Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The End of the “Reform of the Reform”: Father Kocik’s "Tract 90"

Father Richard G. Cipolla, in a deft allusion to the last "Tract" of the "Tractarian" or "Oxford Movement" of which John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman was a leading figure before his Catholic conversion, posted an article entitled "The End of the 'Reform of the Reform': Father Kocik’s 'Tract 90'" (Rorate Caeli, February 12, 2014), which concludes as follows:
Just this past Sunday, February 9, Fr. Thomas Kocik published the equivalent of Tract 90 on the New Liturgical Movement website. Fr. Kocik has been one of the leading lights in the Reform of the Reform movement. Those who know Fr. Kocik know him to be above all a parish priest whose love for the Liturgy is at the center of his priesthood. He is a scholar and a man of the Church. His book, The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate (Ignatius Press, 2003), is a cogent and spirited defense of the Reform of the Reform movement. This book was certainly one of the important “Tracts” in the evolving understanding of the post-Conciliar Liturgy. The “Dean” of the Reform of the Reform movement writes as follows in his article of only a few days ago, Reforming the Irreformable?:
There are significant ruptures in content and form that cannot be remedied simply by restoring Gregorian chant to primacy of place as the music of the Roman rite, expanding the use of Latin and improving vernacular translations of the Latin liturgical texts, using the Roman Canon more frequently (if not exclusively), reorienting the altar, and rescinding certain permissions. As important as it is to celebrate the reformed rites correctly, reverently, and in ways that make the continuity with tradition more obvious, such measures leave untouched the essential content of the rites. Any future attempt at liturgical reconciliation, or renewal in continuity with tradition, would have to take into account the complete overhaul of the propers of the Mass; the replacement of the Offertory prayers with modern compositions; the abandonment of the very ancient annual Roman cycle of Sunday Epistles and Gospels; the radical recasting of the calendar of saints; the abolition of the ancient Octave of Pentecost, the pre-Lenten season of Septuagesima and the Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost; the dissolution of the centuries-old structure of the Hours; and so much more. To draw the older and newer forms of the liturgy closer to each other would require much more movement on the part of the latter form, so much so that it seems more honest to speak of a gradual reversal of the reform (to the point where it once again connects with the liturgical tradition received by the Council) rather than a reform of it...

In the meantime, improvements can be made here and there in the ars celebrandi of the Ordinary Form. But the road to achieving a sustainable future for the traditional Roman rite—and to achieving the liturgical vision of Vatican II, which ordered the moderate adaptation of that rite, not its destruction—is the beautiful and proper celebration, in an increasing number of locations, of the Extraordinary Form, with every effort to promote the core principle (properly understood) of “full, conscious and active participation” of the faithful (SC 14).
This is indeed “Tract 90” for the "reform of the reform" and sounds the death knell of any serious attempt to hold onto the fiction of continuity between the 1970 Missal and the Traditional Roman rite. Just as Tract 90 marked the end of Newman’s attempt to find a Catholic continuity and a Via Media in Anglicanism, so does Fr. Kocik’s public articulation of the abandonment of his attempt to find a liturgical and theological continuity between the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Roman rite mark the end of the Reform of the Reform movement. What must be done now—and this will require much laborandum et orandum—is to make the Extraordinary-----ordinary.
The entire article, recasting the trajectory of the post-Conciliar "reform of the reform" against the backdrop of the history of the Tractarian Movement in a fascinating comparison, is well worth reading. Read more >>


Amateur Brain Surgeon said... much so that it seems more honest to speak of a gradual reversal of the reform (to the point where it once again connects with the liturgical tradition received by the Council) rather than a reform of it...

With all due respect to the author, aren't we Christian Catholics constrained to accept that the Pope of Vatican Two, Pope Paul VI, had a rational and right understanding of S.C. and that his Concilium produced, and that he promulgated, a Missa Normativa that was both in continuity with the Council and Tradition itself?

