Reform of the post-Vatican II liturgy?

In recent discussions, some forum members have said that it’s wrong for lay Catholics to hold the opinion that the post-Vatican II (Pauline) liturgy is in need of reform. For instance, they’ve said that it’s not our place to question the desirability of certain widespread, licit practices (e.g., priest facing the people; communion in the hand; piano and guitar music; absence of Latin and chant). “If the Church permits it, it must be good, and that’s the end of the story” – or so the argument goes.

Other forum members disagree. They say that, on “non-binding” issues such as this, lay Catholics have a right to hold their own opinions, and may even have a duty to express them. Furthermore, they point to the fact that many leaders in our Church – from Fr. Fessio all the way up to Pope Benedict XVI – have repeatedly voiced strong concerns about the need for liturgical reform. This is not a question of “valid vs. invalid,” but of “more conducive to reverence vs. less conducive to reverence.”

This thread is intended as a place to discuss such issues. If you believe the post-Vatican II liturgy is need of reform – or if you believe it isn’t – or if you believe we shouldn’t even be talking about this! :wink: – feel free to explain your views here. :slight_smile: You’re welcome to quote any “experts” of your choice, as long as said experts are in full union with Rome.

Of course, let’s keep the discussion charitable – e.g., don’t use mocking or condemning language to describe certain licit liturgical practices, or those Catholics who happen to enjoy them. And, please – in order that this thread might remain open for fruitful discussion – let’s keep it on topic. If someone else happens to post a remark that’s off-topic, please resist the urge to follow up, other than suggesting that it be taken to a different thread.

To be specific: This thread is not intended for discussion of the possible “return of the TLM,” the SSPX, practices that are clearly illicit under the current liturgical guidelines (i.e. “liturgical abuses”), or anything else that doesn’t directly relate to the subject line.

Thank you! :slight_smile:

[quote=maryceleste]don’t use mocking or condemning language to describe certain licit liturgical practices, or those Catholics who happen to enjoy them.
[/quote]

Point of clarification: Does this mean that something quasi-illicit such as an extended free for all Kiss of Peace is off limits as a joke, or since it may be illicit it can be mocked as another self-serving self-righteous innovation beyond the reasonable bounds of the rubrics??

Good topic. I am glad you started it.

I believe that there is a strong need for a reform of the post Vatican II liturgy. I also believe that there is a need for clarification and a proper interpretation of VII documents in light of tradition.

I don’t think it is helpful to pretend otherwise. It also makes no sense to claim that those that hold to the same opinion as I do, are some how out of line. In support of this, I reference the following comments.

Excerpt from talk given by Pope Benedict XVI when Cardinal Ratzinger to the Bishops of Chile, July 13, 1998:

*"The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.

This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening. That which previously was considered most holy – the form in which the liturgy was handed down – suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith – for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. – nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation. I myself, when I was a professor, have seen how the very same bishop who, before the Council, had fired a teacher who was really irreproachable, for a certain crudeness of speech, was not prepared, after the Council, to dismiss a professor who openly denied certain fundamental truths of the Faith.

All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people." *

It can be read in it’s entirety here:
unavoce.org/cardinal_ratzinger_chile.htm

[quote=johnnykins]Point of clarification: Does this mean that something quasi-illicit such as an extended free for all Kiss of Peace is off limits as a joke, or since it may be illicit it can be mocked as another self-serving self-righteous innovation beyond the reasonable bounds of the rubrics??
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I think this type of comment would be better phrased as a concern about the Kiss of Peace per se (e.g., that it’s open to abuses as written, or poorly placed in the Mass, or just an unnecessary distraction).

But please don’t use mocking language, in any case. :slight_smile:

[quote=maryceleste]I think this type of comment would be better phrased as a concern about the Kiss of Peace per se (e.g., that it’s open to abuses as written, or poorly placed in the Mass, or just an unnecessary distraction).

