Thursday, February 27, 2014

For the record: why the "1965 liturgy" is not an option

Joseph Shaw, "The Mass of 1965: back to the future? Why it is not an option" (Rorate Caeli, February 27, 2014):
One reason why many good-hearted people wanted a 'Reform of the Reform' is that some kind of reform was called for by the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium ('SC'). Now that some of them have given up on the project of tinkering with the Novus Ordo, an alternative would seem to be going back to the 1962 Missal and using the Council's criteria to make the reform again. To undertake the Reform We Should Have Had. Fr Somerville-Knapmann suggests it might look like the transitional Missal of 1965. Fr Mark Kirby says very much the same thing with more detail.

The first thing to note is that this wasn't a new edition of the Missal, but just a set of provisional revisions made by the Instruction Inter Oecumenici. There was another lot in 1967, and then the new Missa Normativa came out in 1969. Inter Oecumenici says about itself that it authorizes or mandates that those measures that are practicable before revision of the liturgical books go into effect immediately....

... a major motivation for seeking solace in 1965, as with the whole Reform of the Reform movement, is the idea that, because the Council called for liturgical reform, we are obliged to show our loyalty to the Council by having a reform of some kind, even if it not the kind which actually happened. The loyalty to Mother Church here is noble, and I don't want to criticise that. But we must keep in mind two things.

First, the Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium is a compromise between what quite radical reformers wanted, and what the Fathers of the Council would accept. (The radicals were already practicing versus populum, handshakes at the kiss of peace, wide use of the vernacular and so on.) This means that we are never going to establish to everyone's satisfaction what the clear meaning of the document is.

Second, any proposal for reform is necessarily a matter of prudential judgement. The Council Fathers were not stupid, and their advisers were not evil. They were nevertheless subject to all the difficulties involved in hugely complex prudential judgements, where the ultimate consequences of different proposals are impossible to predict. The type of reform envisaged was something, remember, that the Church had never before attempted.

In sum, we are not obliged under pain of sin to undertake a reform of the 1962 books because it was called for by the Council. If that were the case, Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum would have been impossible. He not only allows us to continue to enjoy the ancient liturgy, but, in the letter accompanying it, he actually places an obligation upon us:
It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.


Chris said...

Quite frankly, the Tridentine Mass is not going to spread throughout the Church without the permission to have it in local languages besides latin. This is a pandora's box that cannot be closed, a "latin-only" attidude is a hopeless pipedream and you know it. By dismissing so casually the 1965 Missal we are only destroying our chances of having traditional faith and praxis spread and become nornalized. I am very sorry to see such a puriest attitude prevail that focuses only on the minor faults of the 1965 Missal as a reason to dismiss it as "evil modernism", when the good from it so far outweights the bad. At the very least argue for interpreting it through the rubrics of the 1962 rather than abandoning it as garbage. What foolishness and purist perfectionism. It borderlines on evil.

Paul Borealis said...

How Metropolitan Detroit Became a Center for Latin Liturgy

The New Liturgical Movement

Anonymous Bosch said...

Dear Chris,

I don't know how much you have read about the so-called "1965 Missal." Anyone acquainted with the period knows it was a transitional period and chaotic, with all manner of conflicting motives and ideologies behind the experiments, changes, and concessions. In fact, it was no "Missal" at all, but one of many experiments floated since the 1950s (actually the 1930s if you go back far enough).

I see no reason to impugn the motives of those who clearly love the Church and one or another tradition of her liturgies as much as you surely must. Obviously it's a sensitive issue. There are those with good motives and integrity still promoting the "dialogue Masses" of those heady days. There are others with equally good motives and equal integrity who see "dialogue Masses" as fatally flawed innovations. It's a matter of dispute. Let's try to keep our cool and ask the Holy Ghost to sharpen our wits and calm our hearts. God bless you.