Just writing for my own self, I have struggled with these matters for two score years and I have returned to the place where I had oncet pitched my tent a long time ago (when I was S/N, Bornacatholic, and posting at Free Republic) and that is the place of accepting what a Pope claims vs the contrary claims made by others.

It would be easy to post the many statements of the Vatican Two Popes (John 23rd through Pope Benedict XVI) simply stating that the Missa Normativa is in continuity with and a product of Tradition and so the dilemma I was faced with was as simple as it was stark;

Whom do I attend to and believe - the Pope or those who claim to speak for Tradition?

If the Popes have been honest then the majority of the soid disant traditionalists are wrong in what they claim but to believe what a majority of soi disant traditionalists claim is accurate, then we are constrained to accept that all the Popes from John 23rd - Benedict XVI are infamous liars - and if we believe that, we may as well throw-in with a sedevacantist, like Rev Cekada, or throw-in with aSemiprivationist, like Matatics.

I have finally settled for trusting the Popes for it is they who occupy the Chair of a Divinely-Constitued Office and Jesus established His Church which teaches in His name and He did not anchor His authority in a thing called Tradition and about which innumerable men claim to speak in its name.

Protestants claim a right to resist the Church owing to their private judgment of the Bible and many soi disant traditionalists (from Messrs Matt, Vennari et al to Bishop Fellay and Rev Cekada) claim a similar right to resist thre Church according to how they personally judge what is and isn't Tradition.

That is no way to run a Church and that was not the intention Jesus had when He established His Church.

Charles said...


... and likewise with all due respect to you, sir, I think you may be exhibiting a swing of the pendulum too far, if I may say so.

Your erstwhile tirades against Pope Francis struck me as bordering on sedevacantist ranting. Whatever transformation or conversion you have undergone, without questioning your praiseworthy good will toward the Church and its Vicar, the Holy Father, your current attitude seems to edge toward a form of fevered ultramontanism and popolatry.

Popes have clearly said and done stupid things, without explicitly and formally teaching false doctrine. As I mentioned in another comment in another thread, Pope SAINT Pius X supported Charles Maurras and Action française. Blessed Pope John Paul lost his wits in kissing the Koran and hosting his Assisi pagan shindigs, and went beyond his magisterial tether in his statements about capital punishment. Paul VI was one of the most conflicted popes in history, but probably did more to set post-Vatican II Catholicism on its downward spiral than any other. Pope Francis ... well, in your rants against him, a lot of what you said was true, even though you probably went too far.

Paul Borealis said...

Dear I am not Spartacus

I tend to agree with you on this one. Let me add:

It seems to me that Fr. Thomas Kocik is wrong to want to 'reform' the TLM with a dose of Vatican II; I can't see how that would turn out good (for many reasons), not at this point anyways. For many, parts of Vatican II and its aftermath have become problematic and bitter. I suggest the true liturgical reformers work on the Roman Missal of Paul VI, inspired by what is great in the TLM, and probably even the Byzantine Catholic rite. With God's help, fix it as best possible.

Besides, until the 'schism'(?) or 'problem'(?) is healed/ fixed between SSPX and other Catholics (such as the Popes), don't mess with the 1962 Roman Missal (Tridentine Mass) anymore. PLEASE Do not make matters worse! Stability and connection is important. Common ground and liturgical tradition is helpful. If changes are imposed, I fear many traditionalist minded catholics will not follow, creating further disunity.

I do not see what Fr. Thomas Kocik wrote as an 'equivalent of Tract 90'; no comparison. Kocik has lost faith in a reform of the reform of the Pauline missal; the Anglo-catholic Newman still believed.

The so-called 'reform of the reform' of the new Mass is not an option, but a necessity. It appears Kocik still sees this sort of fix as important (even if not the best and the ideal). I suspect Pope Benedict XVI knew this at least, and did what he could.

Fathers Richard G. Cipolla and Thomas Kocik, in this instance, seem demoralizing or disheartening. If they want to stick with the old Mass, do so; I am mostly on their side.

JM said...

