"Organic changes are just a lot of unapproved innovations that eventually became popular."


#1

I was having a chat with a CAF friend and we were speaking of organic development. I was saying that changes in the liturgy through organic development are fine, but not when they are abrupt and jarring.

In return, he asked me “What IS organic development” and commented that a lot of developments start out as innovations or liturgical abuse.

This statement is extremely interesting to me.

How exactly does organic development occur?

Does anyone who really understand that care to explain it to me?

100 years down the line, which liturgical abuses will be considered organic development?

Looking forward to your answers.


#2

That’s a good point.


#3

This refers to organic changes in rite, defined in CCEO as patrimony, culture and historical circumstance. Culture and circumstances will change, and there are adjustments made to adapt, yet safeguarding tradition and mutual goodwill.Canon 28 - §1. A rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui iuris.
§2. The rites treated in this code, unless otherwise stated, are those which arise from the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean and Constantinopolitan traditions.
Canon law, referring to observance of rite allowing organic progress to it:Canon 40 - §1. Hierarchs who preside over Churches sui iuris and all other hierarchs are to see most carefully to the faithful protection and accurate observance of their own rite, and not admit changes in it except by reason of its organic progress, keeping in mind, however, mutual goodwill and the unity of Christians.
§2. Other clerics and members of institutes of consecrated life are bound to observe their own rite faithfully and daily to acquire a greater understanding and a more perfect practice of it.
§3. Other Christian faithful are also to foster an understanding and appreciation of their own rite, and are held to observe it everywhere unless something is excused by the law.


#4

Where does the Church teach that the Holy Spirit never acts on the body of the faithful in an abrupt and jarring way?

Someone who doesn’t like something will always see it as abrupt and jarring, and someone who likes something will always appreciate the change. The idea that development can’t be abrupt and jarring is simply made up by people who find that specific developments abrupt and jarring! When something people like is implimented, it is always either a welcome change for the better or a “Return to tradition”, take your pick.

The Church does not teach the doctrine of non-abruptness and smooth-transitions in liturgical development.

-Tim-


#5

True. But again how do we distinguish organic development from liturgical abuse? Certainly we do not have a Liturgical Lab where Liturgical Experiments are made and only those that past rigorous tests will be delivered to the public.

The person TrueLight had a discussion with was me. I related to her how the commemorations during the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy came to be. Laity, out of their own piety, just started approaching the deacons who were processing in silence with the Gifts of bread and wine to the altar and ask for the deacon to remember them in their prayers. Eventually if someone was of a certain stature, like perhaps the town mayor or even the Emperor, then the commemorations were done loudly. Then eventually a certain formula was used for formality which is what we see today. But there was no council of bishops who said, “we should do this.” It just happened. By today’s standards, it is liturgical abuse, it was never in the books of what should happen or be done during Liturgy. But it started happening, caught on with other faithful of other churches, eventually it was in the rubrics.


#6

Can you give any examples of any of the above?

Remember, I am trying to understand how things develop organically.


#7

Those insertions in the past stuck because there was no youtube or CAF :D:D:D:D


#8

The important thing to note is that organic changes were “just a lot of unapproved innovations” – because there was no centralized system for approving changes. Eight or twelve hundred years ago, there was no curial office dedicated to the “discipline of the sacraments,” no editio typica of the missal, no GIRM or Sacrosanctum Concilium with a line saying that no one, even if he be a priest, may add to, subtract from, or otherwise modify the liturgy.

Thus when people first started doing things like chanting a sequence after the alleluia, or reciting the beginning of John’s Gospel after Mass, or distributing Communion primarily outside of Mass, or dividing the Sanctus and the Benedictus because the music was too long, no one could say, “Hey! That is an abuse!” And when such innovations caught on and were perpetuated, similarly they could not say, “Even if the bishop approves, this is just the fruit of disobedience!” It just was, in somewhat the same way that when people started speaking Italian and the other Romance languages no one was there pointing a finger saying, “Hey! You are speaking terrible Latin! Look at this official Latin dictionary; you’re getting it all wrong!” That came to an end with the standardization and bureaucratization of the liturgy during the Counter-Reformation, as has been well-documented.

