Caritas in Veritate

The blog of Father John Boyle

“The Missal of Blessed John XXIII is our secure foundation, our doctrinal certainty, our beacon of light and faith in the dark night of Holy Mother Church.”

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This is the claim made by Leo Darroch, Executive President of Una Voce, in a talk given in Poland on 9th April. His talk, which can be found here, is all the more worth reading in the light of today’s promulgation of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Darroch suggests that the root cause of the crisis in the liturgical reform was the appointment of a Consilium to interpret the mind of the Fathers of Vatican II, removing this responsibility from the Congregation for Rites, the dicastery of the curia responsible for the regulation of the Sacred Liturgy. Darroch claims:

Despite the fact that the Consilium was merely an advisory body, it is now clear that the leading members had their own agenda and were given the freedom to impose their own ideas of the faith on to an unsuspecting Church at the time.

Whereas the Council voted for a moderate revision of the liturgical books, what resulted were

such spectacular changes that the public worship, in the new form of Mass, was unrecognisable to that which it replaced.

The problems were spotted very early on. Already in 1964 the Latin Mass Society had been formed in England and Wales in response to the concerns felt by members of the laity.

Darroch writes that, on 3rd September 1969, five months after the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum which introduced the new form of Mass, Cardinal Ottaviani, fromer pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Bacci, a leading Latin expert, took it upon themselves to warn Pope Paul VI:

To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was sign and pledge of unity of worship and to replace it with another which can only stand for division, given the endless licence it implicitly authorises and which teems with oblique attacks and downright errors against the integrity of the Catholic faith, can only be described – in the most restrained terms – as a mistake likely to have incalculable consequences.

In a talk given by Cardinal Ratzinger in October 1988, His Eminence said:

Were one to shun these essential rules and put to one side the normae generales which one finds in numbers 34 – 36 of the Constitution De Sacra Liturgia (SL), in that case one would indeed be guilty of disobedience to the Council.

Did he think such disobedience had been committed? Here are those numbers of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy:

1) In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.

2) Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God’s wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

3) Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites themselves. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and be in prescribed or similar words.

4) Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available; when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

Were these norms to have been observed, I don’t think there would have been the dramatic change in the liturgy that in fact resulted.

One of the Consilium members who was unhappy with what was going on in the revision of the Mass was Father (later Cardinal) Ferdinando Antonelli. He kept a journal and, in 1967, wrote about the lack of concern for true piety amongst the Consilium members:

No one has any longer an awareness of the sacred and binding character of liturgical law. The work of desacralization, which is now called secularization, continues on a grand scale. It is clear from this that the liturgical question is part of  a far bigger set of problems, which are fundamentally doctrinal, so the big crisis is the crisis of traditional doctrine and the magisterium.

Fr Antonelli also wrote:

[they] have no love, no veneration for what has been transmitted to us. [My emphasis.] Right from the start they despise everything which exists at present. This is an unjust and poisonous negative mentality. Unfortunately, even Pope Paul VI has something of this attitude. They all have the best of intentions, but, given this mentality, they are bound to demolish, not to restore.

Later in his paper, Darroch speaks about Una Voce’s work in securing the retention by the older form of the liturgy of its full right of citizenship in the Church, two forms of the Roman Rite on an equal footing. This goal has clearly been secured by the promulgation today of Universae Ecclesiae.

Back in 1970, the first president of Una Voce, Dr Eric de Saventhem foresaw a renaissance that is now occurring with the flowering of new movements, congregations, fraternities, orders of young people giving themselves to a radical dedication to the Lord inspired by the treasure of a truly sacred liturgy.

The desire of the members of the International Federation Una Voce are summed up toward the end of the paper as follows:

For the International Federation Una Voce, the Missal of 1962, of Blessed John XXIII, is our secure foundation, our doctrinal certainty, our beacon of light and faith in the dark night of Holy Mother Church. The members of the Federation all over the world  wish to attend Mass according to this venerable and ancient usage; untouched, and without modification or adaptation unless authorised by the Supreme Legislator. [Comment: and the Supreme Legislator will be authorising modifications and adaptations such as new Prefaces, the inclusion of new Saints, etc. See Universae Ecclesiae 25. He already authorised a change in the Good Friday prayer for the Jewish people.] Our concern is for the Catholic faith, for the supremacy of Peter, and to ensure that the faith of our forebears is handed down in its fullness to our children and grandchildren. The pearl of great price is one that we wish to hand on to our successors in the way that it has been handed down to us. It is this Missal that will undoubtedly be the remedy for the crisis in the Church.

This is an excellent paper. I hope that what I have quoted above will lead you to want to read it for yourself.

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Written by Father John Boyle

May 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

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