Liturgical change at the Second Vatican Council: a report from 1963

Katharine Harmon posted a request for personal accounts of liturgical changes between, say, 1964 and 1969. Readers responded with many interesting comments.

But before liturgical changes appeared in parishes, they showed up at the Second Vatican Council itself. Joseph Ratzinger, then not yet a bishop, was a peritus (advisor) to Cardinal Frings of Cologne at the Council. He published an interesting account of the first session, from October to December of 1962, in the Irish pastoral journal, The Furrow, founded in 1950 and still in publication. I offer the following excerpts from his article, with kind permission of the journal’s editor.

In the spirit of Katharine’s historical enquiry, I am providing these excerpts with no further comment. A lot of ink has been spilled on whether Joseph Ratzinger is or was liturgically ‘progressive’, or whether he changed his views over time. Whatever the case, he was a theologian interested in the liturgy, and this account was written not long after the close of the first session of the Council, so it is an interesting look at history.

Excerpted with permission from The Furrow, May 1963
“The Second Vatican Council: The First Session”
by Joseph Ratzinger; translation by Fr William Meany

The purpose then of this paper, which was written at the insistence of certain friends, is comparatively modest: to bear testimony very simply to what we experienced, and especially to that discovery of the vitality of the faith in the Church which represents the actual “result” of the First Session of the Council. [p. 267]

The liturgical ceremonies of the opening day lacked that community quality which makes everyone feel he is included. Neither were they sufficiently compact. Is it really proper for 2,500 bishops, to say nothing of the many other members of the faithful, to be condemned to be mute spectators of a liturgy in which, apart from official liturgists, only the Sistine Choir has any voice? The active participation of those present was deemed unnecessary, a symptom, don’t you think, of a state of affairs that needed to be put right? And why, may I ask, had the Credo to be recited in full after the Mass, when there was room within the Mass itself for such a profession of faith? Why, to put another question, was a formal liturgy of the word necessary, seeing that there is an Epistle and Gospel in the Mass? And why was it necessary that litanies be sung in full when one can still recognize those places in the Mass where prayers of intercession can be inserted? Two liturgies had been juxtaposed without being properly connected. One could clearly recognise in this the dangerous archaism which imprisoned the liturgy of the Mass since the Council of Trent, so that one could scarcely any longer perceive the real meaning of its individual parts, or see that the Mass itself contains an enthronement of the Gospel, a profession of faith and intercessions. It must have instinctively occurred to the observer that a symptom of the success of the Council would be the degree by which the closing ceremonies differed from those of the opening day. From this point of view may not one regard it as a gratifying sign that, on the initiative of the bishops, on 8 December at the conclusion of the First Session, the responses and the Ordinary of the Mass were sung in unison by the bishops and all those present? [pp. 268 – 269]

It is not reading too much into the happenings of the opening day to say that they yielded yet another result – that “holy freedom of the Council”, as the Pope [John XXIII] later described it. The climate of the Council from the very outset bore the imprint of the broad-minded outlook of John XXIII, which in this respect differed sharply from the pope [Pius IX] of the First Vatican Council. Without using many words, the Pope encouraged frankness and candour as much by his personality as by what he said. This address was a sign that the neurosis of anti-Modernism, which ever since the turn of the century kept cropping up and exercising an excessively restricting influence, at least appeared to be on the way out, and a new consciousness was emerging. This was proved by the fact that discussions could take place in the church in a spirit of fraternal candour, without loyalty to the Faith suffering any hurt. [p. 272]

The Council was able to gather in the harvest which had ripened in the Church in its struggle during recent decades. In these days one understood how fruitful all that labour had been, though in the beginning few people appreciated it at its full value. [p. 275]

The ritual stiffness on which, as I tried to show in my comments on the liturgy of the opening day, the meaning of each single action as often scarcely grasped, defeats the attempt to make the Church’s worship once again a means of proclaiming the word of God in a manner that will have a meaning and appeal for our time. The same stiffness destroys the dialogue character of all liturgical ceremonies, the means by which God’s people are meant to worship Him together. This naturally implies that less stress is to be laid on private Masses and more on the celebration of the liturgy in common This is clearly expressed in the text [of Sacrosanctum Concilium], especially in the lapidary statement: “The dialogue Mass is to be preferred.” A corollary of this was the attempt to extend the practice of concelebration.