"If the Popes have been honest then the majority of the soid disant traditionalists are wrong ...[if] what traditionalists claim is accurate, then we are constrained to accept that all the Popes from John 23rd - Benedict XVI are infamous liars .

Huh? Gross over-simplification, typical in these fights. Popes can err, in big ways. That does not make them dishonest, nor, if they are right, are those who disagree with them "liars."

Such thinking is typical of Fundamentalist Catholics and Fundamentalist Protestants. I respect both, but they cast everything in harsh extremes. Better a Norvus Ordu fan or a Rev Cekada (or, heaven forbid, IANS, a Protestant!!!) than a non-believer, so find where you can have peace as long as you are plugged in to a relationship with Christ that runs parallel with generally orthodox teaching.

That said, "no way to run a Church?" You are kidding, right? If you are looking for a well-run Church or an always reliable Pope, you will apostize. Just saying...

From Frank Sheed:

We do not belong to the Church because of pope or hierarchy: we may like them or dislike them, but they are not the point. If we think they are handling the Church outrageously, our first instinctive reaction should be grief for Christ whose work they are damaging, *whose face they are obscuring.* (emphasis mine). In that feeling we should make our protest-very much as St. John Fisher could say, “If the Pope does not reform the Curia, God Will,” yet die on the headsman’s block for Papal Supremacy.
The trouble is that Popes and Bishops are so spectacularly present, Jesus so quietly. The world does not listen to him. How much listening do we do ourselves? …He promised to be with us till the world ends, and he wants us to be with him. “Come unto me, “ he urges, “all you who labour, and I will give you rest.” Books or lectures about honesty in the Church tend to be about the dishonesty of our leaders. But what matters most to our individual selves is our own honesty, that we should not be fooling ourselves – deceiving others is sin, deceiving ourselves is insanity. Christ wants our company. Do we want his?

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Charles. I agree that my change in attitude and writing illustrates a deeper transformation within me but the neologism, Papolatry, is as bereft of meaning as is the word, homophobia; that is, it is essentially a political category.

What is the definition of, Papolatry?

I know it was a word coined by a writer for the schismatic, The Remnant, but I forgot his name - I do think it was the same man who cultivated a politics of unity against the Papacy; that is, those who succored the sspx and The Remnant were expected to adopt the political praxis of "no enemies on the right."

That is Tradition?

It was only recently, while I was rereading Genesis, that I came to understand that it is not helpful to anyone (me, Pope, Church) to grouse about the Pope.

In Genesis, we read about the nakedness of Noe being exposed by Cham and how that was an action that led to his progeny being cursed.

Despite the claims about that event made by Dr Hahn, that event had not a whit to do with incestuous rape (see Saint Augustine's exegesis in City of God but, rather, the sin was in exposing what Noe did (which the Church Fathers did not consider a sin owing to his innocence about the properties of wine).

I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to the Papacy, one is faced with a choice to use the Cloak or the Dagger*; that is, one can, like Sem, choose to cloak (explain in the best possible light what it is the Pope has done) or one can choose to use the Dagger, like Cham, and stab him in the back by resisting him to his face before the world.

* the third option is to just keep our big yappers shut.

Pope Benedict XV promulgated a great Encyclical warning we Christian Catholics not to adopt labels distinguishing our own selves from other Christian Catholics because such actions bespoke disunity which aided those opposed to the Church Jesus established.

You are right that what I have written courted seevacantism and I confess I was this close to throwing-in with them.

It is owing solely to Grace that I did not and so I have decided to do what I can to repair the damage I did with the bad witness that I gave.

Charles said...

"Popolatry" was probably the wrong word, I agree (though it was not minted by any Traditionalist group but by Protestants long ago).

I was searching for a word that would describe someone incapable of recognizing that the pope can be mistaken about things, and unwilling or incapable of offering constructive criticism.

Even Moses had to be told by his non-Jewish Midianite father-in-law Jethro that he was taking on too many responsibilities and ought to appoint assistants to lighten his load; and Pope Peter the First had to be taken to the woodshed for a verbal spanking by the Apostle Paul for his stupid behavior at Antioch and scolded "to his face."