But please don’t use mocking language, in any case. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

OK no mocking at all - That clarifies the matter.

I don’t think it’s really possible to talk about any possible reform of the post Vatican II liturgy without bringing up illicit practices that have crept in and the innovations that keep cropping up over and over again. It is these very practices, additions and innovations that created the very need for reform that we know exists. To ignore that reality is to turn a blind eye to the whole problem, which is in a nutshell that Vatican II was in general very vague, very nebulous, very non specific about a lot of things and left a lot of room for guessing, trial and error and innovation, which is exactly what happened.

I think that the post Vatican II liturgy turned out pretty much the way a lot of people at Vatican II wanted it to, constantly changing, adapting and overall being very very informal and community oriented.

I wouldn’t call it reform. I would call it reining in the abuses and innovation.

Point of clarification: Can we condemn illicit or quasi-illict practices? You use the prohibition on mocking in the same sentence as condemnations. Since we can’t mock illicit practices am I to assume we cannot condemn them either?

Thanks

Thanks, NeelyAnn – that’s an interesting quotation. Without straying too far onto the topic of Vatican II in general (though it would be a great subject to discuss elsewhere :slight_smile: ), I think it’s very relevant for us to discuss the interpretation of those documents related to the liturgy.

Here’s another quotation, from Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro:

With regards to the liturgical reform that is usually ascribed to the will of that Council it is important to keep in mind what Cardinal Alfons Stickler explains: “Now, we must underline what should be considered the correct name of the Mass of the Second Vatican Council: the Mass of the post-conciliar liturgical commission. A simple glance at the liturgical constitution of the Second Vatican Council immediately illustrates that the will of the Council and the will of the liturgical commission often do not coincide, and are even evidently contrary.”

And from our current Holy Father, back in 1975:

For the present we cannot go into the question of how far specific steps taken by the liturgical reform were real improvements or actually trivializations, how far they were wise or foolish or reckless from a pastoral point of view. (…) With this in mind we shall also have to examine the reforms already carried out, particularly in the area of the Rituale.(The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, p. 120)

That was 30 years ago. Looks like the “reform of the reform” is proceeding at the usual glacial Vatican pace… i.e., far more slowly than the original “reform” did. I guess this could be for the best, in the long run.

There are also many interesting articles and Church documents on the web site of Adoremus, a society that’s dedicated to the reform of the sacred liturgy. Fr. Fessio is involved with this movement, and he says the mass “ad orientum,” using only the first Eucharistic Prayer, and mainly in Latin. (BTW, for those who have a copy of the Adoremus hymnal, you’ll find the full Latin and English text of the Pauline mass in there.)

As has been noted, there are clearly places where the reform actually trivialized certain aspects of the Mass. Among these are what I call the “sense of the sacred.” In fact, Rome has addressed this in the most current revision of the GIRM and in various directives by assuring that we refer to “sacred space,” “sacred vessles,” and so on. The idea behind this is that if we think of these things as sacred then we will treat them that way and how we treat things speaks volumes about what that thing is.

Secondarily, the loss of the sense of the sacred has reduced many aspects of the church proper and the Mass in particular to events that may be subject to the will of the people or the clergy in terms of how they are presented.

So, yes, I believe there are places where the liturgy can be reformed. Whether or not we can actually capture the mind of the Church Fathers at such a late date is, of course, open to question. What we can and should do is apply good liturgical praxis to the Mass that we have. All of us, clergy and laity alike, must take responsibilty for how we worship at Mass.

While enculturation is certain an aspect of the Mass (a claim most use in justifying “adaptations”) we must also remember that this was an option primarily for non-European (or North American) cultures where different sensibilities and understandings prevail. Because the Mass belongs to the Church and not to us as individuals or even as community, we need to celebrate it as it is, without modification, adaptation or adjustment. And it is in this area that reform begins – in our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes.