There are two other misconceptions about organic change that seem facile but are apparently widespread, and ought to be pointed out. The first is the idea that organic change was possible in the past because it is shrouded in history and we generally don’t know know who was responsible for it – typically it is pinned either on something vague like “monks,” or on some saint (e.g., Ambrose) whom it’s hard to argue with. Under this conception, change cannot really be organic today because it is just the whim of a certain Father Smith or Bishop Jones in a particular parish or diocese, and not really something that arises out of the Church writ large or its saints. Or at the absolute minimum, change can be imputed to a semi-defined group like “liberals” or “the disobedient,” who by virtue of their status are equally incapable of doing anything legitimate.

The second misconception insists that any change is actually a “rupture,” and, since rupture is (we are urged to believe) by definition inorganic, no change can be organic change. Thus if, to take one example, people start holding hands during the Our Father, the argument runs, “There was nothing like that in the past! It is a huge and unprecedented change! Indeed, that makes it a rupture, because there is no continuity whatsoever with the past! So it is obviously not an organic change.”

Those misconceptions are highly intertwined, so arguments often go like this:
Alice: How do you feel about Glorias with a refrain?
Bill: That is a massive change. Unprecedented. A clear rupture.
Alice: But then wouldn’t you say it was a rupture to do something like split the Sanctus and Benedictus?
Bill: You don’t understand – that is wrapped up in history. It was done by holy monks, not hippies and the big publishing houses.

If you would like an example of organic change that will very likely be accepted in the future, the best one I can think of is the giving of blessings to noncommunicants in the Communion line. And incidentally, I surely agree that such ought not be done by Eucharistic ministers, even though it is perhaps an open question whether it could be done through them by virtue of a liturgical power delegated ad hoc by the priest. All the same, I have never been able to figure out why the very existence of such a blessing should be such a bugbear for some people. I find it ironic in the extreme to hear the same people saying “It is pointless, because everybody gets a blessing at the end of Mass!” who would be the first, if a blessing had been removed in the Novus Ordo, to complain, “Graces are being diminished by the wanton removal of extra blessings! This is ‘noble simplicity’ run amok!”


#9

Hmm. Good stuff. I shall have to think about this and respond when it’s NOT 1:22 Eastern.


#10

Actually, even in the days when there was no easy way to impose central authority (is there now? not really), plenty of people could and would complain about liturgical abuse. Often they rioted in the streets, or yelled insults and protests at the priests. Other times, folks who visited the region and got upset would go home, tell their bishop, and the other bishop would complain. This sort of thing got brought up in letters between dioceses, and at local synods, and by the Pope and the patriarchs. Local rulers weren’t afraid to complain, either. There was tons and tons of talk about liturgical abuse.

Folks on this forum just don’t read enough historical chitchat. :slight_smile:

An organic change is a change that nobody complains about; it fits “the mind of the Church” about herself. It usually develops very slowly indeed, because most people do complain. It usually is something sensible and beautiful. It becomes gradually more definite, and sometimes changes to have a different purpose than it used to.

I’ll take a peaceful example of unorganic change. There was at least one cathedral where the deacons and priests and acolytes and such, on Easter, decided that it would be a great idea to dance around while tossing a ball to each other, while singing an Easter hymn. Inside the cathedral. playing ball. Yep. And for some reason, it went on for ten or twenty years without being stopped by the bishop (I guess he liked making his clerics perform musical numbers).

And then, all the French bishops and a bunch of Roman officials all lowered the boom on the thing, with many an anathema. And that was pretty much the end of that. Everybody else knew it wasn’t fitting since it went against “the mind of the Church,” and the people who claimed not to know better had been told.

OTOH, there’s a cathedral in Spain where, right before the Liturgy of the Hours on certain big holy days, a group of young boys do a dance in honor of God. But that’s not during Mass, it’s not clergy, and it strikes everyone as fitting worship of God. So it stays, even though many of the reasons for why it’s done have changed. It suits “the mind of the Church” and grows out of her organically. That’s organic development.

But it has also struck almost everyone, except a few churches associated with immigrant folks from that cathedral town and similar places who imitate it, that it’s a custom that works better where it’s a natural thing to do. Nobody is running around insisting that all boys do it, or that all girls be recruited to do the dance also in every parish. Nobody is anxious to introduce dances before every Liturgy of the Hours in the whole year, either. That’s also organic – to let local customs flourish or not flourish, without imposing them on everybody else, unless there’s a really good reason.

Over the last fifty years, people were often taught to disregard their own holy, God-given instincts about “the mind of the Church,” and substitute whatever came from the latest workshop or crazy book. But if we are reasonably well-formed in how the Church thinks and has thought through the ages – and studying the saints is good for that, although having a good Catholic childhood can do it too – we have plenty of good knowledge and good instincts about what the Church wants to do for her Bridegroom. And if we don’t, we’re allowed to have the good sense not to go making five thousand changes a day.