This is no excuse for disrespect, it goes without saying, but you see my point.

Pertinacious Papist said...

I don't think it was Fr. Kocik's book, Reform of the Reform?, but a book came out around the same time in which the author argued that, in the Western rite, there are three distinguishable alternatives: (1) the Novus ordo liturgy as it now exists, (2) the reformed liturgy mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium during Vatican II, and (3) the traditional Tridentine liturgy.

Of these, #3 is the only stable, established liturgy; #2 nowhere exists, because (a) the Novus Ordo as promulgated goes considerably beyond what Vatican II mandated, and (b) the Novus Ordo as it now exists is nothing like the Novus Ordo as originally promulgated; and #1 is a "liturgical workshop," an ongoing experiment in which nothing is settled (we now have the THIRD edition of it in English, and there are diverse variants and changes in it everywhere and all the time).

I therefore agree with Mr. Borealis that the Tridentine Mass should not be tinkered with. It's the only "established" liturgy the Western rite has. It will be some time before the Novus Ordo can be called an established rite; and serious writers and scholars in journals like The Thomist disagree over the question whether or not it is badly flawed that it is capable of being "reformed." I think it will be around for some indefinite time in one form or other, since no bishop seems intent on resisting the inertia of the liturgical mainstream, but where that "mainstream" will be in, say, fifty years, is anyone's guess. The Church is imploding. Would that the Lord would return quickly, though I don't see that happening any time soon either.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

I recently speculated with a friend that you were that Bornacatholic gent who once invited me to meet him at a halfway point between Florida and Western New York so you could punch me in the nose. In those days (2007-2008?) you were outraged by my "soi disant traditionalism." Thus, I was surprised to see a fellow who sounded very much like you come back in 2012 quite soi disant yourself. Well, now we're back to square one. As someone who has known you online off and on for several years, I would suggest that "pray and obey" conservatism is probably where you belong -- and I am saying that without a sneer and with all due respect. Don't lose your nose-punching brand of fellowship -- it is so much more genuine than the oily crapola you are likely to encounter in suburban Novus Ordo parishes in my neck of the woods.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The only purpose in "tinkering" with the TLM would be to kill it. Benedict having rescued it from the Vatican Well of Forgetfulness, such tinkering is now the only way to vitiate it. There are many Catholics today -- everyone from popes and cardinals entranced by nouveau symbology to EMHCs protective of their exalted ministerial status -- who are dedicated to the vitiation of their own tradition and their own Church. Forgive me for blowing my own horn, but this is the sort of thing I "groused" about back in the heady days of Summorum Pontificum's publication. Given the "politics" of the contemporary, modernist-infested Church, this is exactly what can be expected to happen: expecially since many of the priests who say the TLM are diocesan priests who resent having to do it, seeing as the TLM and its values are so foreign to the way they were taught in the seminaries of the seventies and eighties and nineties and 00's and 10's.

Pertinacious Papist said...

A less than subtle response by Louis Verrechio, "Forget reformation; it's time for abrogration" (Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II).

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Ralph. Thanks for the kind words. They are much appreciated

Lynne said...

Ralph Roisrer-Doister, I'd like to respectfully disagree with you regarding the following statement;
"...especially since many of the priests who say the TLM are diocesan priests who resent having to do it, seeing as the TLM and its values are so foreign to the way they were taught in the seminaries of the seventies and eighties and nineties and 00's and 10's."

I currently attend a diocesan TLM and it is amazing. It's a High Mass every Sunday. You can almost see the angels in the sanctuary, it's so beautiful. :-) The priest is the only priest at the parish and he has week-day TLMs too, tons of confession times, etc... He just celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest. He seems to love the TLM. Perhaps he's the exception that proves the rule. :-)

I do agree that the TLM should not be "enhanced" for a long time, perhaps at least 100 years, till all the modernists have died off (hopefully).