Deacon Ed

To palmas85 and johnnykins – I tend to think that it wouldn’t be very fruitful for us to talk about various examples of blatant “liturgical abuses” that are already prohibited by the Church. There are plenty of threads on those subjects already. The current discussion is about our concerns (or lack thereof) relating to permitted variations in the celebration of the liturgy: priest facing the people, contemporary music, 100% use of the vernacular, etc.

On the other hand, if you’re saying that the liturgy needs to be reformed because it’s too open to “creativity” as written… well, that’s a relevant point. Rather than just complain about specific examples of wacky stuff you’ve seen at St. So-and-so’s, though, I hope you can contribute some positive thoughts regarding “tightening up” the liturgy. :slight_smile:

Regarding “deliberate vagueness” in the council documents themselves – again, I agree, and I don’t want to turn a blind eye to anything. But I think we should try to keep such discussion to a minimum. It’s kind of depressing to go take one’s children to the park, then come back and find that one’s thread has been locked for going off-topic (as happened to me yesterday). I’m concerned that something similar might happen here, if this turns into a free-for-all concerning Vatican II in general.

[quote=buffalo]I wouldn’t call it reform. I would call it reining in the abuses and innovation.
[/quote]

It is not just about reining in abuses and innovations but rather that there are some official liturgical forms that are either not appropriate or are non efficacious or are not properly didactic. I will give an example:

The Kiss of Peace - While I am not opposed to the Kiss of Peace or where it is but rather the form that it takes. In the Solemn High Mass under the Tridentine, Dominican, Franciscan, etc formulation there is a Kiss of Peace but it is done is a very specific way. The Priest kisses the corporeal that has the consecrated Lord and turns and offers peace to the Deacon, who then turns to the Sub-Deacon who then turn to the Servers who then can embrace the people. While this is longer and more formal it expresses better that peace comes from Christ and not from ourselves. It is like a fire that spreads from the altar to the last pew.

Such things like this are issues that must be brought to honest discussion in the current incarnation of the Mass.

Another passage from The Ratzinger Report, this time concerning our heritage of liturgical music:

Here too, however, as in regard to Latin, [the Cardinal] speaks of a “cultural upheaval,” even of an almost “anthropological change” particularly in the case of young people, “whose musical sense has been stunted since the beginning of the sixties by rock music and related forms.” (…)

“The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church’s human history.”

Strong words, from a strong soldier of Christ.

(Maybe Karl Keating should start a new branch of Catholic Answers, dedicated to teaching Gregorian chant? :wink: )

[quote=Deacon Ed]As has been noted, there are clearly places where the reform actually trivialized certain aspects of the Mass. Among these are what I call the “sense of the sacred.” In fact, Rome has addressed this in the most current revision of the GIRM and in various directives by assuring that we refer to “sacred space,” “sacred vessles,” and so on. The idea behind this is that if we think of these things as sacred then we will treat them that way and how we treat things speaks volumes about what that thing is.
[/quote]

I like it! How about a sanctuary set off by, say, an “Altar Rail” designed to designate the “sacred space.” Then maybe there could be rules concerning the chalices, ciboria and patens - maybe they could be made out of, oh…, precious metals and decorated with jewels! Hey, how about rules governing the handling of the “sacred vessels?” You know, what we do might matter as much or more than what we say. Maybe, we could have kneeling before the sacred Eucharist to show by our posture our acknowledgment of the Real Presence. We could substitute genuflection when we are moving about so that we can still get from, say, one side of the church to another, but again acknowledge God present in the Tabernacle. HEy!!! HEY!! How about the tabernacle with the reserved Eucharist as the focal point of the Church??? That would be great!! In stead of over to the side, we could focus the entire Church on God present there with us!!!
OOOOOOOHHHHH, How about beautiful vestments, glorious singing and reverence. Think of how that would help promote the sacred!!! My mind is running full blast here.

