identifying this reform movement with Vatican II. The reforms called for by the council are those found in Sacrosanctum Concilium, and those alone. This was a compromise document that took into account both those that were pushing for greater reforms and those who were more hesitant. It is false to identify it only with those who sought a major reform. If one wishes to speak of the agenda of the Liturgical Movement, then say the Liturgical Movement. If you invoke Vatican II then know that its authority is limited to what it actually decreed.

      Mr. Inwood’s comments also highlight an unfortunate but common response to those who reject a radical interpretation of the Vatican II: implying that they are uninformed and ignorant. I, and many other critics of the post-conciliar reform, are well aware of the history of the Liturgical Movement, we just disagree with the conclusion of its more radical advocates.

      1. “… implying that they are uninformed …”

        It’s a valid criticism. The conciliar documents, unlike those of Trent and Vatican I, were largely intended to direct the course ahead, and not to stake a flag on the hill of the 1960s.

        The pope and bishops have power and responsibility to move things forward. That is what Desiderio Desideravi does: it explores an aspect of liturgy that has been underdeveloped and unexplored under the previous two popes.

      2. It is precisely because Vatican II gave broad guidelines that it is important to distinguish it from the post-conciliar implementation. The reform that was implemented after the council does not flow as a necessity from the council. It could, and may in the future, have taken a different form, such as being satisfied with the reforms of 1965. Thus one can criticize the particulars of the implementation without rejecting the council itself.

        Although much of what council called for it did in general terms, this should not be seen as giving the more radical advocates of the Liturgical Movement a carte blanche, as if they were the only ones who had a say in how the reform was to be implemented. They do not have a monopoly on expertise on liturgical matters. The implementation of Vatican II should always be open to honest criticism and the possibilities of a reform of the reform.

        Additionally, the council did give some concrete directives, such as retaining Latin and Gregorian chant having pride of place. Inasmuch as these were ignored after the council it is fair criticism that the post-conciliar reform, at least in part, is contrary to the council itself.

        As for Desiderio Desideravi, most of what it says can be applied to any rite and could be applied to the manner in which the old rite is celebrated. There was one trend in the Liturgical Movement that was only seeking such, not a complete reworking of the rite. And inasmuch as the new rite itself does not live up to it, this shows that wholesale changes in the rite was not the solution and the failure of the reform.

      3. It’s perhaps less likely we will return to 1965 than 1970. And just about everybody rejects 1970, though for various reasons.

        I agree that the implementation of SC can be open to further refinement. I think the focus of reform should be liturgy, as it is constituted in the official editions, and as it is celebrated in dioceses and parishes.

        I suspect the retention of Latin is a point still being worked out. As for chant, it was never a matter of retention, but of restoration. Pride of place can mean a lot of different things, depending. Some people would say the only place. Others the part of the Mass most essential to the celebration: dialogues and acclamations. Plainsong isn’t simply something in the skill set of most parish musicians. A “better” implementation would have involved a lot of work in the Church.

        As for a large-scale failure of the reform, yours would be an assessment of a very slim and embittered minority. Howling down that path can only bring further frustration and dashed hopes.

      4. I take issue with the comment that “Plainsong isn’t simply something in the skill set of most parish musicians.” I have some 3rd graders who would beg to differ. The more elaborate chants of the Graduale Romanum are beyond many levels, but plainsong encompasses more than that. That’s precisely why the Graduale Simplex was created. If chant is perceived to be beyond the skill level of many Catholic musicians, maybe we should try to raise their skill level rather than dismissing the material as too difficult.

      5. If only we could return to the celebration of the liturgy as it is constituted in the official editions. This has been the problem; the Mass, as it is now celebrated, is not that which is in the official editions, inasmuch as the legitimate option for a traditional from of that Mass has been de facto forbidden.

        As much as I would personally prefer a return to a 1962 or 1965 form of the Mass, I, and most traditional Catholics in the pews, would be satisfied with an acceptance and widespread availability of a traditional form of the present missal. As for what will happen in the future, only time will tell. The momentum, however, is moving in the direction to a more traditional form of the Mass. This will continue in the immediate future despite the efforts to stop it.

      6. Once again, the reformers and the Consilium are painted as the villains of the piece. However, it is well documented that much of their work was undertaken at the behest of bishops’ conferences around the world — the same bishops who had voted for SC at Vatican II.

        Trying to separate SC from the implementation that followed it therefore really is a lost cause. The two were in organic continuity, however much some may want to believe that rupture was the name of the game. Attending a 1969 Mass in Latin would show many more similarities than differences between the postconciliar rite and the preconciliar one.

        Even Heenan changed his mind fairly rapidly, once he had experienced a reformed liturgy in the vernacular, and wrote prefaces to several vernacular hymn books in the 1960s and 70s, to give just one example.

        It is worth repeating once again that para 116 of SC, “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services” includes the much-debated words other things being equal.