#11

Here goes that word again. What does organic mean to you Vico?


#12

Is the internet, with its proliferation of blogs, interfering with organic progression?

If you would like an example of organic change that will very likely be accepted in the future, the best one I can think of is the giving of blessings to noncommunicants in the Communion line

I fear this is the case because it is so widespread.

With the internet, there seems to be more of a possibility of petitioning one’s way to get what one wants. If everyone is doing something anyway, then why not allow it right?

So now I’m thinking it’s a lot harder to define organic change because everyone seems aware of what everyone is doing, so practices are likely to spread even faster unless there is a clamp-down.


#13

Any recommendations where we can find such “historical chitchat?” :slight_smile:

An organic change is a change that nobody complains about; it fits “the mind of the Church” about herself. It usually develops very slowly indeed, because most people do complain. It usually is something sensible and beautiful. It becomes gradually more definite, and sometimes changes to have a different purpose than it used to.

Would you describe the giving of blessings at the communion rail an organic change?

Over the last fifty years, people were often taught to disregard their own holy, God-given instincts about “the mind of the Church,” and substitute whatever came from the latest workshop or crazy book. But if we are reasonably well-formed in how the Church thinks and has thought through the ages – and studying the saints is good for that, although having a good Catholic childhood can do it too – we have plenty of good knowledge and good instincts about what the Church wants to do for her Bridegroom. And if we don’t, we’re allowed to have the good sense not to go making five thousand changes a day.

I don’t know. I think this is very subjective. One Bishop may look at something and think it does not agree at all with the mind of the Church, while another bishop might think that it does.


#14

Very interesting discussion!

I tend to agree with the premise that organic changes are just a lot of unapproved innovations that eventually became popular. There probably was lots of historical chit chat. And people were better connected in general than we usually think. But lots of that connection was through traders or mercenaries - so not people who were too interested in the details of liturgy. OR exactly those higher ranking churchmen who would.

But don’t you think it likely that when Bishop Smith went back on his way after scolding everyone locally about the hand holding during the Our Father, that folks went back to doing it sooner or later? Especially if the local bishop or priests thought it was fine?

So we have the good bishop’s letters as a historical record, but what we might not know is that in Bishop Smith’s diocese everyone was holding hands during the Gospel, but it just never quite caught on beyond that area, and when his sucessor took office, he managed to discourage it.

I want to add that I think the idea of a liturgical laboratory that does opinion reasearch on liturgical innovations is hilarious. :smiley:


#15

My favourite is the Liturgy of the Hours. Somehow the 1960 Breviarum Romanum is OK to tradionalists; yet when its basic form was introduced in 1910 by Pius X, it was “abrupt and jarring” and perhaps the biggest change ever made to the Divine Office, and it introduced many “innovations” widely panned in the 1970 LOTH: dividing psalms into more or less equal sections, and “inventing” new antiphons for those sections; and no longer reciting all 3 laudate psalms together at Lauds (149-149-150). That “innovation” was introduced in 1910, not 1970 as many would like to believe.

Also, when one takes the time to really study the structure of the LOTH (1970) one realizes that in fact many traditions were in fact kept or revived, whereas many of the “innovations” in fact had their precedents set in 1910. Many people think that “traditional” meant 150 psalms in a single week, when in fact “tradition” also related to which psalms were said when, basic structure, expression of monastic roots, etc. Few know for instance that all of the psalms of Vespers from Week 4 are from the monastic Office as laid out by St Benedict 1500 years ago (though arranged a bit differently, and fewer of them). Few realize that the use of Ps. 66 as invitatory instead of Ps. 94 comes from the monastic tradition of starting off Lauds with Ps. 66 every day said “in directum”. for those who start off every day with Lauds, and use Ps. 66 as invitatory on Fridays (which has psalm 50 as first psalm), are actually reliving an ancient 1500 y.o. monastic tradition of starting Lauds with psalms 66 and 50 (or 67 and 51 in more modern numbering). The rubrics contain interesting options, such as using the OOR as Vigils, using psalms 4, 90 and 133 daily at Compline (again an old monastic and pre-1910 Roman tradition), and saying all minor hours using the Gradual psalms, all tied to tradition.