Secondarily, the loss of the sense of the sacred has reduced many aspects of the church proper and the Mass in particular to events that may be subject to the will of the people or the clergy in terms of how they are presented.

How about statues of saints to help focus us on those who have lived a life of love in God? Maybe votive candles? What about colors other than off-white and maybe the use of ornamentation?

So, yes, I believe there are places where the liturgy can be reformed. Whether or not we can actually capture the mind of the Church Fathers at such a late date is, of course, open to question. What we can and should do is apply good liturgical praxis to the Mass that we have. All of us, clergy and laity alike, must take responsibilty for how we worship at Mass.

I’m with you. Let’s rock and roll

While enculturation is certain an aspect of the Mass (a claim most use in justifying “adaptations”) we must also remember that this was an option primarily for non-European (or North American) cultures where different sensibilities and understandings prevail. Because the Mass belongs to the Church and not to us as individuals or even as community, we need to celebrate it as it is, without modification, adaptation or adjustment. And it is in this area that reform begins – in our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes.

I’m ready to promote the faithful implementation of what Rome mandates. Line up the Bishops. I’m sure we can count on Cardinal Mahoney.

[quote=mosher]The Priest kisses the corporeal that has the consecrated Lord and turns and offers peace to the Deacon, who then turns to the Sub-Deacon who then turn to the Servers who then can embrace the people. While this is longer and more formal it expresses better that peace comes from Christ and not from ourselves. It is like a fire that spreads from the altar to the last pew.
[/quote]

This is very beautiful symbolism. :slight_smile: Although I knew the Kiss of Peace was an ancient practice, I’d never heard of it being extended to the congregation in more recent history, such as the Tridentine mass. Can you point me to somewhere where I can learn more?

I like Alvin Kimel’s suggestions over at Pontifications. Particularly what he says about ad orientem…

Link to article

Restore the versus apsidem. Celebrant and congregation should together “face the Lord” in prayer.

Putting the celebrant on the other side of the altar so he and the congregation could enjoy intimate community together was the single worst idea of the 20th century liturgical movement. It’s an innovation that violates the fundamental grammar of Eucharist. It has resulted in any number of disastrous consequences. I’ll name two: (1) It has turned the celebrant into an entertainer and the congregation into an audience. (2) It has resulted in the loss of the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist.

[quote=maryceleste]This is very beautiful symbolism. :slight_smile: Although I knew the Kiss of Peace was an ancient practice, I’d never heard of it being extended to the congregation in more recent history, such as the Tridentine mass. Can you point me to somewhere where I can learn more?
[/quote]

Usually only in monastic communities.

[quote=arieh0310]I like Alvin Kimel’s suggestions over at Pontifications. Particularly what he says about ad orientem…

Link to article
[/quote]

Thanks for the link.

I also enjoyed Fr. Jay Scott Newman’s article, on the same page. For a lay Catholic like me, it can be sometimes hard to tell just why certain churches and liturgies feel more reverent than others. When I read his suggestions, such as “Right angles are preferable to oblique ones,” and “If the choir is visible to the congregation, move them to a place where they will not be,” a few things just sort of “clicked” in my mind. :slight_smile:

I assume that this stems at least in part from my posting of the following quote: The Council of Trent said:

“If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema.” (Session XXII, canon 7, Denz. 954.)."

[left]This was prompted recently by the following posts in two other, different threads: [/left]

A)**They felt obligated to be apart from the Pope because the Novus Ordo was so disgusting to them and they felt it offended Christ. I feel the same way. **

[left]AND:

B) "For instance, some “licit, but questionable” elements in the Pauline mass could include: the priest facing the people, the ICEL translation, the choice of Eucharistic prayers, contemporary OCP music, communion in the hand, etc. While the mass can be celebrated without any of these (Fr. Fessio’s "Mass of Vatican II" comes to mind), this isn’t required, and it’s extremely rare at this time. So, for those who are concerned about the above elements, the TLM seems to be a desirable option."
(The poster of this is the originator of this current thread and stated before the quotation I here provide that “the average TLM is more conducive to reverence than the average licit Pauline mass.”)