The discussion had its amusing side. Quite often glowing eulogies on Latin were delivered in heavy bog-Latin, while the most impressive champions of the vernacular could express themselves in good classical Latin. [p. 277]

It can hardly be denied that the sterility to which Catholic theology and philosophy has in many cases been condemned since the end of the Enlightenment was due, not least, to being tied to a language in which vital decisions of the human mind were no longer made. Theological decisions which were worked out and expounded in a dead language were often superficial and not really fertilized by contemporary thought. Theology of this sort was incapable of transforming itself. [p. 278]

It is ALWAYS Advent!

Among the many writings of retired bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI, there is a small text that may be of increasing, and unexpected(!), benefit as we approach the season of Advent. It is his text, “What it Means to Be a Christian.” Unlike most of Benedict’s other better-known works, this is not a theological treatise or systematic exposition, but rather a compilation text of three homilies given during the December Embertide of 1964. (I’ll assign anyone unfamiliar with the term “Embertide” to look it up!) Is the time and context of this text that of a “younger, gentler, kinder” Joseph Ratzinger? It may be hard to say, but it is nonetheless a probing and thoughtful Ratzinger struggling with a time of transition, especially in the opening years of the Second Vatican Council, and the role, place, and impact of faith within it.

The homilies are Advent in character, but not Advent in a one-dimensional “let’s get ready for Jesus to be born again” way. They are Advent in drawing and challenging believers to consider what difference the Christ-event makes in human history. A “so what?!” directed precisely at the Incarnation. This is a question meant for both the incredulous and skeptic who really find nothing in Christianity (especially in Roman Catholic Christianity) except hypocrisy and divisiveness, as well as the believer so comfortable in her or his own righteousness in social advocacy and/or in devotion to tradition. Ratzinger’s initial question to the reader is essentially that it is not a matter of whether or not God exists, but more importantly whether belief in God or in the presence of God active in our history is efficacious? What effect does belief in the Incarnation have on our day to day existence?

Such a question confronts us, once again, as we prepare for another season that appears in so many ways to sharply contrast and conflict with contemporary culture. And yet, the goals of both experiences of the Advent Season, whether acknowledged or not, are the same — a desire to feel wanted, loved, cared for, and valued for who and what we are. This is not something that we yearn for at the end of a civil year, but it is the earnest longing of humanity every day of our lives. Advent, then, is the on-going, ever-present realization of the satisfaction of this desire because of the Incarnation — the only means by which these desires can be satisfied.

Ratzinger states emphatically in the second homily that “it is always Advent.” It is always our longing for and our realization of God’s dream for creation, which comes to its fulfillment with and in Christ. This understanding offers Advent the cosmic and eschatological foundation not only upon which the season turns, but in a greater way upon which Christian life exists in this good world. It is a two-fold foundation — based on love and based on care, which pivot upon each other.

We cannot love what we do not care about, and we cannot ever seek to care unless we experience the true challenges and joys of what it means to love. Advent proclaims that all cosmos has always been bound up in the love God has for what God has created. As Ratzinger states, Advent strongly asserts that “history is not divided into a dark half, and a light half,” it is all embraced by the light and love of God. The Christ-event awakens us to this always and forever reality, and as the preface of the First Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation proclaims, with Christ this bond “can never be undone.”

The actualization of the truth of love and what it means to love it the cause of and impetus for caring. This is not caring in a superficial or limited way, but a deep caring, a “willingness” to care — that states emphatically, “I will care!” Care in its strongest terms reflects the call of the prophets and of the affirmation of Mary and Joseph to participate in the realization of God’s intent for creation. If we do not care, then the outpouring of love in our God becoming one like us (long before we add the qualifier “except sin”) remains a distant theological assertion without any impact on our daily lives.

Perhaps this is why the embrace of the Advent as a season in December and as way of life the rest of year ought to be principle of Care for Creation. It is only with the understanding of the amorization (according to de Chardin) of the cosmos with the outpouring of love at the Incarnation that care for it becomes a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. In Advent we long for — not just wait for, which attitude can take on a passive and sadly disinterested perspective — the fulfillment of what love engendered by entering, and continually entering, into all of creation. Until this certainty becomes known, experienced, and embraced in and through all the cosmos, it is always Advent.


