Monday, May 09, 2011

"The decline of the sacred was ... willed and planned"??

Helen Hull Hitchcock, who is editor and publisher of Adoremus Bulletin, has been running a series of columns in which are reprinted the chapters of a book written by her husband, Professor James Hitchcock, a decade after the Second Vatican Council. The latest installment is the eighth and final chapter of James Hitchcock's book, The Recovery of the Sacred(1974; rpt. Ignatius Press, 1995), which is also available in the online edition of the Adoremus Bulletin under the title of "The Recovery of the Sacred: Reforming the Reformed Liturgy." The chapter opens with the following two provocative paragraphs:
The decline of the sense of the sacred in worship was not, as some reformers have argued, the inevitable effect of a secular age. If anything, advanced secular culture has shown itself more open to the sacred and the pseudo-sacred than at any time within memory. The spirit of pragmatic, technological rationality is in at least temporary disfavor, and the sacral worship of the Church was, paradoxically, more appealing and effective in the 1950s, when that spirit was more pervasive than it is now.

The decline of the sacred was, rather, something which was willed and planned: its demise was predicted by those who wished it to occur and who took steps to bring it about. To some extent also it occurred through inadvertence, by a process of liturgical change which gave little thought to long-term effects."
Read the rest of the article ...


Anonymous said...

The remarkable part about this book, as well as about Dietrich Von Hildebrand's Trojan Horse is the time during which it was written. What I mean is that it was already obvious to these people that what had happened wasn't some concession to the world because the world needed or asked for it, but because the "reformers" wanted the world to want it... Another case of having a solution and needing to find the problem which it solved.

Dan Hunter said...

"The decline of the sacred was, rather, something which was willed and planned"

With all due respect this is old news.
The Council documents are the tickets, as it were, to the circus.

George said...


Old to you and all of us here, maybe, but who'd know it from listening to Catholic radio or reading Catholic commentary? Maybe that's the point? Shouldn't everyone know this?

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

I liked Hitchcock's earlier book, "The Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism," and I hope to read this book soon. As of now, I have only read the excerpted chapter. And though I like it, I sense that there is something ludicrous at the heart of it. Virtually everything Hitchcock says about the need for an awareness of the sacred in liturgy is true, sometimes self-evidently true. But as one reads it, he is made aware that (a) Hitchcock is talking about the Novus Ordo liturgy, (b) he is describing it in terms of devastating spiritual impoverishment, (c) he is describing a process of renovation that barely stops short of total makeover, and (d) he seems oblivious throughout of the existence of a liturgy that meets his criteria totally, and which in fact served the Church for hundreds of years -- until agenda-driven modernists replaced it with the anti-liturgical contraption he is consumed with repairing.


Almost as ludicrous as the title of Ab Wuerl's latest literary triumph: The Mass: the Glory, the Mystery, and the Tradition. How grandiose! You would think he was talking about the Gregorian Mass, the mass of centuries, the mass of the Church's greatest saints. But no, he is plumping his $25 coffee table book for the same abject, spiritually impoverished Novus Ordo anti-liturgy that the Hitchcocks have spent decades trying to repair, patch up, paint over, and get on the road.

You cannot make a liturgy out of an anti-liturgy. Why do intelligent people waste their time trying to do so? Why do Church leaders require it of them?

George said...

"... spiritually impoverished Novus Ordo anti-liturgy that the Hitchcocks have spent decades trying to repair, patch up, paint over, and get on the road."

I thoroughly concur. I stopped reading the Adoremus Bulletin years ago after it struck me as an exercise in futility, like re-arranging the deck furniture on the Titanic, or giving a shiny new paint job to a lemon of an auto. No less futile is the recently tauted new lectionary, which puts little more than a shiny new coat of paint on a Ford Pinto of liturgies - or is that an insult to the Ford Pinto?