In the first it is clear: it isn’t an abuse that is offensive to Christ, it isn’t an abuse that is disgusting, it is the Pauline Mass itself, of its very nature. This is wrong. I won’t back off of that. It’s a legitimately promulgated Mass, and the poster was out of line. I doubt she or he is in any real danger, since I don’t think you can “mistakenly” anathematize yourself.

In the second case, in retropspect, I would not have posted it, because some of what concerns the poster are legitimate and permitted disiciplines (such as communion in the hand) about which I do not think people should be molested and troubled and some are things COULD range from a simple matter of differences in taste (OCP music, for example) to very real threats to Catholic faith (again, OCP music, for example!!!).

Now, please don’t start another thread on communion in the hand, not for my sake. I’ve read all of the arguments, pro and con, and I will continue to receive Communion in the hand with a clear conscience, becuase permission was requested by the bishops of my country and given by the Holy See. I don’t like people putting their hands in or near my mouth and I’m not going to allow it in Communion until I’m commanded to by the competant authority. Pope John Paul II conceded that many people who rec. that way rec. devoutly and reverently.

I freely acknowledge that there are things in the liturgy that need to be clarified and tightened up. Let’s take Mosher’s example of the “Sign of Peace.” In some places, it’s turned into a free for all love-fest. I would prefer to see it moved to just after the confietor or just before. People should be taught to do it solemnly and respectfully. OCP, as another example, should be completely shut down. What they’ve done to the music of 2 generations defies description. I’m no language expert, but from what I’ve heard, the ICEL translations do need to be tightened up a bit. I think we should simply use the Roman canon and not have choices for the Eucharistic prayer. BUT none of these things touch on the NATURE of the Pauline Mass, they are not an “essential” in the discussion of the nature of that Mass, ie, is it valid, is it reverent (and to say that the TLM is MORE reverent is, whether anyone likes it or not, whether anyone is offended or not, a matter of TASTE), does it confect the Sacrifice. Since it was promulgated by the proper authority, yes, it does confect the Sacrifice, yes it is valid, no, it cannot lead to impiety and no, it is most certainly NOT disgusting or offensive to Christ. The Church cannot put before the faithful anything that will lead to impiety.

[/left]

[quote=JKirkLVNV](The poster of this is the originator of this current thread and stated before the quotation I here provide that “the average TLM is more conducive to reverence than the average licit Pauline mass.”)
[/quote]

Well, I didn’t say that I personally believed that… just that it was a legitimate opinion for a Catholic to hold. But, close enough. Anyway, I’m glad to see that you don’t anathematize me for saying it. :slight_smile:

(If I recall correctly, Ham1 also disputed my right to refer to certain often-seen features of the post-Vatican II liturgy as “licit, but questionable.” I wonder if he/she will weigh in here?)

[quote=JKirkLVNV]Now, please don’t start another thread on communion in the hand, not for my sake.
[/quote]

That’s okay, I didn’t start it for your sake. I started it for the sake of anyone who wanted to participate – and there seem to be several of us who do.

[quote=JKirkLVNV]BUT none of these things touch on the NATURE of the Pauline Mass, they are not an “essential” in the discussion of the nature of that Mass, ie, is it valid, is it reverent (and to say that the TLM is MORE reverent is, whether anyone likes it or not, whether anyone is offended or not, a matter of TASTE), does it confect the Sacrifice.
[/quote]

Again, fine with me. We’re not talking about reforming its nature, we’re talking about reforming its details. :slight_smile: (Although, objectively speaking, I believe that some of these issues transcend mere taste.)

JKirk, I’m glad you’re so happy with the liturgy as it is. I hope you can still be happy, while knowing that some of us like to think and talk about ways that it might be made even better. :yup:

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