Archbishop Romero’s Winding Path to Sainthood

By Kevin Clarke, SJ 

Oscar Romero had the chance to meet privately with Pope John Paul II in 1979. He was treated to a few expressions of support but mostly to a good scolding on the importance of maintaining episcopal unity before the eyes of the public. [1]

In his diary account of the meeting, Romero writes,

“He acknowledged that pastoral work is very difficult in a political climate like the one in which I have to work. He recommended great balance and prudence… He reminded me of his situation in Poland, where he was faced with a government that was not Catholic and where he had to develop the church in spite of its difficulties. He said the unity of the bishops is very important… Again I clarified, telling him that this was also something that I want very much, but that I was aware that unity cannot be pretended. Rather, it must be based on the gospel and on the truth.”

Pope John Paul II had been receiving numerous reports from within the Salvadoran bishops’ conference full of accusations against the archbishop. Now closing out the meeting, Pope John Paul II suggested to Romero that “to resolve the deficiencies in the pastoral work and the lack of harmony among the bishops” an apostolic administrator sede plena be appointed, meaning that Romero would remain archbishop of San Salvador but that the actual responsibilities of the position would be moved to the administrator.

Romero apparently accepted the suggestion without protest and

“left, pleased by the meeting, but worried to see how much the negative reports of my pastoral work had influenced [the pope]…  I think that the audience and our conversation were very useful because he was very frank. I have learned that one cannot expect always to get complete approval, and that it is more useful to hear criticism that can be used to improve our work.”

A remarkably cool accounting of the meeting, perhaps for posterity’s sake, considering Pope John Paul II was essentially proposing to cut the episcopal legs out from under Romero and throw everything he had accomplished into turmoil. [2]

          *               *               *

It had been a fantastic hope of the Catholic faithful of Latin America that one day one of their own should become Bishop of Rome and represent the perspective and experience of this largest population of Catholics in the world before the rest of their Catholic brothers and sisters. That hope was finally realized in the humble form of Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has become fondly known to the world as Pope Francis.

Soon after his election in April 2013, Pope Francis stepped into one of those occasional – and inexplicable to outsiders – disagreements that trouble somber Vatican corridors in what would become typical of his direct and empathetic style. Pope Francis “unblocked” the canonization process for Servant of God – declared so in 1997 by Pope John Paul II – and servant of the people of El Salvador, Oscar Romero.

          *               *               *

Pope Francis and Archbishop Romero share a striking and sincere simplicity, humility, and modesty that encouraged them to renounce many of the symbolic and practical privileges of their ecclesial positions, right down to the clothing they wore and the means of transportation they employed. Surely they both possess a taste for modest living and a sense that their vocations demand a life of community, not one that could be endured in practical and psychological isolation. No mean feat for either man.

Both men have been considered conservative, bookish, withdrawn. But now Francis proclaims he was never the “rightist” that some took him to be, though in his too-youthful appointment to provincial, his authoritarianism, driven by insecurity, may have suggested it to some people. Romero, considered a “safe” appointment during a time of class and social uproar in El Salvador, proved that age had not calcified his vision or reduced his consciousness into a hard, lifeless thing. Both men have demonstrated the powerful works that liberation and joy and courage can achieve.

          *               *               *

It wasn’t until 1993 that Romero‘s cause was first opened in El Salvador, but Romero‘s orthodoxy and loyalty to the church were not “confirmed” until July 2005, after a review by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith that had continued for years. [3]

Powerful people in El Salvador and in Rome have quietly campaigned against his sainthood, arguing that Romero did not die for his faith or for the poor, but as a “combatant” in a political struggle, worse, a social antagonist who contributed to public disorder. Powerful bishops within his own conference condemned the archbishop, and after his death opposed the cause for his sainthood, seeing in it an indictment of their role and the side they elected to defend during El Salvador’s years of torment.

In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI said that the archbishop was “certainly a great witness of the faith” who “merits beatification, I do not doubt.” (Words that were later absurdly stricken from the unofficial transcript though they were spoken before a planeload of journalists).

In 2010 on the thirtieth anniversary of Romero’s death, when many thought Romero’s beatification would surely be announced, San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar explained the stalled process as the result of efforts by some to “manipulate, politicize or use Romero’s image.” [4] The cause for Romero sainthood had been held up because of concerns among some powerful bishops that Romero’s canonization would signal the church’s approval of liberation theology, a controversial convergence of Scripture interpretation and Marxist social critique that has long made some clerics, those perhaps most comfortable with the status quo in Latin America, uneasy.