        The key to what this phrase actually means is to be found in the 1967 instruction Musicam Sacram. Para 50 makes it clear that this provision only applies to “sung liturgical services celebrated in Latin”. Clearly those who drafted that document did not envisage this priority to be the case in liturgical services celebrated in the vernacular, already treated and permitted in paras 47-48 of the same document.

        The context of MS, for those who were not alive at the time, was one where vernacular celebrations had in fact already been in place since 1965, with temporary vernacular translations of both Missal and Lectionary approved by local bishops’ conferences in 1965/66.

      7. Paul

        Clever by half as usual in your attempt to swallow up chant with that hat trick, but ultimately not persuasive. Among other things, it’s also belied by documents and ritual books that followed MS.

  16. The use of emotive terms in a discussion must be done very carefully. It is interesting to me how some use the term “radical” in a pejorative sense because they want to delegitimize the proposals being advanced. Yet the etymology of the word is “root,” and I think that it is fair to say that the liturgical reformers of the 20th Century had been inspired by a growing knowledge of the roots of Christian worship and wished to reclaim the “full, conscious, and active” participation in worship that was seen as our deepest heritage. What some like to call innovation is actually restoratation.

    As for the Liturgical Movement being “private,” I am not certain what the denotation of that term is in this context.

    1. “Full, conscious, and active” participation did not require a complete reworking of the liturgy. This is the goal of those attached to the traditional Mass as much as it is of the reformers. As for the use of the term “radical,” it is applied here to those more extreme members of the reform movement who seek to rip up the roots, not to return to them. We should remember that the roots are more than just the original seed, but what has grown out of it and spread. It is false to view the post-classical developments in the liturgy as illegitimate and foreign; they are what have grown from the seed into the roots.

      In regards to the Liturgical Movement being private, it was only one stream of liturgical thought, and not at all united. It holds no special authority and compels no obedience. Like any intellectual movement there is both good and bad. Much of what it sought was good — as the above full, conscious, and active participation in worship — and much exaggerated and harmful. It needs to be judged on its own merits and not falsely clothed with the authority of Vatican II, thus blocking any useful discussion.

      1. The 1967 collection of essays _Crisis In Church Music?_ addresses the fact that since 1903, “reform” in liturgical music had meant the restoration of Gregorian chant, whereas “reform” in the liturgical movement meant the implementation of (approximately) “the peoples’ music.” The experts/big names of the time (Francis P. Schmitt, Alexander Peloquin, etc.) acknowledged these conflicting visions, a mere 4 years after SC. It’s a very interesting dip into history to read these essays written from the “right, center, left, and far left” positions.

  17. Really, there is nothing new in this letter, and nothing that hasn’t been said more beatifully and richly by other authors. Also expected is Francis’ animus and virtual dissing of Benedict. Benedict, even if you don’t agree with his views was surley the most influential pope of our time regarging the liturgy, perhaps even equal to Pius X. However Francis ignores him completely! TC was truly a slap in the face, unbecoming for a pope! -Not to mention the nasty manner in which he treats traditional Catholics!!
    As Benedict stated ” what was sacred to those before us is still sacred for us today”. Francis prefers the paradigm of rupture rather than continuity. I cannot understand this.

    1. The interview with Patrick Prétot OSB, professor of liturgy at the Institut Catholique, Paris published in today’s edition of La Croix International, significantly, acclaims Pope Francis’ apostolic letter as his “treatise on the theology of the liturgy.”

    2. Rupture remains, in a discerned context, a spiritual value. I’d say a Council and an implementation qualify as such. Why is continuity lifted up to near-idolatry status? We live in a new post-Christian age. We need an evangelical focus, not the same maintenance of our interior life in the Church.

  18. I am not an English speaker so I apologize if my English is not correct.

    I think the document for sure has some valid points. But when pope writes that modern people “have lost the capacity to engage with symbolic action” does he mean the faithful? Well, since the letter is addressed to Church universal I would say yes: “modern people” are all the faithful. So all the faithfull lost this capacitiy. But how then is this even possible? I mean nearly 60 years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, which clearly mandated liturgical formation of the faithful. I think that nobody really cared for liturgical formation of the faithful. and that is why today we do not understand the liturgy. And another, even bigger, reason for this “symbolic crisis” is the reformed liturgy which is devoid of profound symbols like ad orientem and rituals and functions that have been supresed. For me Deseiderio desideravi is a silent yet powerful critique of what postconciliar Church should have done but it didn’t.

    1. I would say that vestments, candles, processions, posture, the sign of peace, the lectern, the altar and even versus populo are profound symbols.
      What is lacking is catechesis about these things.

  19. You are right, liturgical formation even in seminaries has been seriously neglected (as it was before the Council). The 2nd Vatican Council said that it should play a major role in seminary formation, but little or nothing was done.
    Recently (May 9th) a teaching document has been announced “Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said in an interview with a Spanish Catholic magazine that his dicastery is preparing a document on the liturgical formation of all the baptized.”

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