Yet I’ve read dissertations that could be at graduate level, panning the LOTH for being too radical a departure from tradition, when what departure there was had precedents set in 1910, and when the only really big departures are: the psalmody set over 4 weeks instead of 1, the standardization of the placement of the hymns, the encouragement of its use by the laity, and the NT canticle at Vespers (the other “innovations” such as the redesigned liturgical year are not specific to the LOTH but affect the entire Church).

What it boils down to is that people are resistant to change. We saw it in 1910, in 1970 and with the new English missal last year. But somehow over time these changes manage to take root.


#16

I think for a change to be organic, it must not be foisted bureaucratically at first. Organic change happens locally, and only then does it gradually expand, if at all. It is not something that some money-grabbing publisher dishes out in a “parish liturgy book.” And it must be honest. When little groups of ideologues and revolutionaries start writing booklets and sending them to parishes saying, “This is what Vatican II wants,” when it is quite clear to anyone with a copy of conciliar documents in front of his face that “this” is not “what Vatican II wants,” then “this” should be completely avoided at all costs.

Organic change, methinks, is not a self-conscious effort on a macro level. As I said, it is usually local. Third party groups like music publishers must be viewed with extreme caution and suspicion, especially nowadays, and especially the larger ones.


#17

Oxford Dictionary organic, adj.

4 denoting or characterized by a harmonious relationship between the elements of a whole: * the organic unity of the integral work of art*

characterized by gradual or natural development: * the organic growth of community projects*
*
Per the Vatican:
*Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 4:

  1. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

Decr. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, nn. 2, 6:

  1. The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites. Between these there exists an admirable bond of union, such that the variety within the Church in no way harms its unity; rather it manifests it, for it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or Rite should retain its traditions whole and entire and likewise that it should adapt its way of life to the different needs of time and place.(2)

  2. All members of the Eastern Rite should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain for themselves an organic improvement. All these, then, must be observed by the members of the Eastern rites themselves. Besides, they should attain to on ever greater knowledge and a more exact use of them, and, if in their regard they have fallen short owing to contingencies of times and persons, they should take steps to return to their ancestral traditions.

Those who, by reason of their office or apostolic ministries, are in frequent communication with the Eastern Churches or their faithful should be instructed according as their office demands in the knowledge and veneration of the rites, discipline, doctrine, history and character of the members of the Eastern rites.(6) To enhance the efficacy of their apostolate, Religious and associations of the Latin Rite working in Eastern countries or among Eastern faithful are earnestly counseled to found houses or even provinces of the Eastern rite, as far as this can be done.(7)


#18

Okay. I was more looking for people’s understanding of the word - not necessarily documents.

Since we often have discussions/debates over changes in the liturgy, based on what we believe are wrongful changes, I thought it might be a good topic for people to mull over.


#19

Timely thread! I am just finishing Dom Alcuin Reid’s book “The Organic Development of the Liturgy.”

I appreciate the author’s central point of the critical importance of an objective liturgical Tradition and how authentic Liturgy cannot be created; it must be received.

IMO, the book does a good job showing how reform, local custom and pastoral need can and do naturally shape the Liturgy over time. Yet, each of these need to be carefully examined. That is how I would generally define organic development.


#20

In my LOTH example, it was literally a grass-roots movement by secular priests who for at least since the time of Pius X and before, were clamoring for a Divine Office that wasn’t so “monastic” and took into consideration the realities of diocesan priests. The Office designed by Pius X did in fact spring from that demand and resulted in a considerable easing in workload compared to the Monastic Office, in particular, 9 psalms or psalm sections at Matins instead of 12, and all 150 psalms in a week instead of 150 psalms + repetitions that ended up being reciting 250+ psalms in a week.

But it was still an awful lot for diocesan clergy. So now we have the LOTH. Ironically, the Church delivered what the clergy had been asking for a hundred years or more, and moreover not only made it accessible to the laity, but encouraged the laity to participate in it. And who are the ones who complain most vociferously about the LOTH being too watered down? The laity. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of busy diocesan clergy complaining about it :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course for some religious communities used to chanting the Office in choir, the LOTH presented some challenges; however the options for the minor hours and Vigils and Compline compensate somewhat for that by allowing the communities to recite all 7 canonical hours, and of course for monastics there is still the Monastic Office that is licit, either the original schema by St. Benedict, or one of the 3 other approved schemas or one of the many local variations.

But my point is, in this case at least, the demand was from the ground up, certainly not a bureaucratically-imposed change. In fact change in the Divine Office was also commissioned by Pius XII in 1948 but it wasn’t really until after Vatican II that they really bore fruit.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.