          *               *               *

Few among the poor and oppressed of El Salvador have had to wonder about Romero’s sainthood. And over the years as thousands of Catholics all over the world learn about Romero and his legacy of conviction and courage, no official word has been necessary to confirm his saintliness. The people of El Salvador have already declared their saint; he has never been “blocked” on the streets of San Salvador and in the deepest precincts of the heart where the true sainthood resides.

Now each year thousands march on the anniversary of his death, at times they have done so at great peril, in a statement of resistance that is also a defiant gesture of devotion and a declaration of a popular embrace of Romero’s sainthood. That elevation, a canonization by the people, would undoubtedly be all that Romero would have wished for.

This article is excerpted from Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out  (Liturgical Press, 2014) by Kevin Clarke, SJ.

[1] James R. Brockman, SJ, Romero: A Life (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, Orbis, 2005), 169-70.

[2] Oscar Romero, A Shepherd’s Diary, trans. Irene Hodgson, (Washington: USCC, 1993), 214-15.

[3] Cindy Wooden, “Magazine Says Archbishop Romero Was Killed for Actions of Faith,” Catholic News Service, November 4, 2015, htpp://

[4] Pat Marrin, “Oscar Romero Sainthood Cause on Long, Tangled Path,” National Catholic Reporter, May 10, 2013, htpp://


Absolution Confusion

The Penitential Act at Mass, still often referred to under its previous title of “Penitential Rite”, continues to be the subject of confusion among both clergy and laity.

Nos. 4-6 in the current version of the Roman Missal lay out the principal options:
• Form I: the “I confess”
• Form II: “Have mercy on us, O Lord” ― “For we have sinned against you” etc.
• Form III: “You were sent to heal the contrite of heart” etc.

Each of these is preceded by an invitation from the priest, and followed by an absolution by the priest.

What is not immediately clear from a bullet-point list is that the three forms have different emphases. Form I is a personal expression of repentance and unworthiness. Form II is a communal expression of repentance and unworthiness. Form III is completely different, which is why the 1998 ICEL Sacramentary separated it out from the other two and entitled it a “Litany of Praise”: in this form, all the sample invocations without exception praise Christ for who he is or for the wonderful things he has done or continues to do.

How to decide which form to select on any given occasion? It seems to me that this is one of the lost opportunities in the Order of Mass today. In many places Form I is used merely because a sung Kyrie will follow, something which does not happen with Form III. In other places, the criterion for selection is the whim of the presiding priest. I maintain that a proper criterion should derive from the liturgy itself: we should be selecting the form in accordance with what we will find in the scripture readings that will follow shortly. Many times the underlying theme of those readings will not be about personal or communal repentance, and therefore Forms I or II will not be appropriate but Form III will be.

But here, too, there is a danger. The main thrust of Form III is all about Jesus, and not about us: “You are mighty God and Prince of peace.” “You raise the dead to life in the Spirit.” “You came to gather the nations into the peace of God’s kingdom.” Many presiders, however, turn this form into a Litany of Sorrow, rather than a Litany of Praise. Their introductions emphasise our shortcomings. Their invocations, frequently spontaneous, often begin “For the times when we….” This may be fine at a service of reconciliation, but at Mass it not only contradicts the meaning of this part of the rite but also leads to a perpetuation of misunderstanding about what is going on. In fact this form is not a Penitential Act at all. It is interesting to note that in the 1998 ICEL Sacramentary there is actually no absolution following after Form III.

I encounter many elementary school teachers who tell their children that “We always begin Mass with ‘Sorry Prayers’.” It may make life easier for them, but it’s inaccurate and misleads the children. It should be clear that, if Form III is used, these are not “sorry prayers” at all. In part, the confusion is caused by the “Lord/Christ, have mercy” responses. Those teachers don’t know that in the Middle Ages these were often used as acclamations, rather than for breast-beating. “You are wonderful ― have mercy!”

