Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bouyer and ad orientem worship

There is an interesting excerpt from a longer article on Louis Bouyer and church architecture by Uwe Michael Lang, "20th Century Liturgical Movement and Mass Facing the People," posted over at Southern Orders (August 7, 2011). In it, Lang writes: "Bouyer notes in retrospect a tendency to conceive of the Eucharist as a meal in contrast to a sacrifice, which he calls a fabricated dualism that has no warrant in the liturgical tradition."

The so-called "Liturgical Movement," whether one limits himself to the 20th century or goes back several centuries, is a complex phenomenon. I used to be a big fan of Louis Bouyer, especially after reading (back during my journey to the Catholic Church some 20 years ago) his The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism,which I still consider an excellent book, despite the poor translation. But I was not yet then aware of everything about Bouyer that I have been learning since, working, as I am, with the same disability as Friedrich Schelling, as Hegel noted, of carrying on his education in public.

Lang's quote makes it appear as if Bouyer was a staunch opponent of the liturgical revolutionaries who set their sights set on jettisoning the traditional Catholic emphasis on the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice and displacing it altogether with the notion of the Eucharist as a communal meal. The impression is that Bouyer wanted a "both/and" emphasis, rather than an "either/or." I would now disagree.

This is not the place to pursue the issue at the moment, but I have read enough now to know that, despite Bouyer's later disappointments in the direction taken by Vatican II and especially the post-Vatican II innovations that ensued, Bouyer himself played a large role in reinforcing and solidifying the 20th-century liturgical movement's commitment to the view that the Mass is primarily a communal banquet rather than a propitiatory sacrifice, a view certainly shared by Abp. Annibale Bugnini, as well as with various historical reform movements identified with Protestantism and Jansenism (I hope to post something on this in the future).

Still, Lang is not insensitive to the complexity (not to mention ambiguity) of Bouyer's own work. He writes:
Bouyer painted with a broad brush and his interpretation of historical data is sometimes questionable or even untenable. Moreover, he was inclined to express his theological positions sharply, and his taste for polemics made him at times overstate the good case he had. Like other important theologians of the years before the Second Vatican Council, he had an ambiguous relationship to post-Tridentine Catholicism and was not entirely free of an iconoclastic attitude. Later, he deplored some post-conciliar developments especially in the liturgy and in religious life, and again expressed this in the strongest possible terms.
[Hat tip to Fr. Z.]


Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Yes. The Committee-to-make-the-mass-protestant created a meal service. From "The Ottaviani Intervention;"

"...In Article 7 of the General Instruction which precedes the New Order of Mass, we discover the following definition:"

The Lord's Supper or Mass is the sacred assembly or congregation of the people of God gathering together, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to a local gathering together of the Church: "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst." (Mt. 18:20)[4]

The definition of the Mass is thus reduced to a "supper," a term which the General Instruction constantly repeats. The Instruction further characterizes this "supper" as an assembly, presided over by a priest and held as a memorial of the Lord to recall what He did on Holy Thursday. None of this in the very least implies:

- The Real Presence - The reality of the Sacrifice - The sacramental function of the priest who consecrates - The intrinsic value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice independent of - the presence of the "assembly." [6]

In a word, the Instruction's definition implies none of the dogmatic values which are essential to the Mass and which, taken together, provide its true definition. Here, deliberately omitting these dogmatic values by "going beyond them" amounts, at least in practice, to denying them. The second part of Article 7 makes this already serious equivocation even worse. It states that Christ's promise, ( "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst") applies to this assembly supremely. Thus, the Instruction puts Christ's promise (which refers only to His spiritual presence through grace) on the same qualitative level (save for greater intensity) as the substantial and physical reality of the sacramental Eucharistic sacrifice. The next Article of the Instruction divides the Mass into a "Liturgy of the Word" and a "Liturgy of the Eucharist," and adds that the "table of God's Word" and the "table of Christ's Body" are prepared at Mass so that the faithful may receive "instruction and food." As we will see later, this statement improperly joins the two parts of the Mass, as thought they possessed equal symbolic value. The Instruction uses many different names for the Mass, such as:

- Action of Christ and the People of God. - Lord's Supper or Mass - Paschal Banquet - Common participation in the Table of the Lord - Eucharistic Prayer - Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharistic

All these expressions are acceptable when used relatively--but when used separately and absolutely, as they are here, they must be completely rejected. It is obvious that the Novus Ordo obsessively emphasizes "supper" and "memorial," instead of the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Even the phrase in the Instruction describing the Mass as a "memorial of the Passion and Resurrection" is inexact. The Mass is the memorial of the unique Sacrifice, redemptive in itself; whereas the Resurrection is the fruit which follows from that sacrifice. We shall see later how such equivocations are repeated and reiterated both in the formula for the Consecration and throughout the Novus Ordo as a whole...

(end of quotes)

So, how'd that Liturgical Revolution work-out for us?

Stick with and work with the Traditional Orders and try to avoid being crushed as the empty superstructure of the NO Church continues to collapse.

The N.O. is a permanent revolution and it must be kilt. “Christian Order” is right: Missa bugniniensis delenda est

Anonymous said...

I think Bouyer looks profound at first glance, but as many come to find out his research and conclusions are later found to be questionable and sometimes error-ridden. I have always wondered about the present Pope's reliance on him.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

"celebrate the memorial of the Lord"

Sounds a bit symbolic and remembering, and, er, protestant -- doesn't it?

"I have always wondered about the present Pope's reliance on him."

Him and him and him and him and him. And him.