Originally Posted by Milestones, pp. 146-149
The previous missal had been created by Pius V in 1570 in connection with the Council of Trent; and so it was quite normal that, after four hundred years and a new council, a new pope would present us with a new missal. But the historical truth of the matter is different. [p. 174] Pius V had simply ordered a reworking of the Missale Romanum then being used, which is the normal thing as history develops over the course of centuries. Many of his successor had likewise reworked this missal again, but without ever setting one missal against another. It was a continual process of growth and purification in which continuity was never destroyed. There is no such thing as a "Missal of Pius V", created by Pius V himself. There is only the reworking done by Pius V as one phase in a long history of growth. The new feature that came to the fore after the Council of Trent was of a different nature. The irruption of the Reformation had above all taken the concrete form of liturgical "reforms". It was not just a matter of there being a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church alongside one another. THe split in the CHurch occurred almost imperceptibly and found its most visible and historically most incisive manifestation in the changes of the liturgy. These changes, in turn, took very different forms at the local level, so that here, too, one frequently could not ascertain the boundary between what was still Catholic and what was no longer Catholic.
In this confusing situation, which had become possible by the failure to produce unified liturgical legislation and by the existing liturgical pluralism inherited from the Middle Ages, the pope decided that now the Missale Romanum -- the missal of the city of Rome -- was to be introduced as reliably Catholic in every place that could not demonstrate its liturgy to be at least two hundred years old. Wherever the existing liturgy was that old, it could be preserved because its Catholic character would then be assured. In this case we cannot speak of the prohibition of a previous missal that had formerly been approved as valid. The prohibition of the missal that was now decreed, a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of [p. 148] the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic. It was reasonable and right of the [Second Vatican - japhy] Council to order a revision of the missal such as had often taken place before and which this time had to be more thorough than before, above all because of the introduction of the vernacular.
But more than this now happened: the old building was demolished, and another was built, to be sure largely using materials from the previous one and even using the old building plans. There is no doubt this new missal in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something "made", not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this it also follows that we are not to recognize the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every "community" must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life. A renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation that again recognizes the unity of the history of the liturgy and that understands Vatican II, not as a breach, but as a stage of development: these things are urgently needed for the life of the Church. I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to [p. 149] be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds -- partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.