Additionally, there are many occasions in the Church Year when the Penitential Act simply doesn’t happen. A basic list would look like this:

Ash Wednesday
Palm Sunday
Easter Vigil
Presentation of the Lord (February 2)
Whenever a rite of blessing and sprinkling of water is used instead
Requiem Mass
Mass with Baptism
Nuptial Mass

Unpacking those, Ash Wednesday is an interesting case. For decades liturgists have been telling us that the best place for a penitential act is not in the introductory rites when the community is still coming together but at the end of the Liturgy of the Word, which will have established a proper context for expressing repentance. On Ash Wednesday this is precisely what happens: the penitential act, the blessing and imposition of ashes, takes place not at the beginning but after the Liturgy of the Word. Doing this also makes much more sense of moving the gesture of peace to this point, immediately before the presentation of the gifts, as Benedict XVI suggested in Sacramentum Caritatis, footnote 150. Our Anglican sisters and brothers have had the sign of peace at this point for centuries….

On Palm Sunday, Easter Vigil, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and a Mass with Baptism, the penitential act is simply replaced by the introductory rites on those occasions. At a Requiem Mass, it is replaced by the sprinkling of the casket with blessed water.

There is considerable confusion about the rite of blessing and sprinkling of water. Just because it replaces a penitential act does not mean that it is itself a penitential act. It is not. The sample introduction in the Roman Missal makes it clear that it is a reminder of our baptism ― surely a joyful and not a penitential occasion. On Easter Sunday morning, when the rite of sprinkling follows a renewal of baptismal promises after the Liturgy of the Word, it is scarcely a penitential act but rather a rite filled with the joy of the resurrection. The blessing prayers speak not of washing away our sins but of defence and protection, helping us seek forgiveness, and explicitly asking “that we may share in the gladness of our brothers and sisters who at Easter have received their Baptism.” Once again, confusion is caused by the antiphons, some of which talk about cleansing. As to when this rite might be used, once again a look at the scriptures can often provide a clue.

There has been no penitential act at Nuptial Masses since the first postconciliar edition of the Rite of Marriage in 1969. However, that has not prevented publishers of worship aids from including one erroneously, nor presiders from using one when they are on autopilot. A moment’s thought should show how out of place such a rite might feel on such a celebratory occasion.

The same is true of Midnight Mass, where having a penitential act after 30 or 40 minutes of an extended Liturgy of the Word of lessons and carols can also seem superfluous. A more natural progression would be adding the Dawn Gospel of the Shepherds to the Midnight Mass Gospel, leading immediately into the singing of the Gloria, followed by a procession to the crib and blessing of the crib, followed by the procession of gifts. Perhaps a future edition of the Missal will address this issue.

A sacrament where the Missal still includes a penitential act is Confirmation. On this occasion, how much more appropriate it would be to substitute the blessing and sprinkling of water as a reminder to the confirmandi of their baptism.

Just a brief word about the priest’s introduction. The 1969 Order of Mass and 1973 Missal used the phraseology “let us call to mind our sins”. It was the late Cuthbert Johnson, OSB, who first commented in 1983 that “calling to mind one’s sins can be a most pleasurable occupation”. Before you know where you are, it’s the Gospel and your mind has been on other things…. He used this as a way of showing why we needed a new translation of the Missal, and he was right. We are called to acknowledge our sinfulness before God — rather different from contemplating one’s peccadilloes!

All of this leads us to the major area of confusion that gives this article its title. Many people are under the impression that the absolution by the priest actually absolves them from their sins. After all, the words they hear imply this: “May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us….” It was worse in the preconciliar rite, where the words, whether audible or silently read in a hand missal, began “Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum…

Those people have not (and why should they have?) read para 51 of the current GIRM, which clarifies what was previously not made explicit: “The rite concludes with the Priest’s absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance.” For them, it’s called “the Absolution”, so it absolves. (Perhaps we can change this name?) Many make the sign of the cross on themselves, strengthening the conviction that sacramental absolution is actually happening. (It’s a brave priest who will tell his people that this sign of the cross is not in the rite and they shouldn’t be doing it! Catholics often did this through devotion in the preconciliar rite, though it was not in that rite either.) Perhaps some have even read the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church dealing with the Fruits of Holy Communion (paras 1393-5), which explicitly states that the Eucharist forgives all except grave sin. They may think that this must take place at “the Absolution” rather than by sharing in Holy Communion, the greatest sacrament of reconciliation. If an incorrect, homemade version of Form III has preceded (“For our failure to love you and our neighbours as we should: Lord, have mercy”, etc.), the impression is further accentuated.

It is my hope that if Pope Francis’s recent Motu Proprio has the effect of providing us with a revised version of the Roman Missal in the not-too-distant future, this will also be used as an opportunity for catechesis on this and other basic topics on which many of our people are still sadly misinformed.

