Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fr. Louis Bouyer on the New Mass

Fr. Louis Bouyer (1903- ), a former Lutheran pastor who converted to the Catholic Faith and went on to become a leading Catholic theologian, liturgical historian, and author of the acclaimed classic, Eucharist: Theology and Spirituality of the Eucharistic Prayer (pictured left), was initially invited to participate in the project of reforming the liturgy as mandated by the Second Vatican Council. Soon he became alarmed, however, that those involved in the project were recklessly exceeding the Council's mandate by imposing a radical liturgical experiment upon Roman Rite Catholics under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. He observed:
"... the Catholic liturgy has been overthrown under the pretext of rendering it more compatible with the contemporary outlook ..." [Fr. Louis Bouyer, Religieux et clercs contre Dieu (Paris, 1975), p. 12.]

"The Roman Canon, as it is today, goes back to Gregory the Great. There is not, in the East or in the West a Eucharistic prayer remaining in use to this day, that can boast of such antiquity. In the eyes not only of the Orthodox, but of Anglicans and even those Protestants who have still to some extent, a feeling for tradition, to jettison it would be a rejection of any claim on the part of the Roman Church to represent the true Catholic Church....

"Unless we are blind, we must even state bluntly that what we see looks less like the hoped-for regeneration of Catholicism than its accelerated decomposition."
[Fr. Louis Bouyer, The Decomposition of Catholicism (Franciscan Herald Press, 1969), p. 3]
Bouyer is also well-known for his book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, a book appreciative of his Protestant background, but arguing that the positive insights of Protestantism can only be realized provided they are grounded in the living tradition and magisterial authority of the Catholic Church.

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