Reviewing Louis Bouyer Ten Years Later

A week ago I benefited from my host-professor here at KU Leuven, Joris Geldhof, inviting me to accompany him to a two-day conference (Oct. 10 – 11) on Louis Bouyer being jointly presented by the Institut Catholic de Paris and the College des Bernardins: “ACTUALITÉ ET FÉCONDITÉ D’UN MAÎTRE. LOUIS BOUYER (1913-2004).”

The joint venture of these two faculties, which can fairly be characterized as  academically and ecclesially centrist-left (the Catho) and right (des Bernardins) was itself a sign of intra-ecumenism on the French Catholic terrain. Both days were simply loaded with thirty minute talks, such that there was precious little time for open discussion from the floor (just three comments during seven minutes at the end of the first morning, the most penetrating coming from an African priest-graduate student questioning the pastoral usefulness of Bouyer’s highly speculative work in ecclesiology, eschatology, etc.). The number attending various halves of the two days ranged from about 75 to 150, as best I  could estimate. And my sense of the coffee breaks was that like-minded colleagues, as might be expected, clustered together. I hasten to acknowledge that Parisian (and French Catholic) culture has its proper characteristics, just so as to say that I did not witness (or expect) much if any lively debate across ideological and ecclesial lines.

For Bouyer, of course, was a controversial figure, given to explosive anger and sharp-tongued criticisms of not only theological and pastoral-liturgical positions but also persons themselves. The evidence for those of us whose studies and adulthood post-date his heyday in the 1960s and 70s comes in the recently published, unedited memoir he left for a friend-colleague to release a decade after his death (thus, summer 2014). To prepare for my two days of taking in (all in French, of course) the 18 presentations at the conference, I consulted more recent scholarly journal articles engaging Bouyer, as well as reviews of the memoir, among which the offering in La Croix struck me as the most fair, without sugar-coating the character that emerges through the pages. But others may be found not only in Catholic journals and reviews but in such secular-press venues as La Figaro — a testimony to Bouyer’s status as a public intellectual and churchman.

Bouyer was a prolific writer, among whose dozens of books are numbered three large trilogies spanning a few decades of his career. While students of academic liturgical theology would most likely be acquainted with his earlier works on the paschal mystery, the bible and spirituality, and the eucharist, the trilogies unfold increasing speculative work in sophiology, a sub-discipline he advanced via great appreciation for Serge Bulgakov and other Russian Orthodox thinkers and, in concert with them, close reading of patristic sources. My own impression of the purpose of the abstract, speculative development in his work was that it served to support the practical, clerical, highly conservative ecclesiology he promoted in his writings, lectures, and not least through his formative influence on an inner circle of students he nurtured in 1970s Paris, including (the later cardinals) Lustiger (Paris) and Shoenborn (Vienna), as well as some of last weekend’s older presenters from the faculty des Bernadins.

Bouyer never stayed very long on any one faculty; it seems his personality prevented that. Presenters at the conference, during talks but also over a lunch I enjoyed with some, acknowledged his brittleness but also his having often been a target in the battles — academic and practical, theological and liturgical — that followed Vatican II in the French and European church. Younger generations would meet Bouyer’s thought through Hans Urs van Balthasar’s appreciation of his work, but also by his influence on Josef Ratzinger (not to mention on Paul VI and John Paul II, as well).

Perhaps the best way to summarize the outcome of last weekend’s colloquy on Louis Bouyer is for me to paraphrase my colleague Dr. Geldhof who, as we enjoyed our conversation on the bullet train careening north back to Brussels, expressed satisfaction at the luxury of being fully immersed in the corpus of a particular theologian’s work for a couple days. Speaking for myself, the result will be greater nuance when touching on Bouyer’s contributions, character, and career in teaching and writing about the history and appropriation of the Liturgical Movement, the reception of Sacrosanctum Concilium through the work of the rites-reforming Consilium (on which he served), the reaction that followed through the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the male-female complementarity at the heart of an ecclesiology, sacramental-liturgical theology, and ideology of the priesthood enmeshed with the “theology of the body.”

Despite the magnitude of Bouyer’s body of writings, as well as the ambitious coverage of so much of his principle ideas and concerns at the recent Paris conference, I can only offer these present brief remarks. Perhaps Pray Tell participants would like to discuss something of their own engagement with this significant theological